Skip to content
February 24, 2008 / vivator

Three earliest manuscripts of Old Testament in Greek

Three earliest manuscripts of Old Testament in Greek are Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus.  A Codex (plural Codices) is sheets of papyrus or parchment folded in the middle and sewed together.  It resembles modern books, except that its sheets are not papers but papyrus or parchments.  Papyrus is made from the stem of papyrus plant that grows in the shallow water of the Nile delta while parchment or vellum is made from the skins of (young) sheep, goats and antelopes. What we know today as paper, invented in China in c. 109 AD, was unknown to European Christians until 13th century AD.

Codex Vaticanus, its name came from Vatican library was written in c. 4th century AD.  Its Old Testament is Greek LXX except Daniel of which Greek translation made by Theodotion (end of 2nd century AD). The order of Old Testament books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 to 4 Kingdoms (equal to 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings), 1 to 2 Chronicles, 1 Esdras (apocrypha), 2 Esdras (Ezra Nehemiah), Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Wisdom, Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, Twelve Minor prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. It does not have books of Maccabees.

Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in St. Catherine Monastery of Mount Sinai in 1844. It also belongs to 4th century AD and, unfortunately, was partially mutilated – what remain do not reveal the whole Old Testament books it formerly had. They are: Genesis, Numbers, 1 Chronicles, 2 Esdras (equal to Ezra – Nehemiah), Esther, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Twelve Minor Prophets (incomplete), Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach and Job.

Codex Alexandrinus belongs to fifth century AD – its name came from Alexandra in Egypt.  Together with Codex Sinaiticus it now belongs to British library in London. Its Old Testament part consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 to 4 Kingdoms (equal to 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings), 1 and 2 Chronicles, Twelve Minor Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Letter of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Tobit, Judith, 1 Esdras (apocrypha), 2 Esdras (equal to Ezra – Nehemiah), 1 to 4 Maccabees, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Songs of Songs, Wisdom and Sirach.  The list of content has (apocryphal) Psalms of Solomon at the end but the text was not in the Codex.

In all three Codices deuterocanonical books are interspaced with protocanonical books, i.e. they are treated indifferently.  The fact that they differ indicates that Christians in that time did not have fixed Old Testament books (what we call now as Canon of Old Testament). It nevertheless shows the acceptance of deuterocanonical books among Christians in those days.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: