Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is a fifth-century Greek manuscript of the Bible, sometimes referred to as one of the four great uncials. The manuscript is not intact: in its current condition, Codex C contains material from every New Testament book except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John; however, only six books of the Greek Old Testament are represented. It is not known whether 2 Thessalonians and 2 John were excluded on purpose, or whether no fragment of either epistle happened to survive.
The manuscript is called Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus because ' it is a codex, i.e., a handmade book; ' its parchment has been recycled; originally inscribed with scriptural texts, the pages were washed and reused for another text, and the text that was written on the recycled pages, in the 12th century, consisted of Greek translations of 38 treatises composed by Ephrem the Syrian, a prominent theologian of the mid-4th century. Manuscripts of this sort, consisting of recycled pages, are known as palimpsests. The later, "upper", text was written in the 12th century.
The lower text of the palimpsest was deciphered by biblical scholar and palaeographer Constantin von Tischendorf in 1840–1843, and was edited by him in 1843–1845. Currently it is housed in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.


209 leaves of the codex are extant; 145 belong to the New Testament and 64 to the Old Testament. The codex measures 12¼ in/31.4-32.5 cm by 9 in/25.6-26.4 cm. The text is written in a single column per page, 40–46 lines per page, on parchment leaves. The letters are medium-sized uncials.
The uncial writing is continuous, with the punctuation consisting only of a single point, as in codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus. The capitals at the beginning sections stand out in the margin as in codices Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Basilensis. Iota and upsilon, which in Alexandrinus and many other manuscripts have two dots over them when they commence a syllable – sometimes only one dot – have in the Codex Ephraemi a small straight line in their place.
The breathings and accents were added by a later hand. The nomina sacra tend to be contracted into three-letter forms rather than the more common two-letter forms.
Before the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John, a list of κεφαλαια is preserved, but their τιτλοι were apparently not placed in the upper margin of the page as in Codex Alexandrinus. It is possible, however, that the upper margins once contained τιτλοι in red ink which has completely faded away; another possibility is that the upper portions of the pages have been overtrimmed. The text of the Gospels is accompanied by marginal notations indicating the Ammonian Sections. Probably when the codex was pristine, numerals representing the Eusebian Canons were also present in red ink which has completely vanished. There are no systematic divisions in the other books.
The Pericope Adulterae was almost certainly not included in Codex C when it was in pristine condition. The two leaves which contained John 7:3–8:34 are not extant. By counting the lines and calculating how much space would be required to include John 7:53-8:11, it can be demonstrated that, barring a large omission elsewhere in the text on the missing leaves, they did not contain sufficient space to include the passage. The text of Mark 16:9–20 is included in Codex C on folio 148r.
It is difficult to determine whether Christ's agony at Gethsemane was originally in the text of Codex C; the leaves that contained the surrounding verses are not extant. Mark 15:28 is not included.
; Lacunae
In the Old Testament, parts of Book of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach survived.



The New Testament text of Codex C is primarily Alexandrian, although the strength and character of its testimony varies from book to book. It is a weak Byzantine witness in Matthew, a weak Alexandrian witness in Mark, and a strong Alexandrian witness in John. In Luke its textual character is unclear. Westcott-Hort classified it as mixed; Hermann von Soden classified it as in the Alexandrian text-type.
According to Kurt Aland it agrees with the Byzantine text-type 87 times in the Gospels, 13 times in the Acts, 29 times in Paul, and 16 times in the Catholic epistles. It agrees with the Nestle-Aland text 66 times, 38, 104, and 41. It has 50 independent or distinctive readings in the Gospels, 11 in Acts, 17 in Paul, and 14 in the Catholic epistles. Aland placed the text of the codex in Category II. According to the Claremont Profile Method its text is mixed in Luke 1, Luke 10, and Luke 20.
In the Apocalypse, Codex Ephraemi is a witness of the same form of the text as Alexandrinus.

Unusual interpolations

In Matthew 8:13 there is additional text : και υποστρεψας ο εκατονταρχος εις τον οικον αυτου εν αυτη τη ωρα ευρεν τον παιδα υγιαινοντα - a reading also found in codices, Θ, f1, 545, g1, syrh.
In Matthew 27:49, Codex C contains added text: ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἒνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὖδορ καὶ αἳμα. This reading was derived from John 19:34 and occurs in other manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type.
In Acts 14:19 there is additional text: και διαλεγομενων αυτων παρρησια επεισαν τους οχλους αποστηναι απ' αυτων λεγοντες, οτι ουδεν αληθες λεγουσιν αλλα παντα ψευδονται for και πεισαντης τους οχλους. Similar readings appear in codices 6, 36, 81, 104, 326, 452, 945, 1175, 1739.

Some corrections

In its original text has the reading δια as well as codices א, B, D, P, W, Z, Δ, Θ, 0233, f13, 33, but the third corrector C3 changed it into δυο — as in codices L, f1, Byz
In Acts 20:28 it reads του κυριου along with the manuscripts 74 D E Ψ 33 36 453 945 1739 1891, but the corrector added και του Θεου as have P 049 326 1241 2492 and the Byzantine manuscripts.
In 1 Corinthians 12:9 the original scribe omits phrase εν τω αυτω πνευματι, but it was added by the third corrector.
In 1 Timothy 3:16 it reads ὅς ἐφανερώθη, but the second corrector changed it into θεός ἐφανερώθη ;
In James 1:22 it reads λογου as majority of manuscripts, but the second corrector corrected into νομου, which is read by manuscripts such as 88, 621, 1067, 1852.

Other textual variants

Acts 15:23
Codex C has the unique reading γραψαντης δια χειρος αυτων επιστολην περιεχουσαν ταδε, which is not supported by any other Greek manuscripts, though it is supported by versions: ar, c, gig, w, geo. The majority of the Greek manuscripts read γραψαντης δια χειρος αυτων ταδε, the Alexandrian manuscripts read γραψαντης δια χειρος αυτων.
Romans 16:24
Revelation 13:18
– γαμος ] αγαμος; some manuscripts read νυμφων ;
Mark 10:35 – οι υιοι Ζεβεδαιου ] οι δυο υιοι Ζεβεδαιου ; the reading is supported by Codex Vaticanus and the Coptic version;
Romans 16:15 – Ιουλιαν, Νηρεα ] Ιουνιαν, Νηρεα; the reading is supported only by Codex Boernerianus.
1 Corinthians 2:1 – μαρτυριον ] μυστηριον ; the reading is supported by 46, א, Α, 88, 436, ita,r, syrp, copbo; other manuscripts read σωτηριον.
1 Corinthians 7:5 – τη νηστεια και τη προσευχη ] τη προσευχη ; the reading is supported by 11, 46, א*, A, B, C, D, G, P, Ψ, 33, 81, 104, 181, 629, 630, 1739, 1877, 1881, 1962, it vg, cop, arm, eth. Other manuscripts read τη προσευχη και νηστεια.
James 1:12 – ο κυριος ] κυριος ; some manuscripts have ο θεος , others omit this word.
2 Timothy 4:10 – Γαλατιαν ] Γαλλιαν – the reading is supported by Sinaiticus, 81, 104, 326, 436.
Revelation 1:5 – λουσαντι ημας εκ ] λυσαντι ημας εκ — as have manuscripts: P18, אc, A, 2814, 2020, 2081.


The place where Codex C was written sometime in the 400's is unknown; Tischendorf tentatively suggested Egypt. Tischendorf also proposed that two scribes produced the manuscript—one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. Subsequent research has indicated that a third scribe may have been involved. The text has been corrected by three correctors, designated by C1, C2, and C3. Sometimes they are designated by Ca, Cb, and Cc. The first corrector worked in a scriptorium, probably in the 500's, but the exact location where any of the correctors worked is unknown. The latter's corrections are not numerous except in the Book of Sirach.
The third and last corrector wrote in the 800's, possibly in Constantinople. He conformed readings of the codex to ecclesiastical use, inserting many accents, breathings, and vocal notes. He also added liturgical directions in the margin, and worked extensively on the codex. The codex was recycled in the twelfth century.
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the codex was brought to Florence by an émigré scholar. It belonged to Niccolo Ridolpho Cardinal of Florence. After his death it was probably bought by Piero Strozzi, an Italian military leader, for Catherine de' Medici. Catherine brought it to France as part of her dowry, and from the Bourbon royal library it came to rest in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. The manuscript was bound in 1602.
The older writing was first noticed by Pierre Allix, a Protestant pastor. Jean Boivin, supervisor of the Royal Library, made the first extracts of various readings of the codex to Ludolph Küster, who published Mill's New Testament in 1710. In 1834–1835 potassium ferricyanide was used to bring out faded or eradicated ink, which had the effect of defacing the vellum from green and blue to black and brown.
The first collation of the New Testament was made in 1716 by Johann Jakob Wettstein for Richard Bentley, who intended to prepare a new edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece. According to Bentley's correspondence, it took two hours to read one page, and Bentley paid Wettstein £50. This collation was used by Wettstein in his own Greek New Testament of 1751–1752.
Wettstein also made the first description of the codex. Wettstein only occasionally examined the text of the Old Testament but he did not publish them. Various editors made occasional extracts from the manuscript but Tischendorf was the first who read it completely. Tischendorf gained an international reputation when he published the Greek New Testament text in 1843 and the Old Testament in 1845. Although Tischendorf worked by eye alone, his deciphering of the palimpsest's text was remarkably accurate. The torn condition of many folios, and the ghostly traces of the text overlaid by the later one, made the decipherment extremely difficult. Even with modern aids like ultraviolet photography, not all the text is securely legible. Robert W. Lyon published a list of corrections of Tischendorf's edition in 1959. This was also an imperfect work.
According to Edward Miller, Codex C was produced "in the light of the most intellectual period of the early Church."
According to Frederic Kenyon "the original manuscript contained the whole Greek Bible, but only scattered leaves of it were used by the scribe of St. Ephraem's works, and the rest was probably destroyed".
Swete examined only the text of the Old Testament. According to him the original order of the Old Testament cannot be reconstructed; the scribe who converted the manuscript into a palimpsest used the leaves for his new text without regard to their original arrangement. The original manuscript was not a single volume.
The manuscript is cited in all critical editions of the Greek New Testament. In NA27 it belongs to the witnesses consistently cited of the first order. Even readings of correctors are regularly cited in critical editions.