In my previous post I talked about Constantin von Tischendorf and his discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus in St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai peninsula in 1844 and then 1859. I have a personal anecdote to relate about the manuscript, one of the most interesting things ever to happen to me on my various travels hither and yon.
To make sense of the anecdote I need to provide some background information. As I indicated in my previous post, when Tischendorf discovered the codex Sinaiticus (as it was later called), he considered it to be the most ancient biblical manuscript then known to exist. He was right. It was.
Tischendorf claimed that the manuscript was gifted to him by the head of the monastery. The monastery later claimed, and still claims to this day, that he stole it from them.
The manuscript consists of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (all in Greek). It is generally dated today to the middle of the fourth Christian century. Since Tischendorf’s day, many much older manuscripts have been discovered, but none of these is anywhere near as complete as this one, which includes the entire New Testament along with two other books that its scribe appears to have considered to be Scripture as well, the Letter of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas (incompletely preserved – it’s a very long book), both of which are now normally cited among the Apostolic Fathers.
The Old Testament was not complete in the codex Sinaiticus. A number of its pages were missing when Tischendorf came away with the manuscript.
In the late 1970s there was a fire at the monastery, and when they