Juan Garcés' profile
Greek Manuscripts Digitisation
National Library of Russia, Leipzig University Library, St Catherine's Monastery, Mt Sinai
- City of residence:
- Place of work:
The British Library
Greek manuscripts, Digitisation
Juan Garcés, the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project Manager, leads the project to digitise the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest existing Christian Bible. ‘It is an international collaboration to reunite one of the world’s most important manuscripts in digital form and make it available to a global audience for the first time,’ he says.
Produced more than 1,600 years ago, the Codex contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. It was preserved for centuries at St Catherine’s Monastery near Mount Sinai in Egypt before its pages were dispersed. Handwritten on parchment, it is regarded as critical to understanding the history of the Christian Bible and the development of Christianity.
The major collaboration is a partnership between the four institutions where surviving pages are located: the British Library, Leipzig University Library, the library of St Catherine’s Monastery and the National Library of Russia.
July 2008 saw the first step with the launch of the Codex Sinaiticus website, offering access to more than 25% of the manuscript. This was the landmark first phase of the extensive online initiative to reunite the different parts of the Bible.
‘It is the website which starts to bring the strands of the project together and makes them accessible in the most innovative form,’ says Juan Garcés. ‘The user will not only find information on the project and the Codex Sinaiticus itself but an integrated digital edition of each page.’
Users can view pages in standard or angled light, revealing physical features of the parchment. Next to the image, a full transcription of the original Greek text shows all the corrections added throughout its long history. Translations of selected books and passages are provided in English and German. Images and transcription are fully cross referenced.
In the next phase, the full text of the manuscript will be accessible in one place, for everyone to research and enjoy, by July 2009. A print facsimile edition, a popular book and scholarly essays are also being produced and an international conference and exhibition are planned.
The project could reveal much more about the Codex and its history. ‘There are so many questions that might be answered with careful research,’ says Juan Garcés. ‘New technologies allow us to see features that are not visible to the naked eye, giving access to layers that have been erased or written over.’
All pages go ‘live’
6 July 2009
All 800 surviving pages from Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest surviving Christian bible, are now freely available to scholars worldwide at www.codexsinaiticus.org.
6 July 2009
A two-day international conference celebrates the reunification of all extant leaves of Codex Sinaiticus on the Codex Sinaiticus Project website by bringing together experts from around the world to explore the historical, theological and bibliographical significance of Codex Sinaiticus.
Witness the story
On display now - From Parchment to Pixel: The Virtual reunification of Codex Sinaiticus exhibition, from 6 July to 7 September 2009 in the Folio Society Gallery. You can see a range of historic items that tell the story of the Codex and its virtual reunification, along with spectacular interactive representations of the manuscript and a digital reconstruction of the changes to a specific page over the centuries. In addition, both volumes of Codex Sinaiticus held at the Library are on display in the Treasures Gallery, for the very first time.
We are offering a range of public events, including: a discussion chaired by radio and television presenter Roger Bolton, the host of Radio 4’s Sunday and Feedback; a chance to find out how two lady adventurers found the hidden Gospels in 1892; and an opportunity to discover the physical make-up of Codex Sinaiticus with our Conservation team.