by: Tod Robberson

Dallas Morning News

LONDON —(March 15, 2005)

Is the Bible the infallible word of God or a text doctored by calligraphers, priests and politicians to satisfy their own earthly motivations? Evidence suggesting the later is contained on the pages of the world’s oldest Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus. The ancient Greek Bible, written between the 1st and 4th centuries A.D., has been divided since the mid-1800s after European and Russian visitors removed sections of it from a desert monastery in Egypt.

But on Thursday, March 12th , 2005, experts from Britain, Germany, Russia, Egypt and the United States launched a four-year project to digitally reunite the fragile texts and make them available to anyone with the click of a mouse. “The Codex is so special as a foundation document and a unique icon to Christianity,” said John Tuck, head of British Collections at the British Library in London. Unification of the manuscript, albeit digitally, “is a blockbuster in scholarship.”

Only a privileged few have ever been-allowed to handle the original manuscripts. Scholars need access to determine, among other things, how far the modem Bible has veered in interpretation from the Codex. Parts of the project announced Thurs-day will include Christian texts written as few as 45 years after the death of Jesus Christ. The manuscripts are so delicate that only four scholars have been granted access in the past 19 years to sections of the text housed in London, said Scot McKendrick, head of medieval and earlier manuscripts at the British Library in London.

But researchers and the general public will be able to examine the digitized texts in minute detail. Historical and explanatory notations will accompany the digitized text so that viewers can trace how changes were made and, more important, why.

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