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Rosalind MacLachlan and David Parker reconstrucing a Codex Sinaiticus page.
Rosalind MacLachlan and David Parker reconstrucing a Codex Sinaiticus page.

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The fragmentary pages

Reconstruction of pages

Where pages are in several pieces, we have created composite images in which the fragments are all presented together in their original position on the page. Once this consists of combining material from two holding institutions (Quire 93, Folio 7, which is partly in London and partly in St Petersburg. Several are fragments in St Petersburg. The others are pages from the New Finds. Quire 17 Folio 1, the Joshua page, is a composite of eleven separate fragments. These composites were created using Photoshop.

The full list of composite pages is

  • Quire 3, folio 3 (Sinai)
  • Quire 3, folio 4 (St Petersburg)
  • Quire 10, folio 1 (Sinai)
  • Quire 11, folio 2 (St Petersburg)
  • Quire 13, folio 8 (Sinai)
  • Quire 15, folio 7 (Sinai)
  • Quire 17, folio 1 (Sinai)
  • Quire 18, folio 2 (Sinai)
  • Quire 29, folio 7 (Sinai)
  • Quire 38, folio 8 (St Petersburg)
  • Quire 93, folio 7 (London and St Petersburg)
  • Quire 95, folio 1 (Sinai)
  • Quire 95, folio 8 (Sinai)

There are a number of small fragments which either contain no text, or insufficient text for it to be identified. These are imaged and transcribed in the Quire numbered Q 0 Folio 1r.

There are no raking light images provided for the composite pages, since the inevitable difference in angle makes them very difficult to use (and the unstable nature of many smaller fragments means that the surface is often mostly in shadow).

Due to the difficulty of reconstruction of some fragments, there are many editorial notes (indicated by §), which the user is encouraged to consult. In the case of the unallocated fragments, the transcription consists of such notes.

Scholars have developed protocols for transcribing fragmentary texts. It consists essentially of transcribing what is certain, placing dots underneath letters which are less certain, and placing missing text in brackets. Working out missing text requires calculating the amount of space available (in a manuscript written as regularly as Codex Sinaiticus this is quite reliable) and then ensuring that the form of text which Codex Sinaiticus is most likely to have had fits the space. Sometimes there is no known form of text which fits the space. Then one either leaves it empty or provides the most likely alternative. Sometimes there is part of a word not found in any other witnesss, and then one reconstructs what it is most likely to have been.

Note that a dot under a letter indicates that it is not certain. Some incomplete letters could be no other letter ((for example, the right hand half of Π, or the top half of Υ). These do not need a dot. But a shape like a waning moon, which could be either C, Ε or O, may need a dot.

There are two pitfalls with using images of some of these pages. Sometimes ink may be accidental, but on a small area of parchment this is not evident; and sometimes marks which are not ink may look like ink. Because the foundation of our transcriptions is an examination of the leaves, which is reasonably helpful in dealing with the former problem and certainly resolves the latter, users are advised that where the image appears to show something different from our transcription, the transcription is not necessarily wrong.

In the transcription of some of the most fragmented pages, some of the editorial notes state that the text in that line is on a separate fragment and not on the largest fragment. The indication of the fragment they are on follows St Catherine’s internal classification system. There is a full statement of these in the ‘Sinai Fragment Concordance’ elsewhere on this website.

The New Finds Images

Three sets of images were available to the transcribers. They were made in 2006, 2008 and 2009. The last of these are the ones available on the website, with a few exceptions. The 2009 image of Quire 18 Folio 3r could not be used because it was partly obscured by the fragment of Quire 18 Folio 2, and was replaced with the 2008 image.

The following parts of the composite images were taken from the 2008 images:

  • Quire 3 Folio 3r fragment 16v
  • Quire 3 Folio 3v fragment 16r
  • Quire 13 Folio 8r fragment 019a and fragment 5, 6r (with the piece of string attached)
  • Quire 13 Folio 8v fragment 019b and fragment 5, 6v (with the piece of string attached)
  • Quire 95 Folio 1r fragment 2v
  • Quire 95 Folio 1v fragment 2r

To relate these names for 2008 images to the text, see this Concordance of Fragments.