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The Library

The Saint Catherine’s Library contains some 3,300 bound manuscripts and 2,000 scrolls in eleven different languages. There are more than 5,000 early printed books.

The monastery is famous as the home of the Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest bible. It has been dispersed and the monastery retains at least eighteen leaves or fragments.

One of the most important manuscripts is the Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus, a palimpsest manuscript famous for its fifth-century underwriting. Still visible on the parchment is the earliest text of the New Testament Gospels in Syriac.

The Saint Catherine’s Library preserves the largest single surviving accumulation of Byzantine bookbindings. The Syriac and Arabic manuscripts represent a remarkable, virtually untouched, collection of early manuscripts in their original bindings.

 

The collection of early printed books includes finely printed Greek texts from most of the major European printers. Some are in fine bindings and others are in even rarer contemporary interim bindings in parchment and paper.