Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tischendorf Discussion - TC Alt List

Recently, James Snapp Jr. and Steven Avery have been having an ongoing discussion about the question of the authenticity, age, and history of the Codex Sinaiticus, the famous Biblical manuscript now residing in the British Museum, and which is now online as well.

This discussion was taking place on Facebook, but Steven kindly reposted it in the Yahoo Groups TC Alt List (Textual Criticism Alternate List).

Here is the remarkable exchange, and links to important evidences:


James and I have been discussion the Sinaiticus issues on Facebook.
For clarity of posting, editing and readability, I am going to switch here for now.

The pictures on the Facebook page are nice, the lack of editing formatting is a real problem.


Facebook thread:

Full thread

James post (answered here)


James Snapp
You wrote:
> "Tischendorf wrote specifically that he had a facsimile of
Vaticanus available."
> -- Probably you already mentioned this, but I lost track. Could you
present the exact quotation where he says that he had a facsimile of Vaticanus? Not a printed collation, and not a printed presentation of its OT text, but a *facsimile*?

The distinction may be academic, as Tischendorf prepared the facsimile.  Remember, too, that Tischendorf would rig the Sinaiticus facsimile he created, like at 1 Timothy 3:16.  Here we go.

Die Sinaibibel: Ihre Entstehung, Herausgabe und Erwerbung (1971)
Konstantin von Tischendorf
Die ältesten griechischen Handschriften, weiche die europäischen Bibliotheken besassen, hatte ich nicht nur gesehen, sondern auch zum Behuf einer neuen griechischen Paläographie studirt, zum Theil, darunter die Vatikanische Bibel, mit eigener Hand facsimilirt.

The Bible Hunter by Jürgen Gottschlich
Translated from the German by David Burnett
- Extract from chapter

Kyrillos was in the process of cataloging the library when Tischendorf arrived at the monastery .... Not until 1871, three years before his untimely death, did he describe in his book The Sinai Bible – Its Discovery, Publication and Acquisition his version of having found it: ...  I had studied them as well for the purpose of a  new Greek paleography, and in some cases, including the Vatican Bible, had facsimiled them with my own hand.

Quite clear.

While Jürgen Gottschlich writes a footnote saying that Tischendorf was mistaken, I think we should take Tischendorf's own words at face.  He was elderly at this point and let slip something hidden in earlier days.


James Snapp
You wrote: "He ripped pages out of Sinaiticus in 1844 and later removed its binding." -- Are you saying that the entire story about the basket is something that Tischendorf made up?

Definitely.  Fifteen years after the theft, in the crucible of dealing with the Russian bureaucrats and the Orthodox hierarchy and wanting the public support, it became a handy cry.

James Snapp
> And, inasmuch as the monks of St. Catherine's insisted that the
manuscript had belonged to them for many years, are you also saying that some of the monks at St. Catherine's co-operated with him in this deception?

Definitely, Tischendorf had people cooperating with him in the monastery.  Kyrillus the librarian (later the head of the monastery) and the young oeconomus were examples.  Baksheesh with monastery FOT would explain how he got the 1853 large stash of manuscripts.

The deception about the basket and burning story was very late and designed for politics and for public support, and afaik never had an iota of corroboration by anybody in the monastery.  So I am not sure who you think "co-operated with him in this deception?".  Do you have any evidence of this "cooperation" in regard to the burning basket tissuedorf?

Travels in the East is helpful, Tischendorf was a bit more revealing about monastery helpers because it was before the heist of 1853 and the grand heist of 1859, and the smaller heist of 1844 was still a secret.

Travels in the East (1851, originally published 1846)
Constantine Tischendorf
p. 95-97

Incidentally, this book ended up helping expose his theft of the Archimedes palimpsest page:

The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist (2009)
Reviel Netz, William Noel

Remember, when he first ripped out the 43 leaves from the bound book in 1844, we have an account to his family (which may itself be sanitized) which only said, per the Jeffery-Michael Featherstone summary:

The Discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus as reported in the personal letters of Konstantin Tischendorf
p. 83-84
Results of his researches : He has come into possession of [ =ich bin in den Besitzgelangt von ] 43 parchment folia of the Greek Old Testament which are some of the very oldest preserved in Europe.

To put it bluntly, that is the language of the thief.  Wow, look, the stuff "came into my possession". Nothing even about a nice gift from Cyrillus, or saving anything from the fire,.


James Snapp
> You wrote: "I asked you when the Vaticanus sections were first
noted and how they are dated, and you did not answer." That's because I don't know. I'll need another flash-drive before I can download the Birch volume. But you're the one trying to show that Tischendorf could have added the marginalia, so the burden is on you to show that he could have been aware of them.

And I already showed that Tischendorf or friends of Tischendorf could have added the marginalia, that is a done deal.  The Vaticanus situation is interesting because all this is your principle argument.


James Snapp
> You asked: "Is a picture of the Vaticanus numbers
available?" Wieland Willker, iirc, posted a picture of at least one of them in his page on Codex Vaticanus (see the section "Lectionary labels." He also lists some of them. (see  ) His information about how well the numbers fit the usual reading-calendar is not quite right, though; for details about that see Euthaliana.

What I see there is this.

... This is Act 7:30-35. Interestingly only at this instance the words T. A EBDOMA appear. Page 1391 C: I have reinforced the letters in the image to make them more clearly visible.

(pic from page)


Are you saying that has one of the pre-Euthalian Acts section numbers from 1-69?  


James Snapp
You wrote: "The New Finds includes sections wrapped right in between sections of Uspensky and Tischendorf." What are you suggesting about the new finds? That Tischendorf or some accomplice took intact pages from a codex made by Simonides, tore them out, and placed them in another room (which was eventually sealed off, until 1975?

Sure. That is, essentially, the natural conclusion, allowing some nuance on the exactness of circumstances.  When you have New Finds pages smack between and next to sections being used by Tischendorf and/or Uspensky, Ockham tells you loud and clear ... tampering is how the pages got into the New Finds room.  Logic 101.

Plus, some New Finds pages show directly that they were part of tampering, or play, or experimenting.

The Codex Sinaiticus and the Manuscripts of Mt Sinai in the Collections of the National Library of Russia
Fragment of a sheet of the Codex Sinaiticus from the Society of Lovers of Ancient Literature in Saint Petersburg
Codex Sinaiticus. Fragment of the Book of Judith (11:25 - 12:3,59).
Parchment. Fragment of the sheet. 18,8 ? 14,6 cm.
The fragment contains 35 extant lines of text in 3 incomplete columns.
The text is washed, almost unreadable.
This is a black and white photocopy of the fragment of the sheet, obtained using a technique called "multispectral imaging", which enables the traces of the writing to be read. RNB. OLDP. O. 156

Hmmm... this is not New Finds damage...  Why not test the washing? Maybe you will find lemon juice and herbs, as discussed by Kallinikos. Perhaps it was a test, work and discard page.

Incidentally, one writer noted that it is not so clear that the room was fully sealed off at any time. I don't have that note handy, though.


James Snapp
You wrote: "The 1890s Bodleian librarian Falconer Madan said that the specific points of marks referenced by Simonides were lacuna when the ms was examined." Which is another way of saying: Simonides, after reading about what parts of the MS were extant, and what parts were not extant, claimed that proof that he had written the MS were in the non-extant parts.

Clearly you have not read Falconer Madan, since he was sharp enough to consider that possibility, and much more.   A common problem of the Sinaiticus authenticity defenders, they simply are not familiar with the material.

Books in manuscript - Literary Forgeries (1893)
Falconer Madan
... Simonides asserted, not only that he had written it, but that, in view of the probable scepticism of scholars, he had placed certain private signs on particular leaves of the codex. When pressed to specify these marks, he gave a list of the leaves on which were to be found his initials or other monogram. The test was a fair one, and the MS., which was at St Petersburg, was carefully inspected. Every leaf designated by Simonides was found to be imperfect at the part where the mark was to have been found. Deliberate mutilation by an enemy, said his friends. But many thought that the wily Greek had acquired through private friends a note of some imperfect leaves in the MS., and had made unscrupulous use of the information.

Now, I am not saying that this is a full review of the markings controversy, but a simple read of Falconer Madan would show you that your reinterpretation was simply errant.

James Snapp
You wrote: "New theories were developed that Simonides must have had a contorted inside man in Germany telling him where to claim markings." Not an inside man -- Tischendorf's own published descriptions of the MS.

Again, why not reading the material you are trying to discount first?

Falconer Madan was the Bodleian librarian, with access to lots of material that is either archived away or non-extant today.  Like James Anson Farrer, he was no partisan, he was no slouch on a couch, he was a respected and learned scholar.

Falconer Madan (15 April 1851 ­ 22 May 1935) was Librarian of the Bodleian Library of Oxford University.

Madan concluded that the exactness of what was said by Simonides was not publicly available information, and thus came forth the accusations that he had an inside man in Leipzig.


James Snapp
You wrote: "The introductory quire to the NT strangely gone and renumbered" -- this is an indication, as Skeat deduced, that Codex Sinaiticus was never finished; canon-tables had been prepared for it but they were not included.

This is about as likely as the similar scenario for the Mark ending.  Between slim and none.  Such explanations are part of the SCS -- Sinaiticus Circularity Syndrome. 

Example .. there must have been a rebinding in 700 AD. Wait, maybe one in 1844 before Uspensky saw the manuscript. We have to have some explanation, even if there is no real evidence or sense.


James Snapp
You wrote: "Placing a little light note about the marginalia in Acts (the job would take about 15 minutes) could have been just a little game of cross-reference." So you are proposing that after Simonides forged the entire codex,

Simonides never asserted his work was a forgery. The fact that Uspensky saw it with white parchment and did not write about it as a valuable ancient manuscript is one corroboration of this view.  Within the Simoneidos considerations, I think the evidence on this point is unclear.

James Snapp
Tischendorf had fun with it by adding marginalia?

What I said was crystal clear.  Somebody, likely Tischendorf or a friend of Tischendorf, may have played around a bit, putting in a few section numbers very lightly.  It would be good for a real palaeographic expert (not those in the pocket of the British Library) to discuss the dates of the numbers and what other handwriting they might match.

Why would you think nobody wrote on the manuscript for the 15 years when it was unbound and kicking around Sinai and Cairo? Even in a non-Simonides scenario, there is no basis for such an assumption.

James Snapp
You asked, "Why were most of the numbers [in the lection-list in the margin of Acts] skipped?" One can only guess.

You can do more than guess.
You can conclude that they were being handled by somebody in an ad hoc fashion.

James Snapp
Do I find it strange? Yes; although it wouldn't be /bizarre/ for a congregation in the 600's to follow an unusual lectionary.

James, if you start dating those numbers to 600 AD, you have essentially lost the Vaticanus connection.  And they don't look to me like 4th century, it looks like some of the numbers show up in the Byzantine and Modern sections of number history, rather than ancient Greek.

However, on many such issues the goal now is to get really knowledgeable gentlemen more involved.  They should not have any ties to the British Library, whose learned scholars seem to always start from the assumption (surprise!) that Sinaiticus is a priceless antiquity manuscript.

James Snapp
I figure that the source from which the lection-list was copied into Aleph and B stopped at about the same point where the list stops in Aleph, but there's no way to prove this, against other possibilities. But this is a pebble of ambiguity next to the mountain of difficulties one must ask when facing the epicycles involved in the forgery-theory: why were the section-numbers in the Gospels written so erratically and incompletely? Why were these lectionary-notes only added partially? Etc.

As I explained, all this is much simpler to account for in the monastery and Cairo and Tischendorf theories, than in a valuable manuscript production stage. Here is the Robinson attempted "explanation" of the incomplete Sinaiticus sections.

Euthaliana (1905)
Joseph Armitage Robinson
Can it be that the numbers were written in before the codex was bound, and that for some reason the scribe became discontented with his task and broke it off at the end of a gathering of leaves ?

You can get anything you want, in the Sinaiticus Authenticity Restaurant.

James Snapp
You wrote: "You are now hinting that this marginalia might have been added many centuries after production. From what source? Do you really think Vaticanus and Sinaiticus sat side-by-side around 800 AD or 1000 AD?" I'm not /hinting/, and I'm not suggesting /many centuries;

See, eg. your 600 AD note above.

James Snapp
I'm saying -- as I said clearly before (See my essay on the question of whether Vaticanus and Sinaiticus share a scriptorium) -- that these lectionary-related notes in Acts were added in the 600's (or maybe 700's) and imply that at some point they were either side-by-side, or that each was alongside the same source-material from which the lection-notes were derived. Robinson said it before I did. Are you sure you read Robinson carefully?

Are you talking about the super-vague conjecturing?

"this seems to imply that the Aleph and B were at an early stage of their history lying side by side in the same library." (p. 37)

Then, on p. 42, he goes into the Latin mss that have similar Acts sections.

Opening up a whole nother potential vector of transmission into Sinaiticus that I had missed earlier.  By my accepting the claim that these 69-sections in Acts only existed in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

Any theory that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were side-by-side for hundreds of years has a huge element of special pleading involved.  And if the theory is based principally on the Acts section marginalia, it is typical circularity in the big picture.  Since the evidence is strong that Sinaiticus did not even exist for a millennium and more later.


An interesting Sinaiticus quirk is in Revelation, where it is in essence an early commentary pre-figuring later commentaries.  Properly considered, this is just one more of numerous philological evidences against Sinaiticus authenticity. (This one is only modest, so far. Hermas is super-alarm bells. Others vary, discoveries are made now that we know about the issues. With Revelation, it is worthwhile to point elements like this out in our desire to understand the textual history.)

Scribal habits and theological influences in the Apocalypse: the singular readings of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi (2006)
Juan Hernández

The Apocalypse in codex Sinaiticus is a striking example of a fourth-century text that differs substantially from modern critical editions. It exhibits dozens of differences at key points, reflecting the concerns, interests, and idiosyncrasies of its earliest copyists and readers. Taken as a whole, Sinaiticus’s text of Revelation may constitute one of our earliest Christian commentaries on the book, disclosing its fourth-century milieu and anticipating the later concerns of Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea. This is no commentary in the contemporary sense, however. Sinaiticus’s readings range from the spectacular to the mundane and include the theological, the liturgical, the commonplace and even the infelicitous. It is a text ever in tension with itself, effective both in its capacity to obscure as well as in its regulation of meaning. Clarity and confusion co-reign and compete for our attention. Despite that, we can discern a concerted effort to elucidate the Apocalypse’s message by scores of changes throughout. Some of these are inherited. Others created. All affected the reading of the text.

Andreas is about 600 AD, Oecumenius is much later. Likely, there was no "anticipation" here. A much simpler explanation, the Sinaiticus Revelation  was written by some one familiar with the commentaries.  A good study and check would be word matches of the Sinaiticus text with the later commentaries.

Once you get past Sinaiticus circularity, you start to look at the evidences afresh.

Archived at:
[TC-Alternate-list] Codex Simoneidos / Sinaiticus - Acts marginalia, Falconer Madan, Tischendorf Vaticanus facsimile, New Finds & more

Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery
Bayside, NY

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