Bill Cooper and David H. Sorenson - tampering of the Leipzig ms ??

Steven Avery

The fulcrum evidence, simple, clear powerful, of the Sinaiticus fakery, is the colour (and streak and stain) disparity between Leipzig 1844 and Sinaiticus 1859 pages.

The SART team pioneered this study and we have published on the web on and this forum, on Facebook, and David Daniels in superb vlogs and a book. Nothing has been hidden, the presentations have been consistent and exceedingly clear.


Yet two gentlemen have written books that .. somehow .. came up with the puzzling claim that the Leipzig pages have been tampered. How this arose is interesting, albeit a bit distressing for what it says about the scholarship.

To a large extent this one blunder counters the value of their work in other areas. After all, this is one fundamental, basic issue, especially when combined with the historical forensics.

On this post, I will take from the two reviews, and explain more clearly how this happened, and why this means that any recommendation of their materials has to have a very major caveat emptor attached.



Steven Avery

First lets pull out what I have from the reviews. I will make my comments more direct to the one point of proposed tampering of the Leipzig pages. After I wrote those reviews, I realized that Bill Cooper got into big trouble because he thought the 2011-2012 Hendrickson book was accurate! Oops.


Chapter 7: A Brief Survey of Sinaiticus' Contents

This is a short chapter, that discusses the division of the ms into four locations and the advantages of the Hendrickson facsimile edition ("pin-sharp clarity of detail" ) and the advantages of the Codex Sinaiticus Project online in viewing the ms. This is the second discussion of the Facsimile edition, the first one was early in the book, only in the next third discussion does
Cooper point out that they tampered with the colour of the pages.


The second is that belonging to Leipzig University Library (LUL), this occupying quires 35-37; & 47-49. These are the first pages of Simonides' manuscript that Tischendorf had under his complete control, andthey show clearly that he (with or without an accomplice) tampered with them in an attempt to make them seem much older than they truly were.
The Leipzig 43 leaves are the white parchment leaves. In fact, this is TOTALLY FALSE - There was no tampering of the Leipzig pages.

the Hendrickson facsimile .... an exact .. replication of the original in all its different colours, shades and hues .. landmark of facsimile reproduction
Cooper does not understand the basics and he got super-duped. The Hendrickson facsimile made the Leipzig pages darker in order to mask the colour distinction.


Chapter 9: The Leipzig Leaves
Chapter 10: The British Library Leaves

These chapters are in one sense the heart of the matter.


Chapter 9: The Leipzig Leaves

... Tischendorf s jumping the gun back in 1844 was fortuitous for the critics inasmuch as it geographically isolated the two most important segments of the Codex. People might have wondered - as one or two did come to wonder - how it was that the Leipzig segment was (then) in such pristine condition where the Russian segment retrieved some fifteen years later showed such obvious signs of tampering, fading and ageing.
This is all sensible, except for the (then) .. the Leipzig pages are still in pristine condition. Any change over the 150 years is exceedingly minor, at most it moved a shade or two more to off-white

1844.. prematurely purloining the 43 leaves, Tischendorf had taken them away from the men who were currently trying to age the manuscript that Simonides had written out. With the 43 leaves now gone, they were constrained to working on what was left .. Russian leaves heavy marks of ageing and tampering ... the 43 leaves that had gone to Leipzig did not. Only later did such tampering become evident, though on nothing like the scale inflicted on the Russian leaves.
A double blunder.

1) Cooper is claiming that there were attempts to age the manuscript in 1844. There is no evidence of this at all.
Looking at the evidences from Uspensky (who saw the ms in 1845 and 1850) and Simonides and Kallinikos, the aging attempt was in the 1850s, not 1844.

2) Cooper is claiming that later, he later gives a date in the 1900s, there was tampering of the Leipzig leaves.

Fortuitously for the Vatican, this separation ensured that no one would be able for a very long time to compare the two segments up close. Indeed, this opportunity has only recently presented itself since 2011 with the publication of the Hendrickson facsimile. .
The Codex Sinaiticus Project of 2009 is the key that showed the colour. The Hendrickson facsimle of 2011-2012 hid the colour disparity, it was smoothed, with the Preface talking of "sensitive adjustments". If they were true to the colour it would have been too glaring to the purchasers.

... The fact that the Leipzig leaves and the writing upon them were in such pristine condition at the time of their 'discovery' should never be underappreciated. ...
And are still in pristine condition today.

SIDENOTE: the evidences is that Tischendorf was aware of this problem, which is why he actually was very coy about the connection of the two manuscripts in public statements in the years following 1859. And made sure to keep the two manuscripts physically separated and hard to access.

Cooper goes into some of the white parchment quotes, and the rather irrelevant, for this discussion, New Finds.

the 43 leaves ... are so clean and new and undecayed in their appearance? The same question might be asked concerning the difference incondition between the Leipzig and the Russian leaves? Had the leaves now at Leipzig been a collective work in progress at the time Tischendorf stole them? It would seem very much that they had.
Wrong. There is no indication of any attempt to age the Leipzig leaves was in progress.

....the reluctance of the monks at Sinai to let this segment of 43 leaves go. to let this segment of 43 leaves go. The leaves were yet to be worked on, and the monks were only persuaded to let Tischendorf take them away because he had falsely promised to return them.
This is rewriting the history, creating an 1844 reluctant loan. In fact, it was just a brazen theft, that was likely not discovered till the 1860s put the history together and Kallinikos referenced the theft. There was no loan, no permission.

SIDENOTE: In the much later c. 1860 Tischendorf account, the monks were grateful for his insight in saving the mss. and quite willing to give him 1/3 of the leaves. In reality, they knew little or nothing about the theft of the 43 leaves. Uspensky likely did not know in his 1845 viewing of the ms, or even in 1850, as Tischendorf had hidden that the Codex Friderico-Augustanus had come from Sinai and Uspensky was more a St. Petersburg than a Leipzig kind of guy.

Cooper places "Jesuit forgers who were busy at Sinai" as working on the ms. in the 1840s. Making the ms. older. There is no actual evidence given.

But once away from the monastery, they were no longer in the hands of the Jesuit forgers who were busy at Sinai producing a codex that could bear timely witness to Vaticanus, which even now was being prepared for publication by Cardinal Mai at Rome.
There are problems in saying that after 1844 the Jesuit forgers were producing Sinaiticus. The key one is the Uspensky 1845 description, which includes the same books as we have today. It is one thing to allege trimming and colouring and eliminating bothersome points, by Tischendorf and his allies at various times. it is pretty much impossible to place any actual ms. production after 1845.

Here might be a good place to give one observation concerning the Hendrickson facsimile. Its one fault lies in the fact that every page of the facsimile bears a uniform colour throughout for the parchment of the original. In other words, the white colour of the original parchment belonging to the Leipzig leaves, which was observed and noted by more than one scholar who had seen them shortly after their arrival at Leipzig (Uspensky and Dobschutz for instance - M'Clymont [see Bibliography] came a little later when in 1913 they were still white as snow), is masked by giving them the same colour and tone as the rest of the book's leaves. I don't think that there is anything more sinister to this than a simple exercise in book design aesthetics. But it is misleading nonetheless.
This smoothing of the colour of the 2011-12 facsimile is rather blatant. (Remember, they carefully put in a vague sentence about "sensitive adjustments"). It is similar to the Tischendorf trick of pointing people to his facsimile edition. We tried to contact the editors from Hendrickson, and others, to determine who was responsible and hear their reasons. It is quite obvious that there could be an awareness that proper colouring would raise alarm bells. If the book had the colour differentiation as in the Codex Sinaiticus Project, or the composite pic on the web siite, it would certainly be quite easily noticed and raised questions. Personally I believe that the decision was more than simply aesthetics, it easily qualifies as scholastically sinister. Nobody at the British Library or Hendrickson would take responsibility, or even make it clear who made the decision.

The British Library's website for Codex Sinaiticus also presents a standardized shade (almost monochrome) for the entire codex.
Totally False - on the Key Point. The Codex Sinaiticus Project is quite faithful and diligent on the colouring isuses, they had the Working Standards technical party, they include colour bars, a solid coding system for various parchment elements, and more. This is has been the basis for much of the SART analysis.

Next is interesting material about "white parchment", the antelope skin claim of Tischendorf, the finishing polish on parchment that fades, the CSP acknowledging an "unexpected lack of damage". This is all well done, on part of p. 79-80.

After this, Cooper tries to make a distinction between the "snow-white" parchment (snow-white was one writer) and today's "somewhat less than snow-white". Despite Cooper's attempts, this distinction, which involves some individual subjective word-parsing as well, is not unexpected for 150 years.

Then after giving two of the 1860s quotes about yellowing from Kallinikos, Cooper asks:

Is this complained-of damage to the parchment evident today? Of course it is. In fact, it is all too evident on the opening leaf of the Leipzig segment. That leaf is numbered Q35-f.1r, and the nature of its fading tells us that two methods were employed, dry-rubbing and wet-rubbing, in reducing the clarity of certain pages. The first method, as here, is that of dry rubbing, most probably with a coarse and abrasive cloth.

The rubbing has been confined on this page to the bottom half .. noticeably fading the letters... the next two pages ... are undisturbed and have letters that are pristine and crisp throughout.. this pattern is followed throughout the first half of the Leipzig segment. Two-page spread, rubbed, next two-page spead, pristine ... all the way to Q37 -f.3v. It is very odd.


....Such patterning is not something that one would expect from a natural deterioration over one and a half millenia. There would be no pristine pages at all if Sinaiticus were really as old as is claimed. It is very clearly deliberate, although at this stage it is impossible to say who carried out the fading. We have it on M'Clymont's authority that the Leipzig leaves were "written on snow-white vellum" - in a pristine condition, in other words - as late as 1913, by which time Tischendorf had been dead for 39 years, so it could not have been he. The fading had to have been carried out at some time after 1913, though under whose orders, by whose hand, or to what end we cannot now say. Was a more modern facsimile anticipated? Or with the new railways joining Europe and Russia together, were scholars, who could spot new parchment when they saw it, becoming more widely travelled? Maybe.
Thus, Bill Cooper theorizes that some features were caused by changes at the Leipzig University Library, a theory about which I am very skeptical. There is an interesting 2-2-2 pattern, not so much in fading but in the boldness of ink. However it continues into the non-Leipzig section. The conclusion of Cooper:

The fading had to have been carried out at some time after 1913"
simply makes no sense at all.

The next pages are about specific Leipzig oddities and anomalies, including the erasure of marginalia "particularly on Q36-f.6r", the "India ink" overwriting of Q47-f-1r and the strange attempt to obliterate an inscription at Q48-f.8v with "India ink"

we can only wonder what it was that the inscription said. The one and only suspicion that is raised is that the inscription was by Constantine Simonides, and was one of the several monograms and acrostics with which he signed his work.
The Bill Cooper value-added study and analysis in this section is appreciated, especially when, like here, he is careful with his words .. "suspicion".

Over two or three weeks, I conducted a fingertip search of the entire Hendrickson facsimile, looking for some signature of his that had been missed, but to no avail. Most of them had doubtless been written on the pages that have since been systematically mutilated and vandalised, but this great blotting out of an inscription remains. Once again, why anyone who believed they were working on a truly ancient manuscript of the Bible would even think of obliterating an inscription which it bore, was either well aware that that manuscript was not so ancient, or he wanted to obliterate the evidence that voiced its recent manufacture. There is simply no other explanation that will do.
Bill Cooper comes to an interesting conclusion, however to really study this question we would need the 1846 Latin CFA publication.

It is difficult to believe that the Leipzig leaves were presented to Frederick Augustus II of Saxony bearing such appalling defacements as are evident today. That would have been seen by him as an insult rather than an honour, so it is very likely that the defacements and fadings were carried out after the leaves became known as, and were published as, Codex Friderico-Augustanus. Which were done by Tischendorf, and which by other interested parties, it is now impossible to say. But someone perpetrated the fraud, and it has deceived the world.
The fraud finale is a smidgen out of context with the defacement issue. The Leipzig pages are actually very clean, they do have a page that has too many corrections, but I doubt that this would offend Frederick Augustus.


Chapter 10: The British Library Leaves

... We can say with confidence that the long and arduous process of giving the leaves an appearance of age was not done by Tischendorf himself. Between purloining - or being allowed to purloin - the leaves in 1859 and preparing his facsimile of them by 1862, he had neither the time nor the opportunity to do it. That work had been carried out by others working in the isolated secrecy of St Catherine's monastery. Tischendorf did carry out the mutilation of certain leaves of this segment, however, and we shall consider those cases as we proceed.
The conclusion may be true, Tischendorf clearly had allies in the monastery. However, it is wrong to say he did not have time up to 1862, especially if you consider the mystery months in Cairo in 1859.

And here is where things get interesting, for every single one of the telltale signs of forgery that Lucas lists, is evident on the pages of Codex Sinaiticus - almost every page. Those which have not been touched by the forger's art have writing on them which is crisp and new, and almost a complete absence of any patina that would certainly have settled on and permeated them had they been of any real age. Those which have been so touched still have no naturally acquired patina, but bear all the hallmarks of fakery nonetheless.
Bill Cooper then goes into the "pleasantly candid admissions" of the British Library, another fine section with a humorous "fetch a policeman" paragraph, if such a ms. was attempted to be pawned off today.


We should look for the pages that have smudges that could be read through spectral imaging.