Manuscripts Waiting to Be Discovered!
The Bible was written more than 1,900 years ago. You would think that by now all the manuscripts that could be discovered would have been found. Far from it!
In 1844 the oldest complete copy of the New Testatment, Codex Siniaticus, was discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula. In 1931 the discovery of portions of the New Testament from as early as 175 AD—called the Chester Beatty Papyri—was announced. And in 1947 the remarkable Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Are there still significant discoveries to be made?
The clear answer is, “YES!”
In 1892 twin sisters from Cambridge, England, received permission to explore the library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery. The wealthy, eccentric, and intellectual Agnes Smith Lewis found the earliest known copy of Old Syriac gospels.
In 1947 the earliest complete Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament, which had been preserved for more than 1,000 years, disappeared during riots in Syria. Most of the Aleppo Codex was recovered, but about one-fourth of it was destroyed or lost. Later a full page from II Chronicles and a fragment of a page from Exodus were discovered, not in the Middle East, but in Brooklyn, New York, owned by people who had previously lived in Aleppo.
In May 1975, workmen making repairs to Saint Catherine’s discovered a walled-up room in which were seventy boxes with three thousand previously unknown manuscripts. Many were nonbiblical, but there were a few leaves from Codex Sinaiticus among the find.
In the summer of 2007 a team from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts in Texas traveled to the Tirana, Albania, hoping to photograph thirteen biblical manuscripts. They found the thirteen manuscripts they expected plus seventeen other manuscripts that were thought to be lost and an additional seventeen manuscripts that were previously entirely unknown to the scholarly community.
Stay tuned! More discoveries are coming!