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The Codex Vaticanus

By Vatican.com 5/18/2018

Codex Vaticanus

The Codex Vaticanus is perhaps the most important of all the manuscripts of the Holy Scripture. The Codex Vaticanus is believed to be among the oldest copies of the Greek Bible in existence. It is called so because it is conserved in the Vatican Library. The Codex Vaticanus is a quarto volume which is written in uncial letters of the 4th century, on folios of fine parchment bound in quinterns. Each page of the Codex Vaticanus is divided into three columns of forty to forty-four lines each; with 16 to 18 letters in a single line, except in the poetic books, where as a result of the stichometric division of the lines, there are only two columns. The Codex Vaticanus consists of 617 leaves; the Old Testament is made up of 474 leaves while the New Testament is made up of 142 leaves. Each leaf measures approximately 10.8 inches on each side.

There are no capital letters in the Codex Vaticanus, but at times the first letter of a section extends over the margin. The letters are written in a brown ink and rest either on the guidance line or on the ruled line which runs halfway between the lines of writing. There is no separation of words and virtually no punctuation. This must be an interesting script to attempt to read!

The Old Testament of the Codex Vaticanus lacks the following passages: Genesis 1-46: 28; 2 Samuel 2:5-7. The order of the Old Testament books is as follows: Genesis to Second Paralipomenon, First and Second Esdras, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles, Job, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, Tobias, the Minor Prophets from Osee to Malachi, Isaias, Jeremias, Baruch, Lamentations and Epistle of Jeremias, Ezechiel and Daniel. Also, the Codex Vaticanus does not contain the Prayer of Manassesor the Books of Machabees.

The New Testament of the Codex Vaticanus also has some missing quinterns including: part of the Pauline Epistels, Hebrews 9:14-13:25, the Pastoral Letters, the Epistel to Philemon and the Apocalypse.

There are several interesting facts concerning the Codex Vaticanus and especially concerning the distortions that has been  made in this script over the centuries. For instance, the Codex Vaticanus was revised in the 8th, 10th and 15th centuries thus it is not as it was originally. In fact the entire Codex Vaticanus manuscript has been manipulated; every letter has been run over with a pen and there are some sentences, clauses and  even verses that have been omitted.

The exact origin of Codex Vaticanus is uncertain. There are different views and arguments that have been raised concerning the origin of this script. Hort thinks that it was written in Rome; while Armitage Robinson, Harris Rendel and others attribute it to Asia Minor. On the other hand, there are others who claim that it was actually written in Egypt.

There are various collations, editions and studies of the Codex Vaticanus. Visit the Vatican Library and have a first-hand experience with this historical and religious script.

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