Review: Codex Sinaiticus

26206717Codex Sinaiticus is easily one of the most important ancient documents ever discovered. Much work has been done over the last several decades to bring this fourth-century manuscript to the world, including a project to photograph and digitize the entire codex to be made available online for use of both scholars and laity alike. Because of the sheer availability of the manuscript, courtesy of The Codex Sinaiticus Project, the advances in the study and analysis therein have been everything but fruitless—as seen clearly in the recent publication of Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript edited by Scot McKendrick, David C. Parker, Amy Myshrall, and Cillian O’hogan.

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript is an overflowing reservoir of distilled scholarship. The roster of contributors to this volume is akin to the who’s who list of textual studies, both Old Testament and New. The contributors include Harry Gamble, Emanuel Tov, Rachel Kevern, Albert Pietersma, Eldon Jay Epp, David Trobisch, Klaus Wachtel, Juan Hernandez Jr., Peter M. Head, Amy Myshrall, Dan Batovici, David C. Parker, T. A. E. Brown, and many more. Each scholar has contributed within an area of expertise or specialization concerning the codex, and each of the twenty-two essays fall into one of five major sections: (1) historical setting, (2) the Septuagint, (3) early Christian writings, (4) modern histories of Codex Sinaiticus, and (5) Codex Sinaiticus today.

Every page of this volume is littered with detail and each article possesses equal footing with regards to usefulness. However, there were a number of standout articles that I found especially helpful and a number of features that I found useful within this volume. In regards to the latter, I was really surprised by the quality of the publication. The book itself is clothbound with thick pages and numerous high-quality photographs. There are also a number of useful charts and illustration throughout that really help to connect the content of the volume to the reader. This is especially the case in Rachel Kevern’s article on the reconstruction of quire 17 folio 1 and Amy Myshrall’s article on the presence of a fourth scribe, among others.  In regards to the former, some of the standout articles include “Codex Sinaiticus: An Early Christian Commentary on the Apocalypse” by Juan Hernandez Jr. which contains an excellent discussion surrounding the book Revelation in Sinaiticus and an appendix that charts out all the textual variations therein, “Codex Sinaiticus: Its Entrance into the Mid-Nineteenth Century Text-Critical Environment and Its Impact on the New Testament Text” by Eldon Jay Epp, and “The Presence of a Fourth Scribe?” by Amy Myshrall.

I was a little disappointed by the use of endnotes. But, at least, the notes are found at the close of each chapter as oppose to the book. Still, given the amount of information found in the notes, I think footnotes would have been a more appropriate choice. Apart from the endnotes, each article closes with a bibliography that, like the endnotes, contains an abundance of useful information for the attentive reader.

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript is a fascinating work of scholarship. From the binding of the book to the content therein, it is clear that tremendous care was taken to produce a volume that would retain its usefulness and influence for many years to come. The content is technical in nature and clearly directed towards an academic audience, but that doesn’t mean that it is useless for the interested laymen. If you are looking for the most recent and up-to-date interaction with this important biblical manuscript from today’s leading textual scholars this volume cannot be overlooked. It comes highly recommended and would be well-worth the investment.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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