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Thread: bindings and rebindings

  1. Default bindings and rebindings

    The Many Bindings Proposed for Codex Sinaiticus

    Since Uspensky apparently saw a solid codex in 1845 and 1850, and Tischendorf claimed the 129 leaves were loose in 1844, the modern scholars have presumed, sans hard evidence, that there was a quick binding at the monastery between 1844 and 1845. This whole nexus of confusion shows the difficulties that arise in believing the yarns of Tischendorf, and then making historical extrapolations from his fabrications of convenience (the saved from burning story got a lot of mileage in the critical decade beginning in 1859, even though scholars have come to realize that it was a yarn that was not even hanging by a thread.)


    The Collected Biblical Writings of T.C. Skeat (2004)
    Introduction by James Keith Elliott

    James Keith Elliott:
    In a letter to me dated 27.4.1999 Skeat, in anticipation of writing that article for Novum Testamentum wrote:

    What, then, happened to the rest of the dump which the monks had collected and had intended to burn? Tischendorf had, before he left Sinai [SA: 1844], urged the monks to search for further fragments of Sinaiticus, and it is clear that they did just this, recovering in all further leaves of the Old Testament plus the complete New Testament, the Epistle of Barnabas and the earlier part of Hermas. These the monks attempted to bind. This is the 'second binding' described by Cockerell on pp.82-3 of Scribes and Correctors and, as he showed, a very incompetent job it was indeed so faulty that it looks as if they abandoned the attempt to complete it by attaching boards. Their efforts did, however, succeed in keeping the surviving leaves together. That this binding was after Tischendorf's 1844 visit is proved by the fact that it includes the leaf containing Isaiah 66:12 - Jeremiah 1:7 which Tischendorf had been allowed to copy, though he was not permitted to take away. Furthermore, Uspensky claimed to have seen the volume during two visits to Sinai, in 1845 and 1850, and the binding applied by the monks must have been executed between Tischendorf's departure in May 1844 and 1845. This was the same binding which the manuscript possessed when Tischendorf finally found it in 1859 and still possessed when the manuscript reached the British Museum on 27 December, 1933. "(cf. the plates in Scribes and Correctors fig. 1) - Collected Writings of T. C. Skeat,
    Here is the fig 1 plates, p. X, can you see anything looks like a binding executed in the 1840s?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This blog post offers more of the Skeat and Milne binding conjectures.

    On the history of the binding of Sinaiticus, there is this interesting tidbit from one of Skeat's last articles. The Cockerell he refers to here is Douglas Cockerell, citing the relevant section of Scribes and Correctors. The second binding of the manuscript, previous to Cockerell's, was done by monks at St. Catherine's zealously following Tischendorf's instructions to carefully preserve anything that looked like the 43 leaves he was permitted to take with him:

    "The monks got as far as sewing the leaves into quires, and then sewing the quires together. They then attached to the back two broad bands which were evidently intended to be attached to the binding boards. By this stage, however, the volume had become very out of shape. As Cockerell describes it, 'While the fore-edge is roughly square, the spine is badly out of shape. When the spine is straightened up, as in the new binding, the fore-edge becomes irregular. It is quite possible that this later binding was never actually completed. The sewing threads were deliberately cut from the bands, perhaps with a view to a fresh start.' However, by this time the monks seemed to have realised that their primary objective, of securing the leaves against future loss, had been obtained, and they took no further action." - T.C. Skeat "The Last Chapter in the History of Codex Sinaiticus" NT 42.4 (2000): 314) ,

    blog post. - M. Leary - Ekthesis
    2/7/07 The Binding of Codex Sinaiticus

    The Collected Biblical Writings of T.C. Skeat (2004)

    If we accept the statement of Uspensky, that he saw the codex in 1845, the monks must have worked very hard to complete their search and bind up the results in so short a period.
    Notice that they question the Uspensky straight-forward account, which is rock-solid as an historical account, yet accept the Tischendorf myth of saving 86 pages from burning (Tischendorf actually simply took out five intact quires and part of a sixth.)

    Thus distorting the scholarship.

    Notice how the historical acceptance of the Tischendorf c. 1860 account of the 1844 events has shaped the history of this binding. In fact, if any binding was done in the 1800s in Sinai, it more likely was later on, after Tischendorf had disassembled the Codex that was seen by Uspensky. As to why Tischendorf would remove a cover, or dissaseemble a text, or remove pages, that is a whole nother discussion. An interesting element is how the Shepherd of Hermas, about which controversy swirled in the 1850s due to the Simonides Greek text publication, was shortened, with about 30% of the text. And yet some of the later part showed up in the New Finds room, opened in 1975. A reasonable conjecture is that the Hermas material was separate from the ms. in the wild days from 1844-1859.

    The Milne & Skeat primary source is listed in the libraries of Europe.

    Scribes and correctors of the "Codex sinaiticus", by H.J.M. Milne and T.C. Skeat, ... including contributions by Douglas Cockerell ... [Preface by H.I. Bell.] (1938)


    Report on the different inks used in Codex Sinaiticus and assessment of their condition
    Sara Mazzarino

    Assuming the book was bound soon after its completion, [36] the need for a second fasciculation may imply that the book was disbound at some stage and reassembled according to the new sequence (one section less than the original). What determined the binding or rebinding of the book? Was the original binding and/or the manuscript damaged and therefore in need of a new binding?

    [36] There is no evidence that the book was actually bound soon after the writing and the corrections were complete. Amy Myshrall hypothesized that the book was never finished and was therefore left unbound for a long time. Unpublished PhD thesis "Codex Sinaiticus, its correctors and the Caesarean text of the Gospel", University of Birmingham, 2005.
    So here there is a theory that the first binding was late, maybe even 1844!

    And the New Testament supposedly never lost a leaf in 1500+ years in a largely unbound state!


    The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Alexandrinus, with Seven Illustrations,
    by the Trustees of the British Museum (Oxford, University Press, 1938, reset 1955, reprinted 1963), p. 14

    "This description of the external appearance of the manuscript may fitly conclude with a reference to its binding. When Tischendorf saw it in 1844 and 1859, back and covers had long since disappeared. Examination has shown, however, that it was re-bound at least once in the Middle Ages, the most recent binding being so incompetent a piece of work that its loss need cause no regrets. During its sojourn in Russia the manuscript was kept just as Tischendorf had found it; but soon after its transference to the British Museum the provision of a new binding was seen to be imperative, and this task was carried out in 1935 by the late Douglas Cockerell.[Cf. British Museum Quarterly, x, 1935-6, pp. 180-2 and Plate LIII.] ...
    Here we have a Middle Ages incompetent rebinding, but what happened to the 1844 binding for Uspensky?


    Overview of the conservation of Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library
    Helen Shenton
    Chair, Conservation Working Party
    Introduction to the conservation of Codex Sinaiticus for all four sites

    The 347 leaves of Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library were conserved and bound into two volumes in 1935 by Douglas Cockerell. They arrived at the British Museum Library in December 1933 from St Petersburg, as unbound conjoint bifolia in a metal box. Cockerell carried out some treatment of the parchment and resewed the leaves into two volumes with oak boards and white alum tawed cape goat spines
    So apparently the materials involved in the speculations about an 1844 "two broad bands which were evidently intended to be attached to the binding boards." was all gone.


    The Codex Sinaiticus and the Manuscripts of Mt Sinai in the Collections of the National Library of Russia
    C. Krushelnitskaya, Head of the Old Russian Manuscripts Section

    Since 1883, the Porphyrius (Uspensky) Collection have been housed in the Manuscripts Department of the National Library of Russia. The collection contains 3 fragments of the Codex Sinaiticus (Shelfmark: Greek 259). Judging from two of the fragments, there can be no question that the old parchment was later reused by the monks for binding repair.
    It would of course be helpful if we could find out (and this applies to some material from the New Finds) exactly in what books these materials were used. And when it is conjectured they were bound. If Tischendorf mangled the ms in the 1840s, any use in other books would likely be in the era starting from 1850.

    Text Comparison and Digital Creativity: The Production of Presence and Meaning in Digital Text Scholarship (2010)
    Ancient Scribes and Modern Encodings: The Digital Codex Sinaiticus
    David Parker

    Sinaiticus .. suffered some dismemberment: a number of surviving leaves were cut or folded to make book binding materials. ... the Russian Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski found some of the pieces used in book repair and took them to St Petersburg, where they remain
    David Parker tries to leave it open about the dismemberment, without referencing that Uspensky saw the whole ms. Notice how he the book repair sounds current at the time of Uspensky. In fact, it is hard to imagine him ripping apart bindings looking for what at that time would be unimportant fragments. We should also allow that some references made to finding material in books could be convenient excuses, since both Tischendorf and Uspensky developed reputations for taking without asking.

    "Some evidence remains of the way in which Codex Sinaiticus was originally stitched together. Cockerell, rebinding the manuscript after 1934, found a few surviving 'single threads of loosely twisted hemp', but no evidence of the way in which the leaves were sewn. The manuscript was rebound at least once, and possibly twice, between then and the twentieth century" -

    Codex Sinaiticus, David Charles Parker, The Story of the World's Oldest Bible
    This vague description is included since Parker is one of the top Sinaiticus scholars.


    Codicology: the history of the structural features of the Codex Sinaiticus
    Flavio Marzo

    Douglas Cockerell gives interesting and useful information about the unbound Codex...He identified at least two different kinds of thread that he ascribes to two different sewing structures.[12] He is assuming that the "second" and last sewing was made in the work shop in the Saint Catherine's Monastery, after the first visit of Tischendorf but in some way never finished,[13] this was just assumed because there were no sign of board attachments that were may be removed when the manuscript was took to Russia.

    [12] "There is conclusive evidence of at least two bindings. The first and probably the original binding was sewn by single threads of loosely twisted hemp. Only a few fragments of this have survived and there is not enough evidence to show how the leaves were sewn … The quires in the later binding were sewn with thick double hempen threads, some of witch (sic) were twisted together and some straight. This thread is indistinguishable in texture from the remaining fragments of the earlier single thread sewing. Some fragments from lightly twisted flax thread were also found, in one case knotted to the hempen thread of the later sewing." (Cockerell, Scribes and correctors, p. 82-83.
    [13] "It is quite possible that this later binding was never actually completed." (Cockerell, Scribes and correctors, p. 83).
    Now, if the thread is indistinguishable, that makes it questionable that some threads were e.g. 350 AD, and the indistinguishable threads were 1844. Very dubious.

    The modern scholarship views do not give any reasonable and consistent explanation of binding, threads, etc. One major problem is accepting the Tischendorf stories of the discovery in 1844 that began around 1860.

    In our correspondence, Flavio Marzo, who has been very graceful and helpful, acknowledged that there was no real physical evidence for the second binding theory.

    (The theory is only based on believing the Tischendorf 1844 account, which has the absurd 'saved from fire' component, and trying to harmonize it with the Uspensky account of his 1845 visit.)


    Here was an accusation at the time:

    The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record (1864)

    A portion of this was secretly removed from Mount Sinai, by Professor Tischeodorf, in 1844. The rest, with inconceivable recklessness, he mutilated and tampered with, according to his liking, in the year 1859. Some leaves he destroyed...(Simonides controversy, 1863)

    Last edited by Steven Avery; 10-05-2018 at 04:03 PM.

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