Monday, October 06, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus confusion from the BBC +Update

The BBC reports that Codex Sinaiticus, "probably the oldest Bible we have, also has books which are missing from the Authorised Version that most Christians are familiar with today - and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection."

This is true but strange. Its no secret that Mark 16:8 is where the gospel ends in the earliest manuscripts. But no reader would know that from the BBC write-up. There's no mention of chapter and verse and no indication that this isn't news. Anyone who looks at footnotes to Mark 16:8 in most bibles will read that "Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8." The rest of the footnote clarifies that some manuscripts add a shorter ending to Mark and others a longer ending. Other footnotes preserve other endings.

The article continues, "The Codex - and other early manuscripts - do not mention the ascension of Jesus into heaven, and omit key references to the Resurrection, which the Archbishop of Canterbury has said is essential for Christian belief."

Even if Mark's gospel ended at 16:8, without a resurrection appearance, Mark's gospel mentions the resurrection frequently in the central teaching of Jesus at Mark 8:31; 9:31 and 10:33. Mark 9:31 describes Jesus' prediction of the suffering, death and being raised of the Son of Man using verbs that indicate such teaching is continuous not rare. And just before the gospel ends, the young man announces to the women at the empty tomb, "He has been raised!"

Only Luke's gospel mentions the ascension of Jesus. It's simply not in Matthew, Mark or John. This isn't news to most people.

What is interesting about Codex Sinaiticus is that it contains about 23,000 corrections by different correctors.

Update: Roger Bolton's report on the same topic on BBC Radio 4 records interviews with Father Miletus at the monastery of St Catherine's, Mount Sinai and Dr. Scott McKendrick of the British Library. Father Justin takes Roger Bolton to the tower of St. George in the monastery of St. Catherine's where Tischendorf may first have seen Codex Sinaiticus. Father Justin does not dispute that the manuscripts were stored (in accord with medieval practice) in a basket but not that the manuscripts were not going to be burned as Tischendorf first reported. Parchment cannot burn. Tischendorf promised to return the manuscript to the monastery but did not. 12 pages of the Codex left in the monastery and discovered in the 1970's have never been published before and contain the opening pages of Genesis in Greek and pages from the Shepherd of Hermas. The digitized restoration project of 2009 will include an account of the coming together of the Codex.

Prof. David Parker of Birmingham University is interviewed about the state of the text. The reality of the biblical text is not that it is uniform but that many ancient copies exist. The NT text is a living text. Here's an addition in the Codex Sinaiticus to the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount at 5:22, "The person who is angry with his brother _without reason_ with his brother shall be liable to judgment..." (the words "without reason" are preserved in a marginal note).

1 comment:

Tay Moss said...

Yes, well, if there isn't a story then sometimes it's necessary to invent one...
-t