Essays - Simonides Imperative in the Tischendorf Revenge theory

Steven Avery

Working with the Tischendorf Revenge Theory - the Simonides Imperative

First, en route to Sinai, to get the big part of the manuscript, Tischendorf is concerned about the stories told by Simonides. The best conjecture was that already there was a connection known of Simonides and the Sinai manuscript.

It is a bit later in 1859 and then 1860. Simonides is in England and hears about Tischendorf and a manuscript. Simonides begins to tell his friends that this sounds like the manuscript he worked on. However, it is not brought out publicly yet, as a direct challenge.

The theory of the Sinaiticus defenders, Simonides wants revenge. He was upset about the 1856 events in Germany, involving Uranios and the Shepherd of Hermas, with Tischendorf accusing his Hermas ms. of being inauthentic, and his arrest. He would be upset with Lycourgas, Lepsius and Tischendorf and others.

However, even if Simonides is recognized as the maker of Sinaiticus, there is no payoff. Why destroy his own credibility on the minuscule hope that he create a fiction about the manuscript? Makes no sense.

If Simonides somehow convinced everyone that the ms. is recent (an impossible task if he did not work on the ms.) it would all be of little value to anyone. Maybe the parchment could be handed to Simonides and be reused. Maybe if he held it for 55 years he could sell it to Ripley's Believe it or Not. "Look, people actually beleived this manuscript was from the AD 300 era. Guffaw!".

Simonides would have to rearrange the historical universe to allow for his involvement with the manuscript at Mount Athos!

First problem: Simonides has to be in a special spot 20 years back that can lead to the 1844 Tischendorf find.

Yay! .. Simonides was working in Mt. Athos, in exactly the right time, with his Uncle who was solid on mss.
Yay! .. Simonides had calligraphy skills as a youth at exactly the right time
(these are supported by the Spryidon Lamprou catalog of Athos ms. published in 1900, including Kallinikos. This written history supporting his account only became public with the James Anson Farrer article in 1907)
Yay! .. Simonides had solid connections with Constantinople and the Sinai Monastery, and had been on-site
Yay! .. there would need to be textual tools, like the Zosimas Moscow Bible and Athos manuscripts
Yay! .. Simonides would need incredible intelligence inside the monastery to describe the events.
Yay! .. the parchment was clearly in "phenomenally good condition", as would be expected of a 20 year old manuscript

If Simonides failed on any of those, he would basically have to give up the story. And much of this was historical, he could not change the past facts on the ground.

Here is one of the most important elements, that would in 1,000 out of 1,000 cases have sunk his case before it even began.

the Tischendorf Sinaiticus ms. could not have ANY real provenance, there would be nothing of substance in either the manuscript itself or in the Sinai monastery history, or in any catalogues, or even verifiable stories.

Any catalog entry before 1840 could squelch the claims immediately.
(Simonides knows there is no catalog entry, since the ms. arrived after 1840.)

Ok, that helps fit Simonides in place - everything is in fact supporting his claim of authorship.

Next - can Simonides have a super-special link to the actual Manuscript text?
Yay! - Simonides published a similar Hermas text years before it came out of Sinai.
Tischendorf even accused that text of being a Latin retroversion even though it was very similar to Sinai
Wow, he coincidentally published the first Greek Hermas just before the Sinai Hermas

Some of the Sinai Hermas was discarded, perhaps because it was embarrassing to the Tischendorf claim

Humorously, one person actually called the Hermas pre-Sinai publication "serendipitous".
More accurate was James Anson Farrer, Literary forgeries - p. 060 -
"The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance"

Next - maybe Simonides can have inside information on the Monastery and Tischendorf?
Yay! - Simonides and Kallinikos knew all about the Tischendorf 1844 theft! In detail.
Yay! - they knew about the bogus 1859 "loan" - that would never be coming back!
Yay! - they even knew smaller details, like Tischendorf's bumbling Greek

Now comes the real kicker:
Kallinikos and Simonides actually accused Tischendorf of coloring the ms. between before 1859.

This would be truly absurd, and would sink his whole case if it were not true -
It could be falsified so easily, but never was (because the 1859 leaves in St. Petersburg were stained and colored, and Tischendorf kept both sections far from each other and made access very limited.)
Note: there would be no need at all for this very unusual tidbit, that you would never expect. Simonides gave it for one reason, he knew it was true.

When Tischendorf finally came with manuscript leaves to England on a quick visit in 1865, he brings only the uncoloured CFA.

Today - since 2009, we know the colouring occurred.

Why did all this fit?
One reason - Simonides was involved in the creation of the Sinaiticus ms. at Mt. Athos

It would be impossible to go backwards and create all this history.

In summary, yes Simonides was at this time not a friend of Tischendorf, and could even like to hurt his reputation.
However, claiming to have written Sinaiticus would be an absurdly stupid method.

With one exception, if Simonides helped create Sinaiticus and arrange for it to go to Sinai. And thereby knew many details.
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Steven Avery

Elliott p. 180 also quoting Memoir - section includes the Revenge motive

The Memoir then goes on to indicate in an oblique way an «unfortunate»
episode of a political nature in which Simonides was involved. The extract given
below gives some insight into politics in Greece in the mid nineteenth century, but
is particularly significant in our story because it gives a reason for the anti-German
feeling which probably influenced the campaign against Tischendorf later. This is
how Stewart tells the story:


p. 187
Memnon !

One suspects it was this incident above all that led Simonides to attack
Tischendorf in 1862 and to deflate the undoubted success the German scholar was
having with his most important, discovery.

This anti-German feeling appears again later in a letter supposedly received
by Simonides from his mother's birthplace, the island of Syme:

Stash of Manuscripts
p. 181
To put an end to such nonsense as this Simonides invited the Pro-
fessors of Greece to a meeting, to inspect his manuscripts and pronounce
upon their authenticity and value. The invitation was made through the
Minister of Education, M.D. Calliphronas, and resulted in three sittings of
the Professors being held at the office of the Minister and in his presence.
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Steven Avery

p. 183 Hermas Latin retroversion
A short time before the publication of the Hennas he communicated
to Lycurgus the existence of another Hermaean manuscript, preserved in
palimpsests. He afterwards communicated the like intelligence to Anger,
and this manuscript was brought from Alexandria to Leipsic, after the
publication of the Hermas, at the reiterated request of Anger and Dindorf.
This preference, given to the two latter gentlemen appears to have given
considerable annoyance to Professor Tissendorf, and hence arose a jealousy
that was most unfavourable to Simonides. It was reported by Tissendorf
that there was a deception in the manuscript of Hermas, and that the decep-
tion was evidently intended to mislead. A controversy arose in conse-
quence, in which Tissendorf was supported by Lycurgus; and Simonides,
who was greatly enraged against Lycurgus, published a pamphlet under the
title of «The Sycophant Lycurgus», a
nd in which he explained the whole
matter, and put his adversaries to shame by showing that the manuscript
Hermas was correct and that the common Latin translations from which it
differed had been made, not in accordance with the Greek originals, but to
suit the views of the Latin translators, who had put into the mouth of the
Aposiolic Father Hennas doctrinal opinions quite inconsistent with the
apostolical announcement, but eminently calculated to strengthen the posi-
tion of the Church to which the translators belonged. The affair caused
considerable excitement among theologians, and as some of the chief
dogmas of the Latin Church were severely attacked by an exposure of the
fraud in the Latin translations, Simonides gained much ill-will among the
members of that Church. It may here be observed that, up to the present
time two editions of Hermas have appeared from two copies of Simonides.
The first is the correct one, which was discovered in the monastery of
Gregory in Mount Athos, written by Clemens of Larissa in 1475, and first
published by Anger and Dindorf at Leipsic in 1856. The second transcribed
in the vernacular by Abraham of Telos in 1821, and therefore corrupt, was
discovered in Mount Athos in the monastery of Dionysius in 1851, and
published at Leipsic in the series of the Apostolic Fathers by Tissendorf,
though he must certainly have been acquainted with the corrupt state of