Simonides alludes to the basic palaeographic truth - terminus ante quem - ink upon vellum

Steven Avery

Elliott p. 61
I learned the art of preparing suitable materials for writing — the proper ink, the making of bone pens, the polishing of the skins, the cleaning by chemicals of a few leaves soiled by time, the careful and proper division of the columns, the adoption of the style of writing, and such other things as are proper to archaeography. All these thinjgs belong to the graphic art.

And also in the following issue:

I was taught the means of knowing the ancient MSS. of every period and of every nature of their changes from time, also the knowledge of the skins, and the chemical preparation of the different writing — inks and the effects of the atmospheric changes of the different climates of the world. Further, I acquired the knowledge of the preparation of the skins of every city of the ancient nations, and such other information as is requisite with regard to the indisputable evidence both of the spuriousness and genuineness of MSS. of every kind; which information it is to be regretted is not possessed by any of the archaeologists and palaeographers of our day, as I was sufficiently assured by many circumstances, first and last, and more especially lately when the pseudo-Sinaitic Codex appeared.


p, 61
As well as acquiring sufficient vellum of quality and antiquity which could given to the Czar, Simonides must have had ink old enough for Tischendorf to be led into thinking it was fourteen centuries older than it was in fact. The Clerical
l picks up this point in the article on 11.9.1862:



Journal of Sacred Literature - April, 1863
from the Clerical Journal of Oct 2, 1862
The Codex Sinaiticus and Dr. Simonides
Also in Elliott p. 62-63


Note: This might be Scrivener, note how he discusses that Simonides might have written another ms., that is a Scrivener claim elsewhere.
"It is not to be forgotten that Dr. Simonides, on his own shewing, has not seen the manuscript since it was removed from Sinai; and even if he wrote such a one as he says, this may not be the one which he wrote and says he saw afterwards at St. Catherine Monastery on Sinai."

Compare to:
Full Collation
"If on the whole it shall be thought that we are under no logical necessity to deny that he wrote in 1839-40 some such
manuscript as he has described, one thing appears quite certain, that the manuscript he may have then written neither
is nor can be the Codex Sinaiticus."


Tischendorf, Tregelles and others ... From the colour of the ink, from the form of the letters, from the arrangement of books and paragraphs, from the material written upon, and from various other facts, joined with great experience and attentive observations, these critics have unanimously inferred the extraordinary antiquity of the ‘Codex Sinaiticus.’ p. 488

Dr. Tischendorf will not discuss the question because he thinks it contemptible; but he says, ‘ For the sake of the
English reader I allow myself this observation,—that the simplest schoolmaster in any comer of England would be put to shame if, after a few glances at the manuscript, he failed to recognize what sheer fool’s babble the story of Simonides is. Thev are endorsed by the suffrages, which, we repeat, have been unanimous, of all the great critics who have been invited to examine the " Codex,” or who have inspected the facsimile, the accuracy of which Dr. Simonides himself attests.

(How could the author claim that Simonides attests to the accuracy of a facsimile if he claims Simonides never saw the manuscript?)

impossible that it should gather the traces of such immense antiquity, by lying neglected for ten or fifteen years or less. It is not even insinuated that these peculiar marks of antiquity are the result of design—they are due to simple neglect.

“We cannot turn from this topic without a word for the encouragement of those who are not skilled in old Biblical manuscripts. They might say, if the 'Codex Sinaiticus' is by any possibility a modern production, the same may be true of other manuscripts which pass for the most ancient. Our friends may be reassured: there are features in these most venerable copies of the Holy Scriptures which cannot be imitated. A skilful man, by long practice, and with a certain knowledge of chemistry, could imitate the characters and appearance of many manuscripts on paper, and of some on vellum. But there is a limit to these things, and detection is almost inevitable.

The action of ink upon vellum is peculiar, slow, and gradual, and leads to results which can be measured by time. The action of light and air, and warmth, and moisture, are also remarkably uniform. - p. 490

p. 63

A manuscript at Sinai would not in a few years suffer much from wear and tear, not even from sheer neglect, and the veriest tyro in such matters would never be deluded into belief that a venerable uncial from that monastery was written in our time by even so skilful a hand as that of Simonides. Our readers will not be tempted to cast aside the results of modern science on the ipse dixit of any man. In the case under consideration it would be the height of folly.


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Steven Avery

p. 27
friend. Dionysius, the professional calligrapher of the monastery, was then
begged to undertake the work, but he declined, saying that the task being
exceedingly difficult, he would rather not do so. In consequence of this, I
myself determined to begin the work, especially as my revered uncle seemed
earnestly to wish it. Having then examined the principal copies of the Holy
Scriptures preserved at Mount Athos, I began to practise the principles of
calligraphy, and the learned Benedict taking a copy of the Moscow edition
of both Testaments (published and presented to the Greeks by the il-
lustrious brothers Zosimas), collated it with the ancient ones, and by this
means cleared it of many errors, after which he gave it into mv hands to
transcribe. Having then received both the Testaments, freed from errors
(the old spelling, however, remaining unaltered), being short of parchment,
I selected from the library of the monastery, with Benedict’s permission, a
very bulky volume, antiquely bound, and almost entirely blank, the parch-
ment of which was remarkably clean, and beautifully finished. This had
been prepared apparently many centuries ago - probably by the writer or by
the principal of the monastery, as it bore the inscription, ekaohon
nANHrYPiKQN (a Collection of Panegyrics), and also a short discourse,
much iniured bv time,,__________________________________________________________

In consequence of this, I
myself determined to begin the work, especially as my revered uncle seemed
earnestly to wish it. Having then examined the principal copies of the Holy
Scriptures preserved at Mount Athos, I began to practise the principles of
calligraphy, and the learned Benedict taking a copy of the Moscow edition

p. 57
The Clerical Journal makes much of this in its critical leading article
on 11th September 1862.
Simonides examined the principal copies of the Scriptures at Mount
Athos, and «began to practise the principles of ca!ligraphy». His uncle
Benedict furnished him with a printed text, which he had collated with the
ancient ones and corrected. We are not told how long these preliminaries
took, but it must have been some time.

p. 58


present of a printing - press. To these motives may be added my youthful
ambition to become first of all at Mount Athos in the profession of
calligraphy, which actually came to pass.
On account of all these circumstances 1 undertook the work, and
began immediately after the resignation of Dionysius to study the principles
of calligraphy as much as was needed.
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Steven Avery

MSS. Let them compare, for istance, the Us, Es, As, Ds, and they will not
fail to perceive running through them all the most striking family likeness-a
resemblance too remarkable to be the result of accident, and such as we
nowhere find in genuine MSS. differing by centuries in date. The examiner
will further notice, or we are greatly mistaken, on some of the MSS. what
may be called fanciful of impossible letters; in other words, such letters as
are met with nowhere else, and which we should be justified in declaring
are not ancient Greek at all. We allude particularly to the transcript of a
stone said to have been found at Thyatira, and published here in Place I.B,
p. 14. With some knowledge of paleography, we do not scruple to say that
we have never yet seen a Greek inscription containing such a jumble of
characters as this page presents; while among them we observe also a MS. H
if not some other letters, the form of which, so far as they resemble
anything Greek, approach more nearly to MS. than to lapidary writing.