A Look At Some of The Ancient Codexs
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.)
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.)
Ephraemi Rescriptus (400-500 A.D.)
Alexandrinus (450-500 A.D.)
Bezae Cantabrigiensis (450-550 A.D)
Claromontanus (sixth century)
The earliest type of
manuscript in the form of a modern book (i.e., a collection of written
pages stitched together along one side), the codex replaced the earlier rolls of
papyrus and wax tablets. The codex had several advantages over the roll, or
scroll. It could be opened at once to any point in the text, it enabled one to
write on both sides of the leaf, and it could contain long texts. The difference
can be illustrated with copies of the Bible. While the Gospel According to
Matthew nearly reached the practical limit of a roll, a common codex included
the four Gospels and the Book of Acts bound together, and complete Bibles were
Though the folded note tablets used by the Greeks and Romans may have suggested the codex form, its development to eventual supremacy was related to cultural and technological changes—i.e., the rise of Christianity, with its demand for more and larger books, and the availability of first parchment and then paper. The oldest extant Greek codex, said to date from the 4th century, is the Codex Vaticanus, a biblical manuscript written in Greek. Also important is the Codex Alexandrinus, a Greek text of the Bible that probably was produced in the 5th century and is now preserved in the British Library, London. The term codex aureus describes a volume with gold letters written on sheets that have been stained with a purple dye called murex. Existing examples of the codex aureus date from the 8th and 9th centuries.
Q: What do we know about the Vaticanus manuscript?
A: Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) is the oldest existing member of the Alexandrian manuscript family. It often is abbreviated as "B" or is called uncial 03.
What has been preserved: Vaticanus has preserved only verses 46:29-50:26 in Genesis, and the rest of the Old Testament except for 2 Kings 2:5-7 and 1-13, and Psalm 105:27-137:6. The missing section in Psalms was added in the 15th century.
Some apocryphal books are in Vaticanus, as are in most Greek Bibles. Vaticanus does not contain 1-4 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasseh.
The New Testament is all preserved up until Hebrews 9:15. After that some leaves were lost. It has none of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation. Aland references Vaticanus in the book of James, and the New International Greek Testament Commentary on James p.60 says Vaticanus contains the complete book of James.
Physical Appearance: It was written with brown ink on expensive vellum, with each leaf being 27-28 centimeters square. There were three columns per page and 40-44 lines per column. Today it is in Vatican City in the middle of Rome
Scribes and Correctors: One scribe wrote the Old Testament, and another wrote the New Testament. There were two correctors. One corrected the manuscript about 350 A.D. soon after it was written. The other corrector lived in the tenth or eleventh century.
Distinctives of Vaticanus: It generally follows the other manuscripts in the Alexandrian family. It does not have John 7:53-8:11, Luke 22:43-44, and Luke 23:34. It Sinaiticus, it has a blank space for the longer ending of Mark. Vaticanus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today.
Jn 16:28 "from/by the Father" is in Vaticanus. Many other manuscripts have "came forth from the Father", including p5 (200-250 A.D.), p22, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Byzantine Lectionary, Diatessaron (c.170 A.D). See The Origin of the Bible p.181, A General Introduction to the Bible p.391-392, and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.74-75 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Sinaiticus manuscript?
A: Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) is the second oldest existing member of the Alexandrian family of manuscripts. It often is abbreviated as "Aleph" or is called uncial 01.
What has been preserved: It has preserved half of the Septuagint Old Testament. Specifically, it has Genesis 23:19-24:46 (with gaps); Numbers 5:26-7:20 (with gaps), 1 Chronicles 9:27-19:17, Ezra-Nehemiah as one book from Ezra 9:6 on, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentation to 2:22, Joel through Malachi, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Job.
The Apocrypha is in Sinaiticus: specifically Tobit, Judith, 1 and 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, and Sirach.
The New Testament is all preserved, except the scribes did not include John 7:53-8:11, and a blank space reserved for Mark 16:9-20. Sinaiticus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today.
Two other books are in Sinaiticus: the Epistle of Barnabas and part of the Shepherd of Hermas.
Physical Appearance: It originally had at least 730 leaves. Today we have 390 leaves plus fragments of 3 more leaves. (a leaf is two pages.) There are four columns per page and 48 lines per column. It is written on expensive vellum. There were no spaces between words and almost no punctuation. Old Testament quotes are shown as quotes. Today it is in London, UK. For more info and a photograph, see Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, p.76-79.
Scribes and correctors: Three scribes copied Siniaticus. Scribe A, who copied most of the historical and poetic books of the Old Testament, almost all the New Testament, and the Epistle of Barnabas, was a better speller than B, but not nearly as good as D. B copied the prophets and the Shepherd of Hermas, and was a bad speller. D had nearly perfect spelling. He copied Tobit and Judith, the first half of 4 Maccabees, and the first 2/3 of Psalms. He apparently copied 6 pages of the New Testament.
Distinctives of Sinaiticus: According to Herman Hoskier, there are the following number of places with differences between Sinaiticus and the textus receptus in the gospels: Matthew 656+, Mark 567+, Luke 791+, John 1022+, for a total of 3036+ places of differences in the gospels. Like Vaticanus is has a blank space for the longer ending of Mark's gospel. Thus they were aware of a longer ending, but chose not to copy it. According to D.A. Waite, 8972 words were affected in the Gospel versus the Textus Receptus. 3,455 words were omitted, 839 were added, 1114 were substituted, 2299 were transposed, and 1265 were modified. It has more changes than Vaticanus. Of course, Waite cannot prove any words were added or omitted, only that they were included or absent.
Lk 11:23 "scatters me" is in the original Sinaiticus Bohairic Coptic, and Ephraemi Rescriptus. All the other major manuscripts have "scatters"
Jn 1:34 The "chosen" is in p5 (200-240 A.D.), original Sinaiticus, Sahidic Coptic and few other manuscripts. The "son" is in corrected Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Cantabrigiensis, the Byzantine Lectionary, Bohairic Coptic, Armenian, Origen, Chrysostom. See A General Introduction to the Bible p.392-394 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Ephraemi Rescriptus manuscript?
A: Ephraemi Rescriptus (400-500 A.D.) is considered neither an early nor a late manuscript. It often is abbreviated as "C" or else is called uncial 04.
What is preserved: It has preserved James 1:1-4:2 and the Gospels, Acts, the letters and Revelation. Ephraemi Rescriptus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today.
Q: What do we know about the Alexandrinus manuscript?
A: Alexandrinus (450 A.D.) It often is abbreviated as "A" or called uncial 02.
What has been preserved: It has preserved all of Genesis except for Genesis 14:14-17; 15:1-5, 16-19; 16:6-9, which are mutilated. The Twelve Minor Prophets are directly before Isaiah. It contains the rest of the Old Testament except for 1 Samuel 12:17-14:9 and Psalms 49:20-79:11.
The Apocryphal books in Alexandrinus are 3 and 4 Maccabees.
In the New Testament, Alexandrinus contains Matthew 25:7 to the end, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and Paul's letters. John 6:50-8:52 and 2 Corinthians 4:13-12:6 are missing though. Alexandrinus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the order of 1:1-14:23; 16:25-27; 15:1-16:23; 16:25-27 (The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary : Romans 1-8 p.6) It contains 16:25-27 twice. It contains all of James.
Other books at the end of the manuscript were written the Psalms of Solomon, and 1 and 2 Clement, with some parts missing.
Physical appearance: The leaves measure 32.1 cm by 26.4 cm. It was written on expensive vellum with brown ink. There are two columns per page, and 46-52 lines per column. There are no spaces between the words, and Old Testament quotes are indicated. It currently is in London, UK.
Scribes and correctors: Two to five scribes wrote this manuscript, and there were numerous corrections, by both the scribe who originally wrote the words and others hands. The corrected version is very similar to the Textus Receptus.
Distinctives of Alexandrinus: Some would say it appears as an Alexandrian Manuscript with Byzantine influence. Others would say it represents an alleged third family, the Western family, which is a combination of the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts. It does not have Luke 22:43f, and is missing John 7:53-8:11.
2 Tim 2:22 Alexandrinus has "loving" while other manuscripts have "calling"
Phm 12, Alexandrinus and corrected Sinaiticus almost stand alone in saying "whom I sent back yours" vs. other manuscripts who say "whom I sent back to you" or similar.
Phm 25 Alexandrinus does not have "amen" at the end. Sinaiticus, the Byzantine Lectionary, and p87 c.125 A.D. have "amen" at the end. See A General Introduction to the Bible p.394-395 and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.86 (photograph p.87) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (also called Codex Bezae)?
A: This is the oldest known bilingual manuscript, with Greek on the left page, and Latin on the right. Bezae Cantabrigiensis was a western text copied c.450-550 A.D.. It often is abbreviated as "D" or called uncial 05.
What has been preserved: It has preserved most of the four Gospels, parts of Acts. 3 John 11-15 is preserved in Latin only. In Greek, it has lost Matthew 1:1-20; 6:20-9:2; 27:2-12; John 1:16-3:26; Acts 8:29-10:14; 21:2-10; 15-18; 22:10-20; 22:29-28:31. In Latin it has lost Matthew 1:1-11; 6:8-8:27; 26:65-27:1; 1John 1:1-3:16; Acts 8:20-10:4; 20:31-21:2; 21:7-10; 22:2-10; 22:20-28:31
Physical appearance: There are 510 leaves, which measure 25.8 to 26.7 cm by 17 to 22.9 cm. (Most other major manuscripts are more uniform in dimensions.) It was written on expensive vellum with brown ink. There is one column per page, and 33 lines per column. There are no spaces between the words, and Old Testament quotes are not indicated. It currently is in London, UK.
Scribes and correctors: There are nine correctors, who lived from the sixth to twelfth centuries.
Distinctives of Bezae Cantabrigiensis: It has the longer ending of Mark. Metzger says, "Textually, no known New Testament manuscript contains so many distinctive readings, chiefly the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents." in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.89.
Omissions: 86 words shown below are absent primarily just in Bezae Cantabrigiensis.
Mt 5:32 "and whoever is divorced/put away shall marry commits adultery" is absent in it and many Italic manuscripts as well as Augustine. (6 words)
Mt 9:34 is absent in Bezae Cantabrigiensis and the Diatessaron (12 words)
Mk 3:18 "Lebbaeus" vs. "Thaddaeus" in most other manuscripts
Lk 12:21 absent it "this is he who treasures up for himself, is not rich toward God" (9 words)
Lk 22:17-20 lack parts of 19b-20 (approximately 38 words)
Lk 24:12 is absent. (21 words)
Acts 1:26 Instead of "twelve apostles" it and Eusebius have "eleven apostles" vs. "twelve apostles"
Acts 19:9 has "Tyrannus from 11:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon" instead of "Tyrannus" vs. "a certain Tyrannus" (6 words more)
Acts 12:27 "becoming eaten by worms" vs. an addition only in the Syriac vs. an addition only in Bezae Cantabrigiensis and Italic
Acts 13:43 Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Italic, and some Syriac add 11 words after "God". (Middle Egyptian Coptic adds 8 words after God.)
Acts 15:2 "they appeared to go up Paul and Barnabas and certain others from amongst them" vs. replaceing a 10-word phrase with a 24-word phrase (6 words in common) (Also Italic, some Syriac, Middle Egyptian Coptic) (not counted in the totals)
Acts 15:12 Replaced a 10-word phrase with a 25-word phrase (2 words in common) (Only in Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Italic, some Syriac, Middle Egyptian Coptic)
Acts 15:41 added 5 words
Acts 16:39 replaced a 10-word phrase with a 36-word phrase (3 words in common)
Acts 16:35 (replaced a 3- word phrase with an 18-word phrase (2 words in common)
Acts 16:35 added 3 words.
Acts 19:1 substituted a 27 word phrase for a 17 word phrase. This is also in p38 (about 300 A.D.) as well as some Syriac.
Besides Bezae Cantabrigiensis, these are in some Syriac (5th century).
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.395-396 and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.88-89 (photographs p.90-91) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Codex Claromontanus?
A: This manuscript was written in the sixth century and is the complement of Bezae Cantabrigiensis.
What has been preserved: It contains much of what is missing in Bezae Cantabrigiensis. It contains all of Paul’s letters and Hebrews, except for the following. Romans 1:1-7, 27-30 and 1 Corinthians 14:13-22 are lost in Greek, and 1 Corinthians 14:8-18 and Hebrews 13:21-23 are missing in Latin. The Greek is well-done, but the Latin translation is not very good.
Physical appearance: There are 533 pages, which measure 7 by 9 inches (18 by 23 cm). It is written single column on vellum. See A General Introduction to the Bible p.396 for more info.