Bible Bytes - Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

Jeremy Singer, Manchester, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Precious Seed

This month, I will review websites that feature photographs of ancient biblical manuscripts. We know that the Lord has promised to preserve the scriptures, ‘My words shall not pass away’, Matt. 24. 35. It is encouraging to see how this promise has been fulfilled over the centuries, as extremely old copies of parts of the Bible are on prominent display in famous museums. I remember making a visit to the British Library in London (it was a date with my wife-to-be, in fact!) when I had the privilege of examining the Codex Sinaiticus. This handwritten document is a near-complete copy of the Greek New Testament, bound together with a sizable proportion of the Old Testament Septuagint Greek translation. The codex is around 1400 years old; it has recently been photographed and is available online at You can search by Bible passage, and view the actual corresponding parchment pages.

The oldest known surviving copy of any Greek New Testament manuscript is also archived in Britain, at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. This papyrus fragment of John’s gospel is dated from the early 100s AD. Again, it can be viewed in a web browser at

There are also online copies of Old Testament manuscripts. The Dead Sea scrolls caused excitement when they were found in the middle of the 20th century in the caves of Qumran. The most remarkable discovery was a scroll of the book of Isaiah showed the almost complete agreement with the extant Hebrew text, which relied on more recent sources. God’s word was carefully preserved by His divine sovereignty, using diligent, reverent scribes. The scroll of Isaiah (perhaps similar to the document the Lord would have unrolled in the synagogue, Luke 4. 17) can be explored online at The animation starts at the right hand end of the scroll (where the first page in Hebrew would begin), and you can move left with the mouse across the scroll.

More recent historical treasures are also available online. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version last year, the King James Bible Trust set up a website to allow people to view pages from an original print of the 1611 version. Again, you can select a passage and view the corresponding page at The text is quite clear, although in a very old-fashioned typeface. ‘Blessed is he that readeth’, Rev. 1. 3.

AUTHOR PROFILE: He is married and is in fellowship at the Bethesda Gospel Hall, Swinton, Manchester. He has a particular interest in childrens' work. This is his first article for Precious Seed.

There are 29 articles in
ISSUE (2012, Volume 67 Issue 2)

A study in John 16

Anticipating The End Times: A Concise Commentary on the Book of Daniel - Malcolm C. Davis

Bible Bytes - Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

Bits & Bobs - You’re having a laugh!

Church Gatherings - Part 2 - Teaching and being taught

Creating an assembly website - The Why?


Editorial - ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’, Gal. 5. 22

The First Epistle of John - Part 3

Joash - The dependant King

Malaysian assembly celebrates 100 years of God’s faithfulness (1911-2011)

Martin Luther - Doctor of Theology - Part 1

Mountains & Valleys in Christian Living - Donald Norbie

No Other Doctrine – The Gospel and the Modern World - John F. Parkinson

Personalities in the Pastoral Epistles (8) - Those who were devoted, dutiful and dear to Paul

Philippians: The Joy and Suffering of the Furtherance of the Gospel - Part Ten

Question TIme - What is scriptural marriage?

Radio Outreach


S.O.S. Titanic - Jill Silverthorne

The Sovereignty of God and Israel

Teaching and Guiding a Rising Generation - Part 2: WHAT IS BIBLICAL TRAINING?

‘Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin’

Titanic. The Ship of Dreams - Robert Plant

Trip to Israel - March 6 -16, 2012

The Two World Beasts

Unveiled - The History of The Kingdom of Heaven - Part 1

Views from the News

A Word for Today: Fellowship (Gk. Koinonia)

This article is not part of a series

There are 14 articles by this author

Using the Internet as a Christian

The King and His Kingdom (Mat. 13)

Online Missionary News

So Great Salvation

Bible Bytes - Daily Reading Series

Bible Bytes - F. B. Meyer

Bible Bytes - Radio Stations on the Web

Bible Bytes - Christian Biographies on the Web

Bible Bytes - Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

Bible Bytes - Frequently Asked Questions

Who are ‘the Brethren’?

Bible Bytes - Christology

Bible Bytes - Biblical maps

Of No Reputation - Stephen Grant