This blog provides links to open-access resources for the study of the Old and New Testaments as well as for the ANE, and, occasionally, for Classics. The source for the great majority of the posts is Chuck Jones's The Ancient World Online (http://ancientworldonline.blogspot.com/).
Monday, April 2, 2012
High-resolution scans of this famous codex are now online via the University of Cambridge Digital Library:
There are half-a-dozen ancient manuscripts which are
the foundation of our understanding of the text of the New Testament
writings. Among these stands the copy known since the sixteenth century
as Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis. Any manuscript which has survived from
antiquity is a marvel for this reason alone, and as we explore its
pages, we have a rare opportunity to explore a little of the written
culture of late antique Christianity. Although in the past century some
remarkable papyrus manuscripts have been recovered from the sands of
Egypt, their discovery has in general served more to highlight the
significance of the parchment manuscripts than to diminish it.
this group, Codex Bezae occupies a unique place for several reasons. In
the first place, as a bilingual manuscript, with a Greek text and a
Latin version on facing pages, it provides a valuable insight into the
reception of the Gospels and Acts in the western Christian tradition.
The Latin version it contains is one of the small handful of manuscripts
which are the most important witnesses to the development of a Latin
version before Jerome's famous Vulgate of 382. Secondly, it provides a
strikingly different form of text to that preserved in almost every
other manuscript, and to the printed Greek text and the translations
derived from it. These differences consist in the Gospels in frequent
harmonisation of the text and in Acts in a free restyling of the text
found best represented by Codex Vaticanus and reproduced in English
The manuscript is the work of
a single scribe, one trained primarily to copy Latin texts. Its present
contents are the Gospels of Matthew, John, Luke and Mark, a single page
of the last verses of 3 John (in Latin only) and the Acts of the
Apostles. The only book that is complete is the Gospel of Luke, since
there are pages missing from all the others. It is possible that between
Mark and 3 John the manuscript originally contained Revelation and the
rest of the Epistles of John. The Gospels are in the so-called Western
order, with the two who were apostles first, followed by the two who
were companions of the apostles.
manuscript is best dated to the end of the fourth or the beginning of
the fifth century. Many places have been proposed for its place of
origin, including southern France, Africa, Egypt and Palestine. I have
proposed Berytus (Beirut). There were a number of correctors and
annotators working in the first centuries of its existence. The first
strong evidence for the manuscript's history is replacement leaves for
missing portions of Matthew, John and Mark. The style of writing and the
use of blue ink provide a very strong case that these pages were
written in Lyons in the ninth century. At this period Lyons was an
important centre for the dissemination of ancient works in the west.
is probable that the Codex Bezae remained there, in the Monastery of St
Irenaeus, until the sixteenth century. It was apparently taken over the
Alps to the Council of Trent in 1546. Its textual significance was
already recognised, since it was one of the manuscripts whose readings
was cited in the first edition of the Greek New Testament to include
such information, made by Robert Stephanus in Paris in 1550. Then after
the sacking of Lyons in the religious wars it came into the hands of the
Reformer Theodore de Bèze, Calvin’s successor at Geneva. The first part
of its name is derived from the Latin form of his name, Beza. In 1581,
Bezae presented the manuscript to Cambridge University. This is the
origin of the second part of its name, Cantabrigiensis.
printed transcription of the manuscript (using a font imitating the
shape of the characters) was published by the University Press in 1793. A
more accurate transcription, with the corrections and annotations fully
detailed, was made by F.H. Scrivener and published by Deighton Bell in
1864. A facsimile edition was published by the University Press in 1899.
Of the many distinctive readings of the manuscript, the following deserve special mention:
It is the oldest manuscript to contain the story of the adulterous woman (John 7.53-8.11). It is on Folios 133v to 135.
genealogy of Jesus in Luke's Gospel is arranged in reverse order so as
to conform more closely with that in Matthew. It is on Folios 195v to 197.
is a story about Jesus found in no other manuscript (the story of the
man working on the Sabbath, placed after Luke 6.4). It is on Folios 205v and 206.
is the oldest manuscript to contain the longer ending of Mark
(16.9-20). The last pages of Mark are missing, so all that remains is
the Greek text of verses 9-15. What follows is text supplied in the
ninth century. It is on Folio 347v.
Acts, when the angel delivers Peter from prison the detail is added
that they go into the street down seven steps (Acts 12.10). It is on
Folios 463v-464, eleven lines from the bottom of the page.
Professor David Parker
Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing