notes on the Kevin McGrane paper - review of Bill Cooper

Steven Avery

This is an interesting paper. Much of it has to do with blunders in the book of William Cooper. Many good scholarship references. And at least a place or two where I reexamine my positions and understandings, with appreciation for Kevin's efforts. (Many weaknesses in the paper as well, I will try to be fair on both sides on this set of forum posts.)

Available in a few spots:

... A great deal of research unearthed during this undertaking, but not directly relevant to Dr Cooper’s book and so not included here, is expected to appear in a subsequent monograph Codex Sinaiticus and the Three Constantines.

We look forward to that monograph.

My Facebook discussion on Pure Bible:

Pure Bible group

Sinaiticus Authenticity - Kevin McGrane vs. Bill Cooper
Many of you know that I have cordially ripped two Sinaiticus non-authenticity books, one by Bill Cooper, one by David Sorenson, as being loaded with blunders and doozies. This is mostly on and also Facebook threads. I’ve warned friends to be careful about any usage of the books, since the weak spots are open for easy broadside attack....

Before going into wide-ranging issues, the next three posts have a very specific focus, two on integrity, one on a commonly made claim about palaeographers.

And here is an overview:


#2-3 - Tischendorf's 1844 theft of 43 leaves p. 35-39
#13 - Tischendorf's 1859 visit to St Catherine's monastery - p. 41-45
#14 - is the Jesuit conspiracy theory viable after you discount the Bill Cooper errors?
#15 - Conclusions: why would a 600 AD Sinaiticus be linked to a "fourth century component"?
#16 - interesting historical-textual tidbits - Burgon, Nolan and Erasmus
#17 - the Jesuit conspiracy question - KM proposes that Simonides would have been murdered!
#18 - The 1975 'New Finds' - p. 46
#19 - materials analysis - Leipzig had planned tests
#20 - comparative theories - The Inference to the Best Explanation - begging the question - circular reasoning
#21 - comments from James Keith Elliott and the British Library
#22 - Constantine Simonides - p. 47-70
#23 -
#24 -
#25 -

Please note that I am also going over the Bill Cooper book in detail as well.

Emphasis is added to various quotes on this thread!
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Steven Avery

Integrity #1 - transferance fallacy

A crass smear. Emphasis added:

4 A more recent book that has appeared, covering similar ground, but in a longer treatment is David W Daniels, Is the “World’s Oldest Bible” a fake? , (2018). Also J A Moorman Was Codex Sinaiticus Written in 1840! [sic] (2018). Most of the critical comments directed to Cooper’s book apply also to Daniels’.

In terms of the book by David W. Daniels, this is complete nonsense and one of two incredible examples of a lack of integrity from Kevin. (I will note here if he corrects this error.) On virtually all of the dozen of so sections where blunders and bluster of William Cooper are analyzed, there is simply no relationship to David's book or videos at all.

And I can not comment on what Jack Moorman has written, since I have not seen the book. I was a bit disappointed in his talk at the Dean Burgon Socieity, 2018. Note, however, that Jack is not directly included in the smear campaign.

Kevin McGrane may be unaware that many videos from David and the research of the SART team preceded the Bill Cooper book.
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Steven Avery

Integrity #2 - responding to arguments given by Sinaiticus authenticity defenders

The second main spot where Kevin's book suffers from a lack of integrity. This really cheapens his book.

For now, I will just go over one spot, in the text below:

12 The blogosphere is freighted with conspiracy theories. Those who resort to internet sites as a source of information are destined to repeat and recycle innumerable errors. Many bloggers do not understand the points being dealt with, do not understand basic logic and how to spot and avoid fallacies, do not have the necessary ability in critical thinking, and do not understand methods of research. Moreover, there is no peer review, or even a sanity check. Many recycle statements taken out of context copied without checking their sources ad fontes, or properly understanding the tilings that they write. Among such in recent years we can mention David W. Daniels, who produced a book Is the 'World's Oldest Bible' a Fake?, Chris Pinto, who produced a video Tares among the Wheat, which includes details about Codex Sinaiticus, and the many blog posts by 'Steven Avery' (= Steven Avery Spencer). These are deeply flawed and unbalanced, and to a greater or lesser extent they utilize the methods of conspiracy theory. Many of the arguments that these writers consider to be most compelling (among themselves) are based on gross misunderstandings of the evidence, and a complete failure to deal with, and in many cases even acknowledge, countervailing evidence. In so doing they are doing great disservice to the causes they claim to espouse. - p. 12

If this was not an integrity issue, on both sides, I would laugh heartily. Here I am responding for the SART team, which includes David W. Daniels and Mark Michie.

Again and again, we have acknowledged and responded to supposed countervailing evidences.
A few examples.

Stanley Porter summary of James Keith Elliott arguments.
James Snapp - 20 reasons (every one answered).
palaeography claims of Elijah Hixson
colour claims of Jacob Peterson
Tommy Wasserman on Simonides

And much more. Either Kevin is ignorant of these discussions, or he is anxious to score cheap debating trick points by lying. (And the more virulent contras therefore rush to quote the false accusation.)

In fact, It is hard to get authenticity defenders to have any sort of full-orbed discussion. (Will Kevin do a better job?) One common motif is censorship.

In a sense, this immediately answers the other silly attacks where Kevin cheapens his paper with insanity, unbalanced, and more.

As to peer review, this is a complex issue. Who did the peer review for Kevin's paper? Who even knows the main issues? There are many places where his paper is strong, and many places where it is weak, but why should people who do not know the wide-ranging topics decide on publication?

And you can very easily create a solid review by simply sending an advanced copy to five or so individuals who are interested and strong on the issues. They might end up doing a blurb quote, or publishing their critiques or requesting full anonymity.

As for ad fontes, Kevin must be kidding. We had the Uspensky material translated from Russian/Old Slavonian. David has researched Vassarion in Athos. We have pulled out primary source material everywhere, from English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian/Slavonian and Latin sources. We have corresponded with scholars on a wide variety of issues.

As for "conspiracy theory", this is a common canard. Sometimes you have to consider the possibility or likelihood of conspiracy, such as with the JFK assassination. With Sinaiticus, the theory of replica or forgery production has to consider cui bono, who benefits, and any study and conjecture in that realm will be attacked by vapid and scholastically insecure individuals, not aware of the evidences, as "conspiracy theory".

Yes, we can criticize Bill Cooper for how he plays loose and fancy-free with looking for a Jesuit conspiracy. Plus how he states conjectures, often weak, as supposed obvious facts. However, that applies only to Bill Cooper.


Integrity Review Footnote:

Kevin made two crass, false smear attempts against the SART team, and our studies.

They have been mentioned on the Facebook PureBible forum and here.

Kevin should at the very least retract the false accusations, although he could do better and also let his earlier readers know.

If not, these two spots are available as the response, rebuttal and refutation.
Simply link to these two posts, starting at:

Integrity #1 - transferance fallacy
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Steven Avery

the appeal to the phantom independent palaeographers who studied the parchment and ink

Moreover, no qualified palaeographer who has had opportunity physically to inspect the document has doubted that the manuscript was produced centuries before the nineteenth. - p. 8

Simonides likewise cast himself into the same camp by stating that 'Any person learned in palaeography ought to be able to tell at once that it is a MS of the present age.' Since many learned palaeographers have come and gone since that statement was made in the 1860s, and none have agreed with Simonides, then the implication is that all palaeographers without exception have been involved in an ongoing conspiracy. - p. 8

What is totally missing here is the names, dates and text of the reports of these palaeographers. Preferably independent, since palaeographers working for a library are not looking to publicize markers of inauthenticity. And preferably these esteemed, independent palaeographers should have personally examined and handled at least both main sections (1844 Leipzig and 1859 British Library, earlier St. Petersburg) and reported on issues like the parchment and ink conditions, the various scripts etc.

Tischendorf, readers of this forum know, with special emphasis on the palaeographic puzzles section, set script dates without giving any explanation whatsoever, as pointed out by Skeat. Similarly Tischendorf used the old misdirection trick of pointing scholars to his facsimile edition, which of course hides the “phenomenally good condition” of the parchment and ink. As well as hiding the 1844 to 1859 differences. Plus the libraries have had extremely restricted acces. In addition, there have been no scientific tests, and those planned for Leipzig in 2015 were cancelled.

All this is so fundamental that I am making the first point of inquiry to Kevin McGrane, after the two integrity lapses above.

Names, dates, and analysis, please. Or the statements should be simply retracted, removed form the paper, and, better, the lack of real palaeography analysis should be discussed.



Without naming his phantom palaeographers, Kevin plays two sides, astutely attacking some elements of the supposed palaeography:

Any claim regarding age (and scholars claim production in the fourth century) has, to date, been based mainly on the verdict of palaeography, which as we shall see is unsafe and insufficient. - p. 4

These embarrassing debacles underscore that through over-reliance on palaeography it really is possible to fool almost all of the people all of the time. p. 5

Does Kevin McGrane realize that he takes contradictory positions?
This is a rather common occurrence.
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Steven Avery

"treatment applied to the Leipzig pages ... cleaned and perhaps artificially brightened"

Next we go to a phantom cleaning that becomes a major part of the Kevin McGrane theorizing.

Introduction p. 3 ....
elicits questions to which convincing answers—especially of any treatment applied to the Leipzig leaves—would be welcome. ...

all the evidence leans towards the Leipzig leaves looking slightly lighter because they have been cleaned and perhaps artificially brightened by conservators... In a misguided way, some such treatment of the Leipzig leaves might have sought to improve contrast: darkening the iron-gall ink, and lightening the substrate. p. 111

The hypothesis that the Leipzig leaves have had an artificial brightening p. 113

On this topic, we have an incredible irony in the approach of Kevin.

On one hand:

1) Kevin wants to claim that the CSP difference is virtually all photography. (Without any proper discussion of streaks, stains and lack of colour consistency, all of which is 1859nBritish Library, not 1844 Leipzig.).

On the other hand:

2) Kevin theorizes some (unknown, no evidence) cleansing, bleaching, lightening of the Leipzig leaves.


Hopefully Kevin will see the obvious and blatant contradiction in his approach .. playing both ends against the middle.
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Steven Avery

flippant dismissal conclusions by KM

Frequently Kevin gives a type of "nothing here" flippant dismissal of important items.
I will put a number of those here on this post:

Hermas recension

Of course, the fact that the Greek texts of The Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus and in the Athos Codex are similar means nothing more than that they are copies of the same Greek recension. Any other alleged association is accidental or conjectural.

Kallinikos and Spyridon Lampros catalog

As I come across these on the rereading, I will put more in here, and plan to add what is missing.
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Steven Avery

the imaginary Benedict


Kevin refers to the “imaginary” Benedict, and then explains he is, what was his position, etc. The “imaginary” is quite puzzling.

Simonides is also parodying Tischendorf's idea that the Codex would make a wonderful present to the Tsar by weaving into his tale that it was his (imaginary) uncle Benedict's idea to make it a gift for the Tsar twenty years previously. p. 49

Beyond that Kevin makes a very major issue, on many pages, that he was not the Abbot at the monastery. Fair enough, but exceedingly minor. Possibly Simonides embellished his position in his description. Kevin did not interact with the studies of David W. Daniels specifically around Benedict, which are fascinating and comprehensive in describing the gentleman, including his Bible text views.

Some of the names:

Didaskalou Benediktou,
Benediktou Hierodiakonou,
Tou didimou didaskalou kuriou Benediktou (1837)
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Steven Avery

effectively countering factual errors, poor logic and faux conclusions from Bill Cooper

Much excellent stuff here. Some of which I pointed out a while back. (Also from Sorenson, e.g. Vaticanus dropcaps.)

In some cases, short pointers will be placed here. More is not needed, as the ones here apply only to Cooper, and folks following up with his work, and not to the SART team.


“Dr.” Cooper

My first note is that I would not use the phrase "Dr. Cooper" unless there really is good evidence a rigorous degree from a University, rather than an honorary or very light study that led to the granting of the degree.


visible, amateurish forgery every page - p. 8

* For example, 'Almost every page of the manuscript bears telltale signs of forgery, mostly involving fading the text and discolouring the page in a most amateurish attempt to make it much older than it truly is.' (p.105); 'the forgers at Sinai had made all the mistakes that forgers commonly make'(p.86); 'every single one of the telltale signs of evident on the pages of Codex Sinaiticus - almost every page' (p.88); 'almost even' page of the British Library segment bears the telltale signs of the forger's hand.' (p.89). p. 8

This claim of Cooper is uniquely his, and easily countered by Kevin.


Application of Method - p. 15 section -


Vaticanus access error - p. 15-16

This and the similar claim that 'No Protestant had ever been allowed near this treasure before, it was so jealously guarded' (p.22) are demonstrably false.

Total nonsense about Vaticanus by Cooper. The responses begin on p. 15, including:

Contrary to Dr Cooper's assertions, Protestants had easy access to Codex Vaticanus in the eighteenth century. By examining it in Rome, Anglican Thomas Bentley collated Codex Vaticanus, and checked the collations done by Mico in 1720 for his more famous uncle Richard Bentley...

Kevin McGrane gives enough information to refute Cooper, with an emphasis on Thomas Bentley and Andreas Birch, although more could be given (e.g. Hug is not mentioned here.)


Tischendorf Travel Expenses - p. 15-19

Dr Cooper then moves on to the funding of Tischendorf's travels in the 1840s. Because young Tischendorf was not a wealthy man in the early 1840s Dr Cooper says (p.ll),

We are being asked [by Tischendorf] to believe...that he was able to rack up a $5,000 travel and accommodation bill over five years through several countries on unsecured credit and as a penniless itinerant to boot.

There are legitimate questions that can be raised about Tischendorf's financing, but Cooper gets the facts wrong, and Kevin McGrane does a good job in going over many details.


mixes up Tischedorf efforts on Codex Ephraim Rescriptus with a Latin NT edition p. 19-24

The work for which he received such accolades was an edition of a Greek 'New Testament' based, not on any Greek manuscript, but on the Latin Vulgate Bible. It was merely a rendering into Greek of Jerome's erroneous Alexandrian-based 'translation', expressly intended to advance the Vatican's cause of overthrowing or replacing the Textus Receptus. - Cooper, quoted on p. 21

Kevin McGrane corrects this blunder over five pages. It is nice documentation, quite unnecessary since it is such a wild blunder, but nothing wrong with giving all the details. He describes how Cooper makes these errors because of a 'conspiracy theory' approach. (See my writing on that issue.)

(Neither Cooper, who is mixing up the history, or Kevin McGrane go into the issue of the missing leaf on Codex Ephraemi, for which the circumstantial evidence points to Tischendorf.)

Kevin properly calls the Cooper error a blunder. And such a major blunder should make anyone "very uncomfortable about Dr Cooper's handling of evidence.

37 It appears that Dr Cooper went looking for a work published by Tischendorf in 1842 and found He Kaiite Dialheke Novum Testmnentum Greece el Latine: in antiquis testibus texlum versionis Vulgats Latins indagavit tedionesque variantes Stephani et Griesbachii notavit V.S. venerabili Jager in consilium adhibito Constant inus Tischendorf (Paris, 1842). This blunder is confirmed by his second reference to the work on p.42: '[Tischendorf] had earned his first flush of fame by retranslating back into Greek Jerome's corrupt Latin Vulgate Bible.' Tischendorf did not gain any international recognition or fame for that unusual work, which was more of a private commission by abbe Jager (mentioned in the title), a professor in the Sorbonne, who urged him to produce a Greek text conforming to the Vulgate. That job, which any competent person could have done, and would certainly not have attracted international recognition or interest, does not in any way comport with the work that Tischendorf describes in his narrative. This makes us very uncomfortable about Dr Cooper's handling of evidence.

And this gives a seque into the next Cooper blunder.


claims all of Tischendorf fame artificially manufactured by the Vatican p. 23

[T]here was (and still remains) one body politic which was able to pull strings simultaneously in many nations of Europe, strings that were then as now attached to their several monarchs and heads of state. In short, it is clear that these bodies had received their instructions to commend and honour one Constantine Tischendorf, a young and hitherto unknown scholar of whom they had never heard, and who would otherwise have remained entirely unknown to them. But they obeyed the instruction and accordingly awarded the honours.

(The [T] is from Kevin McGrane, some unusual style rather than "...there". I will make the change in a future quote.)
There is no evidence for these strings and instructions. And Cooper is building off his major previous blunder (error begets error), not realizing that Tischendorf had received lots of praise for the Codex Ephraimi Rescriptus deciphering.

The Tischendorf rise to special visits and accolades from the Vatican is a part of the mix, properly analyzed, but it is wrong to simply state a theory about specific events, with no evidence, as fact.


claims Tischendorf secret knowledge of information in a public report - p. 23-24

A learned Englishman, one of my friends, had been sent into the East by his Government to discover and purchase old Greek manuscripts [...] had not even gone so far as Sinai; "for," as he said in his official report, "after the visit of such an antiquarian and critic as Dr. Tischendorf, I could not expect any success."

Tischendorf fails to mention by what strange chance he was able to pry into official British government reports from which he could lift this fortuitous quote.

And Kevin shows that the last two quotes related to a public report of Henry O. Coxe.


A look at Codex Vaticanus - p. 25 section


no doubt, shadow of a doubt, presents theories without tangible evidence as fact

when Dr. Cooper states that at Tischendorf's papal audience The Jesuits no doubt reminded the pope that the object of the exercise challenge the Textus Recqitus' (p.23)

Likewise he states that Codex Vaticanus 'was composed in Rome by forgers...doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475' (p.25).

There are many cases where Cooper uses this faux wording on issues where he does not present any real evidence, or his evidence is easily refuted. Kevin McGrane is absolutely correct in pointing it out as non-scholarship.


Vaticanus as a mediaeval production - p. 25-26

Codex Vaticanus 'was composed in Rome by forgers...doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475' (p.25).

Worse still, Dr Cooper misleads his readers (p.23) in claiming that Vaticanus was a late mediaeval production on grounds that

Its first mention occurs in the Vatican Library Catalogue of 1475 (in which it is given the shelf number 1209) and then in the Catalogue of 1481...all of which is more than a thousand years after its alleged composition... didn't come to light until 1475 when it was 'discovered' lying on a shelf in the Vatican Library.

Dr Cooper's assertion, therefore, that in 1475, Codex Vaticanus 'had strangely eluded the eye of every Vatican librarian for more than a thousand years past' (p.25) is as anachronistic as it is absurd.

The first Cooper quote is so important it should have been given in full, rather than with ... . In the next section I note a rather incredible blunder by Cooper about the Vulgate history. Here is his fuller quote.

Codex Vaticanus ... was composed in Rome by forgers brought up in the Vulgate tradition, and hence of Vulgate habits and usages, doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475.

After referring to the Vaticanus Library issues, which can be considered an anachronistic argument from Cooper:

Dr Cooper's assertion, therefore, that in 1475, Codex Vaticanus 'had strangely eluded the eye of every Vatican librarian for more than a thousand years past' (p.25) is as anachronistic as it is absurd.

On p. 25 Kevin gives a history of how the development of the Vatican library in the 1400s.

Kevin refers to "Other anachronisms abound" p. 26, yet gives only one:

'the Jesuit Cardinal Mai',

This criticism is dubious , as you can see in this article, which allows the inclusion of those who officially left the Jesuits before taking their position:

Jesuits in the Hierarchy

It would be different in the case of Jerry Brown, "Jesuit-educated" would be correct. However, when someone is still in the rcc hierarchy, they generally can still be referred to as Jesuit, much like President Reagan is no longer actually President.


Ending of Mark omitted from Vaticanus in modern times - p. 26-29

This might be the very worse blunder from Cooper, but we will find some competition.

Without a doubt, this forged insertion [of a different ending to Mark 16, without vv.9-20] into the text of both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus was instigated by Cardinal Mai. He it was who was responsible for seeing the Vaticanus facsimile though the press in 1857.

... the verses Mark 16:9-20 were removed from Vaticanus by Cardinal Mai in 1857. p. 26

And I have covered this Cooper blunder on the Mark ending extensively, on PBF as well as Facebook. Kevin McGrane adds additional information, including more detail from the Andreas Birch edition.

This next blunder is even worse than it seems, since a "shared scribe" would obviously be a heavy blow to any theory of 1840 creation of Sinaiticus.


shared scribe of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus - p. 30-34

Here Kevin McGrane does a good job in giving the history details and disassembling various errors and blunders from William Cooper.

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Steven Avery

even more Cooper and Sorenson errors not given by Kevin McGrane

This will be the sister post to the one above.

Here is one just noted on Oct. 24, 2018 (And I will double-check McGrane)

In Cooper's list of Spyridon Lamprou entries involving Simonides, Kallinikos and Benedict, Cooper has one for the Shepherd of Hermas involving Simonides. This is actually an entry regarding the later German published editions. Oops. And I may add the actual picture from Cooper and what the entry actually says.
from memory wip

Cooper messed up:


the Hendrickson/BL comparison to the CSP.

the proposed colour adjustment history

(Why not mentioned by Kevin?)

Sorenson - drop caps

Since AD 383 when Pope Damasus ordereed its publication, no Bible version or translation other than Jerome's Vulgate was allowed to be consulted or referred to or even read on pain of death! This ban on all other translations of the Bible was reinforced by the Council of Trent of 1546, and again enforced by Clement VIII in 1592. p. 23
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Steven Avery

photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration

Which Photographic facsimile ?

Introduction p. 3 ....

Scholars have been unable easily to compare the state of the various parts of the Codex Sinaiticus manuscript held in Leipzig, London, St Petersburg, and Sinai, all the more so since photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration, minimizing their differences and obviating colour comparison. A photographic facsimile has very recently been completed in colour by the Codex Sinaiticus Project, so that all the parts can be seen, and compared, but unfortunately the colours are not uniformly represented on their website so the effect is very misleading, and direct visual colour comparisons from the website are invalid. Some differences in physical condition between the leaves recovered in 1844,1859, and 1975, and the fragments recovered at various times, can nevertheless be seen, and this elicits questions to which convincing answers—especially of any treatment applied to the Leipzig leaves—would be welcome.

Scholars have been unable easily to compare the state of the various parts of the Codex Sinaiticus manuscript held in Leipzig, London, St Petersburg, and Sinai, all the more so since photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration, minimizing their differences and obviating colour comparison. - Introduction p.3

Here we need exact information.
As with the list of palaeographers .. nothing!

Which ones? Why?


We have emphasized this point. And this is, from memory, messed up completely from top to bottom by Bill Cooper, who actually lauds the 2011-2012 Hendrickson/BritishLibrary publication over the CSP.
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Steven Avery

is the ad hominem component relevant to the Sinaiticus authenticity question? - emphasis on Jonas King, 1846

In the Preface:

a particularly repugnant aspect of the thesis is its reliance upon the false testimony of a notorious fraudster and perjurer who gloried in his role of viciously persecuting the Protestant Reformed cause, and shrank not from attempting to destroy the lives and reputations of the saints

And I would call this the "drama queen" argument.

To a large extent, this is simply a diversion red herring.

The participation of Simonides in the creation of a replica or forgery text in Mt. Athos c. 1839-1840 stands or falls on the evidences, not e.g. how Simonides behaved years later in the Jonas King affair. In fact, being a part of creating a terrible manuscript that has fooled millions is no laurel.

In fact, in a sense you can consider chicanery in manuscripts from Simonides as a possible qualification, or credential, as pointed out by Charles Van der Pool.

Lastly I find it somewhat comical that the charge against a forger was that he was convicted of forgery...that would seem to be more of a proof of his “credentials” ..

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Translator’s Note
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Steven Avery

Tischendorf's 1844 theft of 43 leaves and the Uspensky material - p. 35-41

Kevin McGrane agrees with the SART team on the most basic issue - Tischendorf stole the 43 leaves, the five quires plus 3 contiguous leaves. (our discussions and Kevin indicates this will be in the 3 Constantines book.) And Tischendorf lied about what happened in 1844, as Kevin writes here:

His much later account of his discovery, which appeared in 1860, is a tale that appears to have developed somewhat apart from the truth, and continued to be embellished in the telling throughout the following decade.

PBF has a lot of the info here:

1844 saved from burning myth - "ich bin in den Besitzgelangt von"

And if I add extra details from Kevin McGrane, the source will be given. (An area where Kevin McGrane was often lax, such as our finding and having translated into English the Uspensky 1856 book material. Since Kevin took an “attack” approach to the SART team research, he studiously avoided acknowledging any places where he works with our writings, web page, or David’s videos.)


Overall, we had Uspensky material from his 1856 and 1857 books translated, Kevin adds more from his later 4-volume autobiography and an article or book he did on the manuscripts at the Sinai monastery. Footnote 62 on p. 40 is quite helpful.

Uspensky footnote 60.jpg

82 A great deal was never published, but is extant. For example, see Uspensky's 132pp manuscript

Замечательные рукописи в библиотеках Синайского монастыря и а архиепископских кельях там

['Wonderful manuscripts in the libraries of the Sinai monastery and in the Archbishop's cells there'] - Google

in the Uspensky collection at the Imperial Academy of Sciences, Ns 136.1. Pages 3-22 are dedicated to Codex Sinaiticus. That Uspensky took vast notes of readings and collations on his 1845 and 1850 visits is also evident from his published detailed treatment of it setting out the grounds for its being a production of heterodoxy, in his

Мнение о синайской рукописи, содержащей в себе Ветхий Завет неполный, и весь Новый Завет с посланием святого апостола Варнавы и книгой Ермы. (St Petersburg, 1862),

The opinion about the Sinai manuscript containing the Old Testament in itself is incomplete, and the whole New Testament with the message of the holy Apostle Barnabas and the book of Hermas - Google with Hermas tweak

which was published before Tischendorf's facsimile edition was available for consultation.

One might wonder why Uspensky's account of his 1845 visit, which has quite a few pages on Codex Sinaiticus, took a decade to get to press. One of the reasons was his onerous workload and travelling. Another was the heavy hand of the censor. The original draft of Uspensky's account of his 1845 visit and examination of Codex Sinaiticus is extant, and reveals plenty of red ink of the censor on it. (Donated to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Uspensky's will). It was not passed by the censor publication until 1856, as also was the account of his 1850 visit. - p. 40

The material here will be integrated with:

Porfiry Uspensky views Sinaiticus in 1845 and 1850

Same book, different font:

Второе путешествіе архимандрита Порфирія Успенскаго в Синайскій монастырь в 1850 году (NOVIEW)

Also the 4-volume autobiography:

Kniga bytiia moego: Dnevniki I avtobiografickeskiia zapiski - or
Книга бытия моего. Дневники и автобиографические записки епископа Порфирия Успенского.
(and perhaps additional spots.


Analyzing Uspensky in more depth will take some time, and I will plan to come back to this section after the second pass of reading and notes is completed. Also the information above is a bit limited, and hopefully more will be published in McGrane's forthcoming monograph. One key question, did Uspensky see the manuscript after 1850? And if so, under what circumstances. My understanding is that by that time, while a critic of Sinaiticus doctrinally, he was back to being friendly with Tischendorf. (They both rightly today should be understood as rather prodigious manuscript theives, so that could provide some honour between the two.)


On p. 41 we have the first note in the book that actually might relate to SART team material.

Uspensky is an important witness against Dr Cooper's thesis, since he made detailed examination in 1845 of exactly what Tischendorf removed in 1859. Moreover, Uspensky wrote a great deal about Codex Sinaiticus in the 1860s after its arrival in St Petersburg 83 but there is no hint that the Codex had undergone any significant change over the 20 years that he had been familiar with it.

83 Uspensky arrived in St Petersburg in 1861 and was there for some years.

Note that while Kevin talks about the notes made by Uspensky about the manuscript, he also talks about the inaccessibility of the manuscript in Russia after it arrived in 1859, locked up in the Tsar's vault.

So it is unclear whether Uspensky saw the manuscript in Russia. And if he would have cared about the staining and colour issues if he did see the manuscript. (Often, he cooperated with Tischendorf.)

So far, there is no specific error by anybody (not even Bill Cooper) in this area, just some differences in analysis.
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Steven Avery

Tischendorf's 1859 visit to St Catherine's monastery - p. 41-45

p. 41 has a few interesting points, however, first, watch the footnote

83 Uspensky arrived in St Petersburg in 1861 and was there for some years.

By this time, the Sinaiticus ms. was said to be locked in the Tsar's vault. So it may well be that Uspensky never saw the ms. after 1850. Which would make the oddball colouring and staining and streaking quite invisible to Uspensky.


After that we have some unfair criticism of Cooper's statement, which is built upon the supposed ignorance of Tischendorf himself (and we should note that the more germane information supplied by Kevin took some digging out on his end) :

Tischendorf claimed that in 1859 he was sent to Sinai to search for such a manuscript by Tsar Nicholas I. How did it become known to the Tsar, and through whom, that such a manuscript was now available in such a remote and inaccessible part of the world? - p. 35

Quite how the Tsar became blessed with this knowledge we do not know...We may wonder at the strange importance that Codex Sinaiticus had taken on for a Russian Tsar who'd never even seen or heard of it before. And who, I wonder, told him of its existence? p. 77

It is a fair question, especially if you accept the Tischendorf claim that it was all a red cloth surprise.

In response, Kevin McGrane first gives Tregelles in 1860 and the Clerical Journal of 1862 and Scrivener in 1864 discussing the Uspensky publication, after Sinaiticus had become a cause célèbre in 1859. Since Kevin is so attune to potential anachronisms, he should apply the concern to his 1860-1864 references here.

If Tischendorf did not know about the Uspensky publication en route to Sinai, and did not know quite full details about the manuscript, including the New Testament and Hermas and Barnabas, then it is a fair question to ask about the Tsar's knowledge.

Kevin McGrane then goes into a Tischendorf memorandum to the Russian ambassador in Dresden to go to Avraam Norov, the Russian Minister of Education. And then Kevin goes into contact with Uspensky on the Russian side, which is more germane. Yet even there, we have the curiousity of Uspensky referring to trying to acquire for reproduction:

"(for example, the fifth century Sinaitic text of the Septuagint)" p. 44

McGrane claims:

However, the Russian authorities had rather more in mind than temporarily borrowing the Codex for academic use. The Russians ... agreed to engage the Saxon foreigner to do the deed of extracting the Codex for Russia, whilst keeping him entirely in the dark about the Russian government's knowledge and intentions so as not to take the wind out of his sails.

However, Kevin gives no documents saying that they would countenance theft, or phony borrowing, or even that they would be adverse to a temporary receiving of a major manuscript. In fact, he offers a quote from Uspensky, given by Sevcenko 1964 (online) citing Bezobrazov 1910, that directly contradicts what Kevin McGrane is saying about Russian intentions:

Is it not fairer to equip these chosen [scholars] with the written permission of the mentioned hierarchs to take from the monasteries the most important manuscripts (for example, the fifth century Sinaitic text of the Septuagint) not permanently, but for a limited period for the reproduction of those ancient texts, and to take them under the guarantee of our mission to Constantinople and the local consuls with the promise to return them to their places, and not without recompence?93 p. 44

Nor does Kevin demonstrate that the Russians kept Tischendorf in the dark.

The problem here is that Kevin is building partly on the Tischendorf red cloth surprise, which I like to call the red cloth fabric-ation. Yet, ironically, Kevin indicates in our discussion that he believes that Tischendorf knew about the New Testament, which will be in his forthcoming monograph. So his own position is a rather sticky-wicket hybrid (Tischendorf knew about the New Testament, but not Barnabas and Hermas ????), and his comments above include his own conjectures, given without factual support. We know that Bill Cooper does that frequently, but we also see this from Kevin McGrane.

We look forward to his monograph, to see how it handles these difficulties.

(My personal view is that Tischendorf knew all about the New Testament, Hermas and Barnabas when he was en route to Sinai, and that he knew about the concern about Simonides having been involved in the creation of the ms. at Athos. See the reference to Simonides in his Jan, 1859 letter to his wife.)


Ironically, Kevin uses the same thief's wording as we saw from the pen of Tischendorf to his brother Julius in 1844:

On this his third visit to St Catherine's monastery, Tischendorf came into possession of 347 leaves of the codex from which he had previously carried away 43 leaves. p. 45

And Kevin does not mention the alternate explanation of direct theft in 1859. With Tischendorf using liquor ("Prince Regent") and then rushing the manuscript from Sinai to Cairo, as given by William George Thorpe. Followed by negotiations and a cover story and documents for the public and administrative consumption.


One last comment from Kevin McGrane in this section should be noted:

97 We cannot fail to note the deep irony that Simonides wove into the fabric of his story that he had written the codex to be a wonderful present for the Tsar. - p. 45

However, Kevin omits the backdrop involving the learned Benedict, the fact that the monastery did have solid Russian contacts, and the precise reasons given involving a printing press, which all fits the tenor of the times. There is no "deep irony" involved, allowing that the minor symmetry is legitimate to be noted.
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Steven Avery

is the Jesuit conspiracy theory viable after you discount the Bill Cooper errors?

Kevin McGrane does not really go into the evidences that are presented by Bill Cooper. Which often revolve around the slavish Vatican approach to Tischendorf.

The fact that Bill Cooper makes some major errors does not falsify the basic underlying theory.

As an analogy, AV defenders often make errors of fact and theory, such as the way the "two streams" theory is presented. This does give a big knock to "two streams" but it does not falsify the AV pure and perfect approach.

In this thread, we will try to do a more even-handed approach to the Cooper Chapter 3.
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Steven Avery

Conclusions: why would a 600 AD Sinaiticus be linked to a "fourth century component"?


The theory of Kevin McGrane tends to a later Sinaiticus than the one accepted today as 4th century.

There is a curious point on this, however. I am using the classical ad hominem approach, allowing his arguments, "to the man":

If Donaldson is correct on these points, then as the Palatine Latin translation is fifth Century and the Greek may be post-fifth Century then a sixth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus is consistent with these findings. This aligns with Uspensky's mature view that the Codex is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century exemplar of the New Testament. Added to this, then, were Contemporary (sixth Century) recensions of Hermas and Barnabas with Latin influences from the fifth Century. None of this points to a nineteenth Century production.

... However, the alternative of a fourth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus does not follow from rejection of Dr Cooper's thesis. Important scholars have considered that it is a production of the fifth or sixth Century of a fourth Century exemplar. But whether it is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century edition or an edition made in the fourth Century, there is an important fourth Century component, in a time when the Church was fighting for its life during the Arian controversies, from which there is ample testimony of the corruption of the Scriptures by the Arians.

Lets say that Sinaiticus was made in 600 AD (e.g. David Trobisch has floated that idea.) It would be a relatively unimportant uncial, and that would mean that the textual world was even that much more duped by Hort.

However, why all the blah-blah to the supposed "fourth Century component"? Codex Bezae could be said to have a "second century component" in Old Latin sources, but that is simply conjecture and has very little to do with its textual value.

If Sinaiticus was made at 600 AD., it could easily have lots of variants and corruptions that come from .. 600 AD. The supposed "fourth century component" would be nothing but conjectural manipulations, of very little value.

The preface reference:

The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well.
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Steven Avery

the Jesuit conspiracy question - Kevin McGrane proposes that Simonides would have been murdered

Jesuit conspiracy?

The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well. Introduction - p. 2

Much of p. 6-14 is around Cooper and the question of conspiracy.

Some of the McGrane counter-conjecture goes a little wild, like in p. 9 where he implies that the Jesuits would have murdered principles.

Surely a Jesuitical plot backed by the full panoply of the Roman Church would have avoided all the aforementioned problems of interaction and discovery by having Simonides come by an unfortunate 'accident' shortly after delivery of his codex, since he would have been useful only up to that point, and become a total liability to the success of the plot afterwards as a potential whistleblower who knew far too much. Yet he lived and travelled throughout Europe and the Ottoman and Russian empires after his alleged delivery of the codex in August 1840 until his death in Albania in 1890, aged about 65.

The SART team avoids the dogmatic statements made by Cooper. There is simply too much unknown.

Yet, it is ironic that Kevin McGrane's attack on the Cooper theories is essentially a one-up-man-ship theory about the conspiracy theory! Written in the Bill Cooper style. "Surely... unfortunate 'accident" Why wasn't Simonides murdered? This is a bit humorous.
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Steven Avery

The 1975 'New Finds' - p. 46

Dr Cooper quotes a 1987 report by Moshe Altbauer (who had been working there since 1968) that access to the room in which they were found became inaccessible 'about 150 years ago'. Calculating back from this date to around 1837 piques Dr Cooper's suspicion of a conspiracy (p.75):

Learning that the room was about to be sealed along with a chest full of manuscripts, did Tischendorf place the Sinaiticus leaves there, leaves which he thought might compromise his later claims for the antiquity of Sinaiticus? It is likely, very likely indeed.

Kevin artfully ignores the problems that Hermas posed for Tischendorf, that strongly support this conjecture from Cooper. (Also, potentially, Genesis 23.) Later, I will go back and see if Cooper gives that context, which is covered in depth by David W. Daniels and the writing on this forum.

In response, we get a grab bag of dates from Kevin McGrane that are meant to appear to be a refutation of what was written by Bill Cooper. And the dates directly contradict Kevin's claim, here is one example:

100 n.n. Ambraseys et at, The Seismicity of Egypt, Arabia and the Red Sea (Cambridge, 2005): 'c. 1839. Sinai. Rabino refers to the repairs of the fortification wall of St Catherine's monastery in Sinai during this year, following an earthquake that caused them some damage. Repairs to the 'museum' building in c.1840 are also mentioned. [Grigoriadis (1875), p.48; Rabino (1937), p.25; Ben-Manahem (1979), p.258].' This is confirmed by A. A. Umanets, who records that during his visit of 1843 he was informed that a recent earthquake had damaged the north-east wall such that it threatened to collapse, and repairs had been done at the monastery's expense.

Trip to Sinai. With the introduction of passages about Egypt and the Holy Land
Поездка на Синай. C приобщением отрывков о Египте и Святой Земле
(St Petersburg, 1850).
Уманец А.

A wall that was threatening to collapse in 1843, and that had received repairs, could easily have been accessible for decades.

So Kevin McGrane was just winging it in claiming:

...this storeroom on the fortification wall became inaccessible due to its collapse in the Sinai earthquake of 1839.

Note that Kevin is trying to falsely imply that the storeroom was inaccessible in 1839, and most readers of his paper will likely not read more carefully.

Now, to be fair, it is unlikely that Tischendorf, or his allies, would have deliberately mangled Hermas until 1855, the year of the first Simonides Hermas publication. The publication of Hermas, however, caused him enormous difficulties, and this is (to be checked) never mentioned by Kevin. And as is shown above, access in the 1850s is definitely not negated by the sources given by Kevin McGrane, not in the paragraph above, or the additional material from Uspensky.


Incidentally, in discussing Uspensky, Kevin never points out that Uspensky did not indicate Hermas as partial. It would be interesting to see if Hermas comes up after the 1856-57 books of Uspensky. Uspensky almost surely saw all of Hermas in 1845 and 1850, else he would have indicated something like "the beginning of Hermas".

Why did Uspensky not raise an issue about this later? Perhaps he thought that some loss at the monastery of auxiliary, non-NT, material was not such a big deal, and could have been caused in a number of ways. Uspensky would not be anxious to accuse Tischendorf without direct evidence. In fact, they often assisted one another, such as when Tischendorf published Uspensky material.
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Steven Avery

materials analysis - Leipzig had planned tests !

Determining genuineness by materials analysis

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 they were submitted for radiocarbon dating in 1950 to establish their antiquity. Researchers also analysed their ink composition using a cyclotron particle accelerator, performed DNA testing on the parchment (animal hide), particle-induced X-ray emissions testing, and broadband fluorescence infrared photography.

Unlike the case of other manuscripts where palaeography alone failed to distinguish between the genuine and the fake, yet chemical and physical analysis finally confirmed modern forgery, no museum has shown any inclination to perform similar analyses on Codex Sinaiticus - or Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and papyri such as P46 for that matter.

However, the Leipzig University Library had planned tests on Sinaiticus in 2015. McGrave omits this, even though the tests were planned by the prestigious BAM of Berlin, who did the very same DSS tests he references!

The tests were cancelled. Why? The most sensible conjecture is that word was getting out that the tests might show Sinaiticus to be of recent vintage. The people in the museums know of the "phenomenally good condition" and the colour variances and other concerns.

The aforementioned private correspondence with the British Library put the matter clearly with regard to radiocarbon dating: it has no plans to perform C14 dating of Codex Sinaiticus, nor has it done any in the past. Additionally, the Codex Sinaiticus Project, which brings together the work of the four museums that house parts of the codex, confirms that no chemical analysis has been performed on the inks:

The Codex Sinaiticus inks have never been chemically characterized, and the type and proportions of ingredients mixed together have never been determined. Therefore, the composition of the writing media can only be roughly guessed by observing their visible characteristics and their degradation patterns.5
This is remarkable considering the case of Gregory-Aland Codex 2427 formerly known as 'Archaic Mark' whose text is extremely similar to Codex Vaticanus, a matter that is touched upon briefly and relevantly by Dr Cooper in respect of chemical analysis (although he makes a grave error in relation to Vaticanus as is noted below). Codex 2427 was highly esteemed by T.C. Skeat, palaeographer at the British Museum, and by Kurt Aland, whose work on the Greek New Testament text forms the basis for most modern translations. However, its genuineness was completely undermined in 2006 when its text was demonstrated slavishly to follow Buttmann's 1860 typographical facsimile of Vaticanus, including its mistakes, and it was confirmed in 2009 by chemical analysis that it is a forgery of later than 1874 since one of the inks used in its production was not marketed until that year.

A similar example (relevant to this review since Dr Cooper believes that Codex Sinaiticus was written in 1840 by Simonides) is recounted in the newspaper obituary of Constantine Simonides:

Simonides, the notorious Greek manuscript forger.. .had a most remarkable career, and as a forger of Egyptian and Syrian antiquities he stands without an equal. Among his exploits was the presentation to a committee of scholars of a manuscript of Homer...anterior to the Christian era. Eleven of the 12 members of the committee were convinced of the authenticity of the document, but the twelfth discovered that it was a faithful copy of the text of Homer as published by the German critic Wolff, and that the manuscript reproduced the whole of the printer's errors in this edition...Several of the greatest scholars of Europe were, indeed, deceived by the forgeries of this astute Greek.6

These embarrassing debacles underscore that through over-reliance on palaeography it really is possible to fool almost all of the people all of the time.

6 The Times, October 18, 1890. - p. 4-5
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Steven Avery

comparative theories - The Inference to the Best Explanation - begging the question - circular reasoning

On p. 12 Kevin McGrane attacks the "beg the question" and circular reasoning approach of Bill Cooper. It is clearly a reasonable attack contra Cooper, and has nothing to do with our approach.

Kevin is also offering a rather facile approach to:

The Inference to the Best Explanation
given by Harman in 1965 the Philosophical Review.

In general, there will be several hypotheses which might explain the evidence, so one must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a "better" explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true...When a detective puts the evidence together.. .he is reasoning that no other explanation which accounts for all the facts is plausible enough or simple enough to be accepted.14

As we shall see in abundance, Dr Cooper's method, rather than of inference to the best explanation, moves from his chosen explanation to inference: his desired explanation drives all the inferences.

14 Harman, The Inference to the Best Explanation. Philosophical Review 74: 88-95 (1965).

Thus here is where McGrane has one of his two major integrity fails, jumping off to attacking others for faults he understandably perceives in Cooper, part of his transference fallacy and false accusation methodology covered in posts 2-3 here.

One irony is that McGrane's analysis often suffers from the same faults, in the opposite direction.

On the philosophical level, we see that what McGrave is offering is rather facile.

Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation
edited by Kevin McCain, Ted Poston
Inference to the Best Explanation
What Is It? And Why Should We Care?
Igor Douven

As other commentators have remarked, these and other formulations of IBE raise several questions of clarification, most notably, the question of how to determine which of a number of competing explanations is best. And should we really infer to the best explanation no matter how poorly it might explain the relevant facts, as some of the formulations seem to imply? This apparent problem is avoided by Musgraves version, which requires that the explanation be satisfactory to begin with (see in the same vein Lipton [1993]), but then Musgrave is silent on what it takes for an explanation to qualify as satisfactory. ... (continues)

Igor Douven explains some of what is wrong with overly simplified attempts to use this philosophical construct.

However, this discussion can give us a good jumping off point for discussing the comparative theories.
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