Tag Archives: codex

1,500-Year-Old Hidden Record Of Christ’s Words

Found this on a Google feed, hot off the digital press at Forbes.com:

“Sotheby’s hopes an ancient biblical manuscript will fetch $1 million.

“Sotheby’s might want to send a bidding paddle to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. In its July 7 London manuscripts sale, the auction house is offering a 1,500-year-old biblical document that includes layers of text and meaning–in three languages.

“Known as the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, the piece was written over the span of three centuries and stowed in a sacred monastery until landing in the hands of a pair of British twins by way of local Egyptian dealers. Now an English college is cannibalizing its library and cashing out, to pay for some building renovations.”


“The sixth-century text includes chunks of the Old and New Testaments in both Aramaic and Greek.”

It looks like they were trying to show off the Palimpsest’s Greek under-layer, so in the picture on the article the Syriac Script is upside-down. To get a better look at the script, here’s the image flipped:

Boy I wish I had an extra million bucks to blow on this.

However, if you do have an extra million bucks, here’s the listing on Sotheby’s if you want to bid. 🙂

[Judea (probably Jerusalem), sixth century AD. and Egypt (probably St. Catherine’s, Sinai), early ninth century AD.]

137 leaves (including 52 bifolia), approximately 230mm. by 185mm., with foliation according to the overtext in the hand of Agnes Lewis, written space of underscript 210mm. by 160mm., double column, 18 lines of faded brown ink in Christian Palestinian Aramaic uncials (a script most probably created from Estrangelo script for this Biblical translation, reflecting in its square monumental characters the Greek uncials in the manuscript that the translator worked from), written space of overscript 175mm. by 135mm., single column, 19 lines of black ink in Syriac Estrangelo script, underscript in varying states of fading, some slight water damage and crumbling to edges of some leaves, else in outstanding condition for age, each gathering of leaves within folders, the whole within three archival cloth-covered drop-back boxes, with the picnic basket in which Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson themselves kept it


Danielle Lloyd’s Hebrew Tattoo Disaster

Master (soon to be Doctor) Tyler Williams of Codex (of whom I am a big fan) has found what I believe to be one of the most tragic tattoos of all time:

Its owner, Danielle Lloyd (a British fashion model currently amidst some scandal or another) apparently did not check her sources well before inking this down her back.

The text reads as follows:

אונלי גוד קן ג”ודג ם, אונלי גוד כן ג”ודג ם
‘wnly gwd qn g”wdg m, ‘wnly gwd kn g”wdg m

Now, those of you who read Hebrew, stop scratching your heads for a moment and take a closer look at the English transliteration.

Still not seeing it?

Let me add in some vowels for you:

אונלי גוד קן ג”ודג ם, אונלי גוד כן ג”ודג ם
‘only god qan judg m, ‘only god kan judg m

Yes. It -is- saying what you think it is. This tattoo has transliterated the English phrase “Only God can judge metwice and incorrectly.

I believe that on Codex, Pat McCullough commented best:

“Well, only God can judge her.”


Bad Hebrew/Aramaic Tattoos

A while back, Codex (the blog of Tyler F. Williams, the Chair of the Religion & Theology Department and Assistant Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Taylor University College in Edmonton, Alberta… whew what a run 🙂 ) did a both hilarious and sad (and hilariously sad) study on mis-translated Hebrew and Aramaic tattoos.

Well, guess what?

They keep happening!

I’ve come across two more:

The passage below is supposed to be taken from the Hebrew of the Song of Songs “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

It is backwards. It should read:

אני לדודי ודודי לי
Ani ledodi vedodi li

Jesus appears to be scowling in disapproval.

Additionally this tattoo is on the arm of a man. “Dodi” is the masculine form of “beloved” so this backwards text, even when corrected means “I am my beloved’s (masculine) and my beloved (masculine) is mine.” Perhaps the bearer was trying to refer to Jesus? If so that would make sense. If they were referring to their sweatheart… not so much.

As if this one was bad enough, it looks like someone copied it for this tattoo:

Again backwards, and wrong gender.

If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, I cannot stress enough how serious such an endeavor is. I have helped over 300 people get tattoos done in the last year as a translator, and when you decide to get a translation done I recommend that you strive for the following:

  1. Don’t trust a tattoo gallery website. – A professional (preferably fluent with languages that are not dead or near-dead) translator with a good, strong record is the only way to go. That way, you can trust that you are getting something appropriate. The above two images were found on ReligiousTattoos.net which has a big blaring disclaimer not to trust anything posted there. This didn’t seem to stop our friends.
  2. Get an image of the text. – Don’t rely upon your computer to display a font properly. What had probably happened with the above examples is that their computer did not display Hebrew Unicode in the proper right-to-left format. Also, other problems with encoding can happen, such as mojibake.
  3. Always get a second opinion. – “Measure twice, cut once” the old proverb goes (and for a reason). Always take the time to double-check the text before getting things inked. With things such as dead or nearly-dead languages this can be difficult but not impossible. For Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic, check your local synagogue. For Syriac, track down a Syrian or Assyrian church. For Sanskrit, a Hindu temple or Buddhist monestary. If all else fails, go to your local College or University, and poke around the religion and linguistics departments. If you explain why you want your translation doublechecked, they will sympathize. 🙂 AramaicDesigns.com will double-check Aramaic tattoo translations pro-bono.
–Steve Caruso