6 Jul 2009

Pages of historic Christian Bible online

10:11 pm on 6 July 2009

About 800 pages of the earliest surviving Christian Bible have been recovered and put on the internet.

Visitors to the website www.codexsinaiticus.org can now see images of more than half the 1,600-year-old Codex Sinaiticus manuscript.

Fragments of the 4th century document - written in Greek on parchment leaves - have been worked on by institutions in the United Kingdom, Germany, Egypt and Russia.

Experts say it is "a window into the development of early Christianity".

For 1,500 years, the Codex Sinaiticus lay undisturbed in a Sinai monastery until it was found in 1844 and split between Egypt, Russia, Germany and Britain.

It is thought to have survived because the desert air was ideal for preservation and because the monastery, on a Christian island in a Muslim sea, remained untouched, its walls unconquered.