The Wandering Sinaiticus

unnamedAs a professor here at STS I have enjoyed my time with our students, having the opportunity to see them “grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom” (if I may borrow a phrase from Luke’s Gospel). This fall I taught NT702, a course in New Testament Textual Criticism. Examining the textual history of the New Testament requires a commitment from students to attend to a great deal of detail, so the homework assignments in the course can take some time.

One Tuesday afternoon a few weeks ago I was on my way to teach that class and I saw one of my students ahead of me, walking down the hall with the library’s color facsimile copy of Codex Sinaiticus up on his shoulder. Codex Sinaiticus is a fourth-century Greek Bible (both Old and New Testaments) and the facsimile is quite large (nearly 32 pounds, according to the publisher), so it was immediately recognizable even from afar. My curiosity was piqued, and not merely because the volume is reference use only (as I understand it, scholarly inquiry necessitated its liberation from captivity).

When I arrived at the classroom I found my students gathered around the facsimile, locating Luke 23:34 (a verse with an interesting transmission history), and comparing what they saw to what was in the critical apparatus of their 28th edition Nestle-Aland Greek New Testaments. In the critical apparatus the 28th edition recounts a fairly detailed account of the corrections made on this verse in Codex Sinaiticus and the students wanted to make sense of that report.

It warmed this professor’s heart to see students going out of their way to understand the critical notes of their Greek New Testaments, to argue their way for one reading or another. Every professor—if he or she loves teaching, anyway—is pleased to see this level of student involvement in a course. God has brought and continues to bring amazing students to STS and it is such an honor to be a part of their journey of preparation for ministry.

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