Tuesday, July 7, 2009

God's Word Written Down For Us

The Codex Sinaiticus can now be seen online at codexsinaiticus.org

This is a full, compiled hand-written Bible in Greek from about 300 years after the New Testament church. There are many hundreds of fragments of different passages or books of the New Testament from earlier times, and we have the complete Old Testament from before Christ came, but this is one of the earliest copies still existing that was a fully bound text of both the Old and New Testament like our Bibles today. You have to remember that back before the age of printing presses, whatever was going to be copied had to be copied by hand. From the existing manuscripts, it seems that often people would copy excerpts from books of the Bible to send to friends, family or other churches just like you will quote a passage in an email. In the back of every Greek Bible that any of your pastors have, there is a list of every single ancient manuscript of passages of the Bible that has ever been found. The list also tells exactly where in the world it is kept so that you, if you wanted to, could actually go see the original copies.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament there are references to making sure Scripture was copied and shared with other people and other churches (e.g. Colossians 4:16). Did you know that God commanded the kings of Israel to personally make their own a hand copies of the book of the law for them to keep when each one first takes his throne (Deuteronomy 17:18)? Imagine how good it would be if our presidents had to take out the first days and weeks of their terms in office to spend their time studying and hand copying passages from God's Word.

Try copying a few pages of your own Bible and you will see how long and difficult a task it is. Recently Taiwanese presbyterian churches all over Taiwan did that very thing. Church members signed up to hand copy their assigned passages -- to make up complete hand written manuscript Bibles in Taiwanese.

I'm not sure how many copies they made, but if you visit a Taiwanese Presbyterian church building, make sure you go up to the front and look for the large hand-copied volume of the Bible.

Photo taken at Lotong Presbyterian Church, Ilan County, August 13, 2006

Like it is all over the world in this day and age, this period in Taiwan's church history is a time where people in the churches are straying away from God's Word and taking their direction from pagan society's values or personal experiences. Please pray for the churches in Taiwan that they will not turn their eyes away from God's Word but will seek to submit to it and apply it to every area of their lives and teaching. Please pray especially for the elders and pastors not to seek new things but instead seek to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).


  1. Incredible.

    I just recently got in touch with some scholars who are taking a deeper look at the Codex Washingtonensis. Their research is indicating that it may be a genuine >original< copy of the Gospels due to distinct and one-of-a-kind intertextual stamps and covert dating within and without the documents.

    It'd be interesting to hear what you think, given your language and Scriptural experience.

    Be blessed, my fellow laborer in Taiwan!

  2. Sorry, I forgot to include at least one reference: