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The oldest known Bible shows alterations to today’s Bible

Posted by dorian on July 6, 2009

The rival to the Bible

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BBC NEWS

By Roger Bolton

What is probably the oldest known Bible is being digitised, reuniting its scattered parts for the first time since its discovery 160 years ago. It is markedly different from its modern equivalent. What’s left out?

The world’s oldest surviving Bible is in bits.

For 1,500 years, the Codex Sinaiticus lay undisturbed in a Sinai monastery, until it was found – or stolen, as the monks say – in 1844 and split between Egypt, Russia, Germany and Britain.

Now these different parts are to be united online and, from next July, anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access will be able to view the complete text and read a translation.

For those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, there will be some very uncomfortable questions to answer. It shows there have been thousands of alterations to today’s bible.

The Codex, 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.

Anti-Semitic writings

The fact this book has survived at all is a miracle. Before its discovery in the early 19th Century by the Indiana Jones of his day, it remained hidden in St Catherine’s Monastery since at least the 4th Century.

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The monastery at the base of Mt Sinai

It survived because the desert air is ideal for preservation and because the monastery, on a Christian island in a Muslim sea, remained untouched, its walls unconquered.

Today, 30 mainly Greek Orthodox monks, dedicated to prayer, worship there, helped as in ages past by the Muslim Bedouin. For this place is holy to three great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam; a land where you can still see the Burning Bush where God spoke to Moses.

The monastery itself has the greatest library of early manuscripts outside the Vatican – some 33,000, and a collection of icons second to none.

Not surprisingly, it is now a World Heritage Site and has been called a veritable Ark, bringing spiritual treasures safely through the turbulent centuries. In many people’s eyes the greatest treasure is the Codex, written around the time of the first Christian Emperor Constantine.

When the different parts are digitally united next year in a £1m project, anyone will be able to compare and contrast the Codex and the modern Bible.

Firstly, the Codex contains two extra books in the New Testament.

One is the little-known Shepherd of Hermas, written in Rome in the 2nd Century – the other, the Epistle of Barnabas. This goes out of its way to claim that it was the Jews, not the Romans, who killed Jesus, and is full of anti-Semitic kindling ready to be lit. “His blood be upon us,” Barnabas has the Jews cry.

Discrepancies

Had this remained in subsequent versions, “the suffering of Jews in the subsequent centuries would, if possible, have been even worse”, says the distinguished New Testament scholar Professor Bart Ehrman.

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“ The suffering of Jews in the subsequent centuries would, if possible, have been even worse had the Epistle of Barnabas remained ” Professor Bart Ehrman

And although many of the other alterations and differences are minor, these may take some explaining for those who believe every word comes from God.

Faced with differing texts, which is the truly authentic one?

Mr Ehrman was a born again Bible-believing Evangelical until he read the original Greek texts and noticed some discrepancies.

The Bible we now use can’t be the inerrant word of God, he says, since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.

“When people ask me if the Bible is the word of God I answer ‘which Bible?'”

The Codex – and other early manuscripts – omit some mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection, which the Archbishop of Canterbury has said is essential for Christian belief.

Other differences concern how Jesus behaved. In one passage of the Codex, Jesus is said to be “angry” as he healed a leper, whereas the modern text records him as healing with “compassion”.

Also missing is the story of the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned – until Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (a Jewish sect), inviting anyone without sin to cast the first stone.

Nor are there words of forgiveness from the cross. Jesus does not say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.

Fundamentalists, who believe every word in the Bible is true, may find these differences unsettling.

But the picture is complicated. Some argue that another early Bible, the Codex Vaticanus, is in fact older. And there are other earlier texts of almost all the books in the bible, though none pulled together into a single volume.

Many Christians have long accepted that, while the Bible is the authoritative word of God, it is not inerrant. Human hands always make mistakes.

“It should be regarded as a living text, something constantly changing as generation and generation tries to understand the mind of God,” says David Parker, a Christian working on digitising the Codex.

Others may take it as more evidence that the Bible is the word of man, not God.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7651105.stm

Published: 2008/10/06 11:37:06 GMT

© BBC MMIX

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5 Responses to “The oldest known Bible shows alterations to today’s Bible”

  1. princessxxx said

    kay will figure it all out for us. she knows “everything”.

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  2. Enkill_Eridos said

    When the whole thing is digizized I want to read it. As well as the translated versions. I have delved into the first english translation of the Zophra which is an interesting read. I am only on book two of that. So hopefully I can find the translated and untranslated digitization of the Codex when I am done with all 30 books of the Zophra. Also this is one of the original christian new testaments. Probably by a sect that did not believe as the Nicean Council did. All the different copies after the Nicean Council deemed what was canoncal and what was not were burned. It is both suprising and refreshing that this was hidden away from the Nicean Council. I am just waiting on the Vatican to try to steal it, as they have other faiths writings in the past. To give a brief history lesson, The Nicean Council created the Nicean Creed or Creed of Nicea. This council decided what the new religion of christianity actually believed in to bring the multiple sects into one unifying belief. Since different sects believed Jesus was a man but still son of god, had a family and was a great man not a deity, and also he provided the Gentiles and Jews a unifying covenant that was sealed by his blood. The latter which is basically the Holy Roman Catholic Church and all modern sects of Christianity. Believed in Jesus as a divine being that was physically resserected after being dead for three days. So for a few centuries there was this argument between who was right and wrong. Things got bloody and the Roman Emperor, worshipper of Isis, stepped in and created the Holy Roman Catholic Church which, was his “official” religion. An interesting fact; however, is that he still worshipped Isis and did it in a temple converted from a temple of Isis to a Catholic Church.

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  3. Anonymous said

    Actually, the oldest documents for the Bible we found are the Dead Sea scrolls which were written in 250 BC to 65 AD and found in 1947 by goat shepherds… The Codex Sinaiticus first of all is not the oldest books of the Bible; you never even told us the date of it getting written. And second our Bible now is pretty accurate compared to the Dead Sea scrolls,which is the oldest documentation of the Bible that we have. What is the point that some key points of the resurrection in the Bible are not present in this codex? compare all of the books of the gospel. There are some events of Jesus’ life that are in one book but not in the others, does it make the other books incredible? Now tell me, does the codex disagree with the our Bible or does it contain some extra books that weren’t added to the Bible for some reason the writers of the Bible had. So bring me a date and some other points and we can argue again.

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  4. The problem with your argument is the claim the dead sea scrolls were the entirety of the Christian Bible and not just a small portion.

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  5. Bert Clayton said

    It’s interesting. One thing about the Soviet Union and any government, propaganda is used. To fabricate this version would fit into the AntiChrist modus operandi. Given Stalins’ efforts at go own holocaust, it’s jive.
    But as local churches generally will support general ideas, though not factual, to avoid loss of authority and controversy, governments will do the same. Consider in 1534 the King of England appointed hisself to be over the church, breaking from Rome.
    But on the other hand, early government may have instituted translations conducive to their agenda and preferences.
    Whew, it’s complicated.
    But to have my 72 scholars over five years translate the KjV, I’d guess they’d know more about language and what is intended to say than others with a severe lack of language and all its’ nuances.
    Throwing fault on the Bible for anti-Semitism could be propaganda itself to divide and conquer. Planting seeds of suggestion into others minds. Very tactile. Given many efforts, in recent times, it fits the course.
    Which I’d really like to know.

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