Where is the oldest Bible

The oldest Bible in the world

"Quippe dormire nefas videbatur - it really would have been wrong to sleep!"

Friedrich Konstantin von Tischendorf recorded the memories of the most moving discovery of his life in his diary, which he kept in Latin - as was customary with scholars at the time. On February 7, 1859, the Leipzig professor of theology had finally found what he had been looking for for several years: the oldest Bible manuscript in the world to this day; Written in Greek on the finest parchment in the 4th century.

He studied the leaves all night to get an overview. The New Testament was complete and in excellent condition. In addition, part of the Old Testament and two early Christian works that were largely unknown at the time still existed. Codex Sinaiticus, was later called this find because the Bible Students tracked down the manuscripts in the Greek Orthodox St. Catherine's Monastery on the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

Tischendorf had already found some sheets of the coveted manuscript on an earlier visit to St. In a wastepaper basket, thrown away to be burned, as was later rumored again and again. He was able to take the parchments with him to Leipzig in 1844, where they are still kept today. Ulrich Johannes Schneider, Director of the University Library:

"At that time the monks gave him 43 sheets of paper. He later went there several times and at the end took a large number of sheets of the same manuscript with him. Whether it was a gift or whether it was a sale, there are disputed versions . "

Today the more than 380 parchment pages are spread over four locations. The Odyssey of the Codex Sinaiticus reads almost like a detective novel: parts landed in Leipzig, others came to Petersburg as a gift to Tsar Alexander II, the patron saint of Orthodox Christians. In return, he gave the abbot of St. Catherine's Monastery money for the monks and a silver shrine for the church.

He raised Konstantin von Tischendorf to the Russian hereditary nobility as a reward for his scientific achievements. In 1933 Stalin sold most of these pages to the British National Museum for the equivalent of one million euros today. Other parts of the Bible manuscript were rediscovered in 1975 in St. Catherine's Monastery. Father Justin, who works in the library there, followed in Tischendorf's footsteps and traveled to Leipzig when the collection was presented to the public in 2006.

"We have always regretted the division of the manuscript. Of course we would think it would be good if we got it back in full. But at the same time history has created connections. Connections between our monastery and the other institutions and I find it remarkable that we are now cooperating. Maybe we'll create a symbol by showing what can be achieved by putting aside disagreements to achieve more important goals. "

For years, scientists from the libraries in Leipzig, Petersburg, London and on the Sinai had been working on digitizing the Codex Sinaiticus for the Internet. On July 24th, 2008 the time had come.

"So the website will be activated at ten past twelve. So, that is now online. And everyone can now admire the oldest Bible in the world online."

The plant should be completely digitized by 2010. Library director Ulrich Johannes Schneider is happy to be able to bring the parts back together at least virtually.

"We do something good that was discovered in the 19th century on the one hand, but on the other hand was also torn apart. And that is a very important step for libraries. We can use the Internet to now communicate with our cultural treasures around the world You used to only be able to dream. And the fact that now the oldest cultural assets are being made public with the most modern technology is somehow a very moving experience. "

The Codex Sinaiticus online: www.codex-sinaiticus.net