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New Testament manuscripts
Uncial 03
Page from Codex Vaticanus; ending of 2 Thes and beginning of Heb

Page from Codex Vaticanus; ending of 2 Thes and beginning of Heb
Name Vaticanus
Sign B
Text Old and New Testament
Date c. 325-350
Script Greek
Now at Vatican Library
Cite C. Vercellonis, J. Cozza, Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecus Codex Vaticanus, Roma 1868.
Size 27 cm by 27 cm
Type Alexandrian text-type
Category I
Note very close to P66, P75, 0162

The Codex Vaticanus (The Vatican, Bibl. Vat., Vat. gr. 1209; no. B or 03 Gregory-Aland, δ 1 von Soden), is one of the oldest and most respected extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible (Old and New Testament), with three lacunae.[1] The codex is named for its residence in the Vatican Library, where it has been held since the 15th century.[2] It is written in Greek, on 759 vellum leaves, with uncial letters, and has been dated palaeographically to the 4th century.[3]

The manuscript became known to Western scholars as a result of the correspondence between Erasmus and the prefects of the Vatican Library. Portions of the codex were collated by several scholars, but numerous errors were made in the process. The codex's relationship with the Latin Vulgate was also poorly understood. As a result scholars were not initially aware of the codex's value.[4] This opinion was changed in the 19th century, when transcriptions of the full codex became available.[1] Scholars realised that its text differed from both the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus.[5]

Scholars now agree that the Codex Vaticanus contains one of the best texts of the New Testament in Greek,[3] with that of the Codex Sinaiticus as its only competitor. Until the discovery by Tischendorf of the Sinaiticus text, it was without a rival in the world.[6] It was extensively used by Westcott and Hort in their edition of The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881.[3] The most widely sold editions of the Greek New Testament are largely based on the text of the Codex Vaticanus.[7]



A section of the codex containing 1 Esdras 2:1-8

Codex Vaticanus originally contained an almost complete copy of the Septuagint ("LXX"), lacking only 1-4 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasseh. The original 20 leaves containing Genesis 1:1 - 46:28a (31 leaves) and Psalm 105:27 — 137:6b have been lost and were filled by a later hand in the 15th century.[8] 2 Kings 2:5-7.10-13 are also lost due to a tear in one of the pages.[9] The order of the Old Testament books is as follows: Genesis to 2 Chronicles as normal, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras (Ezra-Nehemiah), the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Esther, Judith, Tobit, the minor prophets from Hosea to Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations and the Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The order of the books differs from that followed in Codex Alexandrinus.[10]

The extant New Testament of Vaticanus contains the Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews (up to Heb 9:14, καθα[ριει); thus it lacks 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Revelation. These missing leaves were supplemented by a 15th century minuscule hand (folios 760-768), and are catalogued separately as minuscule codex 1957.[3] Possibly some apocryphal books of New Testament might have been included at the end (as in codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus),[3] although it is also possible that Revelation was not included.[11]



Verses the scribe did not include

The text of the New Testament lacks several passages:

Matthew 12:47; 16:2b-3; 17:21; 18:11; 23:14;[12]
Mark 7:16; 9:44.46; 11:26; 15:28; Mark 16:9-20;[13]
Luke 17:36, 22:43-44;[14]
John 5:4, Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11);[15]
Acts 8:37; 15:34, 24:7; 28:29;[16]
Romans 16:24.[17][18]
1 Peter 5:3.[19][20]
The end of Mark in Vaticanus

All these omissions, except 1 Pt 5:3, are typical for the Alexandrian text-type. It does not have the ending of the Gospel of Mark, thus stopping at Mark 16:8, but the scribe was aware of the ending and left an empty column after the Gospel of Mark. It is the only empty New Testament column in the codex.[21]

Phrases the scribe did not include
Matthew 5:44 — ευλογειτε τους καταρωμενους υμας, καλως ποιειτε τοις μισουσιν υμας (bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you);[22]
Matthew 10:37b — και ο φιλων υιον η θυγατερα υπερ εμε ουκ εστιν μου αξιος (and he who loves son or dauther more than me is not worthy of me) as Codex Bezae;[23]
Matthew 15:6 — η την μητερα (αυτου) (or (his) mother);[24]
Matthew 20:23 — και το βαπτισμα ο εγω βαπτιζομαι βαπτισθησεσθε (and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with), as in codices Sinaiticus, D, L, Z, Θ, 085, f1, f13, it, Syriac Sinaiticus (syrs), c, copsa.[25]
Mark 10:7 — και προσκολληθησεται προς την γυναικα αυτου (and be joined to his wife), as in codices Sinaiticus, Codex Athous Lavrensis, 892, 48, Sinaitic Palimpsest (syrs), goth.[26]
Mark 10:19 — μη αποστερησης omitted (as in codices K, W, Ψ, f1, f13, 28, 700, 1010, 1079, 1242, 1546, 2148, 10, 950, 1642, 1761, syrs, arm, geo) but added by a later corrector (B2).[27]
Luke 9:55-56 — και ειπεν, Ουκ οιδατε ποιου πνευματος εστε υμεις; ο γαρ υιος του ανθρωπου ουκ ηλθεν ψυχας ανθρωπων απολεσαι αλλα σωσαι (and He said: "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them) — omitted as in codices Sinaiticus, C, L, Θ, Ξ, 33, 700, 892, 1241, Old Syriac (syr), copbo;[28]
Luke 11:4 — αλλα ρυσαι ημας απο του πονηρου (but deliver us from evil) omitted. Omission is supported by the manuscripts: \mathfrak{P}75, Sinaiticus, L, f1 700 vg [Sinaitic Palimpsest|syrs] copsa, bo, arm geo.[29]
Luke 23:34 — "And Jesus said: Father forgive them, they know not what they do." This omission is supported by the manuscripts \mathfrak{P}75, Sinaiticusa, D*, W, Θ, 0124, 1241, a, d, [Sinaitic Palimpsest|syrs], copsa, copbo.[30]


In Matt. 27:49 codex contains added text: ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἒνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὖδορ καὶ αἳμα (the other took a spear and pierced His side, and immediately came out water and blood). This reading was derived from John 19:34 and occurs in other manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type (א, C, L, Γ, 1010, 1293, pc, vgmss).[31]


Ending of Luke and Beginning of John on the same page

The manuscript is in quarto volume, arranged in quires of five sheets or ten leaves each, like Codex Marchalianus or Codex Rossanensis; not of four or three sheets as in Codex Sinaiticus. The number of the quires is often found in the margin.[32] Originally it must have been composed of 820 parchment leaves, as it appears that 71 leaves have been lost.[33] Currently, it contains 617 leaves in Old Testament and 142 in New Testament. The parchment is fine and thin. The actual size of the pages is 27 cm by 27 cm;[3] the original was bigger. The codex is written in three columns per page, 40-44 lines per page, 16-18 letters per line. In the poetical books of the Old Testament (OT) only two columns fill a page. In Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and 1 Kings 1:1-19:11 there are 44 lines in a column; in 2 Chronicles 10:16-26:13 there are 40 lines in a column; and in the New Testament always 42. The letters are small and neat, without ornamentation or capitals.[34][35][36] The manuscript is one of the very few manuscripts and one of the very few Greek manuscripts of the New Testament to be written with three columns per page (the others being Codex Vaticanus 2061, Uncial 053, and Minuscule 460). Because it was not often used, it has survived to the present day in very good condition. Codex Vaticanus comprises a single quarto volume containing 759 thin and delicate vellum leaves.[6]

The Greek is written continuously with small neat writing; all the letters are equidistant from each other; no word is separated from the other; each line appears to be one long word.[37] Punctuation is rare (accents and breathings have been added by a later hand) except for some blank spaces, diaeresis on initial iotas and upsilons, abbreviations of the nomina sacra and markings of OT citations. The OT citations were marked by an inverted comma (>), just as in Alexandrinus. There are no enlarged initials; no stops or accents; no divisions into chapters or sections such as are found in later manuscripts.[38]

The Gospels contain neither the Ammonian Sections nor the Eusebian Canons, but they are divided into peculiar numbered sections: Matthew has 170, Mark 61, Luke 152, and John 80. This system is found only in two other manuscripts, in Codex Zacynthius and in codex 579.[35] There are two system divisions in the Acts and the Catholic Epistles that differ from the Euthalian apparatus. In the Acts these sections are 36 (the same system has Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Amiatinus, and Codex Fuldensis) and according to the other system 69 sections. 2 Peter has no numeration and it has been concluded that the system of divisions dates from a time before Epistle came to be commonly regarded as canonical.[39] The chapters in the Pauline epistles are numbered continuously as the Epistles were regarded as comprising one book.


In the Old Testament the type of text varies, with a received text in Ezekiel, and a rejected one in Book of Isaiah.[35] In Judges the text differs substantially from that of the majority of manuscripts, but agrees with the Old Latin and Sahidic version and Cyril of Alexandria. In Job it has the additional 400 half-verses from Theodotion, which are not in the Old Latin and Sahidic versions.[35] The text of the Old Testament was held by critics, such as Hort and Cornill, to be substantially that which underlies Origen's Hexapla edition, completed by him at Caesarea and issued as an independent work (apart from the other versions with which Origen associated it) by Eusebius and Pamphilus.[40]

In the New Testament the Greek text of the codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland placed it in Category I.[3] In the Gospels of Luke and John it has been found to agree very closely with the text of Bodmer \mathfrak{P}75; which is dated to the beginning of the 3rd century, and is hence at least 100 years older than the Codex Vaticanus itself. This demonstration that the Codex Vaticanus accurately reproduces a much earlier text in these two biblical books had the effect of reinforcing the high reputation that the codex held amongst Biblical scholars (even, and illogically, outside of Luke and John). It also strongly suggested that it may have been copied in Egypt.[41] In the Pauline epistles there is a distinctly Western element.[35]

Notable readings

Matthew 5:22 — it lacks the word εικη (without cause), a reading supported by \mathfrak{P}67, Sinaiticus, 2174, manuscripts of Vulgate, and Ethiopian version;[42]
Matthew 17:23 — τη τριημερα (the third day) for τη τριτη ημερα (the third day), it is singular reading;[43]
Matthew 21:31 — ὁ ὕστερος (the last) for ὁ πρῶτος (the first), ὁ ἔσχατος (the last), or ὁ δεύτερος (the second); ὁ ὕστερος is a singular readings;[44][45]
Matthew 23:38 — word ερημος (desert) is omitted, as in manuscripts Codex Regius, Corbeiensis II, Syriac Sinaiticus, copsa, bo;[46]
Luke 4:17 — it has textual variant καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ βιβλίον (and opened the book) together with the manuscripts A, L, W, Ξ, 33, 892, 1195, 1241, 547, syrs, h, pal, copsa, bo, against variant καὶ ἀναπτύξας τὸ βιβλίον (and unrolled the book) supported by א, Dc, K, Δ, Θ, Π, Ψ, f1, f13, 28, 565, 700, 1009, 1010 and many other manuscripts.[47][48]
Luke 6:2 — οὐκ ἔξεστιν (not lawful) for οὐκ ἔξεστιν ποιεῖν (not lawful to do); the reading is supported only by \mathfrak{P}4, (Codex Bezae), Codex Nitriensis, 700, lat, copsa, copbo, arm, geo;[49]
Luke 10:42 — ολιγων δε χρεια εστιν η ενος (few things are needfull, or only one) for ενος δε εστιν χρεια (one thing is needfull);[50]
John 12:28 — it contains the unique textual variant δοξασον μου το ονομα. This variant is not supported by any other manuscript. The majority of the manuscripts have in this place: δοξασον σου το ονομα; some manuscripts have: δοξασον σου τον υιον (L, X, f1, f13, 33, 1241, pc, vg, syh mg, copbo).[51]
John 16:27 — it has πατρος (the Father) instead of θεου (God);[52]
Acts 27:16 — καυδα (name of island), this reading is supported only by \mathfrak{P}74, 1175, Old-Latin version, Vulgate, and Peshitta.[53][n 1]
Hebrews 1:3 — it has singular readings φανερων τε τα παντα τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου (revealed the universe by his word of power); all of the rest manuscripts have φερων τε τα παντα τω ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου (upholding the universe by his word of power).[54]


The provenance and early history of the codex is uncertain;[3] Rome (Hort), southern Italy, Alexandria (Kenyon,[55] Burkitt[56]), and Caesarea (T. C. Skeat) have been suggested. Hort's argument for Rome rests mainly on certain spellings of proper names, such as Ισακ and Ιστραηλ, which show a Western or Latin influence. A second argument is the chapter division of Acts, the same in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, which occurs in no other Greek manuscript but is found in several manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate.[57] Robinson counters the argument by suggesting that this system of chapter divisions was introduced into the Vulgate by Jerome himself, as a result of his studies at Caesarea.[58] According to Hort it was copied from a manuscript whose line length was 12-14 letters per line, because when the scribe of Codex Vaticanus made large omissions, they were typically 12-14 letters long.[59]

Kenyon proposed Alexandria: "It is noteworthy that the section numeration of the Pauline Epistles in B shows that it was copied from a manuscript in which the Epistle to the Hebrews was placed between Galatians and Ephesians--an arrangement which elsewhere occurs only in the Sahidic version."[60] A connection with Egypt is also indicated, according to Kenyon, by the order of the Pauline epistles and by the fact that, as in the Codex Alexandrinus, the titles of some of the books contain letters of a distinctively Coptic character, especially the Coptic mu, which is used not only in titles, but also very frequently at the ends of lines, when space is to be economized.[60] According to Metzger, "the similarity of its text in significant portions of both Testaments with the Coptic versions and with Greek papyri, and the style of writing (notably the Coptic forms used in some of the titles) point rather to Egypt and Alexandria".[35]

It has been speculated that the manuscript was in the possession of Cardinal Bessarion because the minuscule supplement has a text similar to one of Bessarion's manuscripts. According to Paul Canart's introduction to the recent facsimile edition, p. 5, the decorative initials added to the manuscript in the Middle Ages are reminiscent of Constantinopolitan decoration of the 10th century, but their poor execution gives the impression that they were added in the 11th or 12th century. T. C. Skeat, a paleographer at the British Museum, first argued that Codex Vaticanus was among the 50 Bibles that the Emperor Constantine I ordered Eusebius of Caesarea to produce.[61] The similarity of the text with the papyri and Coptic version (including some letter formation), parallels with Athanasius' canon of 367 suggest an Egyptian or Alexandrian origin.

The manuscript is dated to the first half of the 4th century and is likely slightly older than Codex Sinaiticus, which was also transcribed in the 4th century. One argument is that Sinaiticus already has the, at that time, very new Eusebian Canon tables, but Vaticanus doesn't. Another is the slightly more archaic style of Vaticanus, and the complete absence of ornamentation.[33]

Scribes and correctors

2 Epistle of John in the codex

According to Tischendorf the manuscript was written by three scribes (A, B, C), two of them wrote the Old Testament and one the whole of the New Testament.[62] Tischendorf's point of view was accepted by Frederic G. Kenyon, but contested by T. C. Skeat, who examined the codex more thoroughly. Skeat and other paleographers contested Tischendorf's third (C) scribe, instead asserting that two scribes worked on the Old Testament (A and B) and one of them (B) wrote the New Testament.[3] Scribe A wrote:

Genesis - 1 Kings (pages 41-334)
Psalms - Tobias (pages 625-944)

Scribe B wrote:

1 Kings - 2 Esdra (pages 335-624)
Hosea - Daniel (pages 945-1234)
New Testament.[63]

Two correctors worked on the manuscript, one (B2) about contemporary with the scribes, the other (B3) in about the 10th or 11th century (corrector B1, proposed by Tischendorf was rejected by later scholars).[35][3] According to Tischendorf, one of the scribes is identical with one of the scribes of the Codex Sinaiticus (scribe D),[64][65] but some feel that there is insufficient ground for this assertion.[33] Skeat agreed that the writing style is very similar to that of Sinaiticus, but there is not enough evidence to accept identity of scribes; "the identity of the scribal tradition stands beyond dispute".[63]

The original writing was later retraced by a later scribe (usually dated to the 10th or 11th century), and the beauty of the original script has been spoiled. Accents and breathing marks, as well as punctuation, have been added by a later hand.[35] There are no enlarged initials, no divisions into chapters or sections such as are found in later manuscripts, but a different system of division peculiar to this manuscript.[33]

There are plenty of the itacistic faults, especially the exchange of ει for ι and αι for ε. The exchange of ει and ο for ω is less frequent.[66]

The manuscript contains mysterious small horizontally aligned double dots (so called "distigmai") in the margin of the columns and are scattered all over the New Testament.[n 2] There are 795 of these clearly in the text and around another 40 that are uncertain. The date of these markings are disputed among scholars and are discussed in a link below. Two such distigmai (formerly called "umlauts") can be seen in the left margin of the first column (top image). Tischendorf reflected upon their meaning, but without any success.[67] He pointed on several places where these umlauts were used: at the ending of the Gospel of Mark, 1 Thess 2:14; 5:28; Heb 4:16; 8:1.[67] The meaning of these umlauts was recognized in 1995 by Philip Payne. Payne discovered the first umlaut while studying the section 1 Cor 14.34-35 of the codex.[68] He suggested that these umlauts indicate lines where another textual variant was known to the person who wrote the umlauts. The umlauts are marked places of textual uncertainty.[69][70] The same umlauts were observed in Codex Fuldensis, especially in the section containing 1 Cor 14:34-35. The umlaut of two codices indicate a variant of the Western manuscripts, which placed 1 Cor 14:34-35 after 1 Cor 14:40 (manuscripts: Claromontanus, Augiensis, Boernerianus, 88, itd, g, and some manuscripts of Vulgate).[71][72]

On page 1512, next to Hebrews 1:3, the text contains an interesting marginal note, "Fool and knave, leave the old reading and do not correct it!" — "ἀμαθέστατε καὶ κακέ, ἄφες τὸν παλαιόν, μὴ μεταποίει" which may suggest that inaccurate copying, either intentional or unintentional, was a known problem in scriptoriums.[73] Another interpretation of the note, which criticizes a scribe for correcting an obviously wrong reading, is that the manuscript was by then only valued as a relic rather than being used as a reference.

In the Vatican Library

The Great Hall, Vatican Library

It is believed the manuscript was housed in Caesarea in the 6th century, together with the Codex Sinaiticus (the same unique divisions of chapters in the Acts). It came to the Italy - probably from Constantinople - after the Council of Florence (1438-1445).[74]

The manuscript has been housed in the Vatican Library (founded by Pope Nicholas V in 1448) for as long as it has been known, appearing in its earliest catalog of 1475 (with shelf number 1209) and in the 1481 catalog. In a catalog from 1481 it was described as a "Biblia in tribus columnis ex memb." (Three-Column Vellum Bible)[33]


In the 16th century it became known to Western scholars as a result of the correspondence between Erasmus and the prefects of the Vatican Library, successively Paulus Bombasius, and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. In 1521, Bombasius was consulted by Erasmus as to whether the Codex Vaticanus contained the Comma Johanneum, and Bombasius supplied a transcript of 1 John 4:1-3 and 1 John 5:7-11 to show that it did not. Sepúlveda in 1533 cross-checked all places where Erasmus's New Testament (the Textus Receptus) differed from the Vulgate, and supplied Erasmus with 365 readings where the Codex Vaticanus supported the latter. The list of these 365 readings was lost.[n 3] Consequently, the Codex Vaticanus acquired the reputation of being an old Greek manuscript that agreed with the Vulgate rather than with the Textus Receptus. It would not be until much later that scholars realised that it conformed to a text that differed from both the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus--a text that could also be found in other known early Greek manuscripts, such as the Codex Regius (L) in the French Royal Library (now Bibliothèque nationale de France).[5]

In 1669 a collation was made by Giulio Bartolocci, librarian of the Vatican, but it was not published, and was never used until Scholz in 1819 found a copy of it in the Royal Library at Paris. This collation was imperfect (revised in 1862).[75] Another collation was made in 1720 for Bentley by Mico, and revised by Rulotta. This collation was published in 1799.[75] Bentley was stirred by Mill's claim of 30,000 variants in the New Testament and he wanted to reconstruct the text of the New Testament in its early form. He felt that among the manuscripts of the New Testament, Codex Alexandrinus was "the oldest and best in the world".[76] Bentley understood well that he need to use another manuscripts if he want to reconstruct an older form than that in Codex Alexandrinus. He assumed that by supplementing this manuscript with readings from other Greek manuscripts and from the Latin Vulgate, he could triangulate back to the single recension which he presumed existed at the time of the First Council of Nicaea. That is why he needed a collation from Vaticanus. The text of this collation was so irreconcilable with Codex Alexandrinus that he abandoned the project.[77]

A further collation was made by Andrew Birch, who edited in 1798 in Copenhagen some textual variants of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles,[78] in 1800 for the Book of Revelation,[79] in 1801 for the Gospels.[80] They were incomplete and included together with the textual variants from the other manuscripts.[55] Many of them were false. Andrew Birch reproached Mill and Wettstein, that they falso citatur Vaticanus (cite Vaticanus incorrectly), and gave as an example Luke 2:38 - Ισραηλ instead of Ιερουσαλημ.[81] The reading Ισραηλ could be found in the codex 130, housed at the Vatican Library, under shelf number Vat. gr. 359.[82]

Before the 19th century, no scholar was allowed to study or edit Codex Vaticanus, and scholars did not ascribe any real value to the codex. In that time the codex was under suspicion of having been heavily interpolated by the Latin textual tradition.[4] John Mill in his Prolegomena (1707) wrote: "in Occidentalium gratiam a Latino scriba exaratum" (written by a Latin scribe for the western world). He did not think that was important to collate this manuscript.[4] Wettstein would have liked to know the readings of the codex, but not because he thought that they could have been of any help to him for difficult textual decisions. According to him, this codex had no authority whatsoever (sed ut vel hoc constaret, Codicem nullus esse auctoris).[83] In 1751 Wettstein produced the first list of the New Testament manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus received symbol B (because of its age) and took second position on this list (Alexandrinus received A, Ephraemi - C, Bezae - D, etc.)[84] until the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus (designated by ℵ).[85]

Griesbach produced a list of nine manuscripts which were to be assigned to the Alexandrian text: C, L, K, 1, 13, 33, 69, 106, and 118.[86] Codex Vaticanus was not in this list. In the second (1796) edition of his Greek NT, Griesbach added Codex Vaticanus as a witness to the Alexandrian text in Mark, Luke, and John. He still thought that the first half of Matthew represented the Western text-type.[87]

Editions of text of the codex

In 1843 Tischendorf was permitted to make a facsimile of a few verses.

In 1809 Napoleon brought it as a victory trophy to Paris, but in 1815 it was returned to the Vatican Library. During that time, in Paris, German scholar Johann Leonhard Hug (1765-1846) saw it. Hug examined it together with the other best treasures of the Vatican, but he did not perceive the need of a new and full collation.[88][89]

Angelo Mai prepared first facsimile edition of the New Testament text of the codex (published posthumoustly)

Cardinal Angelo Mai prepared the first typographical facsimile edition between 1828 and 1838, which did not appear until 1857, three years after his death, and which was most unsatisfactory.[90] It was issued in 5 volumes (1-4 volumes — Old Testament, 5 volume — New Testament). All lacunae of the codex were supplemented. Lacunae in the Acts and Pauline epistles were supplemented from the codex Vaticanus 1761, the whole text of Revelation from Vaticanus 2066, text of Mark 16:8-20 from Vaticanus Palatinus 220. Verses not included by codex as Matthew 12:47; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:43-44; 23:17.34; John 5:3.4; 7:53-8:11; 1 Peter 5:3; 1 John 5:7 were supplemented from popular Greek printed editions.[91] The number of errors was extraordinarily high, and also no attention was paid to distinguish readings of the first hand versus correctors. There was no detailed examination of the manuscript's characteristics. Consequently, it was inaccurate and critically one of the most worthless editions of the manuscript in all time.[92] An improved edition was published in 1859, which became the source of Bultmann's 1860 NT.[33]

In 1843 Tischendorf was permitted to make a facsimile of a few verses,[n 4] in 1844 — Eduard de Muralt saw it,[93] and in 1845 — S. P. Tregelles was allowed to observe several points which Muralt had overlooked. He often saw the codex, but "it was under such restrictions that it was impossible to do more than examine particular readings."[94]

"They would not let me open it without searching my pockets, and depriving me of pen, ink, and paper; and at the same time two prelati kept me in constant conversation in Latin, and if I looked at a passage too long, they would snatch the book out of my hand".[95]

Tregelles left Rome after five months without accomplishing his object. During a large part of the 19th century, the authorities of the Vatican Library obstructed scholars who wished to study the codex in detail. Henry Alford in 1849 wrote: “It has never been published in facsimile (!) nor even thoroughly collated (!!).”[96] Scrivener in 1861 commented:

"Codex Vaticanus 1209 is probably the oldest large vellum manuscript in existance, and is the glory of the great Vatican Library in Rome. To these legitimate sources of deep interest must be added the almost romantic curiosity which has been excited by the jealous watchfulness of its official guardians, with whom an honest zeal for its safe preservation seems to have now degenerated into a species of capricious wilfulness, and who have shewn a strange incapacity for making themselves the proper use of a treasure they scarcely permit others more than to gaze upon".[97] It (...) "is so jealously guarded by the Papal authorities that ordinary visitors see nothing of it but the red morocco binding".[6]

Thomas Law Montefiore (1862):

"The history of the Codex Vaticanus B, No. 1209, is the history in miniature of Romish jealousy and exclusiveness.” [98]

Burgon was permitted to examine the codex for an hour and a half in 1860, consulting it on 16 different passages.[99] Burgon was a defender of the Traditional Text and for him Codex Vaticanus, as well as codices Sinaiticus and Codex Bezae, were the most corrupt documents extant. He felt that each of these three codices "clearly exhibits a fabricated text - is the result of arbitrary and reckless recension."[100] The two most widely respected of these three codices, א and B, he likens to the "two false witnesses" of Matthew 26:60.[101]

Henry Alford in 1861 collated and verified doubtful passages (in several imperfect collations), which in facsimile editions were published with errors. Until he started his work he met again some unexpected hindrances. He received from Cardinal Antonelli a special order "per verificare", to verify passages, but this license was interpreted by the librarian to mean that he was to see the book, but not to use it. In 1862, secretary of Alford, Mr. Cure, continued work of Alford.[102] For some reason which does not clearly appear, the authorities of the Vatican Library put continual obstacles in the way of all who wished to study it in detail.[33][n 5] In 1867 Tischendorf published the text of the New Testament of the codex on the basis of Mai's edition.[103] It was first perfect edition of the text of this manuscript, but in fact it was only full and exact collation.[33]

In 1868-1881 C. Vercellone, Giuseppe Cozza-Luzi, and G. Sergio published an edition of the entire codex in 6 volumes (New Testament in volume V; Prolegomena in volume VI). A typographical facsimile appeared between 1868 and 1872.[92] In 1889-1890 a photographic facsimile of the whole manuscript was made and published by Cozza-Luzi, in three volumes.[90] Another facsimile of the New Testament text was published in 1904-1907 in Milan.[104] As a result the codex became widely available.[1]

In 1999, the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca della Stato in Rome (the Italian State Printing House and Mint) published a limited edition, full-color, exact scale facsimile of Codex Vaticanus. The facsimile reproduces the very form of the pages of the original manuscript, right down to the distinctive individual shape of each page, including holes in the vellum. It has an additional Prolegomena volume with gold and silver impressions, 74 pages.[105][106]


Codex Vaticanus is one of the most important manuscripts for the text of the Septuagint and Greek New Testament, it is a leading member of the Alexandrian text-type. It was heavily used by Westcott and Hort in their edition, The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881), and it was the basis for their text.[107] All critical editions of the New Testament published after Westcott and Hort were closest to the Codex Vaticanus text than to Sinaiticus in the Gospels with only one exception (von Soden). Hermann von Soden's editions stands much closer to Sinaiticus. All editions of Nestle-Aland remain close in textual character to the text Westcott-Hort, it means Vaticanus is the basis.[7]

According to the common accepted opinion of the textual critics it is the most important witness of the text of the Gospels, in the Acts and Catholic epistles, equal to Codex Sinaiticus,[108] in the Pauline epistles it has some Western readings and the value of its text is a little lower than of the Codex Sinaiticus.[35][11] Unfortunately the manuscript is not complete. Aland notes: "B is by far the most significant of the uncials".[3]

See also


  1. ^ For more textual variants of this verse see: Textual variants in the Acts of the Apostles.
  2. ^ List of umlauts in New Testament of the Codex Vaticanus
  3. ^ We know nothing about these 365 readings except one. Erasmus in his Adnotationes on Acts 27:16 wrote that according to the Codex from the Library Pontifici, the name of the island is καυδα (Cauda), not κλαυδα (Clauda) as in his Novum Testamentum (Tamet si quidam admonent in codice Graeco pontificiae bibliothecae scriptum haberi, καυδα, id est, cauda). See: Erasmus Desiderius, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament: Acts – Romans – I and II Corinthians, ed. A. Reeve and M. A. Sceech, (Brill: Leiden 1990), p. 931. Andrew Birch was the first, who identified this note with 365 readings of Sepulveda.
  4. ^ Besides the twenty-five readings Tischendorf observed himself, Cardinal Mai supplied him with thirty-four more his NT of 1849. His seventh edition of the text of New Testament (1859) was enriched by 230 other readings furnished by Albert Dressel in 1855. (F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (London 1894), vol. 1, p. 111).
  5. ^ It should be noted that the Vatican Library was opened for three hours a day. See F. H. A. Scrivener, Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament and the Ancient Manuscripts (Cambridge, 1875), p. 27.


  1. ^ a b c Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", Oxford University Press (New York - Oxford, 2005), p. 68.
  2. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration", Oxford University Press (New York - Oxford, 2005), p. 67.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Aland, Kurt; Barbara Aland (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, transl. Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 109. 
  4. ^ a b c Carlo Maria Martini, La Parola di Dio Alle Origini della Chiesa, (Rome: Bibl. Inst. Pr. 1980), p. 287.
  5. ^ a b S. P. Tregelles, An Introduction to the Critical study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, London 1856, p. 108.
  6. ^ a b c Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose (1875). Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament and the Ancient Manuscripts. Cambridge. p. 26.,M1. 
  7. ^ a b K. Aland & B. Aland, Text of the New Testament, pp. 26-30.
  8. ^ Würthwein, Ernst (1988). Der Text des Alten Testaments. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. p. 84. 
  9. ^ Swete, Henry Barclay (1902). An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Cambridge. p. 126. 
  10. ^ Swete, Henry Barclay (1902). An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Cambridge. p. 127. 
  11. ^ a b Waltz, Robert. Encyclopeida of Textual Criticism. 
  12. ^ Metzger, Bruce M. (2001). A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. p. 26, 33, 35, 36, 50. ISBN 3-438-06010-8. 
  13. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., pp. 81, 86, 87, 93, 99, 102-106.
  14. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., p. 142-143, 151.
  15. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., pp. 179, 187-189.
  16. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., pp. 315, 388, 434, 444.
  17. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., p. 476.
  18. ^ Eberhard Nestle, Erwin Nestle, Barbara Aland and Kurt Aland (eds), Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th edition, (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1991), p. 440. [further NA26]
  19. ^ NA26, p. 607.
  20. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary..., p. 626.
  21. ^ Philip B. Payne Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus and 1 Cor 14.34-5, NTS 41 (1995) 252.
  22. ^ The Greek New Testament, ed. K. Aland, A. Black, C. M. Martini, B. M. Metzger, and A. Wikgren, in cooperation with INTF, United Bible Societies, 3rd edition, (Suttgart 1983), p. 16. [further UBS3]
  23. ^ NA26, p. 26.
  24. ^ NA26, p. 41.
  25. ^ NA26, p. 56.
  26. ^ UBS3, p. 164.
  27. ^ UBS3, p. 165.
  28. ^ NA26, p. 190.
  29. ^ UBS3, p. 256.
  30. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart 2001), p. 154.
  31. ^ Bruce M. Metzger (2001). "A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament", Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, p. 59; NA26, p. 84; UBS3, p. 113.
  32. ^ Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, vol. 1. London: George Bell & Sons. p. 105–106. 
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h Frederic G. Kenyon, "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (4th ed.)", London 1939.
  34. ^ Gregory, Caspar René (1900). Textkritik des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1. Leipzig. p. 32. 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography, New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 74.
  36. ^ Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, vol. 1. London: George Bell & Sons. p. 106–107. 
  37. ^ John Leonard Hug, Writings of the New Testament, translated by Daniel Guildford Wait (London 1827), pp. 262-263.
  38. ^ C. R. Gregory, "Canon and Text of the New Testament" (1907), p. 343.
  39. ^ C. R. Gregory, "Textkritik des Neuen Testaments", Leipzig 1900, Vol. 1, pp. 33 nn.
  40. ^ Frederic G. Kenyon, "Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament", London2, 1912, p. 83.
  41. ^ Calvin L. Porter, Papyrus Bodmer XV (P75) and the Text of Codex Vaticanus, JBL 81 (1962), pp. 363-376.
  42. ^ NA26, p. 10.
  43. ^ E. Miller, A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (New Jersey, 1886), p. 58.
  44. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart 2001), p. 45.
  45. ^ NA26, p. 60.
  46. ^ NA26, p. 67.
  47. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart 2001), p. 114.
  48. ^ NA26, p. 164.
  49. ^ NA26, p. 170.
  50. ^ NA26, p. 194.
  51. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart 2001), p. 202.
  52. ^ NA26, p. 304.
  53. ^ NA26, p. 403.
  54. ^ NA26, p. 563.
  55. ^ a b Frederic G. Kenyon, "Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament", London2, 1912, p. 88.
  56. ^ F. C. Burkitt, "Texts and Studies", p. VIII-IX.
  57. ^ Brook F. Westcott and Fenton J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek (New York: Harper & Bros., 1882; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 264-267.
  58. ^ Robinson, Euthaliana, pp. 42, 101.
  59. ^ Brook F. Westcott and Fenton J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek (New York: Harper & Bros., 1882; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 233-234.
  60. ^ a b Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, London2, 1912, p. 84.
  61. ^ T. C. Skeat, "The Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus and Constantine", JTS 50 (1999), pp. 583–625.
  62. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Editio octavo critica mojor, ed. C. R. Gregory (Lipsiae 1884), p. 360.
  63. ^ a b H.J.M. Milne & T.C. Skeat, "Scribes and Correctors" (British Museum: London 1938).
  64. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Editio octavo critica mojor, ed. C. R. Gregory (Lipsiae 1884), pp. 346, 360.
  65. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum. Post Angeli Maii Aloirumque Imperfectos Labores ex ipso Codice (Lipsiae 1867), pp. XXI-XXIII.
  66. ^ C. R. Gregory, "Canon and Text of the New Testament" (1907), pp. 343-344.
  67. ^ a b Constantin von Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum, Leipzig 1867, p. XXI.
  68. ^ Philip B. Payne and Paul Canart, The Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35: A Response to J. Edward Miller, JSNT 27 (2004), pp. 105-112.
  69. ^ Philip B. Payne and Paul Canart, The Originality of Text-Critical Symbols in Codex Vaticanus, Novum Testamentum 42 (2000), pp. 105-113.
  70. ^ G. S. Dykes, Using the „Umlauts” of Codex Vaticanus to Dig Deeper, 2006. See: Codex Vaticanus Graece. The Umlauts.
  71. ^ Philip B. Payne, Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus and 1 Cor 14.34-5, NTS 41 (1995) 251-262.
  72. ^ Curt Niccum, The voice of the MSS on the Silence of the Women: ..., NTS 43 (1997), pp. 242–255.
  73. ^ Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03, "A critical note". Wieland Willker, University of Bremen. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  74. ^ T. C. Skeat, The Codex Vaticanus in the 15th Century, JTS 35 (1984), ss. 454-465); T. C. Skeat, The Codex Vaticanus in the 15th Century, w: T. C. Skeat i J. K. Elliott, The collected biblical writings of T. C. Skeat, Brill 2004, p. 131.
  75. ^ a b Frederic G. Kenyon, "Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament", London2, 1912, p. 78.
  76. ^ R.C. Jebb, Richard Bentley (New York 1966), p. 487.
  77. ^ William L. Petersen, What Text can New Yestament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach, in: B. Aland & J. Delobel (eds.) New Testament Textual Criticism, Exegesis and Church History (Pharos: Kampen, 1994), p. 137.
  78. ^ Andreas Birch, Variae Lectiones ad Textum Actorum Apostolorum, Epistolarum Catholicarum et Pauli (Copenhagen 1798).
  79. ^ Andreas Birch, Variae lectiones ad Apocalypsin (Copenhagen 1800).
  80. ^ Andreas Birch, Variae Lectiones ad Textum IV Evangeliorum (Copenhagen 1801).
  81. ^ Andreas Birch, Variae Lectiones ad Textum IV Evangeliorum (Copenhagen 1801), p. XXVII.
  82. ^ UBS3, p. 210.
  83. ^ Johann Jakob Wettstein, Novum Testamentum Graecum, Tomus I (Amstelodami, 1751), p. 24.
  84. ^ Johann Jakob Wettstein, Novum Testamentum Graecum, Tomus I (Amstelodami, 1751), p. 22.
  85. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece: Editio Octava Critica Maior (Leipzig: 1869), p. 345.
  86. ^ J. J. Griesbach, Novum Testamentum Graecum, vol. I (Halle, 1777), prolegomena.
  87. ^ J. J. Griesbach, Novum Testamentum Graecum, 2 editio (Halae, 1796), prolegomena, p. LXXXI. See Edition from 1809 (London)
  88. ^ J. L. Hug, "Commentario de antiquitate codicis Vaticani", Freiburg 1810.
  89. ^ John Leonard Hug, Writings of the New Testament, translated by Daniel Guildford Wait (London 1827), p. 165.
  90. ^ a b Eberhard Nestle and William Edie, "Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament", London, Edinburg, Oxford, New York, 1901, p. 60.
  91. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Editio Octava Critica major (Lipsiae, 1884), vol. III, p. 364.
  92. ^ a b J. K. Elliott, A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts (Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 34.
  93. ^ Muralt, "Novum Testamentum Graecum ad fidem codicis principis vaticani", Hamburg 1848, S. XXXV.
  94. ^ S. P. Tregelles, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, London 1856, p. 162).
  95. ^ S. P. Tregelles, "A Lecture on the Historic Evidence of the Authorship and Transmission of the Books of the New Testament", London 1852, pp. 83-85.
  96. ^ H. Alford, The Greek Testament. The Four Gospels, London 1849, p. 76.
  97. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, "A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament", Cambridge 1861, p. 85.
  98. ^ T.L. Montefiore, Catechesis Evangelica; bring Questions and Answers based on the “Textus Receptus”, (London, 1862), p. 272.
  99. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, (London 1894), vol. 1, p. 114.
  100. ^ Burgon, Revision Revised, p. 9.
  101. ^ Burgon, Revised Revision, p. 48.
  102. ^ D. Alford, Life by my Widow, pp. 310, 315.
  103. ^ Constantin von Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum. Post Angeli Maii Aloirumque Imperfectos Labores ex ipso Codice (Lipsiae 1867).
  104. ^ Bibliorum Scriptorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus 1209 (Milan, 1904-1907).
  105. ^ The "Uncrating" of Codex Vaticanus: the Facsimile at the Bethel University. It weighs in at 14.4 kilograms (ca. 32 pounds).
  106. ^ Codex Vaticanus B Greek Old & New Testaments Magnificent Color Facsimile
  107. ^ Brooke Foss Westcott, Fenton John Anthony Hort, The New Testament in the original Greek: Introduction, appendix, p. 34.
  108. ^ W. L. Richards, The Classification of the Greek Manuscripts of the Johannine Epistles, SBL Dissertation Series, 1977, p. 141.

Further reading

Facsimile editions of the codex

Textual character of the codex

  • Hoskier, Herman C. (1914). Codex B and Its Allies, a Study and an Indictment. London, 1-2 volumes. 
  • Kubo, S. (1965). P72 and the Codex Vaticanus. S & D XXVII. Salt Lake City. 
  • Martini, C. M. (1966). Il problema della recentionalita del Codice B alla Luce del Papiro Bodmer XIV (P75). Analecta biblica. Roma. 
  • Voelz, James W. (2005). The Greek of Codex Vaticanus in the Second Gospel and Marcan Greek. Novum Testamentum 47, 3, pp. 209–249. 



  • Streeter, Burnett Hillman (1924). The Four Gospels. A Study of Origins the Manuscripts Tradition, Sources, Authorship & Dates. MacMillan and Co Limited:Oxford. 
  • Metzger, Bruce M. (1991). Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography. Oxford University Press: New York – Oxford. 
  • Sagi, Janko (1872). Problema historiae codicis B. Divius Thomas. 

For more bibliographies see also: J. K. Elliott, A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts (Cambridge University Press: 1989), pp. 34-36.

External links

Typographical facsimile (1868)

Documenta Catholica Omnia


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

This is said to be the oldest extant vellum manuscript. It and the Codex Sinaiticus are the two oldest uncial manuscripts. They were probably written in the fourth century. The Vaticanus was placed in the Vatican Library at Rome by Pope Nicolas V. in 1448, its previous history being unknown. It originally consisted in all probability of a complete copy of the Septuagint and of the New Testament. It is now imperfect, and consists of 759 thin, delicate leaves, of which the New Testament fills 142. Like the Sinaiticus, it is of the greatest value to Biblical scholars in aiding in the formation of a correct text of the New Testament. It is referred to by critics as Codex B.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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(Codex B), a Greek manuscript, the most important of all the manuscripts of Holy Scripture. It is so called because it belongs to the Vatican Library (Codex Vaticanus, 1209).

This codex is a quarto volume written in uncial letters of the fourth century, on folios of fine parchment bound in quinterns. Each page is divided into three columns of forty lines each, with from sixteen to eighteen letters to a line, except in the poetical books, where, owing to the stichometric division of the lines, there are but two columns to a page. There are no capital letters, but at times the first letter of a section extends over the margin. Several hands worked at the manuscript; the first writer inserted neither pauses nor accents, and made use but rarely of a simple punctuation. Unfortunately, the codex is mutilated; at a later date the missing folios were replaced by others. Thus, the first twenty original folios are missing; a part of folio 178, and ten folios after fol. 348; also the final quinterns, whose number it is impossible to establish. There are extant in all 759 original folios.

The Old Testament (Septuagint Version, except Daniel, which is taken from the version of Theodotion) takes up 617 folios. On account of the aforementioned lacunae, the Old Testament text lacks the following passages: Gen., i-xlvi,28; II Kings, ii,5-7,10-13; Pss. cv,27-cxxxvii, 6. The order of the books of the Old Testament 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, Daniel; the Vatican Codex does not contain the Prayer of Manasses or the Books of Machabees.The New Testament begins at fol. 618. Owing to the loss of the final quinterns, a portion of the Pauline Epistles is missing: Heb., ix,14-xiii,25, the Pastoral Letters, Epistle to Philemon; also the Apocalypse. It is possible that there may also be some extra-canonical writings missing, like the Epistle of Clement. The order of the New Testament books is as follows: Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Catholic Epistles, St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians (I-II), Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Thessalonians (I-II), Hebrews.

In the Vatican Codex we find neither the Ammonian Sections nor the Eusebian Canons (q.v.). It is, however, divided into sections, after a manner that is common to it with the Codex Zacynthius (Cod. "Zeta"), an eighth-century Scriptural manuscript of St. Luke. The Acts of the Apostles exhibits a special division into thirty-six chapters. The Catholic Epistles bear traces of a double division, in the first and earlier of which some believe that the Second Epistle of Peter was wanting. The division of the Pauline Epistles is quite peculiar: they are treated as one book, and numbered continuously. It is clear from this enumeration that in the copy of the Scriptures reproduced by the Vatican Codex the Epistle to the Hebrews was placed between the Epistle to the Galatians and the Epistle to the Ephesians.

The Vatican Codex, in spite of the views of Tischendorf, who held for the priority of the Codex Sinaiticus, discovered by him, is rightly considered to be the oldest extant copy of the Bible. Like the Codex Sinaiticus it represents what Westcott and Hort call a "neutral text", i.e. a text that antedates the modifications found in all later manuscripts, not only the modifications found in the less ancient Antiochene recensions, but also those met with in the Eastern and Alexandrine recensions. It may be said that the Vatican Codex, written in the first half of the fourth century, represents the text of one of those recensions of the Bible which were current in the third century, and that it belongs to the family of manuscripts made use of by Origen in the composition of his Hexapla.

The original home of the Vatican Codex is uncertain. Hort thinks it was written at Rome; Rendel Harris, Armitage Robinson, and others attribute it to Asia Minor. A more common opinion maintains that it was written in Egypt. Armitage Robinson believes that both the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus were originally together in some ancient library. His opinion is based on the fact that in the margins of both manuscripts is found the same special system of chapters for the Acts of the Apostles, taken from the division of Euthalius, and found in two other important codices (Amiatinus and Fuldensis) of the Latin Vulgate. Tischendorf believed that three hands had worked at the transcription of the Vatican Codex. He identified (?) the first hand (B1), or transcriber, of the Old Testament with the transcriber of a part of the Old Testament and some folios of the New Testament in the Codex Sinaiticus. This primitive text was revised, shortly after its original transcription, with the aid of a new manuscript, by a corrector (B2 -- For the Old Testament B2 is quoted by Swete as Ba). Six centuries after (according to some), a third hand (B3,Bb) retraced the faded letters, leaving but very little of the original untouched. According to Fabiani, however, this retracing was done early in the fifteenth century by the monk Clemens (qui saeculo XV ineunte floruisse videtur). In modern times (fifteenth-sixteenth century) the missing folios were added to the codex, in order, as Tregelles conjectures, to prepare it for use in the Vatican Library. Old catalogues show that it was there in the fifteenth century. The addition to the New Testament was listed by Scrivener as Cod. 263 (in Gregory, 293) for the Epistle to the Hebrews, and Cod. 91 for the Apocalypse. Napoleon I had the codex brought to Paris (where Hug was enabled to study it), but it was afterwards returned to the Holy See, with some other remnants of Roman booty, and replaced in the Vatican Library. There are various collations, editions, and studies of the Vatican Codex. The collations are:

  • that of Bartolocci (Giulio di S. Anastasia), formerly librarian of the Vatican; it was done in 1669 and is preserved in manuscript -- Gr. Suppl. 53 of the Bibliothèque Natonale -- at Paris (quoted under the sigla: Blc);
  • that of Birch (Bch) published at Copenhagen in 1798 for the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, in 1800 for the Apocalypse, in 1801 for the Gospels;
  • that executed for Bentley (Btly) by the Abbate Mico about 1720 on the margin of a copy of the Greek New Testament which was published at Strasburg, 1524, by Cephalaeus; this copy is among Bentley's books in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge -- the collation itself was published in Ford's appendix to Woide's edition of the Codex Alexandrinus in 1799;
  • a list of the alterations executed by the original copyist or by his correctors, edited at the request of Bentley by the Abbate Rulotta with the aid of the Abbate de Stosch (Rlt); this list was supposed to have perished, but it is extant among the Bentley papers in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, under the sigla: B. 17.20;
  • in 1860 Alford, and in 1862 Cure, examined a select number of the readings of the Vatican Codex, and published the results of their labours in the first volume of Alford's Greek Testament. Many other scholars have made special collations for their own purposes e.g. Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, etc. Among the works written on the Vatican Codex we may indicate: Bourgon, Letters from Rome" (London, 1861). In the second volume of the Catalogue of Vatican Greek manuscripts, executed according to the modern scientific method for the cataloguing of the Vatican Library, there is a description of the Codex Vaticanus.

As to the editions of this codex, the Roman edition of the Septuagint (1587) was based on the Vaticanus. Similarly, the Cambridge edition of Swete follows it regularly and makes use of the Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus only for the portions that are lacking in the Vaticanus. The first Roman edition appeared in 1858, under the names of Mai and Vercellone, and, under the same names, a second Roman edition in 1859. Both editions were severely criticized by Tischendorf in the edition he brought out at Leipzig in 1867, "Novum Testamentum Vaticanum, post A. Maii aliorumque imperfectos labores ex ipso codice editum", with an appendix (1869). The third Roman edition (Verc.) appeared under the names of Vercellone (died 1869) and Cozza-Luzi (died 1905) in 1868-81; it was accompanied by a photographic reproduction of the text: "Bibliorum SS. Graecorum Cod. Vat. 1209, Cod. B, denou phototypice expressus, jussu et cura praesidum Bibliothecae Vaticanae" (Milan, 1904-6). This edition contains a masterly anonymous introduction (by Giovanni Mercati), in which the writer corrects many inexact statements made by previous writers. Until recently the privilege of consulting this ancient manuscript quite freely and fully was not granted to all who sought it. The material condition of the Vatican Codex is better, generally speaking, than that of its contemporaries; it is foreseen, however, that within a century it will have fallen to pieces unless an efficacious remedy, which is being earnestly sought for, shall be discovered.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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