Palaeographic Puzzles and the Tischendorf Plug-in-the-Date Game

Steven Avery

Various palaeographic puzzles, often related to Tischendorf "pick-em" dates, will be shown here, usually after posting on Facebook. Sometimes, this is how they are posted on Facebook, simply asking the palaeographers to give reasons to assign a date. (as an example, would any palaeographer put those weird scrawls as 4th century writing?)

If you go to the Facebook pages, you learn that the scholars and laymen in the fields really see nothing at all that tries to make up the gap in the lack of any actual evidence for the Tischendorf dates.

It is easy to see how circular is the whole puzzle.

#1 - ink corrosion turns out to be erasure spot
#15 - [URL="[/URL]

#16 - smudge ("india ink") - multi-spectral imaging can decipher underwriting
..........did ancient writers cross out by over-writing with heavy dark ink?
#17 - Arabic writing
#18 - washed pages
#19 - 'medieval' corrector E - 1 Timothy 3:16
#20 - 'medieval' corrector D - Hermas accents
#21 - Matthew markings
#22 - ink comparisons
#23 - parchment comparisons
#24 - BBC video with easy-peasy page turning plus pictures
#25 - accents
#26 - Euthalian Acts sections (neither Vaticanus or Sinaiticus are supposed to be original)
#27 - Euthalius - per cola et commata - κατὰ κῶλα καὶ κόμματα - sense-lines
#28 - Revelation 17:8 as an example of 7th century corrector claims of no substance
#29 - misc

And four super-biggies that will get their own special spot.

#1 - Why is Leipzig white parchment rather than "yellow with age"?
#2 - Why is the 1844 Leipzig off-white, consistent while the 1859 British Library is a widely varying yellow?
#3 - Why are the Leipzig leaves unstained, while the British Library leaves are stained and streaky
#4 - Are there historical elements that actually can explain 1-2-3?


The first time this some of this material was worked with was at:

Facebook - PureBible - Feb 19, 2014
EMPHASIS Dionysius, Hilarion, Theophylact
and medieval and Arabic writings
(added 2/20/2014 - Arabic writings will get their own thread)

And there can be other material in that time of Facebook posting.

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Steven Avery

British Library and Hendrickson book has 86 pages of Leipzig photoshopped yellow to look like British Library pages

We have this posted on PBF, with its own thread, it is a good lead for the Puzzles section.
So far, May 25, 2018, it has been posted on PureBible and Facebook Palaeography

British Library facsimile 2010 "sensitive adjustments"

A reminder that the Hendrickson and British Library book was deliberately tampered.

Many Sinaiticus dates were plugged in by Tischendorf, but he did not give reasons for the plugged in dates, a point noted by Skeat & Milne :

"In no case does he give any details of the characteristics of the various hands he professed to identify, and we must assume that, in the main, he was guided solely by the general appearance of the script” (Milne and Skeat 1938:18).

And Joseph Verheyden called this a "fairly disturbing comment".

And the Tischendorf dates were circular to his presuppositions and the results that he desired. He seemed to simply plug in whatever he wanted and it has been accepted without concern for 150 years.


Today, of course, you would expect more objective scholarship? You can look at the script and parchment in a pure palaeographic mode!

Well, maybe not. Oopps


PBF composite page.jpg

The pictures below are from the Codex Sinaiticus Project compared to the pricey book put out by the British Library in collaboration with Hendrickson Publishers. Note that the book is deliberately coloured in the Leipzig pages. In order to give a false impression that they are the same colour as the British pages. If the truth was shown, it might lead to some awkward questions.

You can see more about this at:

British Library facsimile 2010 "sensitive adjustments"

Your thoughts welcome!

Be very careful about using the Hendrickson/BL book for palaeographic purposes, especially in terms of parchment colour.
And similar from Simonides

“You prepared yourself, my dear Sir, for the defence of the Sinaitic Codex, by swallowing indiscriminately all the falsehoods concerning its discovery, told famous Tischendorf. But what scientific proofs have you to confirm its genuineness ? Certainly none: neither do I expect such from you nor from your friend Tischendorf, for neither you nor he possess the true knowledge of palaeographical science. You have only learn to say at random, this is genuine, and this is spurious, but you do not know the reason."

Journal of Sacred Literature
Simonides - Jan , 1863
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Steven Avery

three crosses note

the three crosses note

PBF has various aspects.

Palaeographic Puzzles - Three Crosses Note - This post

three crosses note - 7th century? - scribal mess noticed 300 years after production?

the script of Simonides - the 'three crosses' note

twofold signification of the three crosses note


Pure Palaeography - Three Crosses Note

Let's try a different hand. This is known as the "three crosses" note and it has its own aspect of historical anomalies.

First, though, let's look at the note and simply try to peg it by the script, words, Greek style.

μεχρι του ϲημειου τω
τριων ϲταυρων εϲτι
το τελοϲ των επτα
φυλλων τω
περιϲϲων κ(αι)
μη οντω
του εϲ


Three Crosses with one line text.jpg
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Steven Avery

II Esdras - Pamphilus colophon

II Esdras - Pamphilus colophon


Continuing our series of Sinaiticus notes that have pseudo-dates that are given without any real palaeographic analysis.

Let's show the colophons.
First in 2 Esdras the shorter note.

So, where do the script features,the letter forms, the vocabulary, the flow and grammar of the language, place this note?
2 Esdras.jpg

Codex Sinaiticus Project (2023)

αντεβληθη προϲ παλαιω
τατον λιαν αντιγραφον
δεδιορθωμενον χειρι του
αγιου μαρτυροϲ παμφιλου
οπερ αντιγραφον προϲ τω
τελει ϋποϲημειωϲιϲ τιϲ
ϊδιοχειροϲ αυτου ϋπεκειτο
εχουϲα ουτωϲ : μετελημφθη και διορθωθη
προϲ τα εξαπλα ωριγενουϲ
αντωνινοϲ αντεβαλεν ·
παμφιλοϲ διορθωϲα
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Steven Avery

Esther- Pamphilius colophon

Esther - Pamphilus colophon

(will plan on adding Facebook posts later and point to dedicated thread and new material.)

Textual Mechanic (some errors)

Facebook - Pure Bible - shows many threads{"tn":"R"}


CSP points out that there are four corrections to the colophon .. "by a later hand"



Is any palaeographic script reason given for making this hundreds of years later than the conjectured production date?
Naahhh.. it is a Tischendorf "pick-em" date.

These colophons were a major part of the production and tweaking add-on to try to sell the CFA as an ancient ms., to a gullible public who could not see the actual wonderful condition white parchment leaves.


Coislinianus colophon - an exemplar for Sinaiticus?

This is how a similar colophon in Coislinianus, which may have provided the exemplar, was referred to in Euthaliana.

Euthaliana: Studies of Euthalius, Codex H of the Pauline Epistles, and the Armenian Version (1895)
Joseph Armitage Robinson

2. A new impetus was given to the study of the Euthalian question, when M. H. Omont1 published a complete transcription, together with two pages of facsimile, of the scanty remains of the Greek Codex H of the Pauline Epistles, whose 41 leaves are scattered in the libraries of Paris, Mt Athos, Moscow, S. Petersburg, Kieff and Turin2. M. Omont refers the codex to the second half of the fifth or to the sixth century, and connects it with the Euthalian edition of these Epistles on the ground of the distribution of its text (Greek). By a strange good fortune the leaf which contains the colophon at the end of the Pauline Epistles is preserved in the Bibliothbque Nationale, and of its recto M. Omont has given us a photographic reproduction. This colophon is so important to our subject that I must give it in full, only dividing the words and using minuscules for greater clearness. ...

This colophon, then, tells us that the codex to which it applies was compared with, that is, corrected by, a codex which was written by Pamphilus, the famous friend of Eusebius, and was preserved at the time in question in the library of Caesarea. It does not in the least follow that Codex H itself was the manuscript so compared and corrected. Colophons of this kind are frequently copied by scribes from one manuscript into another.... (continues)

Colophone one.jpg
Colophon two.jpg
After Colophone 3.jpg
Continues with verso and more discussion. What a wonderful exemplar for the Sinaiticus colophon.


Three crosses and colophon from CFA
PBF - five main threads, plus three more, the top three have recent new material

From the Facebook thread above:

three crosses note - 7th century? - scribal mess noticed 300 years after production?

Coislinianus colophon - an exemplar for Sinaiticus? 7

where are the supposed distinctive 700 AD corrections in 1 Chronicles 2 Esdras and Esther?


Pamphilus colophon in Esther and II Esdras
(includes David Parker question)

two copies of Chronicles is evidence that work was done on the manuscript in Sinai -


Porfiry Uspensky views Sinaiticus in 1845 and 1850 - Euthalius and Kirsopp Lake - colophon on hPaul

ahead of the curve - points made by rejoice44 at

James Snapp attempts to defend authenticity of Sinaiticus
(small section in response)

Facebook - Palaeography - Aug 8, 2018{"tn":"R"}

Esther Colophon

When I was showing the colophon above, I omitted an important point for your consideration.

We can compare the colophon to the surrounding text. The question arises, looking at the ink and the letter-forms, is there really any reason to think that the colophon is hundreds of years later than the main text? (this is essential for the 4th century theory.)

There are two questions.

1) Are they clearly different scribes? The main text is "Scribe A", the colophon is, ironically, called Pamphilus in the Codex Sinaiticus Project, but we can simply say for now ... unknown.

2) Is there any reason, from the letter styles, and from the ink, to think of the colophon as being hundreds of years later than the text.

Esther page

Your thoughts welcome! Thanks.

Here is more information on the common colophons in minuscules .. how similar to Sinaiticus ?

A Critical Study of the Euthalian Apparatus (2009)
Louis Charles Willard

8. Colophon
In a number of the Euthalian manuscripts, there is a colophon attesting the comparison of the text with an exemplar (or exemplars) found in the library of Caesarea.
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Steven Avery

Codex Friderico-Augustanus 1845 ink next to theorized 600 AD ink

PBF - also on:
comparing acid-wear of 1845 ink with theorized 600 AD ink

Eureka! Manuscripts on the Web!
Comparing the 1845 ink and acid wear to conjectured 350 AD{"tn"%3A"R"}

Here is an interesting one, afaik never discussed until today.

.. the first page of the Leipzig section of Sinaiticus

Here we can do a visual comparison of acid deterioration of the parchment by the ink, on the same page.



(You also see the trimming which was done, based on the historical record, by Tischendorf.)

We also get a nice view of the parchment as a whole. We see in a BBC video that the British parchment is ultra-supple, turning pages very easily. Leipzig is the same, although there is a major colour disparity. Plus Leipzig does not have the streaks and stains.


Your thoughts on the pic?
The 1845 ink and parchment acid action compared to a conjectured 350 AD?


1845 ink compared to antiquity.jpg

Gardthausen says the top writing is directly from Tischendorf.

Katalog der griechischen Handschriften der Universitäts-Bibliothek zu Leipzig (1898)
By Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, Victor Gardthausen

Discovered and posted today, May 22, 2018


Pure Bible

Codex Friderico-Augustanus - first page to Leipzig

Here you can compare recent 1800s ink, with the ancient iron gall ink.
Look carefully for the 1650 years acidic action, eating into the parchment by the ancient ink.


Also note the severe yellowing and oxidation and gelatination !! Caution in handling. This is the result of the parchment being in the hot desert sands for those many centuries. All dried out and brittle. It almost crumples to the touch, so, like many ancient manuscripts, the pages are not to be turned except for very special reasons, for concern of damage.


Need I say it? .. satire (or sarcasm) alert.

1845 ink also looking at body.jpg

And now we have the above including the ink of the conjectured and theorized original 350 AD as well.



If you have not seen how wonderfully this Sinaiticus parchment turns, there is a BBC video that is very helpful.

It works with the British section, but both should have this easy-peasy supple page turning. No real wear from 1660 years of supposed hot drying desert use, with corrections and changes century after century. According to the official story, anyway.

And even though Leipzig is a beautiful off-white parchment and the British Library section is a streaky yellow. Scrivener said that Sinaiticus is "yellow with age." but that cannot apply to the Leipzig 1844 section, which is not even yellow.
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Steven Avery

Isaiah 1 header

Isaiah 1 header - scribbles-scrawl - header has erasure that needs multi-spectral - ink


CSP says corrector E


For comparison

If you think that these scripts on this page get a lot of analysis by the Codex Sinaiticus Project, by Skeat & Milne, by Dirk Jongkind, David Parker, or anybody at all I think you would be very mistaken.

And, afaik, even that list does not really include palaeographers.

There is a silent hidden vortex of Sinaiticus questions, and even having the manuscript online has not led to the proper discussions.

Here is the top of Isaiah 1. We have the title Isaiah (not given on the CSP site.) And some writing that is somewhat erased, but could surely do well under multi-spectral imaging. If you have good Greek background, maybe you can puzzle it out somewhat? Nothing on the CSP.

And we have crazy scrawl.
Palaeographers should be able to use that to help find a date.

Also, I left in the first line, that ink is unusual. Is it really 1650 years old? Or maybe it is overwriting, corrector d. Then, isn't it still 1650 years old .. and shouldn't we see a fair amount of faint offset underneath?

Is there any non-presuppositional palaeography done on this Sinaiticus manuscript?

Your thoughts on these pages?

Isaiah 1

nd, once again, are we in the land of 1800s crazy scrawl? Look at post #9!
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Steven Avery

three Theophylact notes


This picture is from Sinaiticus, some words from Theophylact at the end of Job and before the New Testament begins. (The placement has some significance, since it is conjectured that at one time there was a quire in between the OT and NT.)

(Note: This post was originally placed under Dave Pawson's post, my error, deleted from there.)

Afaik, nobody has ever really looked at the script with its text (including spelling, vocabulary, literary style, "florid phraseology", etc) with skills, and given reasons for any proposed terminus post quem and terminus ante quem.

Your analysis thoughts welcome!

This is a free-form writing, so it might be more akin to notes and letters than to a ms text. And as a margin note, there does not need to be any relationship to the date of production of the ms.
This is also the Isaiah 1 header that has other features.
Theophylact 1.jpg

Here, at the beginning of Sirach, spreading over two pages, is another note of Theophylact. (The same one?)

The CSP had given the transcription (which was itself transcribed through Timothy Mitchell, the Textual Mechanic):

"Ο πας(ης) σοφι(ας) χορηγ(ος) υ(ιο)σ θυ̅ και
λογ(ος) η ενυποστατ(ος) σοφια του π̅ρ̅ς̅
η διδασκουσα α̅ν̅ο̅ν̅ γνως(ιν) σοφισον
αμαρτωλ(ον) θεοφυλα(κτον) προς δοξαν" (Q68-f1v)
"του ονοματος σ(ου) ει το ποιης(αι) το θελημα σ(ου)" (Q68-f2r)

And David C. Parker had given the translation:

"The bestower of all wisdom, Son of God and Word, the incarnate Wisdom of the Father who teaches knowledge to man, instruct the sinner Theophylact to the glory of your name that he may do your will." (Parker, 118)

Yet once again, there is no real analysis of the script.

It may be that a good analysis, if possible, needs a fine-tuned sense of Greek literary styles, as more helpful than the script. However, who better to ask than palaeographers? Even a "dunno" can be helpful
. :)
Theophylacts 2AB EXC.jpg


This one completes the 3 that are all considered to be from "Theophylact" one or two people. It is in Job.

Job, 42:9 - 42:17 library: BL folio: 199b scribe: A

ὁ παλαιᾶϲ καὶ καινῆϲ διαθήκηϲ θϲ ˙ ὁ ἐν τριάδι ὑ
μνούμενοϲ ˙ καὶ ἐν μονάδι δοξολογούμενοϲ αὐτὸϲ
δέξαι τὴν μετάνοιαν τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ θεοφυλά
κτου ˙ καὶ ἀξίωϲον αὐτὸν τυχεῖν τῆϲ βαϲιλείαϲ ϲου ˙ διὰ
ϲπλάχνα ἐλέουϲ ϲου ˙ καὶ ἐλέοϲ ἀμέτρητον:

Here is one translation:

The old and new covenant of God
Who in three is praised
And in one is glorified
He received the repentance of the sinner Theophylact
And made him worthy to obtain of thy kingdom
Because of Thy bowels of mercies
And imnmeasurable mercy

Again, the goal is to first look at the script without any pre-existing historical context. Are there shapes and indications that supply a sensible terminus post quem.

My thought is that these types of scripts should give more information to a palaeographer precisely because they are free-form handwriting.

(Stay tune: another fascinating one is coming up :) )

Your thoughts on any of the three pics .. Theophyact in Sinaiticus .. welcome. Earliest date? Latest date? One person or two? Specific oddball notes.

And please try to avoid relying on the available scholarship (thin as it is) unless the scholarship actually helps directly with the palaeography rather than simply being a date without backing and substance. And always try to avoid the circular trap that can cripple palaeography.

Theophylact 3 Job.jpg

Tischendorf Theophylact section

Tischendorf Theophylact section.jpg
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Steven Avery

special scribbles that can be compared to Theophylact

And who would write in this scribble fashion?

Would this be 4th century? or 8th century? or 19th century?

Theophylact scrawl of SImonides - bare.jpg


Here is an interesting hand-writing . It has some similarity to the Theophylact scrawls.
And we should add next the scrawl at the beginning of Isaiah.

This is not directly on Sinaiticus, but deserves an honorary spot for script comparison! :)
So, where do the palaeographic experts date this script on parchment?
Should we lump it with the Theophylact one above, e.g. the first one?
And when did Greek scribes write like this? 400 AD? 1000 ? 1850?
It reminds me a bit of how I sign those machine credit cards when I am having fun :) .
This is a question for palaeogrphers! Are there some here?

(sssshhhh - this is Simonides signature c.1850 in his Symi publication, given in Lilia's paper in the 2017 book on the 2014 Simonides Vienna conference)
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Steven Avery


Dionysius - for now just the pics. The text is in the thread on Facebook on the OP.

Dionysius #1.jpg


Dionysius #1 - Tischendorf Facsimile through Scrivener.jpg


Dionysius #2.jpg


Dionysius #3.jpg

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Steven Avery

non-invasive ink analysis

PBF - also on:
comparing acid-wear of 1845 ink with theorized 600 AD ink

We mentioned above in post #6 the question of acid-wear and ink strength:

Codex Friderico Augustanus 1845 ink next to theorized 600 AD ink

One other point is very important.

The inks can be analyzed by non-invasive methods.

And inks have various chemical fingerprints. Not only might they be similar inks, they might have virtually identical fingerprints. One or all might indicate production after a particular date, like 1750. The results can be very much a clincher to Sinaiticus non-authenticity. e.g. If the 1845 ink is a close "match" and "hit" to the 600 AD or 350 AD conjectured ink. Or if the 600 AD ink was actually produced after 1750.

Facebook - Palaeography


Above, emphasizing the lack of acid-wear and the supple parchment and the incredible ink, I left out one of the most fascinating aspects, potentially, of this Leipzig Sinaiticus page.

Ink analysis -- and it can be non-invasive, non-destructive.!!!

What are the differences in ink chemical composition?
And ink fingerprints?
Between the three sections above.

(Other pages can be recommended, but this page has the incredible help of an 1845 ink for direct comparison. Offhand, I do not know of any certain 1845-1860 ink at the British Library.)

The library conceptually would have no problem with non-destructive testing (multispectral, laser, atomic, whatever is state of the art. Granted, a microscopic flake would be nice, but for that it is easy for the library to say "no mas."
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Steven Avery

ink corrosion turns out to be erasure spot

The CSP shows a picture where the ink is apparently eating through the page.

From a palaeorgraphic analysis, that could be significant as showing the great age.

The problem, the spot was actually an erasure!

flaking ink - does it expose white parchment colouring over ink?
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Steven Avery

medieval corrector E - 1 Timothy 3:16

'medieval' corrector E - 1 Timothy 3:16

In one book Tischendorf actually pegged this mini-correction as 12th century, I think it is the 1862 book.

Vorvorte zur Sinaitischen Bibelhandschrift zu St. Petersburg, unter den auspicien seiner Kaiserlichen Maiesta¨t Alexander II. dem denkel entzorgen, nach Europa u¨berbracht, zer hebung und verherrlichung Christlicher wissenschaft
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