Douglas Cockerell in Scribes and Correctors - Chapter X

Steven Avery

p. 70


No exhaustive description1 has yet been given of the material side of the Sinaiticus. From the standpoint of Biblical studies, the details which follow may at first sight appear superfluous, but in the present unsatisfactory state of Greek palaeography any scrap of evidence may eventually prove of use for determining the age, or still better, the provenance, of the book. If no conclusion can as yet be drawn from these statistics, the cause lies in the dearth of comparative material, for with the exception of the Freer group, no such information is available concerning other early Biblical manuscripts. And however inconclusive such a description may seem, it is nevertheless worth setting down as an historical record, since it displays the technique of the vellum codex, even at this early stage of its career, in so high a state of development that down to the present day no radical changes or improvements have been evolved.


There is no noticeable difference between the vellum of the Sinaiticus and the modern product, for methods of preparation have not
changed materially.3 except that in recent times machinery has been invented to split off for use as skiver leather the hair or ‘grain’


The vellum is generally in good condition, retaining its ‘life’ and
toughness except where, as on some of the edges of the leaves, it has
been wet. In those places it is brittle and liable to crack. On most
of the edges there were numerous short slits, and the inner margins
of many leaves were badly slit and damaged. Nearly all the inner
margins had been contracted by the application of hot glue to the
back in the course of successive bindings. A good many leaves
were rather badly cockled all over, and some were locally con-
tracted where spots of water appear to have fallen on them; where
these spots fell on the writing, the ink has run. There are also
a number of brown stains, perhaps due to drops of oil or grease
from the lamps and candles of pious readers in the past. The
occasional flaying-marks, i.e. accidental punctures in the skin,
which develop into oval or circular holes in the process of manu-
facture, have as a rule been covered over with thin vellum shavings.