Christian Tindall - Contributions to the statistical study of the Codex Sinaiticus

Steven Avery

Christian Tindall - Contributions to the statistical study of the Codex Sinaiticus (1961)

Jellicoe says NT only.

Steven Avery

Peter Cresswell

Christian Tindall in Contributions to the Statistical Study of the
Codex Sinaiticus, to identify specific passages as added in, at the
point of copying from an exemplar, on the basis of specific columns
with an above average number of characters. As we have found,
there are very few at either extreme, outside of some sections
accounted for by more general explanations, and these are what
might be expected in a normal distribution. So, Tindall’s approach
is flawed at the outset and fails on this ground.

Tindall described twenty instances where he believed that
additional matter had been introduced into the text of Codex
Sinaiticus. This is certainly problematical, even aside from the
fundamental point that in general the variations are what might be
expected. Even if matter were being added, it would be hard to tell
what specific passage related to an increased density of text or
whether, even, the outcome were the net effect of some text being
deleted and some added.

In addition, while it appears scribes were for most of the New
Testament copying from an exemplar of the same average line
length and so presumably similar column width, there is no
evidence that they were constrained to work according to the
exemplar’s overall page layout.5 If copy were being added or
deleted, it should thus almost always have been possible to keep to
the same column width and let the extra be mopped up simply by
going on to the next page. The veiy limited exceptions to this would
have occurred when the scribe was seeking to work within a fixed
extent, by for example fitting a certain amount of text within a
quire. This is the mechanism that could explain the general
compression and stretching of text in Revelation and Barnabas.4

For the rest of the text, there would certainly have been additions
and deletions through for example corrections and the incorporation
of marginal notes. But these, as the text flowed from page to page,
need not have had an impact on column density as Tindall
supposed. The variation observed is primarily the expected,
combined effect of the various influences involved.

The sheets by scribe D could provide possible exceptions. These
show signs of having been written to a fixed extent and, as we have
shown, a cut at the end of Mark did have an impact on column
density. Even with these sheets, however, it will be found that there
is no necessary link between the observed compression and what is
found in the text.

Tindall raised a hostage to fortune in listing his twenty instances,
given that there is some much earlier papyrus evidence. If copy
were being added in, it might be expected that these earlier sources
would lack the passages that Tindall deduced had been interpolated.