I’m surprised that this didn’t make more of a splash when it came out a month or so ago. The Codex Sinaiticus project is updating and making available online the images and translations of a codex—a 1600-year-old bible, one of the oldest and most complete versions of the Christian Bible ever found.
Why do I think this is amazing? Why do I compare it to the printing press or the translation of the Bible into the vernacular? Because it seems to me that this is just as important a moment, placing images and translation processes previously discussed almost exclusively in academic circles before the whole world.
To me it is moving to see the respect and care with which these sorts of documents are treated, when found, and to witness the dedication and the reverence with which they are studied, translated, reconstructed, and incorporated into the body of knowledge about Biblical source material.
At the same time, it is much more difficult to believe that this is a text delivered as a finished product direct from the hands of God. Rather, it is a very human document, edited and re-written, margins filled with corrections and commentary, lost and found, but nonetheless joyfully, reverently, miraculously handed down for millennia, still conveying truth and power and love and God’s ongoing story of creation and love for the world. That it speaks anything coherent after all that fragmentation and reconstruction is astounding; that it speaks truth and power and love is jaw-dropping.
Is this an amazing moment in the life of the church, this invitation to see the Bible perhaps with new eyes? Or is it just a bunch of old parchment found in the desert somewhere? Only we—and by we, I mean anyone with internet access—can decide what it means to us.