Neither Oldest Nor Best - David H. Sorenson
Neither Oldest Nor Best: How the Foundational Manuscripts of Modern Bible Translations are Unreliable(2017)
David Henry Sorenson
Review material begins on Facebook:
Pure Bible Forum
Neither Oldest or Best - David H. Sorenson
New book includes Sinaiticus authenticity.
This book has some interesting points. It also has doozies. I'll try to discuss some of both here.
This book provides powerful evidence that Codex Sinaiticus was actually produced in 1840 and that Codex Varticanus is no older than the medieval era, with modifications likely made in the 19th century. Dr. David Sorenson presents compelling evidence that most modern Bible versions are based upon manuscripts which are fraudulent in their provenance. This book is powerful vindication of the King James Version. "Explosive, well researched and documented" Randall King, D. Min. "Devastating evidence and pentrating common sense analysis . . . a must read." Dell Johnson, Ph.D., Th.D.
First some of the problems. Later we will go into more interesting spots.
Mark ending doozy
You do have to discard his section on the ending of Mark, which is one part of his claims around Vaticanus.
Since it was known, way before the time period where Sorenson theorizes the same scribe changing both mss, that Vaticanus did not have the Mark ending.
Look at Andreas Birch (1758-1829):
Variae Lectiones Ad Textum IV Evangeliorum, ex Codd. Mss. Bibliothecae Vaticanae, Barberinae, S. Basilii (1801)
defunt in Vat. 1209
Earlier collations, not as easily available, were by Bartolucci (1669) and Mico for Bentley, 1720, which was revised by Rulotta.
Thus, the whole theory from Sorenson (or an unspecified source he uses) that the Mark ending was changed in Vaticanus in the mid-1800s, Jesuit manipulation, is simply worthless, and embarrassing.
The Last Twelve Verses of Mark - p. 145-158
We shall see that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are not independent witnesses, but in fact were modified at the same time by the same scribe in the same way. Their independent testimony suddenly becomes collusion and their integrity as evidence suddenly becomes dishonesty. p. 147
But once again, there is clear evidence that Vaticanus was modified, quite apparently in collusion with Sinaiticus to advance a particular heretical view — a denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by omitting it from what higher criticism considered to be the primary source gospel — the Gospel of Mark. p. 150
But the overarching point is that Vaticanus was intentionally modified to omit one of the foundational truths of Christianity — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Apart from that flagrant heresy, Vaticanus has no textual integrity as a primary source for the New Testament. The modem Critical Text is built upon a manuscript intentionally modified to deceive. - p. 153
MS 2427 ... The answer is as simple as it is profound. MS 2427 was copied from Vaticanus before the last 12 verses of Mark were removed. We thus have prima facie evidence of what the complete Gospel of Mark in
Vaticanus looked like before it was intentionally modified. The evidence is clear. The last 12 verses of Mark were removed from Vaticanus (and most likely from Sinaiticus) at some point during the mid 19th century. - p. 154
These alterations took place quite apparently sometime during the mid-19th century. That is when MS 2427 was produced with its full reading of Mark 16. p. 155
Though Tischendorf showed himself to be of questionable integrity in much of the greater saga of the discovery of Sinaiticus and even Vaticanus, the fact that he was surprised that the last 12 verses of Mark were
missing from Vaticanus would seem to exonerate him from such deviousness. - p. 155
There is another group across Europe which for centuries did have the skills, expertise, and resources to accomplish such a task. That was the Jesuits. As the principal agents of the Counter Reformation, their history is replete with a long rap sheet of producing forgeries, fake documents, and altering documents to further the goals and polices of the Vatican. p. 155-156
Could it be that in the 10 or 12 years after Simonides had finished his work on what came to be known as Sinaiticus and after Vaticanus became largely known, that agents of the Jesuits, perhaps posing as higher critics, undertook the tasks of altering Vaticanus and Sinaiticus to further their ends? p. 156
But the bottom line is that Vaticanus was intentionally altered, most likely in the mid 19th century by agents willing to undercut the resurrection of Christ. That in itself should negate any confidence in it as a source of Scripture. - p. 157
Chapter Nine - Conclusion
Vaticanus: The Last 12 Verses of Mark 16
Perhaps the most damning evidence of all is the fact the last 12 verse (sic) of Mark 16, which is Marks’s account of the resurrection, were purposefully omitted. Furthermore, there is a blank space on the page where they should be. Close examination and applying the discipline of stichometry — the counting of letters, words, and lines — shows that there is the exact right amount of blank space at the end of Mark 16:8 for the final 12 verses. But they were intentionally omitted. The resurrection account was intentionally removed from the Gospel of Mark.
Moreover, the same scribe who did this deed at the end of Mark 16 was one and the same scribe who did so at the end of Sinaiticus. There clearly was collusion and a brazen attempt to deceive. p. 167
So the whole section should be bypassed, since Vaticanus was seen to be missing the Mark ending much earlier. In fact, if there really was the same scribe (very doubtful) that would be an argument for the two manuscripts to go back to antiquity.
the Sinaiticus manuscript color evidence
The Forensic Evidence
On p. 97 pics of six manuscripts are shown. This is similar to what the SART team (much of the credit to Mark Michie in getting these online) has here.
In fact, the Sinaiticus page is the same. And our Sinaiticus page is identified (Q36 f4r - CFA) which is critical information.
The Alexandrinus and Bezae pages are much yellower than what we have, that is being researched.
But the plot thickens. In 2009, the British Library in conjunction with the Leipzig University Library produced a high-quality, high-definition, digital-photographic facsimile of Codex Sinaiticus. A team of photographers visited the British Library, the University of Leipzig in Germany as well as Mount Sinai and St. Petersburg, Russia.8 They used the same lighting and the same camera equipment at each location, endeavoring to maintain uniform conditions at each
location. This was ultimately published by Hendrickson Publishers in 2011.9 The volume is massive and very expensive, but it gives an exact, full-color reproduction of every page of the re-combined Codex Sinaiticus. One can essentially see the codex today which few earlier scholars and text editors ever saw. -
Today, all the leaves (i.e., pages) of the manuscript are pretty much a uniform, dusky-white in appearance, including the Leipzig leaves (Codex Frederico-Augustanus). Between 1913 and 2009, they went from snow white in appearance to a shade of off-white. Something happened in the intervening 96 years. They no longer look fresh and new. They look old in appearance. In those 96 years, they either quickly aged naturally from snow white to dirty white, or someone
doctored them to give them the appearance of antiquity. p. 99-100
And, today, the entire manuscript, both the Leipzig and London portions, have a uniform appearance of age. They both are dusky shades of off-white. When Tischendorf absconded with the final portion thereof in 1859, it looked older. And, it does to this day. p. 100-101
And so, the question arises, is there any evidence that Codex Sinaiticus has been artificially discolored to give the appearance of age? The answer to that is an absolute yes. In examining the Hendrickson digital color facsimile, there are clear signs of tampering. p. 102
All other manuscripts from the fourth or fifth centuries are brown or very tan in their appearance. Sinaiticus is still white, though quite apparently somewhat “antiqued” to make it seem older. p. 164
Here we have a major problems everywhere.
The Hendrickson Publication has very little information, and is not claimed to be "an exact, full-color reproduction of every page of the re-combined Codex Sinaiticus". The place that claims to have reproduction accuracy is the Codex Sinaiticus Project. In fact, the evidence is strong that the Hendrickson 2011 Facsimile publication was smoothed to hide the colour difference between the Leipzig leaves and the London leaves.
From this flows a number of simply false statements about the current manuscript condition. Here are two.
Today, all the leaves (i.e., pages) of the manuscript are pretty much a uniform, dusky-white in appearance,
And, today, the entire manuscript, both the Leipzig and London portions, have a uniform appearance of age.
This is simply untrue, as we have carefully documented on the www.sinaiticus.net site.
Those are the two super-problems of which any reader of the Sorenson book should be aware.
This does not negate other points raised, and in this thread we will try to cover a lot. However, the two above could easily lead supporters astray.
Here are some less significant corrections.
Star of the Sea
Sorenson has the Barnabas publication in Smyrna with the review as:
Star of the Sea. pg. 125
From our SART research team:
East is Anatole
Sea is Thalassa.
There is no rationale for "Star of the Sea" except mishearing or some other problem.
The footnote on p. 197 has "Star of the East".
He lists Bill Cooper as one source (a secondary source).
No Evidence that Tregelles saw Sinaiticus?
"Ironically, there is no evidence that Bradshaw or Tregelles ever saw the actual Sinaiticus manuscript, There is no evidence that either of them traveled to St. Petersburg or Leipzig to view the actual documents." p. 93
"Recall that the original dating was based upon the opinion of Dr. Tischendorf, Mr. Bradshaw, curator of the curator of manuscripts at the Cambridge University Library, and that of Dr. Samuel Tregelles, a Plymouth Brethren scholar. In their opinion, Sinaiticus was produced in the fourth century, around A.D. 350. Ironically, there is no evidence that Bradshaw or Tregelles ever personally saw the actual manuscript, but only mechanically-printed facsimiles thereof." p. 110
"Though several others such as Samuel Tregelles and Henry Bradshaw supported Tischendorf s claim, there is no evidence that they ever saw the actual manuscript itself. Rather, they only saw printed facsimiles thereof which are useless insofar as paleographic dating is concerned." p. 161
The report of Tregelles seeing a bit of Sinaiticus at the house of Tischendorf in Leipzig is given by Epp:
The Late Constantin Tischendorf and Codex Sinaiticus
One source is the "Unpublished Letters" by Stunt. (It took a little effort to get that pub.) The controversy about the ending of John 21 is well know (that is where Tischendorf used his famous x-ray vision, or perhaps he knew more about the production than he was letting on.)
Anyway, the three "no evidence" statements are wrong.
Tischendorf Collation was not a Full NT Copy
"If Tischendorf could copy the New Testament of Vaticanus in 42 hours, surely Simonides could have copied the entire Bible in a period longer than one year." - p. 185
This looks like a mistaken idea of how Tischendorf was supposed to have worked with the Vaticanus ms in 1867.
Without doing a careful check, I am pretty certain it was supposed to be used for a collation of sorts.
"Moreover, I John 5:7 and its full reading is found in manuscript fragments of I John dating far earlier than Vaticanus or Sinaiticus".- p. 23
What is Sorenson thinking here? Maybe the Mayer papyri fragment (singular) that was to be published by Simonides (and might be in Liverpool today).
Another possibility is that he is assuming his own arguments for Vaticanus as well as Sinaiticus, leading to an unspecified later date. Even if the opponent of the verse authenticity conceded all this (unlikely) he would fall back on Alexandrinus as his earliest manuscript. Obviously. And there is nothing "far earlier" in support of the verse.
Far too vague, circular and unclear. Or simply wrong (if Vaticanus is 4th-6th century.)
"Liverpool, the curator at the museum, J. E. Hodgekin, Charles Stewart, and others". - p. 69
Uranios ( or Üranios)
Thousands of Pages of Manuscripts Mitigates Against Forgery
From p. 76
"Inasmuch as the Uranius Manuscript was 10,000 pages in length (approximately ten times the length of Sinaiticus), that in itself mitigates against him forging it."
Did anybody inspect or see 10,000 pages of Uranios? Or was this simply a verbal claim of Simonides. A 10,000 page palimpsest would be rather amazing.
From p. 78:
In that context,, Simonides sent another letter to The Guardian further protesting his defamation which was printed on January 21, 1863. He wrote,
“Truly I wonder how people can credit such unreasonable falsehoods, things wholly impossible, and believe the reports of Tischendorf - viz., that I prepared palimpsests, and wrote 10,000 pages of an Egyptian Lexicon, 7,000 pages of the Alexandrine Philological Catalogue, 10,000 pages of Uranius! 8,800,000 pages of various other ancient writers on different subjects! That I corrected the corrupted texts of various classical writers, filled up many blanks of injured ancient MSS, and wrote and prepared papyri! And all this in a very limited space of time, for which work a life of two thousand years would not suffice me ”
Simonides thus pointed out how Tischendorf defamed him by claiming he had forged everything associated with him and the folly of that charge.
This is on Elliott p. 58 and the:
Journal of Sacred Literature
This is how the issue was framed by Simonides. However, did Tischendorf ever talk about millions of pages, or tens of thousands? How many did Simonides actually show? How many pages of Uranios did
he submit in Germany.
If you throw out those numbers in defense of Simonides, you have to at least mention the discordance between the huge numbers and what we know was actually submitted anywhere. At times there was talk of a chest, or chests of manuscripts, but following that down to something tangible is not easy.