The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

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Early Christian Authorities

Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp of Smyrna
Justin Martyr
Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian of Carthage
Muratorian Canon
Eusebius of Caesarea
codex Sinaiticus
Athanasius of Alexandria
Didymus the Blind

Codex Sinaiticus (4th century)

This manuscript, usually designated S, was discovered in 1859 by C. von Tischendorf at the Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mt. Sinai (in the south central Sinai Peninsula) after a partial discovery of 43 leaves of a 4th-century biblical codex there in 1844. Though some of the Old Testament is missing, a whole 4th-century New Testament is preserved, with the Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas at the end. There were probably 3 hands and several later correctors.

Tischendorf convinced the monks that giving the precious manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia would grant them needed protection of their abbey and the Greek Church. Tischendorf subsequently published S at Leipzig and then presented it to the Tsar. The manuscript remained in Leningrad until 1933, during which time the Oxford University Press in 1911 published a facsimile of the New Testament portion from photographs of the manuscript taken by Kirsopp Lake, an English biblical scholar. The manuscript was sold in 1933 by the Soviet government to the British Museum for £100,000. It is now divided among 4 institutions: the British Library, the National Library of Russia, St. Catherine's Monastery, and the Leipzig University Library. A detailed list is available.

The text type of S is in the Alexandrian group, although it has some Western readings. Later corrections representing attempts to alter the text to a different standard probably were made about the 6th or 7th century at Caesarea. More discussion and images are online at The Codex Sinaiticus Project and Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts Web.

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