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Let’s look more closely at The Bible itself Where is the evidence?
Tests for establishing historicity Not only are the New Testament documents historically reliable, but that they are in fact the most reliable collection of ancient literature available to us today. Consequently, I will demonstrate that if one were to persistently deny the historicity of NT documents, that person would also be forced to completely discount all manner of other ancient writings as well. In doing so, the ardent skeptic would render himself doubtful of such classical works as those authored by Homer, Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Plato, Livy, Sophocles, Tacitus, herodotus, Thucydides, Cicero and Virgil to name a few. Such a person would indeed be more than a mere skeptic. He would be an irrational cynic within the throes of intellectual suicide and dogmatic obscurantism. In his excellent book, “Evidence That Demands A Verdict, ” author Josh Mc. Dowell describes what have come to be known by academicians throughout the world as the principles of historiography. These seminal principles were first delineated by military historian, C. Sanders in his book, “Introduction to Research in English Literary History. ” Drawing from various historiographical disciplines that had developed over centuries of literary research, Sanders systematized these disciplines into a cohesive methodology. This methodology equipped scholars with a codified set of historiographical “tests” by which a document's historical reliability could be gauged. Each test falls under one of three substantive categories. They are the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test and the external evidence test. These tests have formed the standard for historiographical research employed by many scholars today, both secular and sectarian, for this important task if historical verification. The Bibliographical Test The first test is the bibliographical test. Its purpose is to examine the process of textual transmission by which a document has reached our current possession This examination is concerned essentially with manuscript evidence and asks questions like: How similar are the copies we now have in relation to the number of other known manuscripts (MSS)? And, what are the time intervals between the original composition of the autographa (the original MSS) and the copies which are extant today? At this juncture, the bibliographical test is usually broken down into another set of three critical inquiries. The first inquiry attempts to pinpoint exactly how many manuscripts have been recovered. Stated simply, the more abundant the supply of manuscripts the greater the degree of confidence with regard to authenticity. Even if some variances exist between the texts, large numbers of copies afford historiographers the opportunity to compare and correlate in an effort to reproduce the originals. In addition, having a greater deal of manuscript evidence significantly reduces the possibility of extra words, sentences, or passages having been interpolated into the text by an isolated group of people (Bierle, pp. 30 -38). Having multitudinous manuscripts is also indicative of broader public dissemination and therefore subjects the text to a greater degree of accountability and public scrutiny.
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) if we were to inquire as to what is considered to be the most historically reliable piece of classical literature under the bibliographical test, the vast majority of secular historiographers would point to Homer’s Illiad. And, indeed, the Illiad does posses an amazing amount of historiographical evidence. The Illiad boasts an incredible 643 extant manuscripts. This is truly an anomaly in light of the typical number of MSS for most pieces of ancient literature where only 10 or 12 MSS is considered to be copious amount of documentation - more than enough to pass this part of the bibliographical test. For instance, few scholars cast any doubts at all upon such works as Livy’s, History of Rome (20 MSS), Julius Caesar’s, War Commentaries (10 MSS), Plato’s, Tetralogies (7 MSS), and the minor works of Tacitus (approx. 3) (Bierle, pp. 30 -38). Thus, we can readily see why so many scholars would point to the Illiad as most worthy of this test. But are they correct in their assertion that the Illiad is the victor here? I think not. For, where the NT documents are concerned, the manuscript evidence is absolutely overwhelming. There are more than 5300 known MSS in the original Greek language alone! After this there remains another 19, 000+ in Latin, Syriac, Armenian and other languages. In total, that’s more than 24, 000 manuscripts, spanning nearly two millennia, extant in the world today! Regarding this abundant supply of MSS for NT, British Historian F. F. Bruce writes, “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the NT” (Bruce, p. 15). Adding further emphasis to the gravity of this evidence, Professor of Life Sciences Dr. Don Bierle recounts in his book, “Surprised by Faith, ” the words of the eminent scholar of textual criticism, Sir Frederic Kenyon: !!! “Scholars are satisfied that they posses substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the NT are counted by hundreds, and even thousands. (Bierle, p. 23)” This brings us to the second question under the bibliographical inquiry. That is, how early are the manuscripts? Obviously, the more time that is placed between the extant copies and the autographa, the greater the possibility for textual error, addition or diminution. In other words, if the earliest extant MSS is dated significantly later from when the autographa is believed to have first been written, how can we be sure that changes were not implemented into the text during this time? Once again, we find the NT to be considerably more dependable than the other works of antiquity. For example, Caesar’s War Commentaries were composed around 50 BC, yet the earliest available manuscript is dated toward the end of the 8 th century AD. This leaves a gap of more than 900 years. In fact, almost all of the Greek classics have gaps of more than 1000 -1500 years! The Iliad (again, supposedly the most reliable) was composed around 900 BC yet its earliest manuscript dates at approximately 400 BC - a gap of 500 years. Perhaps the “shortest” gap historians will point to is found in the writings of Virgil which has a period of about 300 years between its earliest MSS and the autographa. !!!
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) As for the NT time intervals, the numbers are astonishing. Composed over a fifty year period beginning at around 47 AD and ending no later than 100 AD, the earliest dating manuscript is the John Ryland papyrus. This MSS, which contains a large segment of the Gospel of John, is dated by scholars at no later than 125 AD. This is estimated to be some 35 years after the original Gospel was written. It is therefore conceivable that whomever owned this manuscript could have been known personally by the gospel writer himself! Other manuscripts such as the Bodmer and Chester Beatty papyri date as early as 175 AD. Both of these are major copies of the originals (Bierle, pp. 30 -38). To further illustrate the superiority of the NT's bibliographical reliability over other classical works, the following table delineates the current standing of various MSS evidence for some of today’s most widely accepted bodies of literature and contrasts them in light of the NT: Astounding!
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) Clearly, the MSS evidence for other ancient documents pales in comparison to that of the NT. The final measure of the bibliographical test asks: How accurately were the MSS copied? Once again, we find the NT passing with comparative ease. Studies conducted at Princeton University under the direction of Dr. Bruce Metzger compare the manuscripts of three major works: Homer’s Iliad, the Hindu book Mahabharata and the NT. Dr. Bierle offers us an account of the methodology that was used in conducting this test: “ Copies of the three works were divided into lines of ten words each to make the comparison easier. The works varied in length from 15, 600 lines for the Iliad, 20, 000 for the NT and 250, 000 for the Mahabharata. Variations such as spelling differences, word order etc. , that did not affect the meaning of the text were ignored. All differences in the manuscripts affecting the reader’s understanding were counted. ” (Bierle, p. 34) The results? Metzger reported finding 764 lines of the Iliad that contained some form of suspected corruption - a 5% rate of distortion. The distortion rate of the Mahabharata was not as good falling at about 10%. The Mahabharata has approximately 26, 000 corrupt lines, relegating 1 of every 10 lines questionable. As for the NT, 40 lines were found to be slightly askew, rendering the rate of distortion at an incredible 0. 2%! Based on this evidence, Dr. Bierle, a former skeptic with a Ph. D. in the natural sciences, says, “I have become persuaded that if I grab my current copy of the NT records of Jesus’ life, that it is essentially that same as the writers wrote it in the first century AD. ” (Bierle, pp. 30 -38). The Internal Evidence Test While the bibliographical test for the NT is truly compelling, we have only thus far established the degree to which we can be certain that the originals were accurately recorded and preserved. We are still left with the question of the credibility of the autographa itself. In other words, how reliable is that which was originally composed? This is where the test of internal evidence comes in. Several key factors are taken into consideration here by historians. These include eyewitness accounts, the time the writings were composed in relation to the events they describe, and textual consistency. The following passages from the NT are examples of the type of language historians analyze under this test. “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you…” Luke 1: 1 -3 “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. ” 2 Peter 1: 16 “He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth. ” John 19: 35 Passages such as these are extremely helpful in establishing authenticity. In a separate work entitled, “More Than A Carpenter, ” researcher Josh Mc. Dowell explains why:
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) This ability to “tell the truth” is closely related to the witness’s nearness both geographically and chronologically to the events recorded. The New Testament accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus were recorded by men who had been either eyewitnesses themselves or who related the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events or teachings of Christ. (Mc. Dowell, p. 50) It is also worth noting that the apostles often appealed to the people’s own knowledge of the events recorded in the NT. For example, less than two months after the crucifixion of Jesus, the apostle Peter stood in Jerusalem and said, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited to you by God with miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as yourselves know” (Acts 2: 22). He further appealed to their own knowledge of these events by saying, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2: 32). Obviously, if Peter had been promulgating “cleverly devised myths, ” he would certainly have been held accountable for it by his contemporaries. This is further emphasized by the fact that many of these people were highly antagonistic toward early Christianity. Yet, not once does anyone contest the reality of these events as the Apostles retold them. They couldn’t because they saw them too! Even the early writers of the Talmud (a Jewish religious book) didn’t dare deny that Jesus did in fact teach and perform miracles. Instead what they did was call him an evil sorcerer! The apostle Paul uses the facticity of certain events to his advantage in the same way. When on trial for his life before the Roman procurator Festus and King Agrippa, he vociferously states, “Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner”(Acts 26: 26). This appeal to the people’s own knowledge is a recurring theme throughout the books of the NT. A final consideration which has aided historians in establishing the NT’s reliability has been the inclusion of potentially damaging passages which would likely have been left out if the NT suffered from some form of legendary accretion. The following quote is from history scholar, Will Durant's, classic “Caesar and Christ” as recounted by Josh Mc. Dowell: “Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed – the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom (see Mark 10: 37), their flight after Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the reference of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character and teaching of Christ remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man. ” (see Mc. Dowell, p. 557) In light of the evidences in the area of internal criticism, it should be clear to the unbiased inquirer that NT credibility is comparatively undeniable.
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) The External Evidence Test The final test which historiographers apply during textual examination is the test of external evidence. This is the area that deals with things like archaeology and the availability of external corroboration for the events recorded in the document under question. Is there any archaeological evidence that supports and confirms the events recorded in the MSS? Are there any other writings (i. e. , extra-biblical) that confirm the document's reliability? To what degree is the historical context (i. e. , setting) of the document accurate? Again, the NT abounds with references to an array of significant historical “checkpoints” - making this job much easier. For example, Luke who wrote both one of the Gospels and the book of Acts, begins the former by providing an easily verifiable historical backdrop. The statement is recorded in Luke 3: 1: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene - during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas…” Historian F. F. Bruce comments on how this type of statement aids historians in establishing literary trustworthiness, “A writer who thus relates his story to the wider context of world history is courting trouble if he is not careful; he affords his critical readers so many opportunities for testing his accuracy. Luke takes this risk and stands the test admirably. ” Places and significant events are commonplace in the NT with references to such geographical locations as Jericho, Egypt, Galilee, Bethlehem, the Jordan River and many others. Externally documentable events such as the Roman census, positions of political leadership, wars, famines, droughts, and the crucifixion are also manifold. For example, both Tacitus and Josephus write extensively about NT events such as the rulership of Pilate, the preaching of the apostles and, perhaps most significantly, the crucifixion. Tacitus and Josephus are not alone in their many writings of biblical events. Multitudinous writings by other secular authors have also been used to substantiate the NT’s credibility. Some of those include the writings of Lucian, Suetonius, Plinius Secundus, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon and Mara Bar-Serapion (Mc. Dowell, p. ). Some “believing” authors have included: Clement of Rome (who notably quotes several books of the NT in a letter he wrote to the Corinthians in 95 AD), Irenaeus, Papias, Ignatius and Polycarp (Mc. Dowell, p. ). Evidences on the archaeological front also lend themselves to the NT’s reliability. For example, critics claimed for years that the NT was in error because of Paul’s inclusion of the word “Politarchs” as an official government title in the book of Acts. No where else in history could any other reference to this title be found. Unfortunately, this alone was enough for some to completely discount the NT's credibility. This criticism, however, totally collapsed in the late 19 th century when archaeologists conducting research in some ancient Macedonian towns uncovered a wall upon which was inscribed the titles of the city’s magistrates - all beginning with “Politarch”. Similar criticism was also once directed toward the use of the title “Pilate”. That is until archaeologists excavated a 2 x 3 cornerstone upon which the following words were inscribed: “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius” (Bierle, pp. 30 -38).
Tests for establishing historicity (cont. ) Regarding these and other evidences, Dr. Clark H. Pinnock, professor at Regent College states, “There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest person cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias” (Pinnock, p. 58). CONCLUSION One of the problems that seems to consistently resurface in the area of the NT’s credibility is the propensity for some to demand that different and unusual tests be applied to it when attempting to establish its historical reliability. The academic demands frequently made of the NT are never made of secular literature. The reason for this is due to the incredible claims made by Jesus and others in the NT with regard to spiritual matters. But the question here is not whether or not Jesus' statement about himself were true - that is another discussion entirely. The question here concerns whether or not Jesus made the statements in the first place. And, after analyzing the historical evidences for the NT – using the same measures applied to other documents- we can clearly see that the NT withstands the tests with exceedingly high results. The skeptic may still be able to deny that what Jesus said was true. But he cannot deny that he did in fact say it! Another curiosity that seems to constantly loom on the horizon is that of the persistent detractors and would-be destroyers of the NT (and entire Bible for that matter). For hundreds of years there have always been groups of people, sometimes even large groups, who have sought only to discount it, disprove it, rewrite it, mock it, or downright eradicate it. Incredibly, though, these efforts all seem to invariably have a reverse effect. For, the Bible’s popularity and dissemination only seems to prosper and grow whenever it is attacked by various strongholds. By 1975 large parts of Scripture had been translated into more than 1, 500 different languages, with over 261 complete translations - more than any other book in history (Webster). Plus, as Dr. Bierle points out, “Even if every bible were wiped off the face of the earth, another could be reconstructed simply by taking quotations of it out from other books. ” (Bierle, 1997 seminar). Despite the constant opposition and controversy, the bible has withstood the test of time in the teeth of the incessant scrutiny that has plagued it since its inception and remains to this day the all time best selling book, or perhaps more appropriately - history book - on world record.
Bible paleontology – what do we have today and where? The Old Testament was originally written primarily in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Further, it must be remember that here are no original t autographs of either the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament. Yet, the Old and New Testaments have been preserved in apographs (exemplars or copies) of the originals. There at least 5309 surviving Greek manuscripts that contain all or parts of the New Testament. In addition there are more than 19, 000 ancient New Testament manuscripts in Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and other language versions. The oldest copies of the New Testament known to exist are NOT Greek copies but the Syriac and the Old Latin versions (pre-Jerome’s Latin Vulgate). The Old Syriac "is a good translation from the Greek, and exists practically complete in about 46 manuscripts. " (General Biblical Introduction by Herbert Miller, 1937; 240 -41). The oldest of those manuscripts is from the 4 th or 5 th century but the form of text they preserved dates from the close of the second or the beginning of the third century. "The Old Latin version was likely translated from the Greek in roughly 157 AD. " (A Plain Introduction to New Testament Criticism, II, 1894; Scrivner; pp. 42 -42). Finally, there are more than 24, 000 handwritten copies of the New Testament that have survived. The Four Kinds of these 5309 Greek Manuscripts There are four kinds of Greek manuscripts that we have in our possession today: 1) papyri, 2) uncials, 3) cursives, and 4) lectionaries. " (Defending The King James Bible by D. A. Waite; p. 53). "The Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, so far as known, were written on papyrus, parchment, or paper. The autographs, both of the historical and epistolary writers, are supposed to have been written on papyrus. The great uncials copies and the most valued of the minuscules and lectionaries were written on parchment, while paper was employed largely in the making of the later lectionaries and the printed texts of the New Testament. " (Praxis In Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament by Rev. Charles F. Sitterly; 1898; p. 15). Papyrus is a brittle kind of paper made out of the papyrus plant, which grows in Egypt. There about 97 papyrus fragment manuscripts of the New Testament. Most of those surviving early texts only have a few verses on them. The most ancient example is the John Ryland papyrus fragment p 52, which includes portions of John 18: 31 -33 & 37 -38. It is housed in John Rylands Library, Manchester, England. The fragment is believed to have been written some time between 98 and 138 AD. (The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts; Philip W. Comfort & David P. Barrett; 1999 Baker Books; p. 17 -18). There are six papyri that I am aware of, which record large portions of the New Testament. P 45, dated around 200 AD, contains portions of all four Gospels and Acts. P 46, from the second century, has almost all the Paul's epistles and Hebrews. P 47, also from the second century, contains evelation 9 -17. R These are from what is called the Beatty Papyri housed in Dublin Castle in Dublin Ireland. Then there are three lengthy papyri from the odmer Papyri. P 66 B is a second century papyrus that contains almost all of John. P 72, a third or fourth century papyrus, contains all of 1 and 2 Peter and Jude. Finally, P 75, dated between 175 -200 AD, contains the most of Luke through John 15. Uncials Uncial comes from the Latin word uncialis, which means inch-high. It is used to delineate a type of Greek and Latin writing which features capital letters. There are few, if any, divisions between words in uncial manuscripts and no punctuation to speak of. The word majuscule, meaning large or capital letter, is a synonym for uncial. There are some 267 uncials. Three of the most famous uncial New Testament manuscripts are the fourth century manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vatican-us and the fifth century Codex Alexandrius. Cursives or minuscules are Greek manuscripts written in lower case letters, more like handwriting. The letters flow together, much like writing of today. There are spaces between words and some degree of punctuation. There at least 2, 764 cursive New Testament manuscripts known today. Lectionaries The word lection comes from a Latin root word meaning "to read. " Lectionaries are portions of Scriptures in Greek (or Latin) Bibles that were read in the church services during the year. There at least 2, 143 known lectionaries in existence. New discoveries are regularly coming to light and so it is difficult to have exact, up to date figures.
What do ancient manuscripts look like? The Ryland papyrus 98 AD Codex Sinaiticus 4 th century Cursive John 1, AD 1022
Some paleontological detail J. J. Griesbach identified three New Testament text-types calling them the Alexandrian, Western and Byzantine. He first published his findings in 1775. H. B. Sweete writes that there are basically three types of manuscripts, the Constantinoplian or Textus Receptus; the Eusebio-Origen or Palestinain; the Hysychian or Egyptian text type. (Introduction of the Old Testament in Greek by H. B. Swete, pp. 76 & ff). More recently men like Lightfoot, in his book How We Got the Bible, and Metzger in his book The Text of the New Testament, have broken down the divisions further and identify four text streams or text families; Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine. The Traditional, Byzantine or Eastern Text Group of The Reformation-Protestant Bibles "The first stream which carried the Received Text in Hebrew and Greek, began with the apostolic churches, and reappearing at intervals down the Christian Era among enlightened believers, was protected by the wisdom and scholarship of the pure church in her different phases: precious manuscripts were preserved by such as the church at Pella in Palestine where Christians fled, when in 70 A. D. the Romans destroyed Jerusalem; by the Syrian Church of Antioch which produced eminent scholarship; by the Italic Church in northern Italy; and also at the same time by the Gallic Church in southern France and by the Celtic Church in Great Britain; by the pre-Waldensian, the Waldensian, and the churches of the Reformation. The Minority, Western or Alexandrian Text Group of The Roman Catholic Bibles The second stream is a small one of a very few manuscripts. Less the 1% of all Greek New Testament manuscripts fit into this group. Here is a brief overview of the three manuscripts considered to be the most important within this group. 1. Codex Alexandrinus (A) – This codex was the first of the so-called "great uncials" to become known to western paleographers. "Walton, in his polyglot Bible, indicated it by the letter A and thus set the fashion of designating Biblical manuscripts by such symbols. " (The Catholic Encyclopedia online; Codex Alexandrinus; http: //www. newadvent. org/ cathen/04080 c. htm). The codex came to the knowledge of the western world when Cyril Lucar, the Patriarch of the Greek Catholic (Greek Orthodox) Church in Alexandria was transferred in 1621 AD to become the new Patriarch of Constantinople. He sent the codex as a gift to King James I of England, but James I died before the gift was presented. Finally, in 1627 AD Charles I accepted it in James I's stead. It seems probable that Cyril Lucar had brought it with him from Alexandria. Concerning the provenance of the volume, there is "a note by Cyril Lucar states that it was written by Thecla, a noble lady of Egypt, but this is probably merely his interpretation of an Arabic note from the 14 th century which states the MS was written by Thecla, the martyr (shortly after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD). The article goes on to say that "another Arabic note by Athanasius (probably Athanasius III. , patriarch c. 1308 AD) states that it was given to the patriarchate of Alexandria, and a Latin note of a later period dates the presentation in 1098. " Upon careful examination, scholars say it is clear that more than one person worked on the volume. Actually, at some time in its history the work was bound into four volumes, three Old Testament Volumes and one containing the New Testament and 1 and 2 Clement. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "two hands are discerned in the New Testament by Woide, three by Sir E. Maunde Thompson and Kenyon" and, "the greater part of Volume III (last volume of the Old Testament) is ascribed by Gregory to a different hand from that of the others. " (The Catholic Encyclopedia online; Codex Alexandrinus). The text of Alexandrinus is in double columns of 49 to 51 lines. It is the first codex to contain the major chapters with their titles. A new paragraph is indicated by a large capital 2. Codex Vaticanus (B) – This codex is an uncial manuscript thought to be from mid-4 th century. It is made up of 759 leaves written in three columns and has 42 lines to the column, except for the poetical books where there are two columns per page. "It was written by three scribes" according to the Encyclopedia Britannica which goes on to state that later and then much later changes were made by two other scribes (Encyclopedia Britannica - 11 th Edition; vol. 3; p 879). It went unnoticed in the Vatican library for many years until it became known to textual scholars in 1475. However, it was used by Rome. "Pope Sixtus V made it the basis of an edition of the Greek Old Testament in 1580" (The New Archeological Discoveries and Their Bearing Upon the New Testament by Camden M. Cobern; published by Funk and Wagnalls 1922; p. 136). It was not published to scholars until it was issued in different volumes between 1828 to 1838 in 5 volumes. This set proved to be very inaccurate. In fact, the Vatican kept the manuscript sequestered and took great pains to be sure it was not readily available to outsiders for about another 400 years! 3. Codex Sinaiticus a (a or ALEPH) – This codex (also mid-4 th century) was discovered by Tischendorf at St. Catharine's Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai on his third visit there in 1859. Today, most of this codex is housed in the National British Library. "The original provenance of the codex is debatable, but the two likeliest contenders seem to be Egypt and Caesarea. This manuscript is written on thin vellum. The portion of the manuscript that resides at the British Library contains 346½ leaves of that number 199 are Old Testament leaves. There another 43 leaves at the University Library at Leipzig and yet another 3 partial leaves at Leningrad. In 1975 the monks at St. Catherine's monastery discovered several leaves from Genesis believed to be from Sinaiticus in a room whose ceiling had collapsed centuries ago.