How does the Bible we know today correspond to the codex forms in which Old & New Testament books were originally delivered? The liturgical factor in the formation of the manuscripts that deliver scriptural reading has escaped attention. There are only eight extant ‘whole’ Byzantine Bibles (4th-15thC) and only forty-five integral NT codices (11thC onwards). A complete Greek OT manuscript has not been found, except one without Psalter (13th/14thC). Which (smaller) codex forms lay at the basis of the production of the complete Bible? On what (codico-liturgical) principles was corpus-formation based? Our focus lies on the transmission of NT and OT codices in early Christian and Byzantine churches, and how these were delivered together. Evidence can be found in lesser-known Byzantine composite codices in which NT and OT corpora were united. We aim to research: How was the liturgy a decisive factor in the manufacturing of Bible manuscripts in the early Church and Byzantium? How did OT and NT writings co-function in particular scroll and codex formations?
CBM poses the questions:
- Which (smaller) codex forms lay at the basis of the production of the complete Bible?
- What were the motives behind the codex forms in Byzantine codex transmission?
Strong evidence can be found in lesser-known Byzantine composite codices in which corpora from NT and OT were united, e.g. Tetraevangelion + Psalterion, or Tetraevangelion + Praxapostolos + Apocalypse + Psalterion. These codex forms show the synthesis of OT and NT in the ancient Church and Byzantium, but they did not receive due scholarly attention, being omitted from NT and OT manuscripts catalogues (Aland, Rahlfs), which describe only one part - either NT or OT - of a codex. At best, only rudimentary descriptions are provided of the codex as a whole.
- What then was the binding factor between the two biblical parts (OT and NT) reflected in Byzantine codex delivery?
When we retrace the development of liturgy in the early Church and Byzantium, we see the emergence of a liturgical Greek OT, laid down in a variety of codex forms used for liturgical reading and homilies (Justin Martyr, First Apologia).