FRDB - BCHF - IIDB - rumblings in 2011

Steven Avery

page 1

It is entirely plausible that the Roman Papacy or the Jesuits would have hired Greek experts like Simonides to forge Greek MSS favourable to Vatican texts, and in competition with the text of Erasmus, Stephens, Beza, and Elziver. One of the first Roman Catholic attempts to derail the Reformation was to publish a Greek NT based on the infamous Codex Vaticanus.
Who else would have access to Vaticanus-like texts, and have the resources to bankroll a large-scale forgery like Sinaiticus? Perhaps Simonides was indeed sent to sabotage Tischendorf. If so, he certainly succeeded, since Tischendorf all but abandoned his 7 previous versions in favor of an 8th edition sporting the Aleph readings. Just what the Vatican wanted. But the Protestants didn't buy it.
It would take another decade to put people like Hort in place to try again with the Vaticanus as the base.
The codex Sinaiticus looks very suspicious, as a sumptuous manuscript looking a lot newer than the more authentically aged Vaticanus. Side by side, Sinaiticus looks hundreds of years newer.
Yet it sports a text which, with all its idiosyncrasies, shares an uncannily large number of readings with Vaticanus.

Steven Avery

page 2

That's great, Vork, except for one small, piddly detail. In none of the examples that you give the find advertized itself as fraud with a known con artist stepping boldly forward to claim it as his own work.


My only observation is that if there was ever a need for some sort of forensic testing of a document - this is it. Yes, Simonides confessed to the 'forgery' (if it was one) but only after being exposed as forger. The association between Tisch and Simonides is particularly compelling. Much more compelling than other forgery arguments

While developing the glass plate negatives of the leaves, Kirsopp Lake noticed a difference in the way the inks were reacting. Some of them would take longer to appear, suggesting differences between the media.[11] However, he does not provide any further explanation, but the difference of “behaviour” and “reaction” of the writing media may indicate a variation in composition (or proportions) of ingredients used to manufacture the inks. Kirsopp Lake therefore already had some understanding of the various scribes involved in writing the Codex Sinaiticus and, with further studies, he agreed with Tischendorf’s results.

Steven Avery

page 3
Another curiosity
One of the arguments used in favour of the theory that the manuscript was written in Egypt is the sporadic occurrence in it, both in the text itself and in the earlier cor-rections, of an omega of very curious shape. (⟒ as against the usual w). This very rare form is found in one or two papyri from Egypt, notably in Papyrus 28 of the John Rylands Library, Manchester, but, apart from a few instances in the Codex Vaticanus, it appears to be unknown elsewhere. Now in 1839-40, the Codex Vaticanus was locked away and inaccessible to scholars in the Vatican Library, and the papyri in question were buried in the sands of Egypt. Whence then could Simonides have obtained it? Or what object could he have in inventing so strange a form?

Here is the timeline for the discovery, immediately after Vaticanus was examined by Tischendorf:

What about Tischendorf as the forger or at least the ringleader?

What is needed is really an organized effort to have Codex S looked at from every angle.

It just seems to me to be utterly incredible that Tischendorf is allowed to see Vaticanus for the first time since it was reacquired by the Vatican and then a few months later stumbles upon the papers at Sinai which ultimately lead him to another one of a kind codex with many shared features with Vaticanus

I have concluded that Andrew's citation of those fragments discovered in 1975 at St Catherines really don't hold much weight in the discussion. Apparently fragments in the garbage led Tisch to the manuscript and more fragments were discovered by independent witnesses in 1845 and 1846 so the 1975 discovery is really a feature of the text known and established by Tisch himself (ie bits of text found in the monastery). As Tisch was the first to discover this feature he could be the one who planted them as a means of establishing that the MS belonged there

The interesting thing then is that this is becomes one of the most incredible examples of synchronicity I have ever witnessed Sinaiticus is certainly a poor copy of Vaticanus on many respects. A man, Tischendorf, is allowed to see Vaticanus previously hidden from the view of outsiders and then a year later uncovers an ancient copy previously unseen in the Monastery of St Catherines in Sinai. This alone is a much more incredible coincidence than Morton Smith having published a review of a study of the Gospel of Mark and then discovering a letter which makes reference to a previously unknown Alexandrian version of Mark. Perhaps stranger things have happened in the history of the world, but you'd think this alone would convince someone to at least test the ink. The voices which claim to Theodore is a fake demand this with a far less amazing set of coincidences.


The problem with the Simonides (1820–1867) 1 John heavenly witnesses claim is that not only was nothing ever published. Also that fact was emphasized by the opponents of Simonides.

William Aldis Wright - 1863 - "where is this papyrus, and why does he not exhibit it ? "
Samuel Tregelles - 1863 - "the pretended copy"
Samuel Tregelles 1869 - "when the volume of Simonides was published, it contained no part of St. John's First Epistle"

And, remember, there was a book published in 1862:

Facsimiles of certain portions of the Gospel of St. Matthew and of the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude written on papyrus of the First Century, London,

And the heavenly witnesses were not included, so if the published papers are universally considered forgeries, the unpublished will not rank higher. Here is the 2007 discussion of the book on the sister forum, with Peter Head responding to the post by Arie Dirkzwager. Stephen C. Carlson also posted.

[textualcriticism] A forgotten manuscript?
"We have rather a nice copy here in the Tyndale Library. There is no doubt that it is a fake. Keith Elliott wrote a book on Simonides which will probably have more details." Peter M. Head

Related is:

The Artemidorus Papyrus - Monday, September 21, 2009
So while I am interested, and learning from the discussion and studies, the heavenly witnesses evidence ... of an invisible facsimile of an unknown papyrus housed in an ethereal location, of provenance undistinguished
... is not an extremely high priority.


Actually let me correct that - Tisch saw Vaticanus made a facsimile and then discovered Sinaiticus


Are you posting these to demonstrate their similarities or their differences?

The scribe of your fragment of Vaticanus is better at spelling than his fonts (he is much more cursive), while the scribe of your fragment of Sinaiticus is the exact opposite, great at his fonts but sucks as a speller (of the three identified scribes, he must be the infamous "scribe D").

The letters eta (Η), omega (Ω), mu (Μ), upsilon (Υ), alpha (Α), kappa (Κ), etc, are much different between them. The scribe of Sinaiticus is using ligatures (e.g., Τω) while the scribe of Vaticanus does not, but the scribe of Vaticanus uses some accents while the scribe of Sinaiticus does not.

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Steven Avery

The interesting thing then is that this is becomes one of the most incredible examples of synchronicity I have ever witnessed Sinaiticus is certainly a poor copy of Vaticanus on many respects. A man, Tischendorf, is allowed to see Vaticanus previously hidden from the view of outsiders and then a year later uncovers an ancient copy previously unseen in the Monastery of St Catherines in Sinai. This alone is a much more incredible coincidence than Morton Smith having published a review of a study of the Gospel of Mark and then discovering a letter which makes reference to a previously unknown Alexandrian version of Mark. Perhaps stranger things have happened in the history of the world, but you'd think this alone would convince someone to at least test the ink. The voices which claim to Theodore is a fake demand this with a far less amazing set of coincidences.
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The intent of Simonides' letter to the Guardian seems amply clear: he wanted to discredit the expertise of Tischendorf by claiming that he himself forged the codex, and expressed amazement that a learned paleographer could not tell a contemporary text from an ancient one. The problem is: since 1863, scores of experts looked at the texts and none of them AFAIK was struck by their modernity.


Steven Avery

page 5

I managed to get David Trobisch on the phone at his SBL session. He told me he would answer any questions about Sinaiticus in one hour (he was a keynote speaker at the recent Sinaiticus Conference in London). Any questions from the group?


Has he examined it himself?

Considering he has examined literally thousands of original mss while hanging about in Germany, has he noted any incongruities in Sinaiticus that would cause him to seriously question its age?

Yes I will pass it on IF he calls me back. It's been an hour no response. I feel like the girl after a bad date. He has examined Sinaiticus. His topic at the Sinaiticus conference was:

David Trobisch – Codex Sinaiticus and the formation of the Christian Bible

I am sure he is not agreeable to the forgery hypothesis but he might be able to shed light on some points raised by Andrew and others. There is an interesting story here. I am seeing David for a week in April when I am going to be in Branson.


Actually the topic came up the last time we spoke and he happen to mention that because of pollution copper domes on old buildings are deteriorating faster than they used to. His point - maybe C 14 isn't always the answer


Alright fine, not synchronicity but an amazing set of coincidences. Tischendorf is the first to study Vaticanus and Ephraemi in the years leading up to the discovery of papers in the garbage of St Catherines in 1844:


The lower text of the palimpsest was deciphered by biblical scholar and palaeographer Tischendorf in 1840–1843, and was edited by him in 1843–1845. Currently it is housed in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Grec 9) in Paris.
Trobisch tells me a new definitive biography of Tischendorf has just been published in German. He's going to send me the info on that. I'll buy it and write a summary but apparently Tischendorf comes off looking like something of a kook. There are letters apparently between Tischendorf and his wife for the period.

I don't know what you call it. If it isn't synchronicity (I never studied Jung as I always hated people that did) it's whatever you call what happened to Nietzsche before he had his breakdown - i.e. reading Dostoevsky and the living Dostoevsky. The same thing they allege happened with Morton Smith and the Hunter novel (except there is no evidence Smith knew about this pulp fiction work).

What are the odds that a guy who walks around getting to various known codices first, ends up finding paper in the trash that turns out to be another hitherto unknown text - i.e. Sinaiticus. It might well not be a forgery (when I asked Trobisch about the idea he didn't know what to say) and maybe it's not 'synchronicity' but if you accept that all of this is genuine then Tischendorf was a very blessed individual, it's enough to prove the existence of fate, God and all the other stuff people love around here.
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That is how a lot of these famous critics got their manuscripts, by sneaking them out and then claiming they were rubbish free to be taken by anyone, or by illegal wink-wink-nod-nod sales of national or religious treasures in order for the "seller" to raise quick cash.

The attitude seems to have been "Those ignorant eastern orthodox monks don't know what they have, so we'll just appropriate it from them any way we can - for the greater good of western civilization, of course."

So, is it any wonder that Simonides, eastern orthodox as he was, was motivated to outwit the crafty westerners? I'd suspect that there had long been going on the practice of monks making "fair" (i.e., good/exact) copies of famous codices for sale to the eastern and western elite classes, not always represented as copies mind you, and not always so "fair". There may have been many such copied codices and leaves commissioned on "spec" by the dealers of such things, waiting for the right opportunity to sell them at a huge profit.

Simonides appears to have been just such a dealer with a great deal of knowledge about the originals (how else to convince the rich buyer he is getting the "real deal"). Once his scam involving other manuscripts was exposed, it is natural that he might try to embarass the parties who exposed him, but that doesn't mean Sinaiticus is a fake, just that Simonides claims it was to embarass Tischendorf. Apparently, it was more embarassing to charge a westerner with being took for a fool than to charge him with cheating easterners for the better good of western society.

Steven Avery

page 6

I don't know offhand what the claim was in regard to the Periplus of Hannon, but I think the sample looks similar to Greek papyri like this: maybe, 200-400 A.D.??

The writing however looks too block-like and not curly enough in comparison to the above, so again:
Would the style of letters (rigid unflourished straight letters)
make it older?

A really old hieriatic papyrus looks like this:

And I notice the variations in papyrus color are wide,
again negating the judgements of the 1863 literary critics.

But I've seen this very pale yellow and consistent color papyrus before somewhere....
Here's a 1st Cent. BC sample below:

It looks more regular and square-writing,
and also notice the papyrus itself has the more consistent,
light yellow coloring. This may reflect a method of manufacture
or of choosing the type or age of papyrus to make the sheet,
which may have gone out of practice later.


Dear List: It turns out that Volume 1 of Simonides is also available on Google Books, and downloadable as a .pdf:

In this volume, you can see the method of "facsimile" used in 1861 (the dawn of photography)...
I have uploaded some scans from this first volume in our Photos Section
so people can see for themselves what the fuss was about in 1861.

Steven Avery

page 7

More from the TC Alternate Yahoo Group

Steve Avery's response to James Snapp's claim that Sinaiticus was already proved to be authentic:

Hi Folks,

James Snapp

Just *read what Kirsopp Lake wrote about it in his intro to the facsimile,* and after that, if you still think that there is any possibility that Sinaiticus is a forgery,

To be clear, the (final) Simonides claim is not that he did the manuscript as a forgery, but as a work for his uncle to be delivered to the Russian Emporer Nicholas, which never occurred after his uncle died.. Apparently, in this scenario, his uncle had unique textual theories, akin to the then-unpublished Vaticanus, and Simonides was a bumbling scribe for his uncle. Who for some reason wrote in multiple hand-writings and acted as multiple corrector of his own work. In this scenario, it is possible that the uncle and Constantine had ancient forgery motives, but I have not seen this conjectural motive issue directly discussed.

James Snapp
perhaps we can revisit the question. Consider the implications of the evidence from MacDonald, and Uspinsky
(Porfiri Uspenski-SA),
Scribal habits of Codex Sinaiticus (2007)
Dirk Jongkind
Tischendorf ... between his first and second visit, the manuscript was in all probability seen by the British Major MacDonald and certainly seen, and even studied, by the Russian archimandrite Porfiri Uspenski during his visits of 1845 and 1850. (p. 5-6) In 1975, new parts of die codex were discovered in a previously blocked off room in the monastery. (p. 7)

Apparently, Uspenski attacked the text as heretical, not mentioned by Jongkind. There was an answer from Tischendorf on this, it would be interesting to have a summary laid out of the issues. Also, a sidenote: Rendal Harris says that Uspenski was a bit of a manuscript thief from the libraries of Europe.

Simonides claimed he wrote the manuscript in 1839, so it is unclear if the Uspenski or MacDonald accounts would act as a refutation of the Simonides story, without more detail.

James Snapp
and the pages in the 1975 finds, and consider the unlikelihood of forging a Greek text of Barnabas and Hermas, and consider the unlikelihood of the monks of St. Catherine's being co-conspirators and having the chutzpah to protest the removal of a codex they knew to be forged!

And I covered some other issues as well in my last post,

[TC-Alternate-list] Simonides as Siniaitcus scribe - an idea whose time has gone
Steven Avery November 19, 2011
Simonides said nothing for the 16 year period when Codex Frederico-Augustanus was floating about, and Simonides was a Codex F-A participant-watcher. Overall, the timing of the whole claim is rather incredible, this is a large manuscript supposedly done quickly by a young lad (15 or 19). There is no known exemplar for the Simonides labour, and, with this problem and others, you end up with the tacked-on story of the manuscript being the work of an uncle, his life work of textual scholarship ! Interesting is the verification by the Greek Orthodox monk who was hard to find, yet was verified .. by Simonides
. Just the basic conceptual problem of doing such a forgery with multiple hands and correctors. If a person was flying through a manuscript for a quick calligraphy work, or for an uncle who wanted his ideas transcribed (from what ?), why all the dual-triple and more handwritings ? And when challenged by William Aldis Wright, you have much in way of obfuscation and evasive responses, the cutest being the "deposit money" response. The list goes on and on.

I am curious if James agrees that my list can be added to the five or so that he gives, in which case the list will start with about 10 major problems.


Dr Tischendorf, in addition to former attacks upon the character and credit of his great Codex Sinaiticus, proceeding from the Archimandrite Porfiri Uspenski in Russia, and from Simonides .. (third attack is referenced)

The discussion on this subject is already exasperating. If people are just not going to make the effort to undertake some basic reading so as to form an informed view, there's no helping them.

And I think much of the exasperation comes from starting with the Sinaiticus issue, and then moving to other Simonides involvements, including the papyri. I'll write on that, in response to Ben, separately.

Also there is the ongoing question of the reliability of the Tischendorf account, and his integrity issues.
And this reliability has two major components (which similarly can be mix-a-moshed)

1) The dubious trash-can story, the romantic legend that smells like a fabrication of convenience.

2) And the question of gift vs theft of the manuscripts.

The Wikipedia account attempts to absolve Tischendorf on #2 based on 2009 material.

St. Catherine's monastery still maintains the importance of a letter, typewritten in 1844 with an original signature of Tischendorf confirming that he borrowed those leaves. 10] However, recently published documents, including a deed of gift dated 11 September 1868 and signed by Archbishop Kallistratos and the monks of the monastery, indicate that the manuscript was acquired entirely legitimately. This deed, which agrees with a report by Kurt Aland on the matter, has now been published. Unfortunately this development is not widely known in the English-speaking world, as only German- and Russian-language media reported on it in 2009. Doubts as to the legality of the gift arose because when Tischendorf originally removed the manuscript from St Catherine's in September 1859, the monastery was without an archbishop, so that even though the intention to present the manuscript to the Tsar had been expressed, no legal gift could be made at the time. Resolution of the matter was delayed through the turbulent reign of Archbishop Cyril (consecrated 7 December 1859, deposed 24 August 1866), and the situation only formalised after the restoration of peace.

This is said to show TIschendorf saying he was borrowing the leaves in 1844

And this is asserted to be the 1868 deed absolving Tischendorf of accusations of theft.

When we discussed Tischendorf earlier in the year, I do not think these documents were referenced. James I believe called for at least seeking to have the return of the Sinaiticus manuscript to the original, rightful owners.

It is also possible that the accusation is one more of chicanery and deception, leading to these documents, than overt theft through speaking falsely. Exactly how it falls, I would be interested in any cogent summary.
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Steven Avery

page 8

While searching the circumstances of the discovery of Sinaiticus, and the sping given it on all sides, there is this site. I quote part of it (there are no copyright notices I could see):
First, the parchments were missing huge numbers of portions. Obviously, these were BURNED. And the fact that the surviving manuscripts were in good condition is not surprising. Go throw a stack of papers in a basket in a dry room and let them lay there for as long as you want and when you go back, they will be in the same condition.

Secondly, it is obvious that the St. Catherine monks didn't know that what they had in their possession was worth something because it was only AFTER Tischendorf's visits that they began capitalizing on their worth. Before Tischendorf, they were clueless.

Distort Tischendorf's Account!

Again, here is what happened:

Tischendorf finds Siniaticus (with the Septuagint and Gnostic counterfeit books) in a basket being used to start fires. The librarian sees this and "rescues" all but a few pages taken by Tischendorf. Upon returning, Tishcendorf is able to get his hands on Sinaiticus when the librarian retrieves it from his own cell.

And Satanic apologists like James White distort the story to make it sound like this:

"His obvious excitement worried the monks, who became less than cooperative in providing further information about manuscripts at the monastery. Years passed by. Tischendorf attempted to find more manuscripts at the monastery in 1853, but to no avail. Six years later he visited yet once again, and this time on the very evening before he was to leave he presented a copy of the Septuagint (which he had published) to the steward. Upon looking at Tischendorf’s gift, the steward remarked that he, too, had a copy of the Septuagint. From the closet in his cell he produced a manuscript, wrapped in a red cloth. The monk had no idea of the treasure he held in his hands, for this was none other than Codex Sinaiticus, which at that time was no less than 1,500 years old!"

Notice that the discerning reader can see what Mr. White is incapable of seeing IN HIS OWN ACCOUNT!

It's obvious, even in White's attempt at distortion, that what happened was the TRASH became valuable to the librarian ("steward") once he saw it's worth in the response of Tischendorf.

And what White leaves out (in his usual, dishonest manner) is the Tischendorf himself recognized this manuscript as EXACTLY what he was looking for.

Par For The Course

And that's how it is. Those of us defending the ONLY Bible manuscripts and translations used by TRUE Christians throughout Christian history have grown accustomed to the lies and abuse from the Alexandrian egomaniacs.

If you DARE disagree, you are "unscholarly". If you DARE reveal the facts about Satan's Alexandrian manuscripts ans translations, you are called "a liar" or "mean-spirited" or some other meaningless, baseless charge.
Is it just me, or do I detect the unmistakable writing style of (aahem) ... you know who? 👋

The Skipster
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