when did Tischendorf first publicly connect the 1844 CFA theft to the 1859 Sinaiticus?

Steven Avery

In March of 15, 1859 Tischendorf wrote a letter to the Minister von Falkenstein announcing the Sinaiticus manuscript. This was published in the Literary and Scientific Appendix to the Leipziger Zatung in April 17. 1859 as

'Ein Brief des Prof. Dr. Tischendorf an den Staatsminister v. Falkenstein',

By July of 1859, this reached the English Press in the

Journal of Sacred Review

By Dr. Tischendorf.
To the Editor of “ The Journal of Sacred Literature.”

To the Editor of "The Journal of Sacred Literature."

DEAR SIR,-A letter from Dr. Tischendorf, addressed to the Saxon Minister von Falkenstein, gives the details of the discovery by him of a remarkable manuscript. The account is published in the supplement to the Leipziger Zeitung, of April 17, 1859; and is dated from Cairo, March 15th. It is in substance as follows:

"The kindness shewn to me by your Excellency on my departure from my native land, makes it my agreeable duty to address to you the first account of a very important literary discovery which the Lord's good hand has vouchsafed to my new investigations in the East. You know what weight the learned world attaches to the famous Vatican MS. of the Bible, and how it has for centuries been esteemed one of the special treasures of the Papal library; you are aware how anxious men have been, and how difficult they have found it, to collate even single passages, how earnestly Mai's edition, undertaken by order of the Pope, had been looked for since 1828, and how gladly it was at last received, at Easter 1858, after thirty years' delay.

"If I should now say that Providence has preserved in the corner of the so-often ransacked cloisters of the East, a MS. which may rank with the Vatican in regard to its character, extent, and age, and which on some accounts claims the precedence of it, I shall not be surprised if some doubt my skill, and the questions be put-Is it indeed true? Is it even possible? And yet as I held in my hands for the first time the precious leaves, in a convent chamber at the foot of Moses' Mount (Ghebel Mousa), my own astonishment and wonder were as great as can be imagined.
"The MS. of whose discovery I inform you consists of 346 fine and fair parchment leaves of so large a size that two of them have required a whole gazelle skin. The writing, upon each leaf and arranged in four columns, is of the most ancient character, and is mostly (and especially on the outside of the skin) preserved with wonderful distinctness, but on the flesh side it is sometimes less legible, and much more difficult to decide respecting the numerous and certainly very ancient corrections to which the Codex has been subjected.

'Such MSS. confessedly never have a date. It is the problem of palæography, by careful attention to all the peculiarities of each separate MS., from the character of the letter forms employed, from the interpunction, from the use of initials, and subscriptions, and inscriptions; from the parchment, from the tints of the ink, the old corrections, etc., to ascertain more or less satisfactorily its antiquity. As to this MS., there scarcely was needed a date to fix its century, for that it was written in the fourth century can be confirmed by all the arguments which have any weight in palæographic science, almost beyond all question.

"The Vatican Codex goes back to the same century in my opinion and that of other able men. The only other Greek parchment MS. to which I had before given a chronological place prior to the Vatican, was the Leipsic Codex Friderico-Augustanus, but this, as I am already convinced, is a relic of the very MS. of which I am so happy as to find these important constituents.

"This MS. still contains, first, considerable portions of the Old Testament, namely, most of the greater and lesser prophets, the Psalms, Job, Jesus-Sirach, Wisdom, and several other Apocryphal books. These are followed by the entire New Testament. And herein lies the extraordinary significance of the discovery. Only three extensive Biblical MSS. of high Christian antiquity have come down to us from the fourth century to the ninth. The most comprehensive among them is the London Codex Alexandrinus, which wants almost the whole of Matthew's gospel as well as considerable part of 2 Corinthians, and two chapters of John's gospel. From the Vatican MS. still more is absent, namely, the Apocalypse and four Pauline epistles altogether, with a third part of the epistle to the Hebrews. But of the MS. of the New Testament now found, not a single leaflet is wanting! It is moreover the only one among the MSS. of the New Testament of a thousand years old and upwards, which is complete. The divine who knows the importance attached to the MSS. of that age, in the endeavour to fix the apostolic text, will accept this as a principal authority. It is a new pledge of the possibility of deciding and restoring the genuine apostolic text, to which this doubtless is a close approximation, as to the main features of it. I only add that my examination of the MS. convinces me of its perfectly coinciding in age with the Vatican Codex.
"I have yet to name two other component parts of the same MS., the discovery of which alone would have sufficed to make my new journey fortunate and successful. Next to the Bible, the most precious literature of the church is the writings of the apostolic fathers. We have but few remains of this class, and these few are for the most part often in doubtful

texts, imperfect, or only extant in translations. It is thus with the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, which, if not composed by a companion of Paul, must have been written very soon after the end of the first century. It is quoted both by Clement and Origen, in the second and third centuries, as even a part of Holy Scripture, and still later, such writers as Eusebius, refer to it as among the doubtful books of the Canon. This epistle is equal in extent to that to the Romans; several MSS. of it have been found before, but all are modern, and in all alike the first five chapters are wanting, of which the text can be gathered only through a very corrupt Latin version. How great then was my wonder when I found the whole of Barnabas in this MS., at the close of the Revelation! I could not lay the volume down till I had read and copied the whole text. Divines will no longer have to read from the uncertain Greek text of late MSS., and a faulty Latin version, the epistle which in the second Christian century was so reverently handled and highly prized.

"In the height of my joy at this discovery I was to have a last surprise. I found a separate portion of fifty-two columns, with the inscription The Pastor;' it was the first part of the Pastor of Hermas, also pertaining to the second century, and likewise claiming a kind of apostolic regard. Till recently, its Greek text was thought to be lost. This MS. proves that in the earliest times both Barnabas and Hermas were reckoned as constituent parts of Scripture by some, if their authority was also doubted. Of Hermas, Simonides confessedly brought a very perfect Greek text to Leipzic, part copied by him from a MS. at Mount Athos, and part upon three paper leaves of the fourteenth or fifteenth century. After this text was published in December 1855, and repeated soon after by me more accurately, considerable doubt arose about it, whether it was really ancient or a mediæval translation from the Latin. I especially opposed the last view, and my opinion is confirmed by these leaves, at least 1000 years older, shewing that the Leipsic text had been derived from the original, but is corrupt, and that in consequence of a mediæval use of the Latin.

"I am glad that the scientific mission committed to me by the Russian Government, and promoted by you, has at its outset so noble a literary discovery as its result. Relying upon the Imperial favour, I venture already to set before the learned world the hope of the publication of the MS. A carefully revised copy of its 132,000 columnar lines will be completed by the beginning of April, if God permit. The Vatican MS. was known 300 years before many cherished wishes were gratified in its publication. It may perhaps need only so many years instead of so many centuries to enrich the Christian literature with that most precious document now discovered. CONSTANTINE TISCHENDORF."

The previous communication is slightly abridged by the omission of a few expressions not at all necessary to its genuine sense, and by some condensation, but it seemed best to retain the original epistolary


Yours faithfully,
B. H. Cowper.

The Literary Churchman: A Critical Record of Religious Publications
Tischendorf's Recent Discovery p. 257-258

The Literary Churchman took issue with the idea given by Cowper that the CFA was identified.

"The only other Greek parchment MS. to which I had before given a chronological place prior to the Vatican, was the Leipsic Codex Friderico-Augustanus, but this, as I am already convinced, is a relic of the very MS. of which I am so happy as to find these important constituents." - Cowper translation, Journal of Sacred Literature, 1859

"He appears to identify the new manuscript with the Codex Frederico-Augustanus, but his expressions are very ambiguous. .. We do not know if he alludes to this or some other discovery. Time will shew."

Reprinted here in a review of the 1860 Tischendorf book.

The Christian Remembrancer, Volume 41 -Jan 1861

New documents on Constantine Tischendorf and the Codex Sinaiticus (1964)
Ihor Ševcenko

In 1855, he declared that the 43 folios of the Frederico-Augustanus were but a part of what he had seen on his previous trip, but maintained silence as to where he had seen the manuscript: Cf. Monumenta Sacra Inedita. Nova Collectio, I (1855), p. xxxx. However, he waited until March 15, 1859 before admitting in print that the Frederico-Augustanus was but a fragment of the manuscript he had found on Sinai. This, he said in a display of deadpan humor, had become clear to him beyond any doubt: Cf. " Kin Brief des Prof. Dr. Teschendorf an den Staatsmlnlster v. Falkenstein," Leipzigrr Zeitung, Wissenschaftliche Beilage nr. 31, April 17, 1859, p. 137.

This private letter was published. However, in the public arena, Tischendorf kept the issue vague. The 1862 Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus, printed in Leipzig, did not include the CFA text.
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Steven Avery

The 1863 book:

Novum testamentum sinaiticum: sive, Novum testamentum cum epistala Barnabae et fragmentis Pastoris. Ex Codice sinaitico auspiciis Alexandri II. omnium Russiarum imperatoris (1863)
Constantine Tischendorf

Does have unusual references to the CFA:

At quum secundum visebam Sinai montem cum S. Catharinae monasterio, nec vidi quem adpetebam thesaurum, nec quo devenisset comperi. Hinc in Europam eum delatum neque amplius locum spei meae relictum esse coniiciens, quum anno 1855 primum volumen Monumentorum sacrorum meorum edebam, textum extremae paginae vaticiniorum Esaiae, quem iam anno 1844 descripseram, una edendum curavi, monens ut codicem Friderico-Augustanum ita etiam reliqua eiusdem libri antiquissimi fragmenta, quoquo pervenerint, mea opera ab interitu esse vindicata.
Quarto vero saeculo dum adscribimus biblia Sinaitica. quaeritur an forte erroris nos convincant quae libris Esdrae et Estherae posteriore manu subscripta sunt Haec enim qui scripsit testatur utrumque illum librum in codice Sinaitico ad exemplar collatum esse "antiquissimum" ab ipso Pamphilo captivo recognitum. At minime contraria ista sunt nostrae de aetate codicis sententiae. Spectant enim ad ea quae a ea et ob correctoribus nostris ineunte fere saeculo septimo in illis libris mutata sunt. Illo tempore codex Sinaiticusa qui etiamnum i. c duodecim saeculis post, maximam partem pulcherrimus est, haud dubie satis novus videbatur. Pamphili vero exemplar a manu eius certissimum venerandae vetustatis indicium habebat. Praeterea exemplar illud minime tum videtur scriptum esse quum recognoscebat Pamphilus: id ipsum in eo inest quod Pamphilus ad Hexapla Origenis mutatum esse dixit; nondum igitur Origenis studia expertum erat. Qui vero notam codicis Sinaitici sive Friderico-Augustani scripsit duas virtutes exempli illius laudat quod et antiquissimum esset et manu Pamphili recognitmn. Quum autem tertio saeculo sive ineunte sive medio scriberetur, papyro potius quam membrana constabata unde antiquitatis species aliquot saeculis post, papyro dudum desuefactm mirum in modum augeri debebat
Uspensky on 13-14, 34, 39-40 (this section might do well to be studied)
Major MacDonald on p. 14, quoting Tregelles 1860. Note that MacDonald probably got his own conclusions indirectly from Tischendorf, through the monastery.
Hilgenfeld is referenced on p. 33.
Scrivener references the p. 40-41 (this should be checked).

Hilgenfeld, Uspensky and other critics of the 4th century date are attacked in two other books in German in 1863.
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Steven Avery

Tischendorf strategy - keep the CFA and CSP apart

Tischendorf did not want the mss seen together, keeping scholars ignorant of:
The Tale of Two Manuscripts

The CFA was the known quantity after 1846. And it was pristine snow-white. Clearly, Tischendorf did not want the two mss seen together, even when he was physically in Leipzig with the mss. This was 1862 and perhaps earlier in 1859 or 1860 (see Tregelles discussion).

In fact, the 1862 publication should have been one unified manuscript. Since the quality of the publication was far above that of 1846. Beyond that, even if the CFA was to be omitted, it should have been clearly indicated ... "the rest of the text is in the 1847 publication..".

There is only one reason for the artificial separation, a game played by Tischendorf up to 1865, that makes sense. Tischendorf was well aware of the colouring of the CSP (Codex Sinaiticus Pretrpolitanus) and the glaring difference with the white pristine CFA. Thus, his goal was:

a) put all the focus on the hand-written facsimile (no parchment to study)

b) say very little about the parchment, its colour and condition and conservation

c) keep them physically apart and as inaccessible as possible

Even his supporter, William Aldis Wright (1831-1914), later on the OT Revision company, wrote as early as 1863, in the midst of trying to counter Simonides.


Genuineness of the Codex Sinaiticus
William Aldis Wright - Jan 13, 1863

although the "Codex Sinaiticus" is now all but inaccessible, "it was perfectly easy of access at Leipzig, and was there seen by two English scholars at least.. they .. pronounce the Codex Sinaiticus to be a genuine ancient manuscript"
All the access to either ms. was very limited. Let's point out again that this is the article where the Tischendorf supporter said:

Granted that Tischendorf has exhibited an unscholarly greed of English gold, and an unseemly obsequiousness to rank
And Tischendorf ducked out of coming to England with the ms, or part of the ms. (Will try to get the exact timing.)


Prior to the acquisition, this Bible was displayed in the Imperial Library in St Petersburg, Russia, and "few scholars had set eyes on it" (The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post, 11 January 1938, p. 3)

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Steven Avery


Even as late as 1901, Bernard Janin Sage noted the two sections as one ms. yet he did not acknowledge this as from Tischendorf:

Dean Alford says that the Codex Frederico-Augustanus (now at Leipzig), obtained in 1844 from the same monastery, is a portion of the same copy of the Greek Bible as the Codex Sinaiticus, the 148 leaves of which, containing the entire New Testament, the Epistle of Barnabas, parts of Hermas, and 199 more leaves of the Septuagint, have now been edited by the discoverer.
This was the result of the reluctance of Tischendorf to connect the two sections of the same ms.

The only sensible explanation for the Tischendorf reluctance is simple:

a) The colours don't match,
b) Tischendorf knows it
c) it is immediately suspicious and thus
d) Tischendorf would like that other not study the two manuscripts together.

Steven Avery

Facebook - Sept 3, 2020
New Testament Greek Club


Afawk, at that time, 1862, Tischendorf was, quite amazingly, still hiding the connection of the 1859 major part of the Sinaitic manuscript with the 1846 deposit of the "Codex Frederico-Augustanus". Which were, in fact, quite obviously the same manuscript.

Even though both had been in Leipzig for some years (Later Tischendorf brought the 1859 manuscript to St. Petersburg, Russia.)

The only reasonable conjecture for why this connection was being hidden was that the manuscript parchment was quite different. The 1844 was light, white, unstained, while the 1859 was stained with more of a yellow appearance.

This staining of the second part of the manuscript was pointed out in the press in 1863 in the Simonides controversies, and was referenced in at least 3 distinct letters. And it can be easily seen since 2009 in the Codex Sinaitcus Project online (although the semi-official Hendrickson book craftily smooths out the differences.)

Tischendorf did not want people looking at both sections at the same time. This problem was resolved when he deposited the 1859 to St. Petersburg, and both sections were difficult to access.

Tischendorf wanted all the scholarship to run through his neat, smoothed, facsimile, which had a very skimpy description of the parchment and ink.


Steven Avery

Here is Tischendorf in 1845-46, before Travels in the East, where it is a footnote.

Anzeiger der Bibliothekwissenschaft - "Die Bibliothek in Patmos"








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