(1.) The oldest of these is the Septuagint, usually quoted as the LXX. The origin of this, the most important of all the versions is involved in much obscurity. It derives its name from the popular notion that seventy-two translators were employed on it by the direction of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and that it was accomplished in seventy-two days, for the use of the Jews residing in that country. There is no historical warrant for this notion. It is, however, an established fact that this version was made at Alexandria; that it was begun about 280 B.C., and finished about 200 or 150 B.C.; that it was the work of a number of translators who differed greatly both in their knowledge of Hebrew and of Greek; and that from the earliest times it has borne the name of "The Septuagint", i.e., "The Seventy."
(b) as the means by which the Greek Language was wedded to Hebrew thought;
(c) as the source of the great majority of quotations from the Old Testament by writers of the New Testament.
(2.) Aquila, called Aquila of Pontus (flourished about 130), translated the Old Testament into Greek. He was born in Sinope, Pontus (now Sinop, Turkey). His translation of the Old Testament was so literal that Jews of his time preferred it to the Septuagint version, as did the Judaistic sect of Christians called Ebionites. The remaining fragments of the version may be found in the Hexapla of the Alexandrian theologian Origen.
Uncials, written in Greek capitals, with no distinction at all between the different words, and very little even between the different lines; and
Cursives, in small Greek letters, were a "running hand" script form where the letters were connected as in our longhand. This script was continuous scriptio continua, without breaks for words or lines or verses. Also called Minuscule writing.
The change between the two kinds of Greek writing took place about the tenth century AD.
Only five manuscripts of the New Testament approaching to completeness are more ancient than this dividing date.
The first, numbered A, is the Alexandrian manuscript. Though brought to this country by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople, as a present to Charles I., it is believed that it was written, not in that capital, but in Alexandria; whence its title. It is now dated in the fifth century A.D. Also called Codex Alexandrinus. It contains almost the entire Bible.
The second, known as B, is the Vatican manuscript. (See Codex Vaticanus article, below.)
The Third, C, or the Ephraem manuscript, was so called because it was written over the writings of Ephraem, a Syrian theological author, a practice very common in the days when writing materials were scarce and dear. It is believed that it belongs to the fifth century, and perhaps a slightly earlier period of it than the manuscript A. Also called Codex Ephraemi. Nearly every Book of the Bible is represented in it.
The fourth, D, or the manuscript of Beza, was so called because it belonged to the reformer Beza, who found it in the monastery of St. Irenaeus at Lyons in 1562 A.D. It is imperfect, and is dated in the sixth century. Also called Codex Bezae. This manuscript contains the Gospels and Acts in both Greek and Latin.
The fifth (called Aleph) is the Sinaitic manuscript. (See Codex Sinaiticus article, below.)