Revisiting the Date of Codex Sinaiticus - Brent Nongbri

Steven Avery

Administrator
Some thoughts!
Used in some of the posts on Facebook

Fascinating.

And it is unclear why the emphasis would be simply radiocarbon. The group BAM, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung under Dr. Ira Rabin in Berlin has a far wider range of testing analysis techniques for parchment and ink, and even experience on the DSS. They had been scheduled to test the Leipzig Sinaiticus pages in 2015, until the tests were cancelled.

As for the results above, it will be very interesting to see how they get a terminus ante quem in the 500s. Hilgenfeld was about 600, and the early date was only the result of Tischendorf directing people to use his facsimile and analysis. Why not a terminus ante quem of 1840? Based on the many evidences of Mount Athos creation involving Constantine Simonides.

And does this discussion go into ink, stain and colour anomalies and the "phenomenally good condition" (Helen Shenton, British Library) of the manuscript, and the easy-peasy page turning that can be seen in video? Or is the discussion essentially script-based, which would be a very limited palaeography, since any script can be easily copied into a future replica or forgery.


Thanks!
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Society of New Testament Study
https://www.facebook.com/groups/153.../264238287033388/?comment_id=1743486589108543

Brad Cooper What exactly is the question? The differences could easily be accounted for in the different environments that they were stored in during those intervening years.
Steven Avery
I will put the questions in three general areas.

#1 is the "phenomenally good condition" (Helen Shenton, British Library) of the manuscript, parchment and ink. You can see that in two videos, one recent from the BBC, and an earlier one from 1930s. Also you can see the super-ink on the pages that I call "palaeographic puzzles." e.g. 1800s ink next to supposed 300s.

1500 years, supposedly, dried out in the hot desert sun, used century upon century -- yet today we have easy-peasy page turning of this "ancient" parchment.

And the experts never offered anything remotely similar.

#2 is the question of:

Leipzig (1844) being white parchment and unstained, and consistent leaf after leaf, while

British Library (1859) being stained, uneven, and darker, every leaf.

There has been no theory offered to mach . Maybe the Russians were avid coffee drinkers and kept spilling on the manuscript? Imho, that is the BEST possible theory that could match authenticity. The two libraries have offered no sensible handling scenarios. Even when the British Library acknowledged the manuscript section differences, it was all left up in the air. |

(Remember, coffee stains did get on some of the DSS, but this would be a massive amount of spillage :) )

One theory does match the evidence.

1844 Leipzig was taken out without any tampering.

1859 British Library (formerly St. Petersburg) had a major staining job done. At the monastery, and perhaps also a bit in Cairo in the strange months of 1859. It was done a bit amateruishly, thus the uneven results.

Chemical and related tests would blow the whistle, but nothing has ever been done, on either section. The tests planned in Leipzig 2015 by the Berlin scientists at BAM were cancelled.

#3
is in some ways the most fascinating, what we can call the historical imperative.

After Simionides claimed that he was involved with the creation of Codex Simoneidos on Mount Athos, the controversies flared in the British Journals. Remember, Simomides has published the Greek Hermas a few years before the Sinaiticus Hermas, so his involvement was a real likelihood. This was too much of a "coincidence".

One element that came out was that Kallinikos and Simonides, at least three times, explained that Tischendorf had been involved with the colouring of the manuscript, that was taken out in 1859.

Today we can see that this claim matches 100% the actual differences between the smaller 1844 section and the larger British Library section.

Plus, made without observational evidence, this would have been a truly absurd claim, destroying his own position. If the colouring had not actually occurred, a simple manuscript observation would destroy the Simonides claim.

Tischendorf was, in fact, quite crafty. The two sections were far away from each other, access was very difficult, if not impossible. and he simply told people to use his wonderful facsimile edition instead.

Even now, 150 years later, there are many Tischendupes. :)

Steven Avery Overall, the evidence simply and strongly points to the conclusion that Sinaiticus is an 1800s creation.

Tests like those planned by BAM would help, however the libraries are unlikely to agree on any testing, since they are well aware of the problematic element of their prized possession. There would be a lot of egg on their face when any real tests are done. (And many of the best tests are non-destructive.)

The current textual crew is working with "deeply entrenched scholarship" that forces them to take a "circle the horses" approach.
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
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Thanks! Unclear why the emphasis is on radiocarbon dating. BAM, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung, Berlin under Dr. Ira Rabin has a wider range of testing analysis techniques, parchment & ink. Tests scheduled on the Leipzig Sinaiticus pages in 2015 were cancelled.

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Wed, July 1, 10am CET, TeTra Seminar paper on Zoom:

Brent Nongbri (MF Norwegian School of Theology)
"Revisiting the Date of Codex Sinaiticus"

To attend, feel free to contact:
dan.batovici@kuleuven.be or andy.hilkens@ugent.be

info - Pure Bible Forum
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Video Day

https://www.facebook.com/groups/purebible/permalink/3085213608237174/?comment_id=3094404003984801

The Zoom meeting starts in 15 minutes. If there are interesting points made, I will try to text them in here, and if others are listening they can text here as well.

The question was asked to Brent at the end what would prevent an 1840 terminus ante quem. My text was to Dan Batovici, and he passed it on.

=====================

Brent hesitated, and threw out the thought that the small cursive notes would be unlikely.

However, that seems quite speculative. You might find 1000 such notes on Athos.

(In fact, it is unclear whether the exemplars he offered for similar notes are the same tiny size.)

=====================

And that those who are studying Simonides papyri think it would be out of his competence range. He mentioned Rachel Yuen-Collingridge and another person.

They generally do not understand the historical component of the Athos group working on the manuscript. |

And how the attempt to make a box-script replica in Athos is easy-peasy compared to the papyri of 20 years later, if Simonides was playing around with Meyer blanks.

=====================

Basically, nothing precludes the 1840 terminus ante quem.

The best part of the talk was Dr. Ira Rabin. She confirmed what happened in Leipzig, adding more details. They were there, ready to go, and the testing was cancelled by the new head fella, who overruled two individuals who were ready to go. His out was "who will be responsible if something happens". Which is silly, since BAM has worked on mss. for a long time, including the DSS. Rabin gave the names.

And I had sent to Dan the information about their planned testing, and he "called on" Rabin, I did not know at that time she was there :) .

And she discussed a spectrographic analysis from the British Library that is not really usable.

She was spot-on, with passion about the road-blocks to testing.

She does not really understand that the reluctance of the libraries is largely connected to their realization that testing can show it to be a very new ms. 1840. A risk they are very reluctant to take.

I do not know if there will be a transcript, but if there is, that is main point of our interest.


The point from Brent was relatively minor to us, as was the call for radiocarbon dating.

He analyzed some of the arguments for 4th century and showed some flaws that would allow 5th century. This mostly involved the small cursives, which were being used.

He apparently did not know the history of the date discussions (Hilgenfeld, Uspensky) and that did not come up.

Some of the attendees pointed out the limitations of radiocarbon dating, and the advantages of full-orbed testing, like BAM.

Brent had worked out a schema where he actually thought C-14 testing would properly distinguish 350 from 450. All highly unlikely, even with a ms. that actually was ancient.
I did snap pictures of the stuff that Brent used.

And I put this up right away as a summary, to prevent memory fade.

Let's see what shows up on Brent's blog the next days, and any other blogs or forums.
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
From the Brent Nongbri talks, some of the more important ones, more later:
Two were too large, will change type later or skim edges.
Cursive Notes - Comparisons with Dated.png
Cursive Notes Samples in Sinaiticus.png
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
A New Article on the Date of Codex Sinaiticus
August 3, 2022 by Brent Nongbri
https://brentnongbri.com/2022/08/03/a-new-article-on-the-date-of-codex-sinaiticus/#comment-125917

August 5, 2022
Hi Professor Nongbri,

Thanks for keeping this Sinaiticus dating question on the front burner.

In your excellent Zoom conference on Sinaiticus on July 1, 2020, Dr. Ira Rabin of BAM (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing) in Berlin, a group with extensive manuscript testing background including the Dead Sea Scrolls, described, with some emotion, how they actually were prepared to do extensive testing of Sinaiticus in Leipzig in 2015.. They showed up to the Leipzig Library, and the tests were cancelled on that day they arrived ready to start the testing! BAM would go far more deeply into the manuscript and ink issues than simply radiocarbon analysis.

There are many palaeographic and historical puzzles in Sinaiticus that go far beyond the century script dating question you raise. And bring us right back to the controversies of the 1860s, involving Constantine Simonides and his Mt. Athos contingent c. 1840, and the highly dubious and even discredited Tischendorf 1844 and 1859 discovery claims.

However, this possibility has been a bit too hot to handle for the textual criticism establishment, and the libraries which clearly have their reputations at stake (to be fair, the British Library has made some pithy, helpful comments.). These groups seem to hold sway over what are considered proper Sinaiticus palaeographic questions, which should only be minor considerations. As one learned scholar stated:

"As for how we "know" Sinaiticus is from the 4th century, this is actually something I have wondered myself, but this dating seems too deeply entrenched in the scholarship of early Christianity to have a rational discussion about it.":

Hopefully some skilled palaeographic scholars, perhaps working with experts in replica and forgery analysis, will review these questions in the future, with a tabula rasa :) .

Thank you for your fine palaeographic studies!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator

The Date of Codex Sinaiticus​

Brent Nongbri
The Journal of Theological Studies, flac083,
Published: 30 July 2022
https://doi.org/10.1093/jts/flac083
https://academic.oup.com/jts/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jts/flac083/6652265

Abstract​

Codex Sinaiticus is generally described as one of ‘the great fourth century majuscule Bibles’, and its construction is often assigned to a more precise date in the middle of the fourth century. This essay surveys the evidence for the date of production of the codex and concludes that it could have been produced at any point from the early fourth century to the early fifth century. This time span may seem uncomfortably wide, but this particular range of dates makes Codex Sinaiticus an ideal candidate for AMS radiocarbon analysis. The shape of the radiocarbon calibration curve during this period means that a well-executed radiocarbon analysis of the codex should have the potential to shed further light on the date the codex was produced.

Issue Section:
Article

1. Introduction​

Along with Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, Codex Sinaiticus is generally described as the most ancient surviving basically ‘complete’ Christian Bible.1 Both codices are written in textbook examples of the ‘Biblical Majuscule’ script, and both are typically assigned by scholars to the fourth century, usually near the middle of the century.2 This dating represents a consensus reached about a century ago, after a period when opinions about the age of Codex Sinaiticus varied somewhat.
When Constantine Tischendorf presented the first leaves of Codex Sinaiticus to the world in 1846, he described them as a product of the middle of the fourth century.3 When he later gained access to the bulk of the remaining leaves of the codex, Tischendorf identified the work of four discreet copyists in the original text of the codex (scribes A, B, C, and D).4 In addition, he identified a number of correctors, judging some of the corrections as contemporary with the production of the codex and others rather later.5 He maintained a date for the production of the codex in the fourth century while allowing some leeway on whether it should be assigned to the first or second half of the century.6
Some prominent authorities at the time assented to Tischendorf’s date.7 Yet, the view was not immediately embraced by all. We may set aside as unfounded the claims of modern forgery made by Tischendorf’s contemporary and nemesis, Constantine Simonides, and turn to the noted palaeographers who expressed opinions in the coming years and decades.8 In 1893, Edward Maunde Thompson, principal librarian of the British Museum, pronounced that the copying of Sinaiticus ‘may be placed early in the fifth century’.9 By 1912, he had revised his opinion: ‘The period of the manuscript may be the latter part of the fourth century’.10 There is a record of Harold Idris Bell offhandedly referring to Sinaiticus as ‘early fifth century’ in 1909.11 At about the same time, the papyrologist Arthur S. Hunt inclined toward an earlier date. Kirsopp Lake cited him in the introduction to his photographic facsimile of Sinaiticus: ‘Dr. Hunt, indeed, expressed the view that if it had not been for the evidence of the Eusebian apparatus he should have not regarded the third century as an impossible date’.12 The most thorough students of the codex, H. J. M. Milne and Theodore C. Skeat, concluded that the codex was produced after the development of the Eusebian canon numbers but ‘before the middle of the [fourth] century’.13
This dating of the codex near the middle of the fourth century is now customary. In fact, the writing of Codex Sinaiticus is now usually regarded as a relatively fixed point in the chronological development of the ‘Biblical Majuscule’ script. Colin H. Roberts included it in his list of securely datable samples of Greek handwriting in his Greek Literary Hands (1956) with a suitably broad date of ‘fourth century’ on the basis of three relatively objective criteria, which will be outlined in detail below.14 In 1967, Guglielmo Cavallo argued for a much more precise date ‘of about 360, or just a few years later’ on the basis of his view of the position of the handwriting of Sinaiticus in the evolution of the Biblical Majuscule script.15 Theodore Skeat, on the other hand, has argued more recently that Codex Sinaiticus (and Codex Vaticanus) can be dated just as precisely, but to a period some thirty years earlier (just after 330) because he regarded these codices as examples of the books that the emperor Constantine ordered Eusebius of Caesarea to produce (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 4.36).16
The arguments of Roberts, Cavallo, and Skeat represent three distinct methods for assigning a date to Codex Sinaiticus—the use of relatively objective criteria presented by Roberts (to be discussed in detail below), the use of a framework of palaeographic development argued by Cavallo, and Skeat’s proposed matching of surviving ancient artifacts with objects mentioned in a literary account. Of these three, the approach of Roberts is far and away the least problematic.
Strong reasons exist for being skeptical of using a framework of linear palaeographic development to provide precise dates for Greek manuscripts of the Roman era in general and for the ‘Biblical Majuscule’ specifically. As Timothy Janz has pointed out, ‘It is notable that Cavallo’s entire reconstruction of the “formation” of the canon [of the Biblical Majuscule] is not, and cannot be, corroborated by any objective evidence, due to the lack of dated exemplars’.17 The particular case of Codex Sinaiticus with its multiple copyists highlights the problem with attributing too much chronological value to minute graphic differences in scripts, as Milne and Skeat remark: ‘The dangers of judging age on grounds of style are nowhere better illustrated than in the Sinaiticus itself, where the hands of scribes A and B present a markedly more archaic appearance than that of scribe D; did we not know that all three were contemporary, D might well have been judged half a century later than A and B’.18 This striking observation is a reminder that we should be suspicious when high-precision dates for this type of writing are proposed based only on palaeography.
Skeat’s more recent historical arguments that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus were among the books produced in response to Constantine’s order to Eusebius have been cautiously accepted in some quarters.19 Yet, his case is far from compelling and is open to question from many angles. To name just one especially salient objection, Harry Gamble has pointed out that the contents of neither Sinaiticus nor Vaticanus match the list of acknowledged ‘New Testament’ writings outlined by Eusebius.20 This point alone casts doubt upon the cogency of Skeat’s historical argument, and D. C. Parker has raised several additional objections to Skeat’s reasoning.21
Only the methodology of Roberts can provide firmer ground for establishing a range of possible dates for the codex. Even here, however, we encounter some difficulties. This essay evaluates the ‘objective’ evidence for assigning a date to Codex Sinaiticus and suggests one possible way forward in the form of radiocarbon dating.

2. The ‘Objective’ Criteria for Dating Codex Sinaiticus​

To establish the ‘fourth century’ date, Roberts referred exclusively to the landmark study published by H. J. M. Milne and Theodore Skeat in 1938, Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus, which provides a detailed argument that Codex Sinaiticus was likely copied ‘before the middle of the [fourth] century.’ Here is how Roberts summarized their arguments in three points:
  • A terminus post of c. A.D. 300–40 is provided by the Eusebian sections.
  • Certain cursive notes, one of which can be seen in our plate (col. ii, l. 12), are in a distinctively fourth-century hand.
  • The system of representing numerals points to a fourth-century date. In this century the practice of representing, for example, 1,000 by a stroke below the letter A (/A) replaces the old system of putting a curl above the letter (). Milne and Skeat assign this change approximately to the years 338–60. As the codex was written to dictation and as it is certain that in some places in the exemplar the numerals were written out in full, the use of the old system is evidence of fourth-century date.22
Roberts thus provided a concise précis of the more ‘objective’ arguments for the date of the codex. In what follows, I will argue that point (a) is valid, point (c) is invalid, and point (b) is considerably more complicated than Roberts lets on. I will discuss the arguments in that order (a, c, b).
The terminus post quem mentioned by Roberts (the presence of the Eusebian canon and section numbers) is not controversial. The Eusebian apparatus as it appears in Sinaiticus has some anomalous features, but it seems almost certain that the Eusebian numbers were a part of the original production of the codex and not a later addition.23 The surviving evidence suggests that the Eusebian numbers were added after an early correction of the manuscript by scribe D but before the insertion of a replacement bifolium (again by scribe D) in the second quire of Matthew.24 The use of the canon and section numbers cannot predate their creation by Eusebius. The exact date that Eusebius developed and disseminated the system of canon and section numbers is not precisely known, but the terminus post quem of 300–340 offered by Roberts is reasonable.25
Less compelling is the argument that Roberts mentions in connection with changing customs of representing numerals. Roberts notes that over the course of the fourth century, one system of representing multiples of 1,000 with a curl () was replaced by a new system using a stroke (/A). Roberts concluded that ‘as the codex was written to dictation and as it is certain that in some places in the exemplar the numerals were written out in full, the use of the old system is evidence of fourth-century date’. There are at least two problems here. It will be useful to review what Milne and Skeat actually wrote in some detail:
The second point is the forms of certain numerals used in the text of 1 Maccabees. In the course of the fourth century the old method of representing the figures 1,000–9,000 by the ordinary cardinal numbers for 1–9 with a surmounting curl or crest (e.g. A͗ = 1,000, B͗ = 2,000, etc.) gradually went out of fashion, the curl being replaced by a simple slanting stroke to the left of the numeral (e.g. /A or /A = 1,000). … [Milne and Skeat then provide a table of dated papyri to show the window of dates for the shift.] From these data it can be seen that the change from the old to the new system took place about the years A.D. 338–60. In the Sinaiticus we still find the earlier system, B͑ in O.T. 47, col. 1, and Ͱ͑ in O.T. 43, col. 1, and 47, col. 1. All these occur in 1 Maccabees; elsewhere thousands are written out in words, as regularly in the Vaticanus. We may reasonably assume that in 1 Maccabees at least these numbers were represented by numerals in the exemplar, since this alone can explain the erroneous τρισχιλίους δέκα for ὀκτακισχιλίους in 1 Macc. v. 34 (i.e. Ͱ͑I for H͑), and the extraordinary series of numerals in 1 Macc. v. 20 quoted above (p. 57). It might in consequence be argued that the shapes of the numerals in the exemplar had influenced the copyist of the Sinaiticus. But now that we have shown that the manuscript was written from dictation, this possibility is all but excluded, and we can have confidence in the validity of the scribe’s own shapes as a criterion. If this is so, the Sinaiticus is not likely to be much later than about A.D. 360.26

First, as far as I can see, Milne and Skeat do not claim that ‘it is certain that in some places in the exemplar the numerals were written out in full’, as Roberts asserts. Rather, Milne and Skeat note that outside this small number of examples in 1 Maccabees, thousands are spelled out as words within Codex Sinaiticus itself. The fact that this older system using numerals with curls is present only in 1 Maccabees suggests that a copyist simply carried them over from an exemplar. Although Milne and Skeat mentioned this seemingly reasonable explanation, they rejected it because they believed that Codex Sinaiticus had been copied by dictation rather than sight.
This brings us to the second major problem. For the logic of Milne and Skeat’s argument about numerals to be convincing, it is necessary to assent that Sinaiticus was copied by dictation. But the argument of Milne and Skeat in favor of dictation has proven persuasive to almost nobody.27 Indeed, a recent article in the Journal of Biblical Literature has demonstrated that what Skeat regarded as ‘positive proof of dictation’ (the nonsense sequence of characters in 1 Macc. 5:20) was in fact based on a mistaken reading by Milne and Skeat.28 Barring some new and compelling evidence that Sinaiticus was copied by dictation, the argument about the orthography of numbers can carry no weight at all in the question of the date of the copying of the codex.
The other argument mentioned by Roberts, the presence of ‘certain cursive notes’ in ‘a distinctly fourth century hand’ also deserves more intensive scrutiny. Here is what Milne and Skeat say on the matter:
In the marginal additions made by scribe D while correcting the New Testament the directional signs are frequently supplemented with the words ανω and κατω, the former being placed in the lower margin and the latter opposite the place in the text (N.T. 2b, 66b, 73, 74, 80, 82, 92). These words are written in cursive script (no doubt to distinguish them from the text proper), and slender though the evidence of a few isolated words must be, they certainly belong to the fourth century, and probably the first half of it.29

In a footnote, Milne and Skeat dispute Tischendorf’s identification of the writer of these ‘cursive’ words and offer their own attribution:
These are attributed by Tischendorf (Prolegomena, p. 9*) to the corrector Ba, but identity of ink and the fact that they accompany only corrections by D make it certain that they are from his hand. One isolated example of κατ(ω) by scribe A is on NT 40b.30

Thus, in seven instances these ‘cursive’ notes accompany corrections by scribe D, and in one instance they are found with a correction by scribe A. The identification of this ‘cursive’ hand with that of scribe D is made by ‘identity of ink’ used for the corrections by scribe D and the ‘cursive’ notes.31 The question, then, is this: Can these notes be assigned with confidence to the fourth century or even more narrowly to the first half of the fourth century? Before answering these questions it is important to get a sense of the size of these notes relative to the writing of the text block in Codex Sinaiticus (see Fig. 1):

Fig. 1.
Samples of ‘cursive’ writing in Codex Sinaiticus in context marking an insertion before Gal. 2:8, at quire 84, folio 3, recto (British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board)

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Samples of ‘cursive’ writing in Codex Sinaiticus in context marking an insertion before Gal. 2:8, at quire 84, folio 3, recto (British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board)
As Fig. 1 illustrates, we are dealing with very small writing. Letters measure between 1 and 2 mm in height and are written in ink that is sometimes quite pale. We should also gain a better sense of the quantity of writing at issue. Fig. 2 provides images of all the ‘cursive’ examples listed by Milne and Skeat.

Fig. 2.
Samples of ‘cursive’ writing in Codex Sinaiticus attributed to scribe D by Milne and Skeat, unless otherwise noted (British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board)

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Samples of ‘cursive’ writing in Codex Sinaiticus attributed to scribe D by Milne and Skeat, unless otherwise noted (British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board)
As the images indicate, it is not so much the case that we are dealing with ‘a few isolated words’ as with a few, often barely legible, letters. In fact, the sweeping judgment of Milne and Skeat is based on a sample containing just five different letters (alpha, kappa, nu, tau, and omega). Milne and Skeat were respected scholars, but I wonder at how they were able, using only these five letters, to say that the notes ‘certainly belong to the fourth century, and probably the first half of it’. The evidence presented below suggests that we should not share their confidence.
To begin with, only a portion of these samples can properly be called ‘cursive’, and these examples are not always very consistent with each other.32 Beyond that, some of the different scripts and individual letter forms represented in the notes seem to me to be paralleled by examples at least as late as the first quarter of the fifth century. A few comparisons will illustrate the point.
For the samples of the word ανω that are written in what are essentially upright or inclined majuscules, we can see similar letter forms and spacing in P.Mich.inv. 6223, a receipt copied in 406 c.e. (see Fig. 3).33

Fig. 3.
Script of notes in Codex Sinaiticus (top) compared with script of P.Mich.inv. 6223 (bottom); images are not to scale. Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; Images of P.Mich.inv. 6223 appear courtesy of the Papyrology Collection, Graduate Library, The University of Michigan

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Script of notes in Codex Sinaiticus (top) compared with script of P.Mich.inv. 6223 (bottom); images are not to scale. Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; Images of P.Mich.inv. 6223 appear courtesy of the Papyrology Collection, Graduate Library, The University of Michigan
For the similarly non-cursive examples of κατω, we can compare the same sequence of letters in PSI 16 1576, a copy of the ninth festal letter of Cyril of Alexandria, written for the year 420–421 c.e. (see Fig. 4).34

Fig. 4.
Script of note in Codex Sinaiticus compared with script of PSI 16 1576 (420–421 c.e.); images are not to scale; Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; PSI 16 1576 (PSI inv. 3779): © Istituto Papirologico ‘Girolamo Vitelli’, Università degli Studi di Firenze

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Script of note in Codex Sinaiticus compared with script of PSI 16 1576 (420–421 c.e.); images are not to scale; Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; PSI 16 1576 (PSI inv. 3779): © Istituto Papirologico ‘Girolamo Vitelli’, Università degli Studi di Firenze
For the more truly cursive sample of the word ανω, we can see the same basic sequence of strokes and lifts of the stylus in P.Berl.Zill. 5, a contract copied in 417 c.e. (see Fig. 5).35

Fig. 5.
Script of cursive note in Codex Sinaiticus compared with script of P.Berl.Zill. 5 (417 c.e.); images are not to scale; Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; P. Berl.Zill. 5: © Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung—Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Scan: Berliner Papyrusdatenbank, P 11353

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Script of cursive note in Codex Sinaiticus compared with script of P.Berl.Zill. 5 (417 c.e.); images are not to scale; Codex Sinaiticus: British Library, Add MS 43725, © British Library Board; P. Berl.Zill. 5: © Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung—Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Scan: Berliner Papyrusdatenbank, P 11353
I do not wish to deny that we also find samples with scripts similar to these in documents securely datable to the fourth century. We surely do. But as the examples in Figs. 3–5 indicate, these types of writing persisted into the first part of the fifth century. I am not aware of samples of these kinds of scripts in dated documents later than the period represented here (that is, the first quarter of the fifth century).36 Thus, if Milne and Skeat are indeed correct that one of the copyists of the codex is responsible for these notes, then a date in the early fifth century for the production of the codex cannot be ruled out.
At the end of the day, then, where do the ‘objective’ criteria presented by Roberts leave us? We have a rough terminus post quem in the first half of the fourth century provided by the presence of the Eusebian apparatus. Our terminus ante quem, the small group of ‘cursive’ words, allows for a date as extending into the first part of the fifth century. These criteria thus provide us with a range of possible dates for the manufacture of Codex Sinaiticus that runs from the first half of the fourth century through the first part of the fifth century, let us say, 300 c.e.—425 c.e. A date range this wide is appropriate given the types of evidence available to us. But there may be a possibility for narrowing this date by employing other tools that we have so far neglected.

3. The Potential of Radiocarbon Analysis​

Although radiocarbon dating is not the miracle solution that it is sometimes imagined to be for the dating of manuscripts, in this particular case the technology presents some real promise for increasing our knowledge of Codex Sinaiticus.37 Successful radiocarbon analysis of parchment samples is now quite common.38 Although the technique remains destructive (samples are incinerated in order to access their carbon content), the technology of accelerator mass spectrometry has reduced the amount of material needed for sampling to as little as 10–20 mg of material. This equates to less than 1 cm2 of parchment in terms of surface area, and the sample need not be a regular shape—an extremely thin strip or irregular shape is as good as a square.39 Very recently, successful analysis has been carried out on parchment samples of just 0.3 mg (about 3 mm2 of surface area).40 So, we are talking about a truly minuscule amount of material being lost in order to gain important insights about the codex. Indeed, the particular range of possible dates established above for the production of Codex Sinaiticus would appear to be especially amenable to radiocarbon analysis for reasons that will hopefully become clear after a brief description of the process.
Radiocarbon analysis measures the amount of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 (14C) in a deceased organic artifact and compares that amount to the amount that was present at the point when the organism died.41 To translate these measurements into calendar years, scientists established an equation based on the known rate that 14C decays. Putting the measured amount of 14C from the sample into the equation produced a result given in terms of ‘radiocarbon years’ (14C years) before present (BP). The word ‘present’ stands for the year 1950. This calculation presumed that the level of 14C in the atmosphere is constant, but we now know that this is not the case. So, to improve their translation guide, radiocarbon scientists have tested many objects of known age, usually trees, whose exact ages can be known through dendrochronology—counting the growth rings. By testing many objects with known ages, scientists have been able to determine how the levels of 14C in the atmosphere have fluctuated over the centuries and to create calibration curves that help them adjust the original results of their equation for improved calendar accuracy.42
To better understand the particular benefit of a radiocarbon analysis of Codex Sinaiticus, we may turn to a recent version of the calibration curve, IntCal20 (Fig. 6).43

Fig. 6.
IntCal20 radiocarbon calibration curve; the vertical axis shows the number of radiocarbon years before present (BP) and the horizontal axis shows calendar years (calBCE and calCE) with the segment for the calendar years 300 to 425 c.e. marked by red bars

Open in new tabDownload slide
IntCal20 radiocarbon calibration curve; the vertical axis shows the number of radiocarbon years before present (BP) and the horizontal axis shows calendar years (calBCE and calCE) with the segment for the calendar years 300 to 425 c.e. marked by red bars
Because of irregular fluctuations in the amount of 14C in the atmosphere, the calibration curve is not a smooth line. It instead has a more jagged shape with ‘wiggles’ throughout. For some ranges of calendar dates (such as the years 430 c.e. to 530 c.e.) the curve is nearly horizontal. In these cases, the results of radiocarbon analysis may be less precise (that is, they may yield a wide range of calendar dates). For other ranges of calendar dates, such as the years 240 c.e. to 300 c.e., a ‘wiggle’ can become a prominent dip, raising the possibility that radiocarbon analysis would yield large ranges or even multiple, discontinuous ranges of calendar dates. And in other areas, the curve is more nearly vertical across some ranges of calendar dates, such as the period between 520 c.e. and 600 c.e. Radiocarbon analysis has the potential to yield more precise calendar dates for objects made of materials that died in the periods of time that correspond to these more ‘vertical’ ranges of the calibration curve.
The spectrum of possible dates established for the construction of Codex Sinaiticus using the relatively objective criteria described above was 300–425 c.e. If we look at what is happening to the calibration curve over that period of time (the area between the red lines in Fig. 6), we find that the curve moves steadily downward. What this means is that radiocarbon analysis has a reasonably good chance of providing informative new data about the date of the parchment writing surface of Codex Sinaiticus. The hope would be that because of the way atmospheric levels of 14C changed over the period between about 300 c.e. and 430 c.e., the dates resulting from the radiocarbon analysis of Codex Sinaiticus would overlap, but only partially, with the range of possible dates established by our ‘objective criteria’ (that is, about 300–425 c.e.). In that way, the combined data could potentially narrow the span of dates for the production of the codex. For instance, if the results of the radiocarbon analysis included calendar dates in the third century (reflecting the dip in the calibration curve between 240 c.e. and 300 c.e.), we could reasonably exclude these earlier dates on the basis of the presence of the Eusebian numbers. If, on the other hand, the results of radiocarbon analysis included dates in the late fifth or sixth centuries, these could be reasonably excluded on the basis of the presence of the ‘cursive’ notes. Either way, the results would yield informative data and narrow our range of possible dates for the construction of the codex.

4. Conclusion​

While standard reference works give a date of ‘ca. 360 c.e.’ vel sim. for Codex Sinaiticus, this overly precise mid–fourth century date is more a matter of habit rather than the result of reasoned argumentation based on reliable evidence. Either a date earlier in the fourth century or a date in the later fourth or early fifth century is equally possible. For greater precision and confidence, we need study from new angles, and AMS radiocarbon analysis seems sensible at this juncture. The bulk of Codex Sinaiticus (347 folios) resides at the British Library, but there are also portions at the University of Leipzig (43 folios), St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai (at least 18 full or partial folios), and the National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg (parts of 6 folios). The events that led to the dispersion of the codex are the topic of some disagreement, but the holding institutions, including the earliest known home of the manuscript (St. Catherine’s monastery at Sinai), have a cooperative relationship with one another.44 Let us hope that the custodians of this important artifact can cooperate again, with one or more institutions offering materials for testing.45 Until such testing or the appearance of new evidence, the range of possible dates for the construction of Codex Sinaiticus should probably be described as early fourth to early fifth century.

Footnotes​

1
Thanks to the organizers of the Text and Transmission Joint Research Seminar at KU Leuven and Ghent University for the opportunity to present portions of this material to a wide audience that provided helpful feedback. I am also indebted to Hugo Lundhaug, Gregg Schwendner, Mary Jane Cuyler, and Zachary J. Cole for comments on earlier drafts of this essay. Thanks also to the JTS production team for overcoming a variety of formatting challenges. This work was supported by the Research Council of Norway (project number 314240).
2
The online catalog entry for Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library (Add MS 43725) lists the date of the codex as ‘2nd quarter of the 4th century – 3rd quarter of the 4th century’ (<http://searcharchives.bl.uk/IAMS_VU2:IAMS032-002169711>). The ‘Reference Guide’ accompanying the 2010 photographic facsimile of Codex Sinaiticus comments only that ‘Codex Sinaiticus is generally dated to the fourth century, and sometimes more precisely to the middle of that century. This is based on a study of the handwriting’. A recent collection of essays produced by the British Library and dedicated to Codex Sinaiticus contained almost no discussion of the date of the codex, just a summary statement: ‘There is a strong consensus that Codex Sinaiticus belongs to the fourth century, and there are no good grounds to dispute that’. See Harry Gamble, ‘Codex Sinaiticus in its Fourth Century Setting’, in Scot McKendrick, David Parker, Amy Myshrall, and Cillian O’Hogan (eds.), Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript (London: The British Library, 2015), pp. 3–18, at p. 6.
3
Constantinus Tischendorf, Codex Friderico-Augustanus sive fragmenta Veteris Testamenti (Leipzig: Koehler and Uckermann, 1846), p. 22: ‘cum magna veritatis specie medio fere seculo quarto eum adscripturus mihi videor’.
4
The number of copyists involved in the production of Codex Sinaiticus is a matter of ongoing discussion. See D. C. Parker, Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible (London: British Library; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2010), pp. 48–51.
5
On the various correctors, see most recently Parker, Codex Sinaiticus, 79–90.
6
See Constantin Tischendorf, Nachricht von der im Auftrage seiner kaiserlichen Maiestät Alexander II unternommenen herausgabe der Sinaitischen Bibelhandschrift (Leipzig: Giesecke & Devrient, 1860), p. 18: ‘Hierauf hab’ ich eine Mittheilung über das Alter der Handschrift verheissen; sie soll jedoch auf wenige Hauptstücke beschränkt bleiben, indem alles Ausführlichere für die Prolegomena aufzusparen ist. Vor Allem kann ich nur mit Nachdruck wiederholen was ich bereits bei der ersten ins Vaterland gegebenen Kunde von dem aufgefundenen Schatze von Cairo aus geschrieben: “Für diese Handschrift nun bedarf es wenigstens zur Feststellung des Jahrhunderts ihrer Entstehung kaum eines Datums; denn dass sie im vierten christlichen Jahrhundert geschrieben sei, das lässt sich mit allen Argumenten, die in der paläographischen Wissenschaft gelten, fast ausser allen Zweifel stellen.” Bei der genaueren Untersuchung kann nur das Eine zweifelhaft sein, ob die Handschrift schon vor der Mitte des vierten Jahrhunderts oder erst in der zweiten Hälfte desselben geschrieben sei’. For the more extended arguments in the Prolegomena to his facsimile edition, see Constantinus Tischendorf, Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus (4 vols.; St. Petersburg, 1862), pp. 1.11*–1.14*.
7
For instance, the British New Testament textual critic Samuel Tregelles, despite having a strained relationship with Tischendorf, agreed with the fourth century assignment. After examining the New Testament leaves in Leipzig in 1862, he wrote: ‘I believe I know something of Greek MSS and I am positively convinced that this is a manuscript of the fourth century’. See Timothy C. F. Stunt, ‘Some Unpublished Letters of S. P. Tregelles Relating to the Codex Sinaiticus’, The Evangelical Quarterly 48 (1976), pp. 15–26, at p. 19. See also Frederick H. Scrivener, A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the Received Text of the New Testament (London: Bell and Daldy, 1864), pp. xiii-xl, at p. xxix: ‘Codex Sinaiticus is coeval with its rival in the Vatican, and consequently a record of the fourth century of the Christian era.’ Scrivener had not seen the manuscript himself. He based his judgements primarily on the 17 reproductions published in the first volume of Tischendorf, Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus.
8
On Simonides, see J. Keith Elliott, Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair (Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1982).
9
Thompson, Handbook of Greek and Latin Palaeography (New York: D. Appleton, 1893), p. 150.
10
Thompson, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), p. 200.
11
Bell, ‘Early Codices from Egypt’, The Library 10 (1909), pp. 303–13, at p. 307.
12
See Lake, Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus: The New Testament, The Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas (Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), p. x.
13
See Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus (London: The British Museum, 1938), pp. 60–65. The arguments of Milne and Skeat will be treated in detail below.
14
Colin H. Roberts, Greek Literary Hands 350 B.C. – A.D. 400 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), p. 24.
15
Guglielmo Cavallo, Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica (Florence: Le Monnier, 1967), pp. 58–61: phrased variously, as ‘una data intorno al 360 ca. o solo di qualche anno più tarda’ (p. 58) or ‘intorno al 360 ca. o poco più tardi’ (p. 60). A similar date—‘IV2 (ca. 360)’—has been advocated on palaeographic grounds more recently by Pasquale Orsini, Manoscritti in maiuscola biblica: Materiali per un aggiornamento (Cassino: Edizioni dell’Università degli Studi di Cassino, 2005), p. 240.
16
Theodore C. Skeat, ‘The Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus, and Constantine’, JTS 50 (1999), pp. 583–625. This view is common, but to my knowledge nobody has argued the point as thoroughly as Skeat.
17
Timothy Janz, ‘Greek Paleography: From Antiquity to the Renaissance’ (<https://spotlight.vatlib.it/greek-paleography/feature/1-majuscule-bookhands>). See also the review of Cavallo by Peter J. Parsons in Gnomon 42 (1970), pp. 375–80. For general caution about the use of palaeographic evidence to generate narrow date ranges for Greek literary manuscripts of the Roman era, see Brent Nongbri, ‘Palaeographic Analysis of Codices from the Early Christian Period: A Point of Method’, JSNT 42 (2019), pp. 84–97; Brent Nongbri, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 47–82; and Christian Askeland, ‘Dating Early Greek and Coptic Literary Hands’, in Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott (eds.), The Nag Hammadi Codices and Late Antique Egypt (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), pp. 457–89.
18
Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 62, my italics.
19
See, for instance, Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea (Cambridge, Mass.; Belknap, 2006), pp. 215–21.
20
Gamble, ‘Codex Sinaiticus in its Fourth Century Setting’, p. 9. This point was recognized already by Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek: Introduction, Appendix (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1882), p. 74.
21
See the critical discussion in Parker, Codex Sinaiticus, pp. 19–24.
22
Roberts, Greek Literary Hands, p. 24.
23
The strange features include (1) the fact that no Eusebian canon tables survive in Sinaiticus, either at the mutilated beginning of the codex or at the start of the New Testament, (2) the section numbers are only partially present (they are missing for sections 107–242 in Luke), and (3) the first 52 sections in Matthew are more elaborately executed than the rest of the sections. Milne and Skeat have explained this situation by noting that, according to one sequence of quire signatures, there is a full quire missing between the last quire of the Old Testament and the first quire of the New Testament. They hypothesize that a quire containing a set of tables was planned for but never completed because the effort to add the section numbers was abandoned before it was finished, thus also explaining the abandonment of the extra decorations after section 53 in Matthew and the complete lack of Eusebian numbers in much of Luke (Scribes and Correctors, pp. 7–9 and 36–7). In the absence of other data, this solution seems the least implausible alternative (if the canon tables had been completed and contained in the codex, it is hard to explain why the missing section numbers in Luke were not added by any later users of the codex).
24
A correction in the lower margin at Matt. 10:39 carries a section number in identical red ink and made in sequence with the section numbers used in the main text, quire 74 (=New Testament quire 1), folio 6r, column 3. The bifolium consisting of New Testament folios 10 and 15 is part of a quire copied by scribe A, but this single bifolium is copied by scribe D and lacks the Eusebian numbers (the surrounding leaves copied by scribe A all have the Eusebian numbers). See the discussion in Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 36.
25
Compare the phrasing of Kirsopp Lake: ‘It is unfortunate that we do not know the exact date when Eusebius made his apparatus, but it is at least plain that the first quarter of the fourth century is the earliest date which has any reasonable probability’ (Codex Sinaiticus, pp. ix–x). See further Matthew R. Crawford, The Eusebian Canon Tables: Ordering Textual Knowledge in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 79–80, especially n. 73.
26
Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, pp. 62–4.
27
See, for example, Lake’s review of Milne and Skeat in Classical Philology 37 (1942), pp. 91–6, at pp. 94–5; Parker, Codex Sinaiticus, pp. 54–5; and especially Dirk Jongkind, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2007), pp. 250–52.
28
Zachary J. Cole, ‘An Unseen Paleographical Problem with Milne and Skeat’s Dictation Theory of Codex Sinaiticus’, JBL 135 (2016), pp. 103–7. For the quotation from Skeat, see Theodore C. Skeat, ‘The Use of Dictation in Ancient Book Production’, PBA 42 (1956), pp. 179–208, reprinted in J. K. Elliott (ed.), The Collected Biblical Writings of T.C. Skeat (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 3–32, at p. 17.
29
Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 62.
30
Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 62 n. 1. Lake seems to have assigned the corrections associated with these cursive notes to corrector A2, whom he regarded as ‘almost certainly identical with scribe D’. See Lake, Codex Sinaiticus, Plate II (for the assignment of one of these corrections to corrector A2) and p. xxii (for the identification of corrector A2 and scribe D).
31
I have not been able to inspect the relevant leaves in person to judge the question of the identity of the ink, so I must defer to the judgement of Milne and Skeat on this point at present. It should be noted that this is an area in which chemical analysis of the ink would be a very useful undertaking. I am grateful to Jesse Grenz for alerting me to the presence of similar notes on four pages in Codex Vaticanus, a fact of which I was unaware. These notes are discussed briefly in Pietro Versace, I marginalia del Codex Vaticanus (Vatican City: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 2018), pp. 14–18 (thanks to Grenz for the reference). Without first chemically confirming the identity of the ink of the ‘cursive’ notes in Sinaiticus and the certain corrections of Sinaiticus Scribe D, I hesitate to follow the chain of logic that leads Versace to favor the hypothesis that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were produced in the same scriptorium.
32
In discussions of the palaeography of Greek writing of the Roman era, the descriptor ‘cursive’ carries considerable weight because the number of securely dated examples of cursive writing is much greater than the number of securely dated examples of ‘literary’ writing. Thus, it is generally assumed that it is easier to establish more precise and accurate palaeographic dates for samples of undated cursive writing by comparison to dated samples. Yet, Eric Turner has sounded a note of caution on this score, pointing out ‘how little truth there is in the facile, often repeated dictum that cursive, quickly written handwritings are easier to date than literary hands. Both types of activity are equally aleatory’. See Turner, ‘Writing Material for Businessmen’, BASP 15 (1978), pp. 163–9, at p. 164.
33
See Herbert C. Youtie, ‘P.Mich.inv. 6223: Transtigritani’, ZPE 21 (1976), pp. 25–6.
34
See Guido Bastianini and Guglielmo Cavallo, ‘Un nuovo frammento di lettera festale (PSI inv. 3779)’, in Guido Bastianini and Angelo Casanova (eds.), I papiri letterari cristiani: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi in memoria di Mario Naldini (Florence: Istituto Papirologico ‘G. Vitelli’, 2011), pp. 31–45. The script of PSI XVI 1576 is a classic example of the so-called Alexandrian Majuscule. I do not wish to say that any of the meager selection of letters from the notes in Codex Sinaiticus should be classified in this way; I am only pointing out that the use of similar isolated majuscule letter forms is attested in the early fifth century.
35
See Henrik Zilliacus, Vierzehn Berliner griechische Papyri: Urkunden und Briefe (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1941), pp. 39–46.
36
This does not mean that no such examples exist, just that if they do, they have not come across my desk.
37
For a technical introduction, see R. E. Taylor and Ofer Bar-Yosef, Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective (2nd edn., Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2014). For the specific benefits and drawbacks of the use of radiocarbon analysis on papyrus and parchment manuscripts, see Nongbri, God’s Library, pp. 72–80.
38
For general discussion of the analysis of parchment and pre-treatment methods, see Fiona Brock, ‘Radiocarbon Dating of Historical Parchments’, Radiocarbon 55 (2013), pp. 353–63. For an excellent overview of the recent radiocarbon dating of early Islamic manuscripts copied on different media, see Eva Mira Youssef-Grob, ‘Radiocarbon (14C) Dating of Early Islamic Documents: Background and Prospects’, in Andreas Kaplony and Michael Marx (eds.), Qurʾān Quotations Preserved on Papyrus Documents, 7th – 10th Centuries and the Problem of Carbon Dating Early Qurʾāns (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 138–87.
39
See, e.g., Youssef-Grob, ‘Radiocarbon (14C) Dating of Early Islamic Documents,’ p. 181.
40
See T. M. Kasso, M. J. Oinonen, K. Mizohata, J. K. Tahkokallio, and T. M. Heikkilä, ‘Volumes of Worth—Delimiting the Sample Size for Radiocarbon Dating of Parchment’, Radiocarbon 63 (2021), pp. 105–20.
41
Given the excellent quality of parchment used in Codex Sinaiticus, I assume that the skins were prepared specifically for the production of the codex and that the animals were killed at a time not very long before the codex was produced. For a discussion of the parchment in Sinaiticus, see Gavin Moorhead, Sara Mazzarino, Flavio Marzo, and Barry Knight, ‘A Physical Perspective of Codex Sinaiticus: An Overview from the British Library Folios’, in McKendrick, Parker, Myshrall, and O’Hogan, Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives, pp. 221–38.
42
I am grateful to Josephine Dru for help in accurately formulating this summary.
43
On IntCal20, see Paula J. Reimer et al., ‘The IntCal20 Northern Hemisphere Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curve (0–55 CAL kBP)’, Radiocarbon 62 (2020), pp. 725–57.
44
For a joint statement of the holding institutions regarding claims to the codex, see at the project website ‘History of Codex Sinaiticus’ (<https://codexsinaiticus.org/en/codex/history.aspx>). For a critical analysis of the modern history of the codex, see Christfried Böttrich, ‘One Story—Different Perspectives: The Discovery of Codex Sinaiticus’, in McKendrick, Parker, Myshrall, and O’Hogan, Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives, pp. 173–87.
45
Again, reliable analysis would require only about 1 cm2 (or less) of uninscribed parchment.



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We may set aside as unfounded the claims of modern forgery made by Tischendorf’s contemporary and nemesis, Constantine Simonides, and turn to the noted palaeographers who expressed opinions in the coming years and decades.8
8
On Simonides, see J. Keith Elliott, Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair (Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1982).

This dating of the codex near the middle of the fourth century is now customary. In fact, the writing of Codex Sinaiticus is now usually regarded as a relatively fixed point in the chronological development of the ‘Biblical Majuscule’ script. Colin H. Roberts included it in his list of securely datable samples of Greek handwriting in his Greek Literary Hands (1956) with a suitably broad date of ‘fourth century’ on the basis of three relatively objective criteria, which will be outlined in detail below.14

Greek literary hands, 350 B.C.-A.D. 400 (1956)
Colin Henderson Roberts

https://archive.org/details/greekliteraryhan0000robe

As Timothy Janz has pointed out, ‘It is notable that Cavallo’s entire reconstruction of the “formation” of the canon [of the Biblical Majuscule] is not, and cannot be, corroborated by any objective evidence, due to the lack of dated exemplars’.17

Skeat’s more recent historical arguments that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus were among the books produced in response to Constantine’s order to Eusebius ... far from compelling ... Harry Gamble has pointed out that the contents of neither Sinaiticus nor Vaticanus match the list of acknowledged ‘New Testament’ writings outlined by Eusebius.20 ... D. C. Parker has raised several additional objections to Skeat’s reasoning.21

=========================
H. J. M. Milne and Theodore Skeat in 1938, Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus, which provides a detailed argument that Codex Sinaiticus was likely copied ‘before the middle of the [fourth] century.’ Here is how Roberts summarized their arguments in three points:
  • terminus post of c. A.D. 300–40 Eusebian sections.
  • Certain cursive notes, one of which can be seen in our plate (col. ii, l. 12), are in a distinctively fourth-century hand.
  • The system of representing numerals points to a fourth-century date. In this century the practice of representing, for example, 1,000 by a stroke below the letter A (/A) replaces the old system of putting a curl above the letter (). Milne and Skeat assign this change approximately to the years 338–60. As the codex was written to dictation and as it is certain that in some places in the exemplar the numerals were written out in full, the use of the old system is evidence of fourth-century date.22
=========================

The Eusebian apparatus as it appears in Sinaiticus has some anomalous features, but it seems almost certain that the Eusebian numbers were a part of the original production of the codex and not a later addition.23 The surviving evidence suggests that the Eusebian numbers were added after an early correction of the manuscript by scribe D but before the insertion of a replacement bifolium (again by scribe D) in the second quire of Matthew.24 Eusebius the terminus post quem of 300–340 offered by Roberts is reasonable.25

In the Sinaiticus we still find the earlier system, B͑ in O.T. 47, col. 1, and Ͱ͑ in O.T. 43, col. 1, and 47, col. 1. All these occur in 1 Maccabees; elsewhere thousands are written out in words, as regularly in the Vaticanus. We may reasonably assume that in 1 Maccabees at least these numbers were represented by numerals in the exemplar, since this alone can explain the erroneous τρισχιλίους δέκα for ὀκτακισχιλίους in 1 Macc. v. 34 (i.e. Ͱ͑I for H͑), and the extraordinary series of numerals in 1 Macc. v. 20 quoted above (p. 57).

Milne and Skeat in favor of dictation has proven persuasive to almost nobody.27 Indeed, a recent article in the Journal of Biblical Literature ... (the nonsense sequence of characters in 1 Macc. 5:20) was in fact based on a mistaken reading by Milne and Skeat.28
The other argument mentioned by Roberts, the presence of ‘certain cursive notes’ in ‘a distinctly fourth century hand’ also deserves more intensive scrutiny. Here is what Milne and Skeat say on the matter:

....
In a footnote, Milne and Skeat dispute Tischendorf’s identification of the writer of these ‘cursive’ words and offer their own attribution:
These are attributed by Tischendorf (Prolegomena, p. 9*) to the corrector Ba, but identity of ink and the fact that they accompany only corrections by D make it certain that they are from his hand. One isolated example of κατ(ω) by scribe A is on NT 40b.30

... size of these notes ... As Fig. 1 illustrates ... very small writing. ... 1 and 2 mm in height ... ink that is sometimes quite pale. We . Fig. 2 provides images of all the ‘cursive’ examples listed by Milne and Skeat.

Milne and Skeat were respected scholars, but I wonder at how they were able, using only these five letters, to say that the notes ‘certainly belong to the fourth century, and probably the first half of it’. The evidence presented below suggests that we should not share their confidence.

I am not aware of samples of these kinds of scripts in dated documents later than the period represented here (that is, the first quarter of the fifth century).36 Thus, if Milne and Skeat are indeed correct that one of the copyists of the codex is responsible for these notes, then a date in the early fifth century for the production of the codex cannot be ruled out.

Our terminus ante quem, the small group of ‘cursive’ words, allows for a date as extending into the first part of the fifth century. ... through the first part of the fifth century, let us say, 300 c.e.—425 c.e.

A recent collection of essays produced by the British Library … a summary statement: ‘There is a strong consensus that Codex Sinaiticus belongs to the fourth century, and there are no good grounds to dispute that’.

Harry Gamble, ‘Codex Sinaiticus in its Fourth Century Setting’, in Scot McKendrick, David Parker, Amy Myshrall, and Cillian O’Hogan (eds.), Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript (London: The British Library, 2015), pp. 3–18, at p. 6.

He maintained a date for the production of the codex in the fourth century while allowing some leeway on whether it should be assigned to the first or second half of the century.6
6
See Constantin Tischendorf, Nachricht von der im Auftrage seiner kaiserlichen Maiestät Alexander II unternommenen herausgabe der Sinaitischen Bibelhandschrift (Leipzig: Giesecke & Devrient, 1860), p. 18:
‘Hierauf hab’ ich eine Mittheilung über das Alter der Handschrift verheissen; sie soll jedoch auf wenige Hauptstücke beschränkt bleiben, indem alles Ausführlichere für die Prolegomena aufzusparen ist. Vor Allem kann ich nur mit Nachdruck wiederholen was ich bereits bei der ersten ins Vaterland gegebenen Kunde von dem aufgefundenen Schatze von Cairo aus geschrieben: “Für diese Handschrift nun bedarf es wenigstens zur Feststellung des Jahrhunderts ihrer Entstehung kaum eines Datums; denn dass sie im vierten christlichen Jahrhundert geschrieben sei, das lässt sich mit allen Argumenten, die in der paläographischen Wissenschaft gelten, fast ausser allen Zweifel stellen.” Bei der genaueren Untersuchung kann nur das Eine zweifelhaft sein, ob die Handschrift schon vor der Mitte des vierten Jahrhunderts oder erst in der zweiten Hälfte desselben geschrieben sei’.

1660229041770.png



‘After that’ I promised a communication about the age of the manuscript; however, it should be limited to a few main pieces, while everything that is more detailed is to be reserved for the Prolegomena. Above all, I can only emphatically repeat what I wrote from Cairo when I first received news of the treasure found in my fatherland: for that it was written in the fourth Christian century can be put almost beyond all doubt with all the arguments valid in paleographic science. On closer examination, only one thing can be doubtful, whether the manuscript was written before the middle of the fourth century or only in the second half of it'

For the more extended arguments in the Prolegomena to his facsimile edition, see
Constantinus Tischendorf, Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus (4 vols.; St. Petersburg, 1862), pp. 1.11*–1.14*.

Prolegomena
Maybe in Dropbox
7
Samuel Tregelles, ... agreed with the fourth century assignment. After examining the New Testament leaves in Leipzig in 1862, he wrote: ‘I believe I know something of Greek MSS and I am positively convinced that this is a manuscript of the fourth century’. See Timothy C. F. Stunt, ‘Some Unpublished Letters of S. P. Tregelles Relating to the Codex Sinaiticus’, The Evangelical Quarterly 48 (1976), pp. 15–26, at p. 19.

Frederick H. Scrivener, A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the Received Text of the New Testament (London: Bell and Daldy, 1864), pp. xiii-xl, at p. xxix: ‘Codex Sinaiticus is coeval with its rival in the Vatican, and consequently a record of the fourth century of the Christian era.’ Scrivener had not seen the manuscript himself. ...the 17 reproductions published in the first volume of Tischendorf, Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus.

8
On Simonides, see J. Keith Elliott, Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair (Thessaloniki: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1982).

14
Colin H. Roberts, Greek Literary Hands 350 B.C. – A.D. 400 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956), p. 24.

15
Guglielmo Cavallo, Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica (Florence: Le Monnier, 1967), pp. 58–61: phrased variously, as ‘una data intorno al 360 ca. o solo di qualche anno più tarda’ (p. 58) or ‘intorno al 360 ca. o poco più tardi’ (p. 60). A similar date—‘IV2 (ca. 360)’—has been advocated on palaeographic grounds more recently by Pasquale Orsini, Manoscritti in maiuscola biblica: Materiali per un aggiornamento (Cassino: Edizioni dell’Università degli Studi di Cassino, 2005), p. 240.

17
Timothy Janz, ‘Greek Paleography: From Antiquity to the Renaissance’ (<https://spotlight.vatlib.it/greek-paleography/feature/1-majuscule-bookhands>). See also the review of Cavallo by Peter J. Parsons in Gnomon 42 (1970), pp. 375–80. For general caution about the use of palaeographic evidence to generate narrow date ranges for Greek literary manuscripts of the Roman era, see

Brent Nongbri, ‘Palaeographic Analysis of Codices from the Early Christian Period: A Point of Method’, JSNT 42 (2019), pp. 84–97;

Brent Nongbri, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 47–82; and

Christian Askeland, ‘Dating Early Greek and Coptic Literary Hands’, in Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott (eds.), The Nag Hammadi Codices and Late Antique Egypt (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), pp. 457–89.

19
See, for instance, Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea (Cambridge, Mass.; Belknap, 2006), pp. 215–21.
20
Gamble, ‘Codex Sinaiticus in its Fourth Century Setting’, p. 9. This point was recognized already by Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek: Introduction, Appendix (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1882), p. 74.

23
The strange features include
(1) the fact that no Eusebian canon tables survive in Sinaiticus, either at the mutilated beginning of the codex or at the start of the New Testament,
(2) the section numbers are only partially present (they are missing for sections 107–242 in Luke), and (3) the first 52 sections in Matthew are more elaborately executed than the rest of the sections. Milne and Skeat have explained this situation by noting that, according to one sequence of quire signatures, there is a full quire missing between the last quire of the Old Testament and the first quire of the New Testament. They hypothesize that a quire containing a set of tables was planned for but never completed because the effort to add the section numbers was abandoned before it was finished, thus also explaining the abandonment of the extra decorations after section 53 in Matthew and the complete lack of Eusebian numbers in much of Luke (Scribes and Correctors, pp. 7–9 and 36–7). In the absence of other data, this solution seems the least implausible alternative (if the canon tables had been completed and contained in the codex, it is hard to explain why the missing section numbers in Luke were not added by any later users of the codex).

24
A correction in the lower margin at Matt. 10:39 carries a section number in identical red ink and made in sequence with the section numbers used in the main text, quire 74 (=New Testament quire 1), folio 6r, column 3. The bifolium consisting of New Testament folios 10 and 15 is part of a quire copied by scribe A, but this single bifolium is copied by scribe D and lacks the Eusebian numbers (the surrounding leaves copied by scribe A all have the Eusebian numbers). See the discussion in Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 36.

27
See, for example,
Lake’s review of Milne and Skeat in Classical Philology 37 (1942), pp. 91–6, at pp. 94–5;

Parker, Codex Sinaiticus, pp. 54–5; and especially

Dirk Jongkind, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2007), pp. 250–52.

28
Zachary J. Cole, ‘An Unseen Paleographical Problem with Milne and Skeat’s Dictation Theory of Codex Sinaiticus’, JBL 135 (2016), pp. 103–7.

For the quotation from Skeat, see

Theodore C. Skeat, ‘The Use of Dictation in Ancient Book Production’, PBA 42 (1956), pp. 179–208, reprinted in J. K. Elliott (ed.), The Collected Biblical Writings of T.C. Skeat (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 3–32, at p. 17.

30
Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, p. 62 n. 1. Lake seems to have assigned the corrections associated with these cursive notes to corrector A2, whom he regarded as ‘almost certainly identical with scribe D’. See Lake, Codex Sinaiticus, Plate II (for the assignment of one of these corrections to corrector A2) and p. xxii (for the identification of corrector A2 and scribe D).

31
I have not been able to inspect the relevant leaves in person to judge the question of the identity of the ink, so I must defer to the judgement of Milne and Skeat on this point at present. It should be noted that this is an area in which chemical analysis of the ink would be a very useful undertaking. I am grateful to Jesse Grenz for alerting me to the presence of similar notes on four pages in Codex Vaticanus, a fact of which I was unaware. These notes are discussed briefly in Pietro Versace, I marginalia del Codex Vaticanus (Vatican City: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 2018), pp. 14–18 (thanks to Grenz for the reference). Without first chemically confirming the identity of the ink of the ‘cursive’ notes in Sinaiticus and the certain corrections of Sinaiticus Scribe D, I hesitate to follow the chain of logic that leads Versace to favor the hypothesis that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were produced in the same scriptorium.

32
In discussions of the palaeography of Greek writing of the Roman era, the descriptor ‘cursive’ carries considerable weight because the number of securely dated examples of cursive writing is much greater than the number of securely dated examples of ‘literary’ writing. Thus, it is generally assumed that it is easier to establish more precise and accurate palaeographic dates for samples of undated cursive writing by comparison to dated samples. Yet, Eric Turner has sounded a note of caution on this score, pointing out ‘how little truth there is in the facile, often repeated dictum that cursive, quickly written handwritings are easier to date than literary hands. Both types of activity are equally aleatory’. See Turner, ‘Writing Material for Businessmen’, BASP 15 (1978), pp. 163–9, at p. 164.

33
See Herbert C. Youtie, ‘P.Mich.inv. 6223: Transtigritani’, ZPE 21 (1976), pp. 25–6.

34
See Guido Bastianini and Guglielmo Cavallo, ‘Un nuovo frammento di lettera festale (PSI inv. 3779)’, in Guido Bastianini and Angelo Casanova (eds.), I papiri letterari cristiani: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi in memoria di Mario Naldini (Florence: Istituto Papirologico ‘G. Vitelli’, 2011), pp. 31–45. The script of PSI XVI 1576 is a classic example of the so-called Alexandrian Majuscule. I do not wish to say that any of the meager selection of letters from the notes in Codex Sinaiticus should be classified in this way; I am only pointing out that the use of similar isolated majuscule letter forms is attested in the early fifth century.

35
See Henrik Zilliacus, Vierzehn Berliner griechische Papyri: Urkunden und Briefe (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1941), pp. 39–46.

36
This does not mean that no such examples exist, just that if they do, they have not come across my desk.

41
Given the excellent quality of parchment used in Codex Sinaiticus,.... see Gavin Moorhead, Sara Mazzarino, Flavio Marzo, and Barry Knight, ‘A Physical Perspective of Codex Sinaiticus: An Overview from the British Library Folios’, in McKendrick, Parker, Myshrall, and O’Hogan, Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives, pp. 221–38.

42
I am grateful to Josephine Dru
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
2427 Colwell - how many years ... anachronism

ACCENTS
THREE CROSSES NOTE
TINY SCRIPT
Wacky hand-writing
Ink anomalies

Why not look at anachronisms in Sinaiticus

e.g. Accents in Matthew, said to be original.

e.g. Three Crosses Note, describing scriptorium error, yet said to be c. 700 AD

Does Brent Nongbri really show any terminus ante quem?
Why could not the small cursive writing be later, even 1800s?

======================================

Zachary J. Cole - Orlando Reformed Theological Seminary · Fu
z.j.colc@sms.cd.ac.uk
https://qub.academia.edu/ZacharyCole
https://www.linkedin.com/in/zachary-j-cole-aa71125b
Greek numerals
Dictation
Zachary Cole: Scribal Hands of Early New Testament Manuscripts. (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary, Prof. D.B. Wallace).
Christian Askeland

Timothy Janz,
‘Greek Paleography: From Antiquity to the Renaissance’
https://spotlight.vatlib.it/greek-paleography/feature/1-majuscule-bookhands
Twitter discussion

Scribal habits in selected New Testament manuscripts, including those with surviving exemplars
Alan Taylor Farnes (2018).

Pasquale Orsini
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasquale_Orsini

Guglielmo Cavallo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Cavallo

See also the review of Cavallo by

Peter J. Parsons in Gnomon 42 (1970), pp. 375–80
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_J._Parsons
https://oxford.academia.edu/PeterParsons

Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams,

Henry Gamble

Jesse Grenz
for alerting me to the presence of similar notes on four pages in Codex Vaticanus, . These notes are discussed briefly in
Pietro Versace

Eric Turner
Herbert C. Youtie,

Guido Bastianini and Guglielmo Cavallo,

Cillian O'Hogan and others?

======================================
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
ETC
https://evangelicaltextualcriticism...czpQ1y_wsmUoi2G7XHwlY1HM#c7155548415603186692

Steven Avery8/23/2022 5:56 am
Written as my comment on Brent Nongbris's blog, an important history about testing Sinaiticus:

=====

"In your excellent Zoom conference on Sinaiticus on July 1, 2020, Dr. Ira Rabin of BAM (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing) in Berlin, a group with extensive manuscript testing background including the Dead Sea Scrolls, described, with some emotion, how they actually were prepared to do extensive testing of Sinaiticus in Leipzig in 2015.. They showed up to the Leipzig Library, and the tests were cancelled on that day they arrived, ready to start the testing! BAM would go far more deeply into the manuscript and ink issues than simply radiocarbon analysis.

There are many palaeographic and historical puzzles in Sinaiticus that go far beyond the century script dating question you raise. And bring us right back to the controversies of the 1860s, involving Constantine Simonides and Mt. Athos contingent c. 1840, and the highly dubious and even discredited Tischendorf 1844 and 1859 discovery claims."

=====

The only debate that I know of that was held after there was extensive analysis and history available was James Snapp and myself on January 3, 2021, hosted by Joshua Gibbs.

“The Worlds Oldest Bible is a REPLICA: Simonides the Scribe.” James Snapp, Jr. vs Steven Avery

You would hope that an Evangelical textual forum would really desire a probing discussion on the history and provenance and palaeographic elements of a manuscript that was a major lead into the 1881 Westcott-Hort recension.text, still essentially the Critical Text. However, there seems to be a spot of angst and anxiety that gets in the way. :) Perhaps the probing by the astute Brent Nongbri will open up a new day of examination. Remember 2427, Archaic Mark? :)
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
That post was censored/deleted, I put in on the ETC Facebook post.

Let's see how this one does.

https://evangelicaltextualcriticism...us.html?sc=1661382036806#c8656681727944168812
Thank you Andrew.

Cauda in Acts 27:16 has been considered to be from Vaticanus:

"In his annotations of 1535 at Acts 27:16, Erasmus cites the name of the island as “Kauda” (Cauda). Only B is known to have had that reading in his day"

A History of Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 2: The Medieval Though the Reformation Periods (2009)
The Text of the New Testament
James Keith Elliott
https://books.google.com/books?id=v5uLryp0-vUC&pg=PA256

Just looking at Mark 1:2, this is a famous variant, Professor Robinson has a paper that is largely on the verse.

So what would be the marker to indicate Vaticanus as the cause of the Erasmus Annotation?

Thanks!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
https://evangelicaltextualcriticism...us.html?sc=1661386029801#c8530021514044537416
Hi ETC,

Those who want to read about the attempt to test the Leipzig portion of Sinaiticus in 2015 can see the information in my comment on Brent Nongbri's blog. This was discussed by the lady Dr. Ira Rabin at Brent's Zoom meeting, so the information is easy to verify..

A New Article on the Date of Codex Sinaiticus

The whole ETC note is mirrored here.

(You might want to visit and bookmark the sites quickly:).

Revisiting the Date of Codex Sinaiticus - Brent Nongbri
https://www.purebibleforum.com/inde...dex-sinaiticus-brent-nongbri.1357/#post-10891

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator

Good catch, Alexaander.

The forced, awkward humor approach to Sinaiticus authenticity and dating seems to bewray a bit of scholastic unease.

Sinaiticus is a holy relic. On an amazing pedestal. I would compare it to concern for Shroud of Turin veneration ... but I am pro-Shroud authenticity :). Also the blood of Jesus landing on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant through the earthquake crack at Golgotha.

However, we do not want to stretch the envelope of forum topics!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
Hi ETC,

There is a technique of trying to end discussion and inquiry by diverting the conversation to a type of drivel. This can be seen here by one poster using "Anonymous"

Then, in frustration, the moderators might close up the discussion, rather than discuss, e.g. what happened when BAM planned to do testing on Sinaiticus in 2015 at Leipzig, and the rug was pulled out just as they arrived!

By making the comments wacky (Benjamin Franklin) the hope is that the hosts will shut down ALL conversation, even relating to Brent Nongbri's paper on Sinaiticus.

Anyway, my question for Tommy Wasserman remains, please indicate the peer-reviewed Journals who you believe would host a short-moderate length paper on Sinaiticus authenticity.

And if you do not know of one or two, then your concern about no peer-reviewed Journals is clearly irrelevant.
(Note: that does not mean there might not be a need for a new paper, one that would help Tommy Wasserman and Elijah Hixson and others really understand the history, provenance, palaeography and issues. But peer-review becomes a red herring.)

Thanks!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
Hi anon,

Scholars have expressed concern to me about the dating issues, but with all the public attacks, even to the level of mockery, they are reluctant to go public.

“As for how we 'know' Sinaiticus is from the 4th century, this is actually something I have wondered myself, but this dating seems too deeply entrenched in the scholarship of early Christianity to have a rational discussion about it.”:- top scholar

A very astute comment.

After all, if Sinaiticus is a Tischendorf sham, a long con, we would have the creation of the Westcott-Hort recension Critical Text as a type of Potemkin Village. And there would be a lot of mud on many faces.

Plus the scholars realize it might be quite a project to come up to speed on the various issues.

What the contra scholars do is cherry-pick an issue where they think they have a counter-argument, and run with it, they never look at the full picture.

James Snapp, Jr. tried, in our debate, but basically ran into the same problem, being unfamiliar with the territory.

And Kevin McGrane has tried for a third way (a later Sinaiticus, but not Simonides). Neither of these gentlemen are officially "scholars".

Basically the evidence for Sinaiticus as an 1840s creation is overwhelming, or at least, being cordial for the critics, quite substantial.

And I have not found one scholar who has addressed the issues in recent years.

Going back to the real attempt, I wrote to James Keith Elliott on a major lack in his 1982 book, and he thanked me for the contribution. He had missed the evidence from the Spyridon Paulou Lambros catalog of Mt. Athos that showed Simonides, Kallinikos and Benedict working on mss. (even together) in Athos at exactly right time and place. A "coincidence" that could not be pre-planned.

Then there are all the amazing coincidences with Simonides publishing a Greek Shepherd of Hermas BEFORE the Sinaiticus Hermas (both texts close and with similar linguistic anachronism problems.) Thus, Tischendorf withdrew his strident objections to the Simonides Hermas when he was publishing the Sinaiticus Hermas! hmmmm

Let's remember that Sinaiticus is a text rife with homoeoteleuton omissions. (This leads to the question of possible source mss.) This should be reviewed carefully.

This is before we go into the various palaeographic and physical anomalies, manuscript and ink, that have there amazing elements. .

"phemonenally good condition" - Helen Shenton.

Easy-peasy page turning. Super-ink, where we can compare what are supposed to be widely differing years of the ink on the same page. We have what looks like an scribal note from the original scribes, the Three Crosses Note, dated to hundreds of years later, a highly unlikely history.

And then there is the colouring and staining.

Hope that helps.

Keep in mind that this type of discussion, even irenic, has been a bit of a hot-button concern, so this post may vanish.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
August 29, 2022

Sounds good, Peter, much as I await a response from Tommy on "peer-review".

Maybe the most pressing question directly related to Brent Nongbri's article is how fixed or how fluid is the terminus ante quem. Would it be difficult or unlikely to see that mini-script and font e.g. in AD 700 or AD 1800? If so why?

(Also it would be good to know more about exactly what was written in each script instance.)

Similarly, were there really these super-tiny scripts in the 4th and 5th centuries? How tall were small scripts that are definitely dated to the early centuries?

So we should avoid circularity.

Sinaiticus has been used as an exemplar for ink/parchment preservation, precisely because of its amazing and unique condition for an ancient manuscript! Sinaiticus becomes the Science, as its early date is considered untouchable.

I've been preparing some questions for Brent, but now that we are on focus here, let's continue :).

At least please consider the terminus ante quem question. Your thoughts welcome.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
www.linktr.ee/stevenavery
 
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