498 Route 10. MONASTERY OF SINAI. From Suez
esting books and MSS. arranged in cabinets and on shelves. A num¬
ber of theMSS., particularly the Coptic, have probably been transfer¬
red to the monastery of the Sinaites at Cairo. Among the treasures
of the library are MSS. in Greek, in Syrian, in ^Ethiopian, beauti¬
fully written, in Arabic, Persian, Armenian, Slavonic, and Russian.
The so-called Chamber of the Archbishop, a kind of sacristy near
the library adorned with images of saints and relics, contains the
show MSS. of the monastery. Among these is the famous Book of
the Gospels of Mt. Sinai, dating from the time of Theodosius 111.,
A.D. 766, by whom it was probably presented to the monastery.
It is written on white parchment, both sides of each sheet having two
columns in golden characters. A kind of frontispiece is formed by
a series of elaborate miniatures of Jesus , Mary, the four Evange¬
lists, and St. Peter. We next observe a Psaltery, written in ex¬
tremely elegant and minute characters, which are scarcely legible
to the unaided eye, said to have been executed by a woman.
Next a copy of the famous Codex Sinaiticus, discovered by Prof.
Tischendorf, printed most carefully from the original, and pre¬
sented by the Emperor of Russia. Several leaves of the precious
MSS. are preserved at the university of Leipsic, under the name
of the 'Codex Friderico-Augustanus', but the greater part of it is
at St. Petersburg, having been purchased from the monastery
by Alexander II. for a large sum. The codex contains a complete
copy of the New Testament, most of the books of the Old Testament,
a part of the 'Shepherd of Hermas', and the 'Epistle of St. Barnabas'.
The great value of the Codex Sinaiticus is due to its completeness,
the care with which it is written, the consistency of the peculiarities of
its text, and, above all, its great antiquity. It is pretty well ascertained
to date from the middle of the 4th cent., and is therefore nearer the
apostolic times than any other MS. of the Bible yet discovered. It
thus supplies Biblical critics with a new means of ascertaining what read¬
ings were in all probability generally current among the earliest Chris¬
tians. Its only rival is the Codex Vaticanus, a MS. of perhaps equal
antiquity, but inferior in completeness.
On the N. side of the monastery is the Burial Place of the
monks, reached by several dark passages, and consisting of a strongly
vaulted crypt. The remains of the bishops are preserved in coffins,
and those of the priests in a separate part of the vault, while the
bones and skulls of the monks are merely piled up together. The
skeletons of several highly revered hermits are suspended from the
wall. At the gate of the priests' vault is placed the skeleton of
St. Stephanos (d. 580), wearing a skull-cap of violet velvet. Not
far from this vault is a well, and beyond it is the rarely used burial-
ground for pilgrims who have died here.
A flight of steps descends from this court to the *Garden, the
trees of which blossom most luxuriantly in March and April,
presenting a grateful sight in the midst of this rocky wilderness.
It is laid out in the form of terraces, and contains peach-trees,
orange-trees, vines, etc., overshadowed by some lofty cypresses.