The Oldest Bible

Codex Sinaiticus (Greek Edition)If you like old books, its hard to beat the Codex Sinaiticus. Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest known copy of the Bible written in Greek. You can buy a facsimilie of the book on Amazon for only $640 (I check the used bookstore for a copy all the time, but to no avail). However, if your budget is more like mine you may have to settle for the online edition which you can find at the Codex Sinaiticus website.

One of the most striking features of the text is how hard it is to read. I suppose if you were a native Greek reader it may have been a bit easier. However, if you take a look at it you will see why it was probably a little difficult even for the native speaker. I took a screen shot of John 3:16 to demonstrate just how difficult. It took me a while to even locate the verse. There are no chapter and verse markers. Everything is written in all caps and there are no spaces between the words. And, it definitely isn’t a reader friendly font.

Nonetheless, the Codex Sinaiticus is really cool. While there are fragments of the New Testament even earlier than this codex, it stands as the earliest complete collection of the New Testament that we have. It was hand copied and read around the time of some of our early church fathers, perhaps just shortly after Constantine took control of the Roman Empire under the banner of the xi rho.

As cool as the Codex Sinaiticus is, I must admit that I love progress. I am so thankful for the growth in the economy which led us to decide that it isn’t a waste of paper to leave a space between our words. I am thankful that we can read our Bibles today with ease in our own language. The gift of the Bible is truly an amazing gift. We should be diligent not to take it for granted.


What does it mean to read Greek?

I feel simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed. I just read an article by Daniel Street where he asks the question, “What does it mean to read Greek?” His basic premise is that I can’t read Greek. Not just me, but the vast majority of people who have taken Greek in seminary. I have taken way more than the average seminary graduate (about 7 semesters worth), but as he points out, I can’t pick up the Greek New Testament and read it in the same way I would an English Bible. Instead, when I look at the Greek text I am translating it to English and then reading my English translation. The process is nothing like what an original Greek reader would experience.

What is fun is that he is suggesting there is a better way to learn Greek that would teach the student to read like a native Greek speaker. I am already overwhelmed just thinking about it because I know that it won’t be easy. But then again, few things that are worth doing come easy.

I know that it will be some time before I can dedicate myself to this study. In the mean time I am planning on continuing to read Daniel Streets blog in hopes of finding similar pieces of inspiration. If you are interested in reading the Greek New Testament this seems to be a blog worth following.