1844 saved from burning myth - "ich bin in den Besitzgelangt von"

Steven Avery

Let's discuss various aspects of the saved from trash burning myth.
We will being with what Tischendorf wrote in 1844.


Tischendorf, 1844 - letter to brother - the ms "came into my possession"

The Discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus as reported in the personal letters of Konstantin Tischendorf
Jeffrey-Michael Featherstone

He has come into possession of [=ich bin in den Besitzgelangt von] 43 parchment folia of the Greek Old Testament which are some of thevery oldest preserved in Europe. He believes they are from the mid-fourth century,and they are remarkable not only for their age but also other reasons. - Tischendorf to his family in 1844

Notice that there is no mention of saving any parchment from a basket, or from fire. No reference to a gift from any of the administrators at Sinai. To be blunt, the phrasing is that of the thief who is hauling around some goods. Look, they just came into my possession.

The story that was created was creative. A manuscript is preserved in a monastery for over a millennium. And the very day that Tischendorf is sitting there, they are going to burn this 1000 year old vellum! Yeah right. (And have you burned a lot of animal skin products for heat? Do you look for old shoes to throw in the fireplace?)


Even by 1843, Tischendorf already had a Manuscript Reputation as a Manuscript Thief

A letter from the president of the monastery in Cairo became unusable from my point of view because that perfidious Greek instructed his monastery to place everything at my disposal but be wary of me in respect of the manuscripts. Bottrich Tischendorf-Leesbuch p. 93, quoted in The Bible Hunter Gottschlich p. 73

The Tischendorf Myth of Saving Sinaiticus from Trash Burning

Later, came the new idea, of leaves in a basket saved from burning.

All these stories have huge difficulties. Especially with Uspensky writing of seeing the full manuscript in 1845 and 1850. Rather than simply accepting that the Codex was intact, and Tischendorf had fabricated the story of discovery, the modern theoretical geniuses hypothesize that the Sinai Monastery did some quick rebinding between 1844 and 1845. After a search to find the scraps of the ms. (Amazingly, in this theory, the whole New Testament was found unbound after 1500 years and included.) Bridge for sale. They are so wedded to the tissuedorfs (myths from Tischendorf) that they turn history upside down.

Remember, beginning in 1859, fifteen years later and lasting a decade, there was international intrigue and the politics about the ms was heating up. These stories about being the savior of the ms were very handy in getting European support for Tischendorf. As a saviour of mss, rather than one who stole mss. Tischendorf was being accused of chicanery or theft and it was such an effective counter that it is repeated again and again today. Yet those close to the times often were aware that this was a fabrication of convenience.

Below is the ongoing charade, and examples of scholars discussing the Tischendorf myths.


1859 - Letter alluding to Trash Can Story (not burning)

Tischendord told their Majesties the whole story, from the discovery of the Codex Friderico-Augustanus on ; the famous basket evoked shock and amazement.


The first Tischendorf accounts that had the fanciful claims were published in 1860 in:

Tischendorf - 1860

Notitia editionis Codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici : accedit catalogus codicum nuper ex oriente Petropolin perlatorum, item Origenis Scholia in Proverbia Salomonis, partim nunc primum partim secundum atque emendatius edita cum duabus tabulis lapidi incisis


1862 in the Bibliorum codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus and then in the popular literature of Tischendorf.

A full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the received text of the New Textament (1864)

While he was travelling in 1844 in search of ancient manuscripts, under the patronage of his own sovereign. King Frederick Augustus of Saxony, he was so fortunate as to pick out of a basket of papers, destined to light the stove in the convent of S. Catherine on Mount Sinai, forty-three veilum leaves containing portions of the Septuagint version, chiefly from 1 Chronicles and Jeremiah, with Nehemiah and Esther complete, bearing every mark of extreme antiquity, in oblong folio, written with four columns on each page.

When Were Our Gospels Written?: An Argument by Constantine Tischendorf. With a narrative of the discovery of the Sinaitic manuscript.(1867)
Constantin von Tischendorf


It was at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the Convent of St. Catherine, that I discovered the pearl of all my researches. In visiting the library of the monastery, in the month of May, 1844, I perceived in the middle of the great hall a large and wide basket full of old parchments, and the librarian, who was a man of information, told me that two heaps of papers like these, mouldered by time, had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers a considerable number of sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek, which seemed to me to be one of the most ancient that I had ever.

1865 - Tischendorf - When Were the Gospels Written

This is the English translation of the 1865 - Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst?

This writing also includes the red cloth story.

On the afternoon of this day, I was taking a walk with the steward of the convent in the neighbourhood, and as wo returned towards sunset he begged me to take some refreshment with him in his cell. Scarcely had he entered the room, when, resuming our former subject of conversation, he said, " And I too, have read a Septuagint, i.e. a copy of the Greek translation made by the Seventy and so saying, he took down from the corner of the room a bulky kind of volume wrapped up in a red cloth, and laid it before me. I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not Qnly those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and, in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Pastor of Hennas. p. 29


1871 - Tischendorf's last account


1800s - skepticism
P. C. Sense and related
Bottrich ref


1908 - James Rendel Harris - "what a run this myth has had"

Dr. Gregory on the Canon and Text of the New Testament (1908)
James Rendel Harris

But Dr. Gregory is to be congratulated on the abandonment of one myth, which has had wide circulation. Tischendorf always insisted, in his vivacious accounts of the finding of the Codex Sinaiticus, that he had rescued the book, in part at least, from the flames. "I perceived a large wide basket full of old parchments, and the librarian told me that two heaps like this had already been committed to the flames, etc." (Discovery of the Sinaitic MS., p. 23). What a run this myth has had, of a convent stove fed with parchment! Unhappily for the statement, the basket is still there, a regular part of the library furniture, and not a suggestion can be found that it was ever used to carry vellum books to the kitchen for burning. But any story will be believed against the Sinaitic monks, even that they made fires with parchment.

Granted, Harris is not getting into the more fundamental questions like the discrepancy between the reports of Tischendorf and Uspensky about 1844-1845. The hidden history. Despite that, Harris is willing to bluntly call Tischendorf a myth-maker.


1995-today - James White - any “scholar” who can’t even get this story straight is not really worth reading, to be honest.

Just a little sidenote. James White has for decades insisted that the saved from trash can story is a type of AV-defender myth or ignorance and has aggressively attacked the reference. In his book and blog and in the Jack Moorman debate, against Dave Hunt in the 1990s, attacking Douglas Stauffer.

James White manages this trickery, or confusion, by emphasizing the red cloth story (or myth) of Tischendorf of 1859, where the ms is said to be carefully preserved, not lying around ready to be burned. However, the saved from burning story is directly from Tischendorf about his 1844 visit, with the supposed 129 leaves, and those leaves are Sinaiticus. The saved from the trash, saved from burning, story looks to be a total fabrication, but it is Tischendorf's own fabrication.

Dr. Stauffer on Codex Sinaiticus - (2006)

James White

I’m sorry, but any “scholar” who can’t even get this story straight is not really worth reading, to be honest. I remember correcting Dave Hunt on this very same error a few years ago in St. Louis. Sure it is common to say this, but repeating an error does not make it true. And for someone who claims the level of expertise necessary to write a book on the translation of the Bible and the issues of the King James Version should surely know better than to repeat errors like this. What is worse, he cites from my book frequently, which means he knows this statement is factually untrue. Here is the section from my work:

You can see that White does not recognize that the 1844 find was from the Sinaiticus ms , so he concludes.

So as you can see, Sinaiticus was not found in a trash can. It was clearly prized by its owner, and well cared for. The only reason Stauffer and those like him continue to repeat this story is for its impact upon those ignorant of history and unlikely to actually look into it for themselves. But for anyone serious about the subject, such dishonesty destroys one’s credibility.

And I include this blunder by James White here because making false accusations against others based on your own ignorance and shoddy scholarship is so grievous. It is still proper for James White to make a public retraction and apology.

Note: when James White errors on the Jack Moorman debate were presented on his own blogs to be discussed, they were scrubbed and sanitized, poofed away. The history of that erasing was maintained on Facebook. In our experience, James White has not been interested in factual corrections of error.


Daniel Wallace on the Tischendorf account

Daniel Wallace - August 17, 2007


The evidence points to a monasterial modus operandi that speaks loudly against Tischendorf's claim that the monks were burning books. One suspects that he wrote this so that his removal of manuscripts from Sinai would look like a rescue operation and thereby gain sympathy in Europe.



2015 - Elden Jay Epp


There is a separate thread on the pattern of theft and mutilation

the theft and mutilation of mansucripts


Steven Avery

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Steven Avery

1859 - Sinai to Cairo - an alternative history

As with 1844, the Tischendorf account should not be trusted. The barrister William George Thorpe (1828-1903) had a very different scenario, which he heard in the Suez Bazaar. Also see the barrister Bernard Janin Sage (who notes some Scrivener wording). This relates a Tischendorf heist going quickly to the Russian Consulate in Cairo, after getting monastery guardians intoxicated. It is explained that a cover story was arranged, using the Russian gelt. Once the manuscript was with the Russians, the leverage was totally different. It would take some effort to find strong evidences that favored either story line. (I'll plan on extracting the sections separately.)

This relates to the 1859 account of the full manuscript. I will place some materials in from William George Thorpe (1828-1903), Bernard Janin Sage (1821-1902) and Scrivener.

Thorpe's travels took him to Suez, probably around 1860. (In one spot, he discusses the scarcity of rail travel.) Clearly, this hearsay account from the Suez Bazaar and people connected with the Russian Consulate can not be accepted as fact. However at the very least it shows us that in the 1800s there was in fact an alternative history of the events of 1859 that was considered, quite different than the Tischendorf story.

The still life of the Middle Temple (1892) p. 230-232
William George Thorpe

... as to stealing books ... The mode in which Tischendorf ran off with the 'Codex Sinaiticus' in 1839 may be described as anything you please, from theft under trust to hocussing and felony; but it succeeded, and all Christendom was glad thereof. ... The great German was equal to the task ; he provided himself with good store of Clicquot and Hoffmann's cherry-brandy, which, mixed on Mr. Weller's 'ekal' principle, form a compound called 'Prince Regent.' He then set himself to drink the Abbot of St. Catharine's on Mount Sinai blind-drunk, and it took him three days to get that Churchman under the table ; then the library key could be got from under his petticoats, and the priceless volume carried off, all the rest of the caloyers and lay brethren being kept on the booze by minor agents. The escort kept in readiness was at once summoned, and Tischendorf himself carried the precious volume. Onward to Suez, across the desert, when a pursuit was descried. Someone had woke up, detected the theft, and the Bedawin, who depend on the monastery, were started in hot chase. Indeed, it was only by two hundred yards that the Russian Consulate was gained in safety, after which ample money satisfaction was forthcoming, and the story was hushed up.

Middle Temple Table Talk (1895) p. 320-322

In a former volume I related a story as to how Tischendorf obtained the Codex Sinaiticus, which has been questioned by two correspondents, but which I have been unable to alter in any way. The story was current at the time in the Suez Bazaar, whither resorted the Cossacks from the Russian Consulate. After a time it was hushed by authority, owing, it is said, to a compensation of 200,000 francs, ,?8,000, having been paid by Russia, which had likewise gently hinted that the monastery revenues in the Dobrudscha were not quite out of the reach of a Russian administrator. Tischendorf relates his own joy over his prize when he got into Cairo; he writes that it was impossible to get to sleep,?possibly due to the racking headache which Prince Regent (otherwise champagne and cherry-brandy in equal proportions) leaves behind it. Even now, in 1894, the monks bear an unaccountable grudge against Tischendorf, call him a thief, and say he borrowed some of their books to show to the Czar, which he never returned. Moreover, this beneficent larcenist absolutely tried on a trick of the same kind some years after. The Papal authorities are very tenacious with regard to their Vatican MS. of the New Testament ... (continues)

A critical and historical enquiry into the origin of the third gospel (1901)
P. C. Sense
p. 298-300

Codex Sinaiticus ... was found by Tischendorf in 1859 (1) in the library of the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai. The circumstances attending its acquisition are gravely amusing, and are thus described in a work published in 1892, called The Still Life of the Middle Temple, with some of its Table Talk, preceded by Fifty Years' Reminiscences, by W. G. Thorpe, F.S.A., a barrister of the Society (Richard Bentley & Son). (quote from Thorpe) ... Scrivener also obscurely speaks of Tischendorf having " taught the monks a sharp lesson," without entering into details. But he more definitely says that "the treasure, which had been twice withdrawn from him as a private traveller, was now [1859], on the occasion of some chance conversation, spontaneously put into the hands of one sent from the champion and benefactor of the oppressed Church " (Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, ch. ii. sect- 2, Aleph). The reader is requested to compare Dr Scrivener's representation with that of Mr Thorpe. In the article 'Tischendorf' in the Encyclopaedia Britannka, the statement is made that in the journey to the East made in 1859, Tischendorf "had the active aid of the Russian Government, he at length got access to the remainder of the precious Sinaitic Codex, and persuaded the monks to present it to the Czar, at whose cost it was published in 1862." The reader is again requested to compare with Mr Thorpe's account. (1) The date is variously given by different writers. Mr Thorpe says 1839, Mrs Lewis 1844, and Dean Alford and most authorities 1859.

A Plain Introduction to the criticism of the New Testament (1861)
"he had taught the monks a sharp lesson" (this could just mean that they realized that the ms was valuable to the Europeans.)

"the treasure, which had been twice withdrawn from him as a private traveller, was now [1859], on the occasion of some chance conversation, spontaneously put into the hands of one sent from the champion and benefactor of the oppressed Church " p. 77

Scrivener was basically accepting the Tischendorf story, so he is not really giving support to Thorpe (not surprising, since his main source in 1861 was the Tischendorf 1860 volume). Scrivener's writing does give us, elsewhere, a lot of interesting analysis.

The Espositor (1908)
Dr. Gregory on the Canon and Test of the New Testament
James Rendel Harris

"Codex Sinaitious ... It is a mere misrepresentation of those who have put in an ethical objection to the way in which the document was alienated from the convent of St. Katharine, to ask them whether they really supposed Tischendorf carried off the book under his waistband?no one ever suggested anything of the kind."

Rendel James Harris alludes to the theft idea, that some felt the Sinaiticus manuscript was simply lifted by Tischendorf, while saying it was not an outright heist. In fact, Thorpe and Sense were supporting an idea that was akin to the waistband scenario (which is humorous because of the bulk problem.)

Sense , P. C. == Centz, P. C. (plain common) Bernard Janin Sage, barrister (1821-1902)
Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature
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Steven Avery

the confusion of the modern writers

Some modern writers have properly dismissed the Tischendorf saved from burning claim as a fabrication or myth, although they are often slow to use the proper blunt wording.

Eldon Jay Epp is an example.

The Late Constantin Tischendorf and Codex Sinaiticus (2015)
Eldon Jay Epp

On p. 18 and p. 40 (a note includes an extract from Bentley below) he shows his skepticism and gives some references. What is ironic though is he turns around and believes the Tischendorf chronology anyway, even though he lied for over a decade again and again about the saved parchment in basket from burning myth. You can see that on p. 41.


Secrets of Mount Sinai: The Story the World’s Oldest Bible–Codex Sinaiticus -Codex Sinaiticus (1986)
James Bentley

Now this story, told by Tischendorf long after the event, entirely fits in with his general desire to depict the monks of St. Catherine's as little better than idiots. It was repeated in countless journals and newspapers throughout the Christian world. In the twentieth century the same story has been told by Tishendorf's son-in-law (Ludwig Schneller, in 1927) and by his granddauther (Hildegard Behrend, in 1956).It appears in the account published by the British Library of the greatest manuscript in their possession, the Codex Sinaiticus, which Tischendorf brought from the monastery of St Catherine in 1859, fourteen years after his first visit. It seems to me hardly likely to be true. Quite apart from the fact that the forty-three parchments he supposedly rescued from a basket of rubbish are in remarkably good condition, the highly suspicious circumstances under which Tischendorf took the Codex Sinaiticus from the monks in 1859 made him (as we shall see) desperate to prove that the original owners of the manuscript were unfitted to keep it.” p. 86-87

( Apparently one edition had .. The Story of Finding the World’s Oldest Bible ... as the title.)

Bentley is one of the few writers who would speak directly to Tishendorf fabrications, e.g. writing of the later negotations after he had the goods, James Bentley says:

Tischendorf therefore now embarked on the remarkable piece of duplicity which was to occupy him for the next decade, which involved the careful suppression of facts and the systematic denigration of the monks of Mount Sinai." p. 95

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Steven Avery

"many circumstances in this narrative calculated to awaken suspicion" - James Donaldson

The Apostolical Fathers (1874)
The Pastor of Hermas
James Donaldson

After covering 1844 through 1859, the Tischendorf Sinai story, James Donaldson skillfully segues from the suspicious narrative to the Hermas retraction of Tischendorf to the linugistic evidences.

There are many circumstances in this narrative calculated to awaken suspicion, and there are other circumstances of an equally suspicious nature which I have not mentioned. But those who are most competent to judge, have allowed that it seems a genuine ancient manuscript.

Tichendorf assigns this manuscript to the fourth century: but the data on which dates are assigned to uncials are exceedingly unsatisfactory and entirely negative. The utmost that can be based on the data in this case is that it may have been written in the fourth century. There is therefore ample room for discussing the age and value of the manuscript from internal evidence, that is, from the inflections and grammatical peculiarities that appear in the manuscript and from the state of the language as indicated by the error of the transcriber or transcribers.

Now we find that the text of the Pastor of Hermas found in the Sinaitic codex is substantially the same as that given in the Athos manuscript. The variations are comparatively slight. And almost all the arguments that were adduced against the Athos manuscript are adducible against the Sinaitic. Tischendorfs opinion, however, changed on his finding the agreement between the two texts. In his Notitia, p. 45, he wrote:

"I am glad to be able to communicate that the Leipzig text is derived not from middle-age studies but from the old original text. My opposite opinion is proved correct in so far as that the Leipzig text is disfigured by many corruptions, such as without doubt proceed from middle-age use of Latin." And he repeats his belief that the Leipzig text is genuine in the Prolegomena to the Novum Testamentum Sinaiticum. The discovery of this manuscript does not however impair the force of the arguments which he employed; and as they are in the main applicable to the Sinaitic codex, they compel us to doubt the purity of the Greek text of Hermas given there."
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Steven Avery

Nicholas Fyssas - take with some reservation Tischendorf's claims

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript (2015)
Ch 14 The Recent History of Codex Sinaiticus: Insights from the Sinai Archives
Nicholas Fyssas

The modern history of Codex Sinaiticus is linked to Constantin Tischendorf, renowned scholar, editor of the Greek New Testament, and explorer. The details of his travels to Sinai and the location of Codex Sinaiticus are well known. As for his first trip in 1844, which provided him with the forty-three folios now in Leipzig, it should be remembered that all we have is his own account, written twenty-one years after the event in 1865; this happened after all the then known parts of the Codex had left Sinai, requiring in one or the other way some kind of legitimacy or justification.

Tischendorf was a child of his era, his travels to the East being to some extent a chase that provided Western libraries with manuscripts, some of which he himself sold. So Tischendorf's story of parts of the Codex in a basket, destined for the fire in the oven, although the only version of the events that came down to us, poses some critical questions:

a) Even if the leaves of the Codex had been really found in a basket, it is known that manuscripts were often stored in baskets, and they are often represented this way in Byzantine iconography. As for Sinai, in 1893, Margaret Dunlop Gibson made a catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts, which were brought to her in baskets. By 1895, the last of the manuscripts had been placed on shelves, and the baskets phased out. When the New Finds were discovered in 1975, a number of the manuscripts were stored in baskets.
b) Even if in a basket (according to Tischendorf's description) the parchment leaves, made from animal skin, could not be used in the oven, since they do not readily burn and they produce a terrible smell. Also, Tischendorf's claim to this effect remains the only allegation that the monks of Sinai were burning parchment manuscripts.
These observations may also urge us to take with some reservation Tischendorf's claim that be was allowed to take the forty-three folios. During his second visit to Sinai in 1853, the leaves of the Codex he had seen earlier could not be located, although Porfirij Uspenskij and possibly Major Macdonald had seen them in the intervening years. And during his third trip the whole Codex was traced in the hands of the Oikonomos (steward).

There seem to be some lacunae in this story; of course they should not be considered as tokens of a supposed forgery of the true events by Tischendorf. But since his version justifies his acts, as saving the manuscript from its ignorant owners, one should be very cautious in accepting it without serious reservations. Even Scrivener, in his book on Codex Sinaiticus in 1864, refers to a letter of Callinicos of Sinai in the Guardian newspaper about the manuscript, saying that the manuscript was always kept in the library and was inserted in the old catalogues of the Monastery. p. 189

The 1865 date has a footnote to:

5 C. Tischendorf, When Were Our Gospels Written: An Argument by Constantine Tischendorf. With a Narrative of the Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript (New York, 1866).

Which was the presentation for public consumption. Elements of the story had been told by Tischendorf earlier.

they should not be considered as tokens of a supposed forgery of the true events by Tischendorf

While this is a concession to the standard account, it can be read as ironic, and I would say that in fact the story should be considered a Tischendorf forgery, or fabrication.

This is not the only fabrication of the times. e.g. In discussing Simonides, the Callinicos of Sinai claim of the "ancient catalogues" supporting Sinaiticus at Sinai has never been verified, and should similarly be received very cautiously, or as a crass fabrication. The Tischendorf account of 1859 have also been questioned, way beyond the dubious loan element which is often the only emphasis.

Returning to 1844, that Tischendorf simply took the 43 leaves (5 quires and 3 leaves in two sections) is quite clear from his description in the family correspondence, as well as the fundamental discrepancies between Uspensky and Tischendorf. It is the one explanation that fits all the evidences. The theft of leaves and manuscripts by Tischendorf (and others, including Uspensky) is simply an historical fact.
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Steven Avery

"secretly removed a part of it"

1845 - Letter from Kallinikos, published Jan, 1863, dated Aug, 1858 (an example of the controversies of the time, and an alternative 1844 history, the authenticity of the letter was challenged)

Kallinikos reported an obvious truth. The learned scholar's of today stumble over the most simple historical facts.

the manuscript in question is now in Mount Sinai ... I saw it there with my own eyes when I was in the Monastery of St. Catherine in 1845 in the month of July, and handled it with my own hands, and found it very defective, and somewhat changed; and when I asked the reason, I understood from Gabriel, the keeper of the treasures, that his predecessor had given the manuscript to a German, who visited the monastery in 1844 in the month of May, and who having had the MS. in his hands several days, secretly removed a part of it, and went away during the time that the librarian lay ill, afflicted with a typhoid fever
Journal of Sacred Literature, 1863, note dated 1858

"The latter, however, not coming in time, neglected the matter altogether, until Dr. Tischendorf, coming to the Greek monastery of Sinai in 1844, in the month of May (if my memory does not deceive me), and remaining there several days, and getting into his hands, by permission of the librarian, the codex we are speaking of, and perusing and reperusing it frequently, abstracted secretly a small portion of it, but left the largest portion in the place where it was, and departed undisturbed. And last of all, coming again to the same monastery, he obtained also the remaining portion of it through the Russian Consul, in exchange for hyperbolical promises, never, in my judgment, likely to be fulfilled.

All these things I know, having been on the spot. And I declare them now openly for the sake of truth. And I further declare that the codex which Dr. Tischendorf obtained is the identical codex which Simonides wrote about twenty-two years ago, and none other; inasmuch as 1 saw it in the hands of Tischcndorf, and recognized the work ; and I first informed Simonides, who was previously in ignorance thereof, of the abstraction of his codex from the library of the monastery of Mount Sinai. And originally, also, I read this half-line written in it—(Grk) —but two days after, the leaf containing the artistically written line had disappeared, by whose doing I do not know. And know yet further, that the codex also was cleaned with lemon-juice, professedly for the purpose of cleaning its parchments, but in reality in order to weaken the freshness of the letters, as was actually the case."

Kallinikos Hiermonachos - Oct 15, 1862

Take just the 1844 theft, e.g. This was at a time that very little was known about the CFA. In his pubished materials, the two mss were not even connected by Tischendorf. Note that all of this matches what we today now know occurred in 1844, from sources like the Tischendorf family correspondence and the Uspensky 1845 summary. And we see that Nicholas Fyssas (above) was willing to gingerly write the truth. Yet, this was severely attacked at the time that it was written by Simonides, since it impugns the integrity of Tischendorf. And to say Tischendorf stole the 1844 leaves was a bold claim, an absurd gambit, if Simonides did not know the ms. details. e.g. A single little note from a monastery official, offering the leaves in 1844, would have been a complete refutation. Simonides and Kallinikos knew there was no such note, because they knew the circumstances of the theft. Their precise knowledge of the bogus loan of 1859 is similar.

"he was informed that in 1844 a German had obtained access to it for some days, and had abstracted a portion during the illness of the librarian" - Australian summary
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Staff member
Price Regent - liquor as the Tischendorf tool

Note the "Prince Regent" discussion above, how Tischendorf weaved his way through the administration.

Also, Tischendorf talks in French of using liquor to warm up the administrator or steward.

After vividly describing the disorders which had erupted in the monastery's Cairene dependency on account of the " accursed wine- bibbing,"

There are multiple pieces of evidence that point to Tischendorf using the alcolhol method to get what he needed.

Tischendorf Sinai Accounts

Memoir on the discovery and antiquity of the Codex sinaiticus -(1865)
(also French is a bit different, e.g liquor)
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Steven Avery


Alexander Schick picture of the Tischendorf letters

Alexander Schick.jpg
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Steven Avery

Council of Trullo - Canon 68

New information

mikek17 said...
Mr. Snapp:
Thank you for this article. I would also like to point out that, concurrent to the skepticism presented about the monks' supposed treatment of the ms. in question, it is largely improbable on the surface that such a habit of book-burning existed because canons of the Orthodox Church explicitly punish such an act. For example, Canon 68 of the Trullo canons punishes anyone who destroys Scriptural texts unless they are unreadable with one years' excommunication.

The Text of the Gospels
James White and Codex Sinaiticus - February 28, 2019

The Quinsext Council (or the Council in Trullo), 692

The Canons of the Council in Trullo

IT is unlawful for anyone to corrupt or cut up a book of the Old or New Testament or of our holy and approved preachers and teachers, or to give them up to the traders in books or to those who are called perfumers, or to hand it over for destruction to any other like persons: unless to be sure it has been rendered useless either by bookworms, or by water, or in some other way. He who henceforth shall be observed to do such a thing shall be cut off for one year. Likewise also he who buys such books (unless he keeps them for his own use, or gives them to another for his benefit to be preserved) and has attempted to corrupt them, let him be cut off.
Thou shalt not destroy nor hand over copies of the Divine Scriptures to be destroyed unless they are absolutely useless.
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Steven Avery


Bart Ehrman
"In at least one famous instance, his best known “discovery,” he may well have absconded with one (the famous Codex Sinaiticus from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai)."


That problem actually applies to both his 1844 and 1859 extractions.

In 1844 Tischendorf took out five full intact quires from the existing codex and part of an adjacent sixth quire, a total of 43 leaves. 5 quires was 40 leaves. Nobody knew what he had taken, and when in 1845 Porfiry Uspensky was at St. Catherine's that section was gone. Uspensky wrote up his visits, published in 1856 and 1857. The was all deposited in Leipzig as the Codex-Friderico-Augustanus. Tischendorf resisted any public acknowledgement that this was Sinaiticus until years after the 1859 extraction.

The 1859 extraction of the (almost) full remaining Sinaiticus also has strong indications of theft. There is an interesting write-up in 1892, The still life of the Middle Temple by William George Thorpe (1828-1902) that describes the 1859 theft. Followed by Bernard Janin Sage (P. C. Sense) 1821-1902 in A critical and historical enquiry into the origin of the third gospel in 1901.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA