dates assigned to Codex Vaticanus

Steven Avery

We are keeping general issues of uncial dating in this Sinaiticus section.

Sister threads:

Bernard Janin Sage (P. C. Sense) questions great uncial dating edifice

Robert Lewis Dabney astutely questions uncial dating - Sinaiticus early dating reasons analysed and shown to be insufficient

Johann David Michaelis and the dating of Codex Alexandrinus.


the Vaticanus retracing - latinization - Alexandrinus - dating

Florentine Council, Vaticanus and Latinization - Erasmus, Brugensis and more

dates assigned to Codex Vaticanus


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The Vaticanus retracing thread needs a careful review. The parts about original dating can be extracted and brought here. Other points, like the washing per Wieland, or the acceptance of Peter Head of 11th century for the retracing from Tischendorf, post 08176, can be reviewed as well.
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Steven Avery

The first article is one of the many excellent articles written c. 1850-1870 that understood the corruptness of Vaticanus. (This needs its own thread, if there is not one yet.)

And this article goes with the Michaelis, Sage, Dabney expositions:

William Lindsay Alexander (1808-1884)

British Quarterly Review (1861) p. 353-374
review of Notitia Editionis Codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici by Tischendorf
The Sinaitic Manuscript of the Greek Testament.

Then, again, the real age of the famous MSS., A and B, though generally considered to be established, is one of the most uncertain things imaginable. That they were not executed before a certain date—the middle of the fourth century—is capable of demonstration. But lhow long afterwards they came into existence, or which is the most ancient of the two, no man, however great Ins experience or his skill in palaeography, can tell. Critics may form shrewd guesses ; but that is all they can do, for this plain reason, that there are no positive data on which to rest. There has, perhaps, never appeared a man better fitted, by his extensive researches in palaeography, to form an opinion as to the age of MSS., than the celebrated Montfaucon. Yet it is well known he judged the Vatican MS. to belong to the sixth century ; whilst Tischendorf and Tregelles confidently ascribe it to the fourth! Here is a difference of two centuries. Who shall decide where doctors disagree ?

(the rest is taken from the Facebook post and can be checked for italics, etc.)

"The fact is, too great stress should not be laid on the particular form of the letters in which ancient MSS. were written, where more conclusive proofs of their age do not exist. Supposing it all true that critics allege, as to certain forms of letters being universally characteristic of certain ages, wherever the codex chanced to be executed, and even when written, as some are said to be, by the slender hand of a female, still what more probable than that sometimes a scribe of the ninth or tenth century, when transcribing a MS. three or four hundred years old, should imitate the ancient style of Uncials which his copy presented ? Indeed, as matter of fact, we are able to affirm that such a thing has really occurred. The Codex Sangermanensis, an Uncial MS., belonging, according to Tregelles, to the ninth or tenth century, is yet written in letters of precisely the same form as the Codex Claromantanus, a production of the sixth century. If we ask those skilled in Comparative Criticism to explain this anomaly, they tell us that it was because the one was copied from the other.. In how many other cases this same process was repeated we have no possible means of determining. "

"No doubt the text of this newly-discovered MS., agreeing as it does so frequently with that of two or three other ancient copies of the Greek Testament, will be referred to as additional evidence of the authenticity of what is called the ‘ancient text,' in opposition to our current text. But the readings of the Cursive copies of the Greek Testament rest on too solid a foundation to be disturbed by the discovery of an additional MS., even of alleged great antiquity. There were bad copies, as Augustine and Jerome tell us, in the fourth century, just as much as in the tenth. We would ask the advocates of this pretended ‘ancient text,’ ‘ Whence was ‘ derived the text of the ten or twelve other Uncial MSS., and of the ‘ hundreds of Cursive codices agreeing in the main with them ?’ The only conceivable answer must be—from other more ancient MSS., and those again from other still more ancient than the boasted codices antiquissimi, whose testimony, with Tregelles and Tischendorf, usually decides a disputed reading. Thus, then, it may fairly be inferred, in the pages of these despised Uncials, E, F, G, H, &c., and the great mass of Cursives, we have, where they agree, the text, not of two or three, but of some fifty, sixty, or a hundred ancient MSS.; so that the extraordinary veneration paid to the Uncials B, C, D, and L is nothing more than a delusion of the imagination."
The Vatican Manuscript p. 138-155
editor George Gillfillan (1813-1878)

The date assigned to the manuscript is various; Hug and Tischendorf naming the fourth century; Blanchini the fifth; Montfaucon, fifth or sixth; and Le Long saving, Hic Codex non est adeo antiquus &c.
Hug seems to be the one early date before the Tischendorf and Westcott-Hort textual apostasy.

Wetstein believed the Vaticanus was accommodated to the Latin. Do not yet have his date.

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Vaticanus recognized as corrupt and
** Tischendorf pushed for early date.**

"The manuscript designated by the letter A., is Codex Alexandrinus, deposited in the British Museum; B. is Cod. Vaticanus, in Rome. The age of these two manuscripts is uncertain; they are assigned by different critics to the sixth or fifth century, while some (e.g., Tischendorf) assign the latter even to the fourth century."

- Philip Schaff, 1866

Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Volume 19 - Acts

Many commentators around 1850 had commented on the corruptness of Vaticanus. That I plan to include separately.

Here you see that Vaticanus was seen as about 500 AD, not 350 AD., before "The Fixer" came on the scene, Tischendorf.
Where did the Vatican Codex come from? The earliest reference to it is a 15th-century entry in the Vatican Library catalog. Scholars have suggested that it may have been produced in Egypt, Caesarea, or even Rome. After evaluating these theories, however, Professor J. Neville Birdsall of the University of Birmingham, England, concluded:

“In short, we cannot be certain of the exact date nor the place of origin of Codex Vaticanus, nor, in spite of scholarly efforts, can its history before the fifteenth century be traced.”
Textus Receptus Bibles

Steven Avery And ... it may well be later than 4th century. It matches Codex Z, thought to be 8th century, in one important feature. Until the textual apostasy and shenanigans of the late 1800s, 6th century was common. It is quite likely that it was before the 10th century. It is possible that it is 4th century, c.350 the terminus post quem.

All scripts can be copied at a later time, none will be predicted at an earlier time. Script palaeography is not a time-symmetrical science.
Hug's review of the scholarship is available in his original edition, and in the reprint by Granville Penn. There is a note on p. 29 quoting Scholz in his Prolegomena p. xcvii that Hug gives "proof" for the 4th century. Yet in his English work the Hug evidences were shallow.

(p. 29 also shows the spectacularly late dates for Bezae and Alexandrinus!)

Annotations to the Book of the New Covenant (1837)
Granville Penn

The next is the Latin reprint of Hug, the scholar and date references should be in the first few pages.

Annotations to the Book of the New Covenant (1837)
Granville Penn
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Steven Avery

It would be helpful to track down the Latin of Blanchini and Montfaucon

The early date movement began with Hug, and he is best accessed in the Granville Penn edition.
Not sure if Griesbach has a date.

4th century movement pushed by Tischendorf
Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott & Hort, Buttmann, Bleek, Edward Maunde Thompson in the later 1800s are 4th century
(None really address the arguments above.)

Check Scholz and Scrivener.


Skeat and Elliott

The Collected Biblical Writings of T.C. Skeat
T. C. Skeat on the Dating and Origin of Codex Vaticanus
James Keith Elliott

(check for full version)

In notes on p. 293 Elliott gives some difficulties for the Rome theory.
A discussion of John William Burgon. He also went back and forth with Ezra Abbot.

Burgon quote
The Text of the Greek Bible

With regard to its date and place of origin, the extreme simplicity of its writing and the arrangement in three columns point to a very early place among vellum uncials, and the first half of the fourth century is generally accepted.With regard to its place, Hort was inclined to assign it to Rome, and others to southern Italy or Caesarea; but the association of its text with the Coptic versions and with Origen, and the style of writing (notably the Coptic forms used in some of the titles), point rather to Egypt and Alexandria.
... the latest authority in this department, Mr F. G. Kenyon, has thrown light on the whole question of early Christian Greek MSS., by the discovery of a large uncial round hand on a papyrus dated Anno Domini 88.1 Thus it is quite possible, palaeographically, that the Codex Vaticanus, which has been hitherto supposed to date from the fourth century, may be much older, and there is now no conclusive evidence to prove that the Alexandrinus was not written by St Tecla, whatever the probabilities may be to the contrary.
1 The Palaography of Greek Papyri, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1899.
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