The transcription of Codex Sinaiticus was funded by the
What is an electronic transcription?
A transcription of a manuscript is as exact a copy as possible, reproducing its precise text letter by letter. A transcription may also reproduce the layout of the manuscript and show any corrections that were subsequently made to it. Such transcriptions of biblical manuscripts in printed form have been part of scholarly activity since at least the eighteenth century. One was made in the nineteenth century by Constantine Tischendorf of the parts of Codex Sinaiticus of which he knew.
An electronic transcription is essentially the same. It consists of a file or series of files containing in plain text a letter by letter reproduction of the text of the manuscript. Corrections, layout features and anything else considered noteworthy are tagged so that they may subsequently be displayed, searched and analysed as required.
What are the advantages of an electronic transcription?
- The creation of a 'virtual' Codex Sinaiticus permits scholars to see the manuscript as a whole, as never before possible.
- Creation of a scholarly, machine-readable transcription, linked by word to the manuscript images, is providing textual scholars with possibilities for research and analysis never before available.
- Future scholars will be able to develop and improve the same basic material as new tools become available.
- Different manuscript transcriptions may be linked or shared between projects, developing more sophisticated resources and avoiding duplication of efforts.
How has this transcription been made?
A team at the University of Birmingham and at the University of Münster (see a list of the team members) has produced the electronic transcription. Two initial transcriptions were made of each book, by two transcribers working from the new digital images. These two transcriptions were then compared automatically using 'Collate' software. The list of differences was then checked against the images, and a final definitive version produced. When necessary, the transcribers examined the original to verify uncertain readings. This transcription was then converted into xml, and then into html, to produce the transcription as it appears on this website. The New Testament is based upon transcriptions made in the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, in Münster in Westfalia, Germany
Examination of the entire text by the editorial team has led to the first-ever full comparison of all the leaves now available, for full codicological and palaeographical study. Because the manuscript was copied by at least three scribes and corrected by a series of hands, this study has lead to a fuller description and understanding of the formation of the manuscript.