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Codex Alexandrinus

CODEX ALEXANDRINUS (A), a MS of the whole Bible in Gr., dated prob. in the 5th cent., now in the British Museum, numbered Royal, I.D. V-VIII. It was the gift of Cyril Lukaris, Patriarch of Alexandria, to King Charles I in 1627, whence its name. A study of notes in the MS has corrected the statement of Thomas Smith (1686) that Cyril brought the MS with him from Constantinople; it is now clear that it was brought by Athanasius III in the 14th cent. It is on the whole well preserved, but lacunae are found in Genesis, 1 Kingdoms (1 Sam), Psalms, Matthew, John, 1 Corinthians. The non-canonical 1 and 2 Clement also are found (both with slight lacunae) but the Psalms of Solomon, once part of the MS, have been lost. It is carefully written: from a study of its writing and styles of decoration it seems clear that it is the work of two scribes, one of whom wrote the Octateuch, Prophets and NT; the other, the rest. It is an important witness to the text both of the LXX and of the NT. In the LXX the text type differs from book to book; three main types of text are found, that of the pre-Hexaplaric Alexandrian text, the Hexaplar recension and the recension of Lucian.

In the NT also its textual affiliation differs. In the gospels, it is one of the earliest witnesses to the text later prevalent in the Byzantine period, perhaps to be ascribed to the activity of Lucian. In the Acts and epistles it is an ally of B and P 46, which give a very good text. In the Revelation it is the best single witness to this book’s complete text, its close allies being Codex Ehraemi Syri and some minuscules. Its Constantinopolitan origin may have given it contact with good traditions.


The Codex reduced photographic facsimile, 4 vols. (1909-1936); H. J. Milne, T. C. Skeat, Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus (1938).

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