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Charles I of England in 1627. This manuscript is presently displayed next to the Codex Aleph in the British Museum.

    3. Vatican Manuscript or Codex "B"

    The Vatican Manuscript is the oldest, complete manuscript of che Bible. Written in the middle of the fourth century A.D., it also includes several books of the Apocrypha. This codex has been known to be stored in the Vatican library in Rome since 1481.

There is little controversy regarding the original Old Testament text of the Bible for there is nearly identical wording in all ancient copies. A fairly recent discovery of several very ancient Old Testament scrolls, called the "Dead Sea Scrolls," illustrates this truth in a remarkable way:

    In March, 1948, an Arab shepherd boy was looking for a lost goat and stumbled into one of the Qumram caves (located about seven miles south of Jericho near the Dead Sea), which contained a large number of jars holding ancient leather scrolls.

    Since this discovery, more than 350 scrolls have been found-most in fragmentary condition. These scrolls date back to approximately 50-200 years before Christ, when a deeply religious community of Essene Jews lived there.

    Hebrew and Aramaic fragments from every Old Testament book except Esther have been found. The most famous find was a complete Hebrew manuscript of the entire Book of Isaiah. This manuscript, copied in approximately 125-100 B.C., was one thousand years older than the oldest previously discovered Hebrew manuscript copied by scribes in approximately A.D. 900! The excitement generated by finding a Bible manuscript of a complete book 1,000 years older than any previously-known copy was tremendous!

    After careful and precise comparison work was completed on the entire Book of Isaiah, thirteen very minor differences were noted, but not one change of meaning was found after one thousand years of copying by ancient scribes! This type of accurate copying was also observed when comparing other scrolls and fragments.

    How do the results from examinations of the Dead Sea Scrolls help confirm the truth of the accuracy of scribes' copying?

  • Patriarch - A bishop (head minister) over a large city; an archbishop
  • Alexandria - A famous, historic city located in Egypt on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Vatican - An independent state within the city of Rome which is the world center of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Apocrypha - Fourteen books which were written by Jews between the closing of the Old, and the opening of the New Testaments
  • Controversy - Debate; argument; difference of opinion
  • Text - The actual, original words of Scripture
  • Fragmentary - Incomplete; partial
  • Essenes - A Jewish religious community that lived in a colony near the Dead Sea before, during, and after the time of Christ
  • Aramaic - The language commonly used by the Jews during and after their captivity in Babylon
  • Fragments - Parts; incomplete portions; sections
  • Precise - Exact; careful attention given to each detail

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