New survey to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the electronic edition of Codex Sinaiticus.
Ten years ago this month, in July 2009, the complete digital edition of Codex Sinaiticus was released online at www.codexsinaiticus.org. This remarkable collaboration between the four different institutions which possess parts of the manuscript (the British Library, Leipzig University Library, the National Library of Russia and St Catherine’s Monastery Mount Sinai), along with the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham (ITSEE), has been acclaimed as an epoch-making event in the development of online resources for the study of ancient manuscripts. For the first time, it was possible to compare all surviving parts of the manuscript with each other in high-resolution colour digital images, while an electronic transcription of the complete text, with each word hyperlinked to its location on the corresponding image, offered an authoritative reading of the manuscript’s evidence for the text of the Bible in Greek and an innovative teaching resource to introduce students to engaging with New Testament manuscripts
The impact of the edition has been extraordinary. In the first 48 hours after the launch of the edition, the server received 96.4 million hits, with over 1 million unique visitors to the website in the first month online. A global array of news articles celebrated the achievement, with mentions on the BBC’s Today programme, TIME magazine, USA National Public Radio and many leading newspapers. Alongside a full-colour facsimile of the manuscript, the research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council also produced two scholarly books on the manuscript and the new discoveries made during the creation of the edition. Conferences about the manuscript and its edition were held in London and St Petersburg, as well as a special event at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, Massachusetts.
The interface of the electronic edition of Codex Sinaiticus
Back in 2009, an article in The Guardian newspaper proclaimed that “The online Codex Sinaiticus changes book scholarship for good”. Over the last decade, complete sets of digital images of hundreds – if not thousands – of manuscripts have been made freely available online, while the electronic transcription has led to the development of standards and software used in a variety of digital editing projects. Ten years on, we are seeking to learn more about the effect this electronic edition has had both on individuals and on biblical studies more broadly. What are the stories associated with this online edition? Who has been using the website? How has it changed their attitudes to the Bible? Has the digital edition encouraged people to learn Greek or undertake further studies? What other developments have been inspired by the online presentation of this manuscript?
To this end, a short survey of Ten Questions on Codex Sinaiticus has been set up to gather information. Alternatively, users of the electronic edition may send their comments directly to a dedicated email address. The feedback will be shared among the partners in the project in order to assist with understanding the impact of the edition and the further development of the website and other resources.
Members of the Codex Sinaiticus transcription team in Boston in November 2009