National Geographic : 2009 Dec
PHOTOS: BRITISH LIBRARY HISTORY Digital Scripture A fourth-century Bible that includes the earliest known complete copy of the New Testament now has a 21st-century address: codexsinaiticus.org. For much of its existence, the sacred text---handwritten on parchment in ancient Greek---resided at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, from which it takes its name. As with many old manuscripts, it was eventually split up, and some of it was lost. Only 823 of an estimated 1,487 pages survive. The virtual archive reunites what remains at the monastery with parts in England, Germany, and Russia. Each page appears in high definition along with a catalog of details. This lets scholars easily study features such as additions and corrections made until the 12th century, when the text was deemed outdated. Says the British Library's Juan Garcés, who's leading the four-year digitization effort, "It was alive for a long time." And now it lives again. ---A. R. Williams A scar from an animal's hide (above) marks one of the 694 bound pages of parchment (top) housed at the British Library in London.