Go Deep

Codex Sinaiticus

There it was! The Codex Sinaiticus is “one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible, and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.”[1] When the Russians decided to sell it in 1933, British schoolchildren began a campaign to raise the money. Through their gifts, efforts of the British Museum, and a contribution from the British treasury, £100,000 was raised, and the manuscript was purchased. Today you can see it at the British Library in London.

A few years ago, my childhood dream of doing just that was finally fulfilled. Some visitors to London want to see Big Ben, Parliament, the Thames River, the Tower. I could have cared less. I was there to see the most famous copy of the Bible in the world: Codex Sinaiticus.

Jan and I arrived at a very ordinary-looking library. We climbed the stairs and found the manuscript room. I had expected lines of tourists and scholars waiting patiently to view the codex. Instead, Sinaiticus was housed in a simple glass case alongside a few other old books. The guard was off in one corner, reading a newspaper. Jan and I were alone with the most precious book in the world! I reverently walked up, leaned on the glass, and slowly deciphered the ancient text. It was the most beautiful book I had ever seen. Neatly formed letters covered the parchment. I exclaimed, “It’s the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians!” The guard in the corner looked up. Jan rolled her eyes and walked over to view the Beatles’ exhibit to study a Paul McCartney manuscript, but my heart was pounding. Years of Greek classes were rewarded as I spent the next two hours admiring two pages from this famous book.

Not everyone would be as excited as I was that day. For most, it would be like visiting 14 cities in 9 days just to put a checkmark on your bucket list. “Been there. Done that.” That’s alright. When I visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, I remember running down the hallway chanting, “That’s famous. That’s famous.” Still, without an. education in art, I couldn’t appreciate what I was seeing.

Sometimes we treat the Bible like that. We underline a few passages and fail to appreciate the complete Word of God. Do you feel the Hebrew writer’s frustration as he says:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11 – 14)

What are you having for breakfast today? Milk or meat? Dig into the Word of God! Go deep!

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