Kallinikos exposes Tischendorf shenanigans - the historical imperative and impossible knowledge

Steven Avery

This section (WIP) goes hand-in-hand with the material from James Anson Farrer, discussing the historicity and authenticity of Kallinikos. It is also an additional corroboration of many basics of what was claimed by Simonides and Kallinikos, by showing a far more accurate reading of the events in Sinai with Tischendorf than is in the popular romantic fantasy stories (e.g. Tischendorf saving leaves from fire.)


The Journal of Sacred Literature (1863-07)
The Codex Sinaiticus and Simonides - p. 478-498

Letter from Simonides to the Guardian Feb 4, 1863

Mr. Bradshaw's very proper and natural query 'How is it possible that a MS. written beautifully, and with no intention to deceive, in 1840, should in 1862 present so ancient an appearance? 'I answer simply thus: The MS. had been systematically tampered with, in order to give it an ancient appearance, as early as 1852, when, as I have already stated, it had an older appearance than it ought to have had; and, from what I then saw, I am not surprised that Mr. Bradshaw should have been deceived in his estimate of its age.


The Journal of Sacred Literature (1864-04) from the Literary Churchman, Nov 1, 1863
Miscellanies - Simonides Once More - p. 227-229


Kallinikos Hieromanochos - Sept 17, 1863

A portion of this was secretly removed from Mount Sinai, by Professor Tischendorf, in 1844. The rest, with inconceivable recklessness, he mutilated and tampered with, according to his liking, in the year 1859. Some leaves he destroyed, especially such as contained the Acrostics of Simonides; but four of them escaped him, viz., one in the Old Testament, and three in Hermas, as I long since informed Simonides: many paleographical symbols also [escaped his notice], but I do not know whether these were eventually overlooked with the acrostics.


The Journal of Sacred Literature (1863-04)
Miscellanies - The Codex Sinaiticus and its Antiquity - p. 210-234

Extract from a letter dated Smyrna, 5 (17) Aug., 1858:

''. . . These also send thee greeting: the Deacon Hilarion, and thy friends Nicander and Niphon, who lent thee the books of Esdras at the time when thou wast preparing in Athos, at the exhortation of my uncle, the present (of the Holy Scriptures) to the glorious Emperor Nicholas. ... I told them all about it, and how the manuscript in question is now in Mount Sinai, and how thy indifference (forgive me, my son, for this true statement of mine) frustrated the original intention. I certified them that this MS. of the Scriptures is still preserved in Sinai (as thou also knowest), because I saw it there with my own eyes when I was in the Monastery of St. Catherine in 1845 in the month of July, and handled it with my own hands, and found it very defective, and somewhat changed; and when I asked the reason, I understood from Gabriel, the keeper of the treasures, that his predecessor had given the manuscript to a German, who visited the monastery in 1844 in the month of May, and who having had the MS. in his hands several days, secretly removed a part of it, and went away during the time that the librarian lay ill, afflicted with a typhoid fever. Nothing more could 1 learn about it, but I hope (if God will) to go next year again into Egypt, and thence to Sinai, when I shall search into all things, and send the result for thy information and that of thy friends.


The Journal of Sacred Literature (1863-04)

Kallinikos Hieromononachos, Oct 15, 1862, Alexandria

Simonides... not coming in time, neglected the matter altogether, until Dr. Tischendorf, coming to the Greek monastery of Sinai in 1844, in the month of May (if my memory does not deceive me), and remaining there several days, and getting into his hands, by permission of the librarian, the codex we are speaking of, and perusing and reperusing it frequently, abstracted secretly a small portion of it, but left the largest portion in the place where it was, and departed undisturbed. And last of all, coming again to the same monastery, he obtained also the remaining portion of it through the Russian Consul, in exchange for hyperbolical promises, never, in my judgment, likely to be fulfilled.

"All these things I know, having been on the spot. And I declare them now openly for the sake of truth. And I further declare that the codex which Dr. Tischendorf obtained is the identical codex which Simonides wrote about twenty-two years ago, and none other; inasmuch as I saw it in the hands of Tischendorf, and recognized the work ; and I first informed Simondes, who was previously in ignorance thereof, of the abstraction of his codex from the library of the monastery of Mount Sinai. And originally, also, I read this half-line written in it --(Grk)--but two days after, the leaf containing this artistically written line had disappeared, by whose doing I do not know. And I know yet further, that the codex also was cleaned with lemon-juice, professedly for the purpose of cleaning its parchments, but in reality in order to weaken the freshness of the letters, as was actually the case.



Kallinikos Hieromononachos, Nov 9, 1861, Alexandria

'Alas for the palaographical knowledge of such as he ! And if, O my son, the sages of Western Europe take knowledge of and criticize matters in the same fashion as Tischendorf, the shallow leader of Leipsic, I must say that no true criticism or sound judgment in antiquarian matters remains there. This manuscript then being thus estimated (as very old) by the German Tischendorf, was snatched away from the monastery, was afterwards transferred to Cairo, and after a few days was lent to Tischendorf, by the mediation of the Russian consul in Egypt. And it is said that the restoration of the Codex after its publication was guaranteed by the Russian ambassador in Constantinople. But I do not believe in any promise of the ambassador or the consul for the restoration of the Codex, and even if they did promise it, I do not believe that they would ever restore it to the monastery of Sinai. I judge from previous events. 'For a Russian official (as the proverb says), a liar, and a thief, are synonymous.' For let others treat of all this, as also of the arrangements, just or unjust made by the Russian consul and the guileful Tischendorf for the accomplishment of their purposes. I am not surprised at any of the circumstances, but only at the fact that this Codex, recent as it was, and thy handiwork, was ascribed to the fourth century. Here is a miracle forsooth, and yet people sneer at us for believing miracles! This Codex, my son, I saw several times, and particularly three of the acrostics which thou shewedst me at Athos when I overlooked thee in that pleasant writing-room of thine. The first rends thus K.(Grk) the second K.A.(Grk) and the third (Grk). I also saw the fourth and fifth, but do not remember them now ; and also caligraphic symbols, and especially the numerous corrections, and corrections again of these, and annotations both of thyself and of thy uncle, by which I recognized thy work; but I said nothing to any one, nor shall I speak of the matter till thou shalt request me; and for this reason have hastened to give thee the information in the present letter.

The Codex in question, as we are now quite certain, was transported to St. Petersburgh to be published, and its antiquity was established by the learned there. Now we shall see whether they will endorse the vain talking of Tischendorf, whom I have myself seen and conversed with four times, and whom I found superficial in all things, and quite ignorant of the language of our immortal ancestors. He only chatters mechanically the Scriptures, and understands their meaning by Latin versions, and not at sight; so that every ancient Greek work which has not been translated is considered by him as hard to understand, and is set down by him as being in the common Greek tongue, which the foolish critics have christened Romaic. And the questions which have been most clearly settled (about Greek palaeography) he is quite unacquainted with. In a simple word, he deceived the world by his reputation, as thou hast before remarked. Now, it is thy business to prove and proclaim the man's real character, and to shew how different it is from what it appears to be. ....

P.S. Remark this also, that the same man came on another occasion to the monastery of Mount Sinai in the year 1844, in the month of May, and there saw thy Codex, and secretly abstracted many leaves (as I wrote to thee long ago) and went away undisturbed, because, unfortunately, the librarian, who only could have reproved and exposed his wickedness, lay seriously ill, and departed shortly after to his rest in heaven.


Simonides on Tischendorf and Sinaiticus

Journal of Sacred Literature, Oct 1862
Miscellanies - Sinaiticus p. 248-253

Simonides to the Guardian, Sept, 3, 1862
"In 1852, I saw it there myself, ... I examined the MS. and found it much altered, having an older appearance than it ought to have"


The Journal of Sacred Literature (1863-04)
Miscellanies - The Codex Sinaiticus and its Antiquity - p. 210-234

"the Codex Simonideios, which Professor Tischendorf, when at Sinai, contrived, I know not how, to carry away; and, going to St. Petersburg, published his discovery there under the name of the Codex Sinaiticus."

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Steven Avery

notes on Kallinikos on Tischendorf (weak on Greek)


SA note:

secretly removed from Mount Sinai, by Professor Tischendorf, in 1844 - a far more sensible scenario than the late saved from burning tissuedorf.

We can tell today that the accusation about 1844 is extremely well supported. The Cairo letter of recommendation for Tischendorf, which he did not present, we are told in his family correspondence included a warning of his wayward wanton ways with manuscripts. Much later, in the 1860s, Tischendorf wrote that "the authorities of the convent allowed" the taking of the 43 pages, yet no names are given, and such has never been collaborated. Similarly, much later, in times of political expediency, in 1859, begins the saved from burning cover story that duped so many for so long.

And the Sinai convent even today considers him a thief (the Tischendorf loan documents is kept up for easy reading remembrance in the library) with the emphasis more on the bigger heist of 1859 (which has its own unusual elements, some of which we have not covered here, I will mention that the refreshments in the English report is liquor in French, and remember the Prince Regent account).

Tischendorf published the main part of the 1844 heist in a manner that hid their source in 1846, even though Uspensky described seeing the Sinaiticus manuscript in his visit of 1845, published in his 1856 book.

And now we know that in these Egyptian journeys Tischendorf even took a page from the middle of an Archimedes palimpsest that was part of the 1870s estate. And the theft was discovered in the 1980s by Nigel Wilson, when he recognized the missing leaf from the Archimedes pages.

All of this acts as a collaboration of major elements of the explanations of Simonides, and especially Kallinikos, who knew the monastery. Kallinikos boldly and accurately said that Tischendorf barely could communicate in Greek, a point that was emphasized recently in a different context by Daniel Wallace, yet astounded the English scholars at the time. Kallinikos said he met Tischendorf four times, and he said that Tischendorf stole the pages in 1844 and mutilated the Sinaiticus manuscript. With so many elements confirmed, each element has now a prima facie appearance of truth.


Greek Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria ... the patriarch first insisted on satisfying himself that his visitor knew Greek. He made him read aloud from a work by St. John Chrysostom, which Tischendorf did poorly .. equally unimpressed by some polite remarks which Tischendorf delivered in Greek - The Bible Hunter, Gottschlich, p. 76-77

Tischendorf Letter at Saint Catherine's

The letter on the left is written in Greek. James Bentley says it was “bad Greek”
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Steven Avery

the historical imperative - Kallinikos and Simonides speaking from the inside

All these declarations show that Simonides and Kallinikos were closely involved with the manuscript and had inside knowledge. Knowledge available because of their experience with both the manuscript and the monastery.

1) poof provenance - including the supposed ancient catalogue in the library. This would have immediately destroyed the Simonides story. However, Simonides knew that there was no such catalogue, and stated so boldly and clearly. Or some explorer could have given a Uspensky style report from 1800 or 1835. Or the monastery could have various accounts and documents and a written history about the ms. The confidence of Simonides about the lack of provenance had one source: Simonides knew that the manuscript simply did not exist before 1840, so nobody could give a report or library catalogue entry.

2) historical placement - the Spyridon Lampros catalogue of the manuscripts of Mt. Athos showed Benedict, Kallinikos and Simonides working on manuscripts at Mt. Athos at precisely the right time, c. 1840. This historical verification of opportunity and location and primary individuals could not be retrofitted, and was not even recognized until the catalog research and its publication in 1895 and 1900.

3) Hermas and Barnabas editions - closely linked to the Sinaiticus text, in terms of text and linguistics. And these were published years before the Sinaiticus text was even publicly described by Tischendorf. James Anson Farrer said of Hermas having been published by Simonides: "The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance.”

The dumping of part of Hermas, found in 1975 in the New Finds, is likely connected to Tischendorf’s linguistic embarassment with Hermas. Since he had accused, and awkwardly retracted, the claim that the similar Athos Sinaiticus ms had to be no earlier than medieval origin. James Donaldson’s linguistic scholarship confirmed Sinaiticus as of late origin, long after the 4th century.

4) knowledge of the 1844 Tischendorf theft of the 43 leaves, including five full quires, that were taken to Leipzig. Theft now confirmed by the unraveling of the self-serving "saved from fire" cover story. And the personal letter of Tischendorf to his brother as to his gaining possession of the leaves. As well as the absurdity of the Tischendorf fabrication, which he created in 1859 to try to give political cover for the manuscript theft. Yet this lie about finding the ms is still often repeated today.

5) knowledge of the mangling of the manuscript by Tischendorf - now confirmed by the Uspensky description of the manuscript, which section from,Uspensky had not been translated to English before the SART studies. When the Sinai manuscript drama began in 1844-1845, every indication is that it was a bound manuscript, and that Hermas was a full book. The evidence also shows that the ms was of a larger size, trimmed down to get rid of edge markings, and Simonides referenced that there had been margin markings.

6) knowledge of the pseudo-loan, with the theft planned, of the 1859 bulk of the manuscript, including the New Testament. Kalliinikos knew full well that Tischendorf was simply angling to get the ms to Russia. With no intention of ever returning it to Sinai. And that Tischendorf would renege on any loan promise. The history of the 1859-1870 period fully confirmed what was written by Kallinikos.

How did Kallinikos know about the 1843 theft, ms mangling and 1859 phony loan? Simple, he was there. Now for the most amazing bit of ms insight. The critical accusation written in the early 1860s.

7) knowledge of the colouring of the manuscript, to give it an appearance of age. Using lenon-juice, herbs or similar substances. The colouring is now confirmed after the 2009 Codex Sinaiticus Project gave us excellent professional photography. And we can see the 1844 white parchment Leipzig BEFORE and the 1859 British Library yellowed AFTER sections. While this was hidden from our textual experts for 150 years, viewing the superb CSP makes it totally clear that the bulk of the manuscript was coloured to give the appearance of age. And the colouring itself is not a natural, brittle aging. Both parts of the manuscript stolen, 1844 and 1859, are in "phenomenally good condition". The 1859 colouring is not an aged ms, the colouring is connected to the visible streaks and stains.

8) knowledge of the bumbling Greek of Tischendorf (this is mentioned simply to add a bit of a personal, human contact element to their relationships)

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Steven Avery


Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair: An Examination of the Nineteenth Century Claim that Codex Sinaiticus was Not an Ancient Manuscript (1982) - partiarch changed to patriarch
James Keith Elliott
For I myself saw him with my own eyes, in February, 1840, writing it in Athos; and, owing to the death of the head of the monastery, he left the work unfinished, and went to Constantinople, taking the Codex with him, which also he delivered to the illustrious patriarch Constantius, and he sent it to the monastery in Sinai by a monk of that house, named Germanus, whose subordinate still lives in Athos to attest the writer. And the patriarch sent the Codex there, in order that the transcript might be compared with other copies of the Old and New Testament, and then be transcribed by the same Simonides, and sacredly presented to the Emperor of Russia, on the part, not of the monastery of St. Pantaleemon, according to the original intention of Benedict, but on the part of the patriarch Constantius. On this account, the hieromonk Callistratus, a wise man, and companion of the same house, undertook the comparison of it, and did compare it with other codices of the same house, by command of Constantius, the patriarch. And he, having partly corrected it, left it in the library awaiting the return of Simonides, the first calligrapher in Greece. He not coming in good time, the work was altogether neglected, and remained in the common library of the monastery for some time: until Dr. Tischendorf (coming to the monastery in Sinai, in May, 1844, and spending some days there, and having examined the MS. carefully and suspecting it to be ancient), tore off a small part of it, privately, and went his way, as if nothing had happened, leaving the rest of it in the position which it had before. He perpetrated this great wrong without scruple. p. 76