Facebook - NT Textual Criticism - Dec 20, 2013
Let's discuss the Chris Pinto (Tares Among the Wheat and Noise of Thunder radio) and James White (aomin.org
) debate on Sinaiticus authenticity and the Simonides factor. "Is Codex Sinaiticus a Modern Forgery"? Chris Pinto saying we do not know, there is lots of unsolved mystery (as per James Anson Farrer) and research is proper. James White taking the Gerald Posner position of "Case Closed".
More precise in terms of debate format would be "Is Codex Sinaiticus a fully-authentic 4th century document?" with James White taking an affirmative. However the moderator Chris Rosebrough made it clear at the beginning that the positions were not your normal affirmative-negative, that the title was simply for framing the question, and the positions were as stated above.
My more precise debate topic title "Is Codex Sinaiticus a fully-authentic 4th century document?" would also need to allow some squiggle room around the 4th century -- due to historical and textual and paleographic arguments, including Adoph Hilgenfeld (1823-1907) that Sinaiticus was actually a couple of centuries later. The fact that people today are ill-informed about that historical discussion is simply another resisdue of Hortian Vat-Sin veneration.
(Note: the many problems with the 4th century dating can also be considered in discussing the possibility of modern dating of some or all of the ms. For a more recent added example, if you want to have fun, look at the quire signature question and the perplexing multiple bindings that are now theorized in the early centuries. While the squiggle marks themselves are described in a manner consistent with modern/recent, i.e. "the heavy hue of the ink" per Jongkind).
Another debate could be something like "Should Codex Sinaiticus be given textual significance and authority?" James thought that Chris Pinto should debate that position, however that could be left to any well-studied TR defender and easily won (it should not have any signficant authority, it is a blunderama ms of virtually no significance, rife with omissions and scribal faux pas and hard errors). James White would not want to be take the affirmative on that debate. I would venture that James Snapp, even not from a TR position, could easily clobber James White in such a debate.
Now, this Pinto-White debate has been bandied around the net, with contributions of various strength from the blogs of Hiram Diaz and Turretinfan, a post by James Snapp and a few others, and some CARM discussion. Now, I have not yet done a review, however I have looked into it a bit, and noted:
* one very major James White blunder *
on his foundational claim about the papyri that I placed on Turretinfan. (I'll plan on putting that in separately here. I want to finish going through the debate and catch the various permutations of this one Whitian blunder, which he got away with in the debate).
On a number of debate review issues, James Snapp gave one of the fairer reviews of both gentlemen. However one point I want to discuss here, that relates to another thread in this forum, is about the text-type argument:
"a knockdown occurred when White pointed out that a collation of MSS from Mount Athos would yield a Byzantine Text and Pinto simply had no answer"
In terms of the debate there is some truth to that, with the response from Chris mostly focusing on possible uncollated Mt. Athos mss. (Chris also got diverted from his positive historical aspects by going into this on his Q&A, a bit of a misuse of his time). This has two difficulties:
1) we probably would know of very-Alexandrian mss on Athos, and
2) there are a number of agreements, like under a lampstand in Mark 4:21, (oddly uncorrected in both mss over the centuries) that look to be very uniquely Vaticanus-Sinaiticus agreement, and difficult to explain outside of dependency or relationship. Once you have a few such totally oddball agreements, probabilities become formidable.
One possible answer to (1) is an emphasis on the ancient Syriac Codex or the Coptic skills of Simonides. However, this is of limited help with (2).
So a key question, not covered in the debate, and not mentioned by James, is whether Vaticanus could have been available to the creation of the Sinaiticus NT that Tischendorf said he first saw in 1859. I cover this in another thread here, and the answer is a qualified "very possibly" .. so far. This is largely based on the Angelo Mai 1838 Vaticanus edition and Tischendorf working with that edition no later than 1843 (earlier Vaticanus collations could be considered, but I tend to doubt their effectiveness in this regard). And the knowledge that there are a lot of questions unanswered about what happened from 1840 to 1859, when the Sinaiticus NT was revealed and purloined, to 1863, by which time the Tischendorf facsimile came out (not pictures, no handwriting checks possible) and the Simonides claims were highlighted. e.g. We do know that Kallinikos very clearly said that Tischendorf mutilated and tampered with the ms. in these years. We even would have to consider the possibility that Simonides and Tischendorf were at that time friendly or wink-wink or supportive in actions in some ways, before the Tischendorf Great Heist of 1859. (Or at least before the 1855 amazing Shepherd of Hermas contretemps, where Tischendorf accused the Hermas ms, and then later had to retract his accusation.)
This I believe answers the major argument of the debate, and shows that there is a real need for more research. (I am not going into the many compelling historical aspects here.) The fact that Chris Pinto did not go into such vicissitudes at the time is not surprising, that is not his bailiwick. And that is not a point against him, remember Chris is mostly pointing out anomalies, questions and difficulties, a historical debate misunderstood. And then looking for gentlemen like James Snapp and myself, who have a bit more familiarity with the textual perplexities, to hash out some technical aspects.
In that sense, to consider the James White reference a knockdown is an overstatement. The debate is meant as a starting point. And since James White never dealt with the historical considerations, not even about Vaticanus and its possible use, much less the full timeline, the most he gave was a glancing shot.
(12-23-2013 Added Note: if you want the most interesting posts, nitty-gritty on issues, go down to the two with "What is Curious.." However, if you have time and interest, read the whole thread. )
We work with what we have to work with. Have you ever tried to have a discussion with a scholarly evolutionist about the beautiful designs in nature? How about with a late dating NT scholar about Luke writing to Theophilus at 40 AD?
The bottom line is that, right now, what you have to work with is James White the posturing CT apologist, Chris Pinto the documentarian (with no claim to NT textual scholarship, although an interest in learning where it helps) and gentlemen like James Snapp and myself. If you can find others sensible and logical .. share away!
Meanwhile, we have what we have. Feel free to join in! At the moment, this forum is way ahead in the discussion curve, although there has been some here and there.
When Chris Pinto started, even I sluffed off the whole idea of bogus hands on Sinaiticus as virtually irrelevant and impossible. Remember, textually I consider the ms. basically irrelevant anyway.
Now I would say the question definitely deserves consideration. In the last day I have been trying to follow some new tidbits, including the quire signature perplexity (who checks with the history of bookbinding on that one? and really, multiple bindings in the first millenium? Hmmmm.....) and unravelling the Uspensky situation, what did he actually see in 1845 and 1850, according to his books in 1856 and 1857. I sent some of that off to a Russian friend.
James E Snapp Jr
Regarding the White-Pinto Debate (of which the audio is at http://www.aomin.org/.../debate-audio-james-white-vs.../
I have no interest in defending the theory that Codex Sinaiticus is a forgery. I repeatedly urged Chris Pinto to focus on the question of the reliability of Codex Sinaiticus’ text, rather than on the Simonides-forgery theory. Since the Simonides-forgery theory was the central question of the debate, I figured that James White would win (which he did, because his position was inherently stronger). I also figured that the debate would have no impact on how people view the text of Codex Sinaiticus. I expect that this non-impact will come to pass.
Regarding the knockdown that occurred when White pointed out that a collation of MSS from Mount Athos would yield a Byzantine Text and Pinto simply had no answer: Pinto *could* have had an answer. Pinto could have had a *great* answer: First, he could have mentioned that Codex Psi was at Mt. Athos, in response to White’s claim that conforming a text to MSS at Mt Athos must produce a Byzantine text. But as a response to White’s insistence that a “standardization” of the text of Simonides’ (claimed-to-exist) codex-under-construction, all Pinto would have needed to say is that Simonides’ primary exemplar was not a manuscript, but a printed text of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, and that when Simonides stated that he had collated it with the ancient ones, what he meant is that he had used another printed text, featuring ancient readings, to emend his main exemplar. For the NT the obvious choice would have been Griesbach’s NT, used with a high regard for Griesbach’s opinions regarding passages such as Jn. 7:53-8:11 and Mk. 16:9-20, etc. Simonides could have also accessed Andreas Birch’s work in which readings from Vaticanus were listed, and inserted those readings into the printed text from Moscow.
(Someone more erudite than James White could respond by pointing out that Sinaiticus’ text of Tobit is very different than Vaticanus’ text of Tobit, and Simonides would have no reason to arbitrarily adopt a different exemplar just for Tobit. But I don’t think this comeback would have occurred to White.)
Pinto should have . . . well, Pinto should not have defended such an indefensible position! But, having taken his position, the thing to do would be to picture Simonides saying to himself, “I want to use my preternatural skill at calligraphy to made a present to the Czar: a manuscript of the Bible, designed to look like one of the manuscripts which Eusebius famously produced for Emperor Constantine. So I will incorporate into its text the best readings of the oldest manuscripts, which – as far as the New Testament is concerned – have been conveniently compiled by Bengel, Birch, and, especially, Griesbach. And I want to do this quickly.” In such a scenario, there would be no need for several time-consuming collations: all Simonides would need to do is, first, take a copy of Griesbach’s NT text and fill it with notes inserting readings from Birch’s collection of variants from Vaticanus (peppered, perhaps, with variants from other MSS, known from other sources). And, next, have an assistant read that edited New Testament – reading the inserted variants as he went – as Simonides took dictation. Voila: there is one mechanism explaining the agreements with Vaticanus, and the indications that the MS was copied by dictation, and the indications that the MS was made in haste. And what about the corrections? The work of his assistants, of course. And what about the changes of handwriting? Those were necessary in order to prevent strain on his hand-muscles in the course of such a huge codex.
(That does not account for Sinaiticus’ text of Revelation, or for the marginalia that B and Aleph share in Acts, or for several other things. But against White, I suspect that it would have been an effective response.)
Although some might consider the White-Pinto debate a starting-point, in my opinion the Simonides-forgery theory has already had more time and effort expended on it than it deserves. Those wishing for some more information about this may want to read the “Miscellanies” in the 1863 Journal of Sacred Literature, beginning on page 478.
In closing, I mention that in the series of small articles in the Miscellanies of the 1863 JSL (some of which are more helpful than others), a couple of times attention is drawn to Simonides’ claim that he had embedded an acrostic, revealing his own name, in the text of Genesis 24. His detractors answered that this was a safe claim because no pages of Genesis from Codex Sinaiticus had been recovered by Tischendorf. Things are different now: the materials discovered in 1975 include a page from Genesis 24 – damaged, but mostly readable. If anyone wants to vindicate Simonides, let him begin by finding out exactly what Simonides said about the presence of acrostic in Genesis 24, and by attempting to find it on the extant page.
James E Snapp Jr
Steven - The announcement of plans for the printed Moscow Bible that Simonides claimed to have used as the basis for Codex Sinaiticus is on page 86 of this issue of the Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, from 1818. http://books.google.com/books?id=usdIAAAAcAAJ
Everywhere I turn on Sinaiticus, I run into questions that would, if it were a level playing field of analysis, make you really scratch your head as to how this could be one ancient manuscript. Putting aside things like the Hilgenfeld analysis including his paleographic study and the Hermas "coincidence" and the amazing preservation of the NT (which you would expect to be the most used, yet the only retracing is in the Prophets and all the lost and beat up pages are in the OT and Apoch) we have things like:
The double Chronicles section, as discussed here:
Codex Sinaiticus-See the Manuscript
"There seems to be a dead silence in the Academic world as to all the problems associated with this manuscript. Why?"
with a complex special pleading explanation as we see in the CSP site or the related Dirk Jongkind analysis.
Another example is the quire signature. with squiggles that were only discovered about five years ago, the ones with "the heavy hue of the ink" which in Jongkind, p. 32, is now theorized by exquisite special pleading to:
"belong to the rebinding of the manuscript, possibly connected with the so-called C correctors who worked sometime between the fifth and eighth centuries."
To support this otherwise unknown second binding (apparently presuming an earlier binding that poofed away) we are told of some aspect of all this that is remotely similar from the 14th or 15th century, a totally different age of book production.
Do we hear from book-binding experts on all this. Nahhhh... its Sinaiticus, it must be 4th century, probability=1 .. and everything works forward from there. Tischendorf told us so.
Remind you of evolutionary theory? Evolution is probability=1 creation is probability=0 .. that is the presumption, and all "science" flows forth. Sagan told you so.
Remind you of the heavenly witnesses? Jerome could not be mentioning the verse. We all "know" its an interpolation. So Jerome simply must be a forgery, against all sense and evidence. Metzger told you so.
1 Timothy 6:20
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Yours in Jesus,
James E Snapp Jr
Steven - what do you find lacking in Jongkind's explanation?
On the quire signature there is no real appeal to book-binding knowledge and history, and a questionable explanation for the hue of the ink. I consider this whole issue rather glaring and crying out for more input from those familiar with book production. Ink age study would be nice as well. The appeal to a 14th-15th century remotely related quire situation sounds like an admission of extreme unlikeliness when theorizing a second binding, otherwise unknown and never even conjectured previously, and without a scintilla of external evidence, around the 5th-8th century. And thus Ockham says he is not very happy with multiple book bindings unknown, just to explain some ink marks you can not easily explain.
On the duplicate Chronicles there are about five levels of speculations and ifs. i.e. The explanation starts from the presumption that it was one ms. copied once, and seeks to find any set of possible circumstances to explain how this duplicated section could happen, without hard evidence for the many ifs and without consideration of the improbabilities like why the scribe did not notice his repetition. Other possibilities are ignored. rejoice44 wrote it as follows, looking at the related CSP explanation: "They say that the scribe who wrote most of the Sinaiticus transcribed 1 and 2 Chronicles, then transcribed Ezra to chapter 9:9, then got confused and transcribed 1 Chronicles over, or at least 11 chapters or more, and then picked back up with Ezra in the middle of a column of 1 Chronicles, and then went on from there.." Is there something you see wrong in rejoice44's summary of the CSP-Jongkind data?
A conceivable speculative scenario is not ipso facto a probable or sensible scenario. ... Possibility is not actuality. Steven Avery
Closer to the debate thread topic, let's get in the glaring blunder of the debate
. This is the carefully transcribed first time for the blunder, from the opening statement section, although it was repeated in various iterations throughout the debate.
"there are literally thousands of places where Sinaiticus contains readings confirmed by later discoveries, discoveries unknown even in Scrivener's time, in the papyri, that would have been completely unknown to Simonides or anyone living in his day. To attribute these readings to mere chance is of course inconceivable."
Added Oct, 2022 BVDB discussion tries to find a few
Certain banned posters are responding foolishly on another forum. This time the said poster seems to be defending Pinto's Sinaiticus nonsense. Banne
Steven Avery "The James White section is interesting....First, I find his claim starting at 26:20 that there are "numerous unique readings" in Sinaiticus that are nowhere else than later-found papyri, found in the 1900s, dubious....that one sounds contra-factual. Maybe some one can supply the numerous variants that match the claim. Preferably they should not be simple omissions, and there should be some attempt to check their uniqueness. Yet any examples would help."
The following main text readings of Nestle/UBS have their Greek base solely from Aleph and a single papyrus MS (this does not include other cases where Aleph may be linked with a single papyrus MS that did not make it to the Nestle/UBS main text):
Lk 12:37 OUK AN = Aleph p75
Jn 4:15 DIERCWMAI = Aleph* p66
Ac 13:6 BARIHSOU = Aleph p74
Jude 15 PASAN YUCHN = Aleph p72
The debate audio is available here! http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2013/12/13/in-response-to-chris-pinto/ I will post my review of the debate in th
There are not thousands of such variants. There are not hundreds, there are not dozens. There likely is not a dozen. Maybe the count is a few, even allowing for simple omissions. One forum tried to post four, one was clearly invalid, generally they looked dubious, although Text und Textwert would be helpful to see if any of the four actually matched the White claims.
James White hung a lot of his argumentation on this canard about thousands of future-papyri variants (which would in fact be probative if it were true). This is not the Chris Pinto bailiwick, so White got away with it at the debate. The curiosity is that the James White and CT rah-rah crews accepted this nonsense, this appalling James White blustering ignorance (remember the "any scholar" Tischendorf trash can) at face. Allowing that one BVDB poster at least tried hard to find even a few variants that might get close to matching the claim.
Yours in Jesus,
James E Snapp Jr
Steven - I basically agree. White basically claimed that Sinaiticus contains *thousands* of readings that were otherwise unknown until the 1900's, when the papyri-research began after Grenfell and Hunt. If Pinto had responded, "Really? Name three." . . . I wonder what White would have done.
And, yes, I do remember the "any scholar" incident. I was expecting to hear about it in the debate -- especially after White tried to turn the last 30 minutes of the debate into a debate about Chris Pinto's objectivity, instead of about the central question -- but perhaps Pinto didn't have the killer instinct to bring it up.
We can agree that White was blowing smoke in his claims,and with a tendency towards blundering and posturing. Like I said, you would have actually worked with real issues, iron sharpeneth. Now, lets get away from White to real substance for a few minutes.
(Oh, as to why Chris did not bother to nail White on the "any scholar" stuff, especially since Alan Kurschner accused him of a 'documentary lie' based on the White blunders, I sort of agree with your nice guy perspective. And I think Chris went into the debate on the highest road possible, looking simply for sincere inquiry, and I can't fault him for that.)
Genesis 24 Acrostics and the New Finds
Chris Pinto has emphasized the need to look at Genesis 24, specifically, even saying that this could be probative against the Simonides claims. (And I would reduce it to the acrostic claims, which are central to his assertion about the personalized writing and far more consequent than issues like collation. In other words, the Simonides most direct specific claims would poof. Incidentally, there are a few distinct claims, the one you mention is the one most able to be studied today because of the New Finds surprise).
So on that, you are the second on board, and your note is appreciated. And I would add that it has the potential to be probative to Simonides deep involvement with the ms. (Afaik, Chris only pointed it out in the context of what I would call the Popperian falsification aspect.)
Note that if you end up with an unusual lacuna, that is very strong for Simonides, since he could not pre-plan his claim from the Tischendorf facsimile, as was the contra-Simonides response to his markings claims.
(Yes, some of the Tischendorf-Simonides contretemps has a bizarro world aspect, where all claims turn upside down. And it would be very nice if the tracts and articles on both sides with Tischendorf related to Hilgenfeld, Simonides, German anonymous and Uspensky actually could be found and at least summarized in English. Uspensky is the more available, in writings from 1856 and 1857, and extracts could also use some translation and careful consideration. Also there is need to look at certain papers from the times, especially in terms of items like the acrostics and markings and whether Tischendorf was really expected in London with some of the ms. Even the Mayer papyri have many twists and turns, note the Evangelical Textual Criticism short discussion in 2009.
My view: even the surprising Blavatsky claims should be noted, the smallness of the cliques in London in those days can be noted by how the mesmerist who runs a seance for Hort helps with the Simonides bio.)
NT Distinct Provenance
You should keep in mind that there are places where the NT seems to have a distinct provenance from the OT. An interesting example is one set of quire numbers.
And if you read the CSP reports carefully on ink and parchment, and related issues, many unusual aspects arise. Maybe I will go over a few later.
Here is one distinction I will place as a question. In addition to being unusually complete, are there any segments of the NT, afauk, that are illegible? (Generally a sign of the age of the ink, possibly exacerbated by additional use, exposure to the elements.) Do you have a theory as to why the NT would be close-to-pristine, after 1600 years of use, not just in retention of text but also in elements like legibility, and the OT and Apoch in shambles?
Your reference to Codex Ψ Psi 044 as being an Alexandrian Mt. Athos uncial is appreciated. Again that shows that even in his area of supposed expertise in the debate (textual/scribal as compared to historical) James White was simply winging it and uninformed. Now if you look at my posts above, I think it very possible Ψ would be insufficient for a certain critical mass of Vaticanus-Sinaiticus non-Ψ agreements. And that would make an interesting study. It could explain, though, why the first pass collation (if there was one) was far more Alexandrian than you would expect, adding the ancient Syriac codex as well, even using the direct words of Simonides.
As to other collation specifics you raise a number of good points.
First, the earlier Vaticanus collations like Birch have been raised as a possibility (e.g. rejoice44 on an interesting forum as follows:
"The second implication of Scrivener was that Dr. Simonides probably had never seen a copy of the Vaticanus 1209, and if he had that would not account for the variants that are assigned to Sinaiticus alone. A simple answer to Scrivener's implication is found in a number of corrupt collations that were available to Dr. Simonides. One was by Johann Scholz 1830. According to Bible Researcher Scholz made a collation in 1669 from a copy of Barolocci's, the Vatican librarian. There was also collations by Birch 1788, and Ford 1799. Also there was a collation by Angelo Mai, the Vatican librarian, which was claimed to be a false copy by Tischendorf. There was absolutely no reason to suspect that Simonides did not have these collations as well as copies of other Alexandrian manuscripts in his possession."
the problem is that, even for some one like yourself, I think it is hard to determine to what extent the Birch work would cover the bill. That is why I emphasized the possibility of Angelo Mai, which definitely would cover all bills and leads to fascinating timeline components, since Tischendorf worked closely with the Mai material. Either way, you are right that is wrong to discount Vaticanus contribution without very careful consideration of what was available. The ms. was sequestered yet somewhat visible in various ways.
Your point about augmenting a printed text like Griesbach is excellent, and one that had passed me by. I was well aware that the collation could be more or less ad hoc, I had forgotten about that ability to use a close printed GNT. Well done. (And a slap on the head for me.)
So Griesbach, Codex Ψ and Vaticanus all could have contributed to the Sinaiticus text having an Alexandrian base, in a 19th century creation. There also is a possibility that some or all of the Sinaticus OT was in fact preexisting in some form, even in unauthentic Sinaiticus scenarios (read the report .. from my reading nobody can claim that any quire numbers existed before modern times, this conclusion arises only from the presupposition of a 4th century startup). The Tischendorf-Hort (Jesuit) goal, in the conspiracy understanding, is 100% NT, with the OT as incidental.
And this relates to the interesting Tobit question, which I agree is one of the deeper ones. Why does Sinaiticus have a very different, and longer, text than Vaticanus and Alexandrinus? One possibility from the non-authentic view is that in the OT, but not the NT, is not so much an orphan. That in some shape and form, the Sinaiticus text at least partially actually existed somewhere before 1840 and was utilized by Simonides. Note that this also relates to issues like time of preparation.
btw, the fact that you, or any informed TR defender, could likely smash a James White or even a better-informed Daniel Wallace, in a debate about supposed reliability of Codex Sinaiticus as "one of the most reliable manuscripts" is really neither here nor there to this discussion. It becomes a diversion to the authenticity issues. Now I grant that people contesting the authenticity should not do it on the basis of losing simple Burgon-style understanding of the ms. corruption, which can allow full authenticity and deny ms. authority. Let's stay on course. Chris Pinto is the gentleman who rather adeptly, and willing to face flak, has raised the historically-significant Sinaiticus authenticity issues. Which involve but are not limited to Simonides, the shadow of Tischendorf seems to be there as well. So there is no point in moving the discussion back and forth.
Where the textual corruption and scribal bungling of Sinaiticus is more directly relevant is with a scholar like Hilgenfeld who said that such a corrupt blunderama manuscript could never be related to the skilled Eusebius. (A very valid point that would be unlikely to come out of today's Metzger parrots, even before the additional issue of Eusebius being contra the canonization of Barnabas and Hermas.) And Hilgenfeld similarly discussed the implications of a
"hasty transcript by ignorant and incompetent scribes, whose astounding blunders have caused endless troubles to its numerous correctors.." (Theological Review, 1864, in translation)
as going against 4th century creation with such a fine quality production, in terms of materials and calligraphy skills. With the descent of the Hortian fog, such issues were no longer seen.
Yours in Jesus,
What is curious is when you actually look at the science around Sinaiticus. Examples abound.
Quire Signatures and Squiggles
Let's go back to the squiggles and also the quire signatures, on the signatures there are two sets of numbers. For Dirk Jongkind, this is on p. 32, CSP has a related analysis.
(These two primary analysis sources are not always consistent, notice e.g. how they treat retracing, another fundamental issue).
Squiggles mean Extra Binding!? When? Look at the Ink
On the squiggles, first discussed in 2007 (!):
Jongkind p. 32
"However, given the heavy hue of the ink it is unlikely that these markings come from the original scriptorium. It is more likely that they belong to the rebinding of the manuscript, possibly connected with the so-called C correctors who worked sometime between the fifth and eighth centuries."
Now, think about that:
Is a heavy hue of the ink consistent with a 1300-1600 year old ms rebinding? Hmmmm...
Ink and Parchment - "exceptional" .. "remarkable"
Often the clarity of the Sinaiticus ink, and the condition of the materials, is a puzzle. One of many examples from the CSP:
"After more than 1600 years, it is clear that the quality of the writing medium originally used by the scribes was truly exceptional, as is the quality of the parchment. .... No significant degradation process seems to affect the writing media."
"The condition of such an old manuscript was, and still is, considered remarkable and very little stabilization treatment was necessary."
Translated, that reads ...
"if we were not told that this was all done 1600+ years ago, we would say it is much newer".
Remember how evolutionary theory works
Uspensky and the White Parchment
Related note: Uspensky specifically said in writing about his visit to the monastery (two visits 1845-1850 more detail analysis would have to determine which or both) that the ms. was white parchment (Russian translation confirmed by my Russian friend Ilya) -- and now that parchment coloring has also poofed away. Another puzzle for consideration. Was Uspensky color-blind, in the manner of how white gets confused with cream, only much more so that yellow become white?
Or maybe, another possibility ... hmmm ... some parchment was treated. Simple enough. What sort of historical assertions were made in that regard? (Here, I will let you guess or research or answer, another amazing coincidence.)
Ok, times up. Here we go:
"And I know yet farther, 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 Hieromonachos, Alexandria, Oct 15, 1862
" the same Codex was cleaned, with a solution of herbs, on the theory that the skins might be cleaned, but, in fact, that the writing might be changed, as it was, to a sort of yellow colour."
Kallinikos - The Literary Churchman, Dec. 16, 1862
"The MS. had been systematically tampered with, in order to give it an ancient appearance, as early as 1852, when, as I have already stated, it had an older appearance than it ought to have had …”
Constantine Simonides, early 1863
And, do we have any real scientific analysis? And what happened to the white parchment ms. that Uspensky saw?
This is what the CSP says:
"What can be said with certainty is that any 4th Century parchment with this amount of flexibility, thinness, maker’s holes, repairs and striation is exceptional. ... The colour of parchment varies with animal type, making process and condition or state of decline. New parchment can be near white but as it ages or is exposed to detrimental factors it will start to yellow and go brown-black if left to degrade completely... The parchment condition is: Exceptional for its age. Low in levels of significant degradation."
Thus, 1600-year old parchment, like Uspensky saw, is not white parchment. And, as often, the condition of the ms. is "exceptional". An interesting, frequently used word which I translate as meaning:
"if we did not know this ms. was very old, we would think it was young"
Specific Pages and Areas Illegible
One more point from the CSP:
"Large areas of the main text appear to have suffered from ink loss at various stages of the Codex’s life and with various degrees of severity. Sometimes, the whole page, or large areas of the text columns are affected, resulting in the writing being nearly illegible."
Remember how Wieland Willker conjectured that the undertext of Vaticanus was actually washed off? Leading to an almost illegible appearance.
Would an uneven application of lemon juice or herbs, to clean or age the parchment or ink, result in :
"large areas of the ... writing being nearly illegible."
And could this also have contributed to the puzzling descriptions in the scholarship question of retracing. (Maybe a future post, the anomalies abound.)
Tischendorf Lies - Cover up the Actual History
Oh, one thought on that. Remember, we should know Tischendorf was lying in his claims about the ms (this is not just an unimportant coincidence) . How the ms. was discovered and taken. And that he had people inside on the Tisch-dole, with various agreements. Any sensible reading of the history, even without Simonides and Kallinikos, would tell you that there was no 1859 NT surprise. All fabricated.
That being understood, you have a huge gap from the initial visit to the monastery to the final NT grand announcement, 15 years, along with the loan/theft of the ms. A lot happens in 15 years.
(The CSP even puzzles over ms. internal evidences that the NT was written and/or handled separately from the OT. And one puzzle for every theory, how did we get such bungling scribal activity, excellent letters yet an error-laden Greek, with special note on the NT.)
Now, it is possible that various Tischendorf lies were meant simply to cover up for theft. And also for vainglory, to make him look good and receive honors and lucre. And very possibly not.
Either way, the lies of Tischendorf clearly should make us very cautious with, and suspicious of, the veracity of his chronology. Let's no longer join the clones nodding in a stupor, repeating cute-sounding romantic lies ... sans tough and real analysis.
As an example, here is an alternative insight into 1844, for understanding you should simply discard the trash burning myth. Kallinikos, after explaining how the ms. got to Sinai:
"Simonides ...not coming in good time, the work was altogether neglected, and remained in the common library of the monastery for some time: until Dr. Tischendorf (coming to the monastery in Sinai, in May, 1844, and spending some days there, and having examined the MS. carefully and suspecting it to be ancient), tore off a small part of it, privately, and went his way, as if nothing had happened, leaving the rest of it in the position which it had before. He perpetrated this great wrong without scruple... (continues to 1859)."
Kallinikos - The Literary Churchman, Dec. 16, 1862
Note that this direct theft fits perfectly with the veil of secrecy from Tischendorf about the ms., even after Uspensky and MacDonald had referenced the ms. at Sinai.
And remember, in the recent decades we learned that Tischendorf brazenly stole a center page of the Archimedes palimpsest, so there is no argument possible that theft and mutilation was not his style.
Even with Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus the 1959 paper of Ralph W. Lyon de facto tells us of Tischendorf ripping and keeping (or losing) the page used for a facsimile.
This propensity to mutilation theft also explains the letters of recommendation that Tischendorf carried (and would avoid showing) that would warn the destination to be careful with your manuscripts with this gentleman.
======= (What is curious .. continued)
Surprise: Extra Codex Bindings
Let's return to ink hue and theorized extra bindings:
The normal sensible understanding would be that the heavy hue is far more consistent with more recent rebinding efforts (everything here is before 1860, all efforts after that are accounted for) -- than efforts about 1300 years ago as in the Jongkind theory.
Now let us go to history. First, ask the book-binding experts if recently produced codexes were commonly rebound around 700 AD? Is this likely, would it leave evidences? Does this make sense? A whole unbinding and rebinding simply because a couple of pages were worn or a few corrections were made? balderdash, says lord Ockham.
Wait, this is Sinaiticus, we don't bother with stuff like that. It has to be, Tisch and Hort, Aland and Metzger, they all tell me this ms is very, very old, so we have to use that presup and work forward.
(On the proposed rebinding, Jongkind offers one note, obliquely related, about a 14th-15th c. ms. (!) Giving the sense that he was a bit concerned about all this and wanted some sort of support in some way, no matter how strained.)
Now, more recently, what historical claim was actually made about an unbinding and rebinding? There was a very specific claim made that an unbinding was done in the 19th century. In order to retrieve the blank parchments.
In the Christian Remembrancer review:
"'As vellum ran short, Simonides took from the monastic library a very bulky volume, almost entirely blank, the parchment of which was remarkably clean and beautifully finished. On this material he copied out both Testaments ... after he had it re-bound..."
Now, in the case of a recent rebinding, quire signatures could be a heavy hue sans difficulties. hmmmmm... Yet more amazing coincidences like the Greek Hermas playing ping-pong from Simonides to Tischendorf, from Athos to Sinai? Or real evidences.
Yet afaik, nobody in the Sinaiticus scientific study community even discussed the Sinaiticus ms as being subject to pre-discovery rebinding until recent years. From the discomfit of analyzing quire numbers and squiggles, and going .. hmmm.
Now, all of a sudden, a flaky theory, sans sense and real evidence (ie. deductive by necessity from the early dating presupposition only) we have a rebinding around 600 AD, as the scholarship norm.
So, why not consider the more recent possibility? The one that fits the evidences, a modern rebinding after 1800.
Probability, Codex Sinaiticus Dating, and Evolutionary Theory Dating
Simply because the establishment Codex Sinaiticus theory today works like evolutionary theory:
Antiquity is probability=1
Modern involvement is probability=0.
So real scientific considerations are not involved, at least not on a level playing field.
The Missing Provenance
Remember, noting the supposed "ancient catalogue" never produced, and the comparison with the golden ms with a clear asserted provenance from the 700 AD period, and common sense .... there is no provenance or back-history for this ms at all. Never seen (vague claims turn out to be nothings, until .. the 1840s) and one specific catalog purported to be from the 1700s looks to be in hiding or conveniently gone. Oops. While the Sinaiticus ms just suddenly poofed into being, in complex and strange times with many undercurrents dubious. (e.g. How many protestant scholars were getting personal, signed obsequious letters of thanks from the papacy? After inviting them to have fun in the Roman sun with Vaticanus. And even Tisch's friend Philip Schaff was revolted by his vain-glorious "en-title-ment" ... ie. ... me big heap Count Vicar Dr. Prince Poobah...) And we have the actual ms. history explained by the slick tissue-dorfs of lies, long since unraveled. And with the chief ms calligraphy expert/potential forger of our centuries just coincidentally happening to claim to be involved.
Isn't that enough to keep our guard up?
"Provenance refers to the origin or derivation of an artifact. When employed by experts in the fields of rare manuscripts and valuable objets d'art, it refers to a works being traceable to some particular source or quarter. The provenance of a valuable piece helps establish its historical origin and, potentially, its authenticity. Naturally, provenance has more significance in the case of a sensational item, and a missing provenance is unfortunate but not necessarily insurmountable" - Joe Nickell, Real or Fake: Studies in Authentication, 2009, p. 9
Surely they Have Tested A, B, C !
Now, you might say that ... harumph ... haven't they subjected all this ink and vellum and everything to the latest super image-spectral carbon-dating hyper-dynamic high-tech proofs of antiquity? -- (One key issue, application of ink).
Allow me to quote a sentence from the CSP, which is not exceptional.
"The Codex Sinaiticus inks have never been chemically characterized, and the type and proportions of ingredients mixed together have never been determined. "
** no chemical analysis **
In fact, the CSP perspective is that virtually everything about the ms. condition IS exceptional. Read the sections online. Some excerpts are above. Then 'do the math'.
Historical Facts Complement Textual and Scribal and Paleographic Analysis
Hopefully, dear readers, you begin to see, even if James White struggles, that you simply can not separate out the historical evidences as distinct from the textual/scribal/paleographic, especially noting the severe lack of technical scientific. The historical analysis and the ms. elements have many symbiotic components -- when you are talking about the possibility of a modern writing designed to look old.
To be fair, it is definitely possible that e.g. a textual point could trump all historical evidence. If the bogus claim of James White about 1000s of matching variants with later discovered papyri were true, you could see that as probative. However, it is not true, it was a blunderbuss James White nothing claim, either a cheap debating trick, or abysmal ignorance from White, or both.
An example of the complexity of historical to ms: even today, with all the high-tech stuff, they are hotly debating the Artemidorus papyrus (Simonides? yes, no, maybe). Even with much more capable study designed to determine - antiquity or modern - and a more honest environment of study than we have with Sinaiticus. (In the textual world, Hortian oxen are to be slapped, not gored.) Oh, and without the historical evidences we have of direct Simonides involvement, i.e. the Artemidorus studies are is simply conjecturing that the papyrus may have come from Simonides, without a direct trail like the first person claims of Simonides, or a purchase form.
Where are we today?
We are looking for a consistent understanding that explains all the phenomenon, letting the chips fall where they may. And if a truly probative evidence or argument arises, lets take it and embrace the truth.
The above post is just a sampler of the perplexities coincidences and puzzles around the current Sinaiticus theory, which seeks to ignore the puzzling history, provenance, claims and ms. conditions.
And let's study with our eyes open:
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind.
Yours in Jesus,
Elisha, I went over the two verse examples on CARM
, which did sound like they were supposed to be from the "thousands".
the New Finds, a sealed room with Sinaiticus leaves before Tischendorf and Simonides?
the first two rounds, and a general mini-summary
And I think trying to morph the James White smoke-screen presentation into logical arguments is a hopeless task. (He was not arguing conflation, and with his foundational argument a blunder, it is hard to run with anything. If you want to see some one trying, go to the Turretinfan blog.)
Anyway, the best we can do is put the James White confusions though a filter, to get out the dross, perhaps a James Snapp filter, and try to really go into the issues.
Yours in Jesus,
Let's continue, iron sharpeneth.
The boisterous Matthew 14:30 argument:
But when he saw the wind boisterous,
he was afraid;
and beginning to sink,
he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
first of all has nothing to do with the papyri. White oops. The issue was the omission of boisterous / ἰσχυρός.
We go to Scrivener, White did mention him as a source. We go to A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the Received Text of the New Testament, 1864, p. lxxi :
"In Matt xiv.30 Cod. Sinaiticus omits ἰσχυρός after rἄνεμον : in 1839 no other document, version, source or Father was known to countenance such a variation: it has no such inherent probability as to have suggested itself to Benedict, or to any one else."
Scrivener goes on to discuss the 1855 Rulotta Vaticanus collation which showed that the original Vaticanus has the omission, and also Tregelles on ms. 033 in 1857. These would be unavailable to a Codex Simeonides, 1840. Scrivener does not mention that they were available before the Sinaiticus NT puffed into being in 1859.
First, as an omission, it is relatively non-functional since Sinaiticus abounds in omissions. Thus, even without extenuating evidences the evidentiary value must be considered small. And boisterous is omitted in a couple of Greek mss and the Coptic mss and some Vulgate mss.
Super-ironically this little nothing error is in some modern versions today, as are almost all agreed upon Vaticanus-Sinaticus ultra-minority variants, including the traditional Mark ending omission in 99.9% of the Greek, Latin and Syriac mss.
And one additional interesting issue, one which is under examination and did not get hashed out in the debate, which I allude to above, is the potential for the correction and tampering and mutilation of the ms in the 1840s into the 1850s referred to by Kallinikos -- to actually include a rewrite to the NT (the Mark cancel sheet, clearly, yet possibly even the whole text). Simonides and Kallinikos also did talk about the earlier plan to rewrite and transcribe the work. And even at the early time of around 1844 Vaticanus was also available due to the little known Tischendorf familiarity with the Angelo Mai volumes from his Rome visit.
(In the Sinai Bible writing of 1871 Tischendorf even let on that he had made facsimiles, according to Jürgen Gottschlich's Der Bibeljäger: Die abenteuerliche Suche nach der Urfassung des Neuen Testaments, which in English is coming out as The Bible Hunter. In a section translated by David Burnett Tischendorf is giving his 1844 romantic fantasy myth of saving the ms. from the flames and drops this little bomb: "I had not only seen the oldest Greek manuscripts in the possession of European libraries, I had studied them as well for the purpose of a new Greek paleography, and in some cases, including the Vatican Bible, had facsimiled them with my own hand." J. G. writes "Tischendorf is mistaken here. At the time he made his first discovery he had only briefly seen the Codex Vaticanus". And I tend to doubt that Tischendorf would be mistaken on such a fundamental part of the history, just because in younger years he bypassed the Vatican visit details. Someone with German skills could check the 1871 writing online with the title Die Sinaibibel: Ihre Entdeckung, Herausgabe und Erwerbung. ... The Sinai Bible - Its Discovery, Publication and Acquisition. ok, here is the German from p. 3 http://books.google.com/books?id=uhhKAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA3
Die ältesten griechischen Handschriften, weiche die europäischen Bibliotheken besassen, hatte ich nicht nur gesehen, sondern auch zum Behuf einer neuen griechischen Paläographie studirt, zum Theil, darunter die Vatikanische Bibel, mit eigener Hand facsimilirt.
This tampering activity could be Tischendorf directly (as mentioned by Kallinikos) or more directly over a longer period would be involving friends of Tischendorf in the monastery, some of which were clearly his baksheeshniks, with whom he made private agreements.
Does that sound conspiratorial and unlikely? Let's first compare it to the trash can "Is Sinai burning" cover story.
Now that is a real conspiracy theory. And remember, the context of this discussion is in fact a conspiracy theory about the origin of the Sinaiticus ms so we really need to be willing to look at all the history, timings, chronology, secret meetings and events. Should we simply ignore the highly unusual laudatory, obsequious signed papal letters to the protestant Tischendorf?
And the timing has many fascinating elements. Let's at least be fair and acknowledge that there was not a 15 year gap until Tischendorf knew of the Codex Simeonides/Sinaiticus New Testament (1844 to 1859). If you believe that, be careful for bridge salesmen.
Sidenote: hidden in Scrivener are a number of interesting comments that relate to Simonides, Tischendorf, Sinaiticus and the controversies .
To give one example, Scrivener mentions how difficult it was to evaluate some claims of Tischendorf, because of the lack of actual pictures of the ms.
"Such an investigation, so far as it depends only on the handwriting, can scarcely be carried out satisfactorily without actual examination of the manuscript itself, which is unfortunately not easily within the reach of those who could use it independently" (Plain Introduction, 1883, p. 92)
The context was the shared scribe of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, about which he offers the fascinating:
"Dr Hort labours to shew that no critical inferences ought to be drawn from this identity of the scribe of Cod. B with the writer of six conjugate leaves of Cod. Aleph (being three pairs in three distant quires, one of them containing the conclusion of St Mark's Gospel)" - (Plain Introduction, 1883, p. 92)
Clearly though, that concern applies to the authenticity issues as well (see below about "Tischendorf's strange silence").
Scrivener is actually sympathetic to the general veracity of the Simonides assertion of making a ms.
"Simonides may very well have written under the circumstances he has described "
Scrivener simply thought it could not be Sinaiticus, it must have been something else. (Afaik, Scrivener never discusses the details of the tampering that was central to what Kallinikos gives about the history).
And in this context Scrivener discusses the Greek inscription that Simonides claimed to place on the ms. (Plain Introduction, 1883, p. 92) "The entire work of Simonides".
About the Shepherd of Hermas he uses the phrase "strange coincidence" and at times you do well to read between the lines of the obligatory disclaimer "although unquestionably it can be nothing more".
Beyond all that Scrivener refers to Simonides as:
"an excellent judge" ... of the age of manuscripts
This last is mentioned in the fascinating discussion in the book of P. C. Sense, the barrister Bernard Janin Sage (1821-1902) A Critical and Historical Enquiry Into the Origin of the Third Gospel, 1901, p. 301. Sense also leads to the two books of the respected barrister and literary historian William George Thorpe that discuss the Tischendorf heist.
The Scrivener comment can be seen in the 1874 edition of Plain Introduction, p. 238.
Possibly the most telling Scrivener comment is a confirmation of a point often made by Chris Pinto, that Tischendorf was a no-show at the critical moment. Scrivener, in the Christian Remembrancer of October, 1867, in "The Great Vatican Manuscript of the Holy Bible" p. 405-429 reviews the Tischendorf Vaticanus edition.
Scrivener, after a passage about the "littleness of mind" and "bitter charges" and "unreasoning abuse" of Tischendorf towards Samuel Tragelles, writes :
"Of Tischendorf's animus, we fear, the least said the better: but those who remember the circumstances of that period, when Constantino Simonides was claiming to be the actual writer of Codex Aleph and Tischendorf's strange silence was lending some plausibility to his pretensions, will be of opinion that he could not well have done a wiser thing than to submit the suspected document to the examination of a most competent judge, who could have no prejudice in favour of its discoverer." (p. 428)
Amen. Even I had questioned the documentation about the timing that shows that Tischendorf had lagged, dragged and shagged his proper response in the Sinaiticus controversy.
* Scrivener tells us plainly. *
Switching gears for a minute, making sure you are paying attention.
"Staining was defined as a discoloration of the support caused by an external agent rather than the degradation of the support itself."
Are we able to tell from where is that "staining" page picture. Do you have any ideas what would cause such discoloration and illegibility? Are you able to find anything from our extensive scientific studies?
Yours in Jesus,
Porphyrius (with various spellings) is Uspensky who I referenced above, especially because of the puzzling, or not so puzzling, white parchment of his Sinaiticus ms.
Uspensky was also the first person anywhere to clearly describe Sinaiticus in his 1856-57 publications about his 1845 and 1850 visits. At that time the source of Friderico-Augustanus was being hidden by Tischendorf. And we should note that Uspansky developed a similar reputation to Tischendorf (chain down your manuscripts, he is in the house).
Unless we are talking about Boethius a bit after 500 AD writing a commentary on Prophyry the philosopher of about 300 AD. Hmmm....
Then we have a little name coincidence related to Catherine's manuscripts. Let's check it out.
The issues of burn and parchment and worm/moth holes is really fascinating, including whether the holes exist at the time of writing (does the writing go around the hole).
We can see holes on 831 and 833 on the pages shown here:
The Codex Sinaiticus Project does show you some "maker's holes" http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/.../conservation_parchment...
It would be great if the thoughts of Elisha above could be followed up with more comparison and study.
Note that the CSP also show you four hues of parchment, none of which is the white of Uspensky.
The Thomas Smith Pattie paper “The Creation of the Great Codices” looks like it may be helpful on ms. issues. That should have the advantage of comparison of features and techniques with Vaticanus and Alexandrinus. A good base to look at issues like size of parchment, binding techniques, rebindings, ink variations and analysis, sophistication of layout, deterioration of parchment and ink, retracings and much more.
Elisha - it is odd that previous scholars missed what Tischendorf "found"
Definitely, there is rather an interesting list of scholars and travelers and adventurers who were specifically interested in the Catherine's monastery library who simply had no hint at all of a ms. like Sinaiticus. These are often unmentioned in the scholarly literature, which is designed to provide support for the 4th-century origins theory of Codex Sinaiticus, not to give the actual history.
Normally in ancient artifacts provenance is a key issue. With Sinaiticus scholarship, even with the ancient provenance being directly contested and having various weaknesses, this question of a severely missing provenance is not discussed properly. It is not so much that you need an ancient provenance, it is the abrupt starting point so late at 1840,and then shazamm.
Thanks for finding that Tischendorf-Simonides section in Die Sinaibibel (1871). There may have been more relationship between Simonides and Tischendorf than usually conjectured, especially before the Hermas brouhaha, and that may have contributed to the Tischendorf no-show, some conjecture here, anyway that section translated would be very neat.
There is a fair amount of German literature to peruse, and some Russian and French (the French Tischendorf accounts also give elements not in the English, including the liquor factor, which sounds like the 'Prince Regent' assistance.) So I would suggest only translating sections directly relevant to studies in process, which itself could be a real task. Granted, some times you are surprised with auxiliary sections.
I looked around p. 45-49, which is the Simonides section (followed by Uspensky) and I could not find any Matthew reference other than to the Mayer papyri on p. 48-49.
Here is an example from the French edition of 1865 or 1866.
L'augmentation de mes feuilles avait eu lieu bientôt après mon départ du couvent en 1844. On avait trouvé les autres fragments dans une autre bibliothèque du couvent ; et il était impossible de ne pas reconnaître qu'ils provenaient de ce même manuscript, dont les restes avaient été par moi si chaleureusement recommandés au couvent.
Google translate / mangle
Increasing my sheets took place soon after I left the convent in 1844. We found other fragments in another library of the convent, and it was impossible not to recognize that they came from the same manuscript, whose remains had been by me so warmly recommended to the convent.
How was Tischendorf involved in finding other fragments in 1844 .. at any time, especially after leaving the convent?
Hmmm.. maybe he had some baksheeshniks inside. Note, though, that this important info is not in the English reports. (Feel free to correct the French s'il vous plait.)
The inconsistencies of 'any scholar' James White, could be a big essay, however in a sense he is falling out of the picture to irrelevancy, at least in the context of Sinaiticus research, study and scholarship.
Elisha, appreciate your contributions!
One missing link in Codex Sinaiticus studies is a real combination of science and proposed chronology.
Here is a quote I found online, taken from
Thomas Smith Pattie, The Creation of the Great Codices, 1998, p. 62, 64-65
"Very early, Christian usage moved from papyrus scrolls, to papyrus codices, to the codex manufactured from parchment. Thomas Pattie writes:" (intro from another book)
" The production of a large fine book on parchment required several hundred animal skins. A gathering of eight folios became the norm as one animal skin produced one gathering of eight folios of an average sized book. . . . There would be 32 gatherings of eight in a book of 256 average-sized folios, that is, 32 sheep. An average book has many flaws in the parchment when wounds in the skin have expanded when the skin was stretched. Even a fine manuscript like Vaticanus has many flaws of this nature, including a significant number in the text area, that force the scribe to write around the holes. Sinaiticus has many fewer flaws and most were repaired before the text was inscribed. Its pages are very large: even after trimming they measure 380 x 340mm, and before trimming perhaps 400 X 360mm. A sheet of two folios would then have measured 400 x 720mm, and onc sheep, smaller than modern domestic sheep, might have produced enough parchment for only onc sheet, taking into aecount the need to trim off the imperfections at the edges. In that case Sinaiticus, which seems originally to have had 730 folios, would require the perfect skins of 365 sheep or goats. The labour involved in the scraping, washing, stretching, and polishing would have been substantial."
Everything there is interesting, but let's focus on one sentence:
"Sinaiticus has many fewer flaws and most were repaired before the text was inscribed."
Now, modern Sinaiticus evolutionary theory says that the ms. was bound around 375 AD, and now we hear that most of the vellum flaws were immediately repaired before the text was inscribed (!) Wow. Must have been a yugo parchment dealer. Then the writing was done (we won't go into scribes and ink, etc) , then there were multiple handlers and correctors, then the codex was rebound around 700 AD somewhere (remember the quire signatures), there must have been a big need for a big job ... yet the vellum was still fine sans flaws, maybe the wood was cracking? And then back to daily use .. again more handlers and correctors. Then the ms. quietly and invisibly worked its way to Sinai (pulled up the ramparts) where it got no respect, no notice in the monastery oral and written histories and tradition. zzz. And then a lull till it suddenly poofed up in front of Tischendorf who invented the "Is Sinai Burning" myth! Through all of this, the vellum, which was so poor that it needed repair right out of the factory, stood up pristine and fine, even till today, with hardly any additional flaws in 1625+ years of use and abuse, including a rebinding. Hmmm...
None dare call this science.
Remember, the scholarship world tends to be atomistic. One person knows book binding, one knows ink, one knows the Bible textual theories Hortian, one knows the Bible text theories more sensibly, one knows history, one is a grammar-language savant.
Occasionally you get works that properly integrate and they are exceptional. On a difficult topic, if the foundations are flawed, you get a situation as with evolutionary theory. Circularity abounds.
As to the proposed theories around multiple book-bindings of a Byzantine-style codice in the 4th century, and the ongoing activities with that manuscripts and the facts-on-the-ground results, one thing you have to remember ... is that the theories themselves tend to be circular. Since the numbers of examples of ancient preserved codices is small and Sinaiticus is "known" to be 4th century. If the ink is super-preserved in spots, well that is like dinosaur DNA or tissue, there simply must be a special explanation that keeps the age. Sinaiticus is a major input into the data that develops historical book-binding theories. As with evolution, it is hard for the inside scientific individual to work tabula rasa.
All that being said, you try to formulate the problems and questions, and then share them with gentlemen like Konstantinos Choulis, Paul Canart, Dirk Jongkind, and others who have been in the midst of the fray. Also it is good to try to contact folks with the skills helpful (book-binding, ink analysis, paleography, manuscript preservation, burn holes and stains and other wear) who are not necessarily immersed in our specific Bible manuscripts. János Alexander Szirmai, author of The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, as an example. imho, Chris Pinto, as a documentarian, actually understands that integrative method for working with cross-disciplinary research far better than most of the cloistered textual theorists.
Just some thoughts du jour. Your feedback appreciated.
Lest we ferget, an alternative to the exceedingly unlikely un-scientific modern Sinaiticus theory, pieced together above.
Parchment created in the Byzantine era, bound, sits a while blank (e.g. 300 years) on Mt Athos, then unbound, text written and rebound, many corrections including some cancel sheets (gotta have that Mark non-ending) all in the 1835-1855 era. With some staining for age, get rid of that white parchment (oops) and soften the ink (and remember the occasional washed out, coffee spill page). Explaining a nicely refined vellum, and much recent ink, and more.
From my reading, the latter, while not trivial, is far more conformable with the actual physical data.
Lets lay it out.
The current Sinaiticus evolutionary-style long-time history science.
SCIENCE AND ANALYSIS
Two bindings (based on quire signatures)
Vellum flaws quickly repaired before ink
Ink before any binding.
Known 1859+ history and unknown provenance
CURRENT IMPROBABLE SINAITICUS SCIENCE SCENARIO
1) Written in Caesarea or Alexandria regions around 375 AD
(based on a series of weak presumptions, and disregarding evidences of later origin)
2) Vellum flaws were immediately repaired
3) Multiple scribes with the same handwriting. One section ends up being written twice based on theorized scribal convolutions.
3a) Greek Hermas turns out to match the other Greek Hermas from Mt. Athos .....(published by Simonides shortly before Sinaiticus publishing)
4) First binding when scribes completed, around 375 AD,
5) Multiple handlers and correctors over hundreds of years
6) Codex unbound and rebound around 700 AD somewhere (accounts for dual quire signatures)
6a) Vellum was still fine through all this, rebinding must have been either esthetic, or wood, or something.
7) More daily use .. multiple handlers and correctors.
Lull before Sinai
Quietly and invisibly works its way to Sinai (pulled up the ramparts)
When ? Maybe 750 AD, maybe 1000 AD, maybe 1500 AD, complete mystery
8a) Codex gets no respect, receives no notice in the monastery oral and written histories and tradition. zzz. (Compare to Golden ms, where provenance is part of monastery lore.)
9) Up to 1840 - No catalog reference, no reports from writers, no monastery lore about ms .. a big blank
10) After 1840 (year of Simonides report) everybody and their brother sees ms ... Tischendorf, Uspensksy, MacDonald all see the wondrous ms. unknown before 1840
11) 1844 - ms poofs up in front of Tischendorf who invented the "Is Sinai Burning" myth! - Tischendorf deceives and lies continually about events, work with private agreements with insiders,
11a) In 1871 retelling, Tischendorf reports that he had Vaticanus facsimile at this time.
12) 1845- Uspensky sees ms. as one of white parchment
Kallinikos says that ms. is tampered, with lemon juice or herbs, to soften ink, age the parchment
14) white parchment, per Uspensky, is never seen again. This reference vanishes from Sinaiticus histories (discovered in 2013 by translating Uspensky report of 1845, in Russian from .. wikipedia)
15) c. 1860 - Some sheets end up in sealed room (including Genesis leaf indicated to be marked by Simonides)
16) 1975 sealed room stash uncovered, identification and pictures exceedingly slow
And through all this work and travail and travel ...
**** the vellum, which was so poor originally that it needed repair right out of the factory, stood up pristine and fine! ****
Even till today, with hardly any additional flaws in 1625+ years of use and abuse, including a rebinding. Hmmm...
None dare call this scenario science, history, logic or sense. And yet, it is the only scenario that matches the current Sinaiticus analysis. The only thing new is ... connecting the dots.
Granted, we have not gone into the lack of any chemical analysis of the ink, even till today, or illegible sections that look washed out, or surprising heavy ink sections, or the retracing, without going into the squiggles and marks and much more.
However, there should be enough above to, at the very least, allow you to say:
It looks like Petropolitanus (the fact that Tischendorf used that name as early as 1862 is confirmation that the loan was always bogus. Kallinikos recognized the loan as a ruse.) is used for two other major ms. 022 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Petropolitanus_Purpureus
is a purple ms. that had been in London, and to add complexity Tischendorf published fragments in his 1846 Monumenta sacra et profana. While 041 https://en.wikipedia.org/.../Codex_Petropolitanus_%28New...
was said to be brought from Smryna in 1859 by Tischendorf. So far I don't see any overlap on the 3 ms, other than name similarity, they look different in columns and vellum. Granted, Tischendorf can not be trusted on sources and provenance. And I will point out that Wikipedia tends to be good on ms, largely due to the contributions of Leszek Jańczuk.
It is clear that Sinaiticus, authentic or late, should lack authority, in any sensible Bible text world. The specific anomalies abound as to authenticity.
Thanks for the info on the Religious Tract Society and what you share below that, I'll try to give some value-added on that later.
A radio broadcast from Chris Pinto, a post debate analysis.
Noise of Thunder Post Debate Analysis
I'll plan on making a few comments here
Have I heard this before? Nope. I understand that there is a comment about Blavatsky.
Oh, an interesting conversation about paleography and dating around 16:45. Around 21:00 it is continuing, especially about how many scribes. I'll plan on including the fascinating Scrivener section on this in my next post and maybe a bit more. (Tregelles, no slouch on a couch, thought there was only one, which is a bit de minimis.) Now Chris at about 24:00 is very properly going through what was actually said by Simonides and Kallinikos about scribes and correctors and some of the complications involved. At 28:00 a very good section about how textual critics can easily be subject to a shared brainwashing in much the same manner as evolutionary pseudo-science adherents. Excellent. 29:45 - "Textual critics would be the last people you would trust". Amen! Then the ironic reference of Metzger complimenting the writing and skills of Farrer. Then 31:50 -"Simonides .. was never short on vellum" discarding the dumb lifetimes wages argument. At 33:00 a look at the Farrer book and the issue of Simonides veracity, missing the point of why James Anson Farrer thought it was an unsolved mystery and Sinaiticus could very well be a "literary forgery". Chris after 35:00 properly points out how White cherry-picking distorts Farrer.
Then around 36:00 on to the "ancient catalogue". "There is no record of an ancient catalogue, per se" however there is a record of a catalogue dating to 1734, referenced by a Danish librarian Pierre Evald. Research continues. Nikephoros Marthalis Glykos is said to have set up a catalogue in 1734. Hmmmm... If Sinaiticus is there, we have probative authenticity. Case closed.
However, if it is not..... And, what if the catalogue convenienty poofed away? ... yet more evidence questioning Sinaiticus authenticity.
Ironically the note goes back to Vitaliano Donati, who is sometimes thought to possibly, maybe, perhaps, having seen Sinaticus based on a description that is not very descriptive.
In point of fact, with half of England and Russian traispsing through the monastry in the early 1800s, looking for manuscripts, their is a gaping lack of note of Sinaiticus. Until the Great Tischendorf Poof of 1844.
Ironically, a censored contra forum got all in a tither about this fascinating note from an 1877 letter of Helena Petrova Blavatsky starting around 41:30:
" Tischendorf ... has convinced the whole of Europe that he had discovered on Mount Sinai the so-called Sinaiticus. And now two other scholars (one of them a Theosophists of ours), who have spent several years in Palestine and have been on Mount Sinai, are about to prove that such a Codex never existed in the library. They have conducted investigations for two years and searched all the hidden places, with the help of a monk who has lived there for the last sixty years and who knew Tischendorf personally. And this monk stated under oath that he had known for many years every manuscript and every book, but has never heard of the one spoken of. The monk, of course, will be tucked away; and as to Tischendorf, he simply deceived the Russian government by a counterfeit.” (The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky: Volume 1 1861-1879, John Alego, editor, Quest Books, 2003, p. 321)
Now, the contras pointed out that some AV defenders have a quote from Blavatsky that seems to support Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. My checking indicates the quote is bogus, I wrote to one skilled AV defender, he appreciated the checking, and took any dubious quotes down (there were actually three that looked off, and a couple of others that needed better ellipsis and documentation). So now we go back to the Blavatsky quote.
Now, Blavatsky is a mess of course, and who can tell why her group actually cared about this issue. And afaik we do not have a follow up to the above from her group.
However, the actual quote above, about a monk and the situation, just sounds like a factual account of what was going on, and fits well with many other evidences.
And about 41:30 is another report that similarly questions the traditional Tischendorf story, coming from the UK researchers and their inquiries to Sinai, complementary and corroborative to the Blavatsky note, from a totally different perspective.
Remember, the history and the science are very difficult for the potential authenticity of Codex Sinaiticus.
Good show, Chris. Thanks!
Here is Scrivener and Tregelles on the number of scribes.
A full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the received text of the New Textament (1864)
On the other hand Tregelles, who by Tischendorf's permission examined the manuscript for three whole days in 1862, has observed no such diversity in the writing as would necessarily lead us to refer the several portions to different scribes;
The formal style maintained in uncial codices admits of much less individuality of character than the free running-hand which the ancients as well as ourselves used in common life; yet in our law courts persons who have made the subject their special study, and whose honesty is beyond suspicion, perpetually give the most contradictory evidence about hand-writing, and that in cases where men's honour and liberty, almost their lives, are at stake.
Scrivener is interesting here, defending Tregelles.
A little change of pace, Tischendorf at work and play, we study his respect for ancient manuscripts, reading between the lines.
Some of you probably know of the Archimedes palimpsest sheet that Tischendorf took out of a manuscript that was not discovered for about 125 years. This looks like a similar haul, although the loot may have vanished.
A Re-examination of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (1959)
Robert W. Lyon
"When Tischendorf studied the manuscript there was one more folio, but for some unexplained reason folio 133 of the present binding — the one used for a facsimile by Tischendorf — has disappeared. (1)
(1) That this page is missing was, apparently, first noted in 1883 at which time a note to this effect was placed in the beginning of the codex. As far as I know no one has, directly or indirectly, laid the blame for its absence on Tischendorf." (p. 6)
Why not? Why not speak straight. If not Tischendorf, who mutilated the ms? C'mon.
Granted, at the time that Lyon wrote, the Archimedes palimpsest mutilation by Tischendorf was not known. And some people actually believed he had saves 129 vellum sheets from the flames. (Is Sinai burning?) And to Lyon's credit he was, I would venture to say, writing to be read between the lines.
Ok, we will plan on returning to the series on the Serendipity Science of Simoneidos / Sinaiticus. Or, Fun with Anomalies.
James Snapp mentioned Tobit earlier:
"(Someone more erudite than James White could respond by pointing out that Sinaiticus’ text of Tobit is very different than Vaticanus’ text of Tobit, and Simonides would have no reason to arbitrarily adopt a different exemplar just for Tobit. But I don’t think this comeback would have occurred to White.)"
And I gave a tentative answer, including:
"One possibility from the non-authentic view is that in the OT, but not the NT, is not so much an orphan. That in some shape and form, the Sinaiticus text at least partially actually existed somewhere before 1840 and was utilized by Simonides"
The situation is that of the extant early Greek mss. of Tobit Sinaiticus is very different than Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, which are lumped together textually.
This morning I came across a fuller answer, from one Constantine Tischendorf, in his letter to Allgemeine Zeitung - Dec 22, 1862. Remember, that Simonides said that an ancient Syriac codex was involved in the production, "another very old Syriac Codex ..." (Elliott p. 56).
Yet Tischendorf was using Tobit and Judith to show that Simonides could not have written Codex Simoneidos, oops Sinaiticus.
"in the Old Testament, the text of Tobit and Judith, for example, are of quite a different recension—a recension still preserved principally in old Latin and old Syraic documents. How could this have been taken from the Moscow edition? or how could it be brought into it?"
Essentially answering the question. In this scenario, Tobit was not based on Vaticanus at all. Simonides and Tischendorf are pretty close in explanation here.
Now to be fair, current understanding of Tobit in Syriac is all over the map, however Tischendorf himself said that the Greek Tobit of Sinaiticus was == the old Latin and old Syriac recensions. (Simonides was skilled in Syriac,and likely had reasonable Latin skills.) Almost like he was closely involved in the text of these two books and knew the special ins and out.
Another fascinating point is to note those sections where Tischendorf seemed to be especially attune, as if he was almost right there when it happened!
The classic case is the big fight with Tregelles on John 21:25 (being discussed in the forum that booted James). Tischendorf drew a line in the sand, berating and insulting Tregrelles for not seeing what was only confirmed decades later under ultra-violet light.
So, here are some of the alternative explanations for the belligerent and bitter Tischendorf attack (Burgon sided with Tregelles, based on visual observation.) Maybe Tischendorf was taking x-ray vision classes from a nascent superman. Or he had some inside knowledge or relationship to that John ending text, so he was really, really sure of that which could not be seen.
Now here we see Tobit and Judith getting special textual note from Tischendorf, saying that this oddball text shows the Codex can not be Simonides.
The NT cancel-leaves are surely of very special note, with at least the Mark ending one getting Tischendorf note. Granted, I have not gone through his writings (largely in German) but no matter what, they are an extremely special part of the final New Testament "fully complete" product. Put in by the last hand standing.
What do these Tischendorf-super-insight sections have in common? They are most of what is considered as written by "scribe D". It is almost as if this scribe was FOT "friend of Tischendorf".
Yours in Jesus,
While research continues, and is quite astonishing, for ongoing discussion, taking some of the pressure off of flooding this forum ... I recommend in addition to here, two venues that currently are active.
The Codex Sinaiticus
Pure Bible - Facebook forum
Note that on the New Testament Textual Criticism forum (oops, James was bumped there) the questions about John 21:25 are standing sans response.
Hello everybody! Want to know if there is any possibility of the last verse of the Gospel of John does not exist and end in verse 24?
Issues there include the retracing, and the Tischendorf x-ray vision.
Along with his quirky and intensely belligerent approach to Samuel Tragelles, who lacked the x-ray powers. Who was that masked man? Or did Tischendorf know more than he let on?