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Thread: notes on the Kevin McGrane paper - review of Bill Cooper

  1. Default is the ad hominem component relevant to the Sinaiticus authenticity question?

    In the Preface:

    a particularly repugnant aspect of the thesis is its reliance upon the false testimony of a notorious fraudster and perjurer who gloried in his role of viciously persecuting the Protestant Reformed cause, and shrank not from attempting to destroy the lives and reputations of the saints
    And I would call this the "drama queen" argument.

    To a large extent, this is simply a diversion red herring.

    The participation of Simonides in the creation of a replica or forgery text in Mt. Athos c. 1839-1840 stands or falls on the evidences, not e.g. how Simonides behaved years later in the Jonas King affair. In fact, being a part of creating a terrible manuscript that has fooled millions is no laurel.

    In fact, in a sense you can consider chicanery in manuscripts from Simonides as a possible qualification, or credential, as pointed out by Charles Van der Pool.

    Lastly I find it somewhat comical that the charge against a forger was that he was convicted of forgery...that would seem to be more of a proof of his “credentials” ..

    The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Translator’s Note

  2. Default photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone

    Scholars have been unable easily to compare the state of the various parts of the Codex Sinaiticus manuscript held in Leipzig, London, St Petersburg, and Sinai, all the more so since photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration, minimizing their differences and obviating colour comparison. - Introduction p.3
    Here we need exact information.
    As with the list of palaeographers .. nothing!

    Which ones? Why?


    We have emphasized this point. And this is, from memory, messed up completely from top to bottom by Bill Cooper, who actually lauds the 2011-2012 Hendrickson/BritishLibrary publication over the CSP.

  3. Default comments from James Keith Elliott and the British Library


    in the introduction

  4. Default Wip - 14


  5. Default Conclusions: why would a 600 AD Sinaiticus be linked to a "fourth century component"?


    The theory of Kevin McGrane tends to a later Sinaiticus than the one accepted today as 4th century.

    There is a curious point on this, however. I am using the classical ad hominem approach, allowing his arguments, "to the man":

    If Donaldson is correct on these points, then as the Palatine Latin translation is fifth Century and the Greek may be post-fifth Century then a sixth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus is consistent with these findings. This aligns with Uspensky's mature view that the Codex is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century exemplar of the New Testament. Added to this, then, were Contemporary (sixth Century) recensions of Hermas and Barnabas with Latin influences from the fifth Century. None of this points to a nineteenth Century production.

    ... However, the alternative of a fourth Century production of Codex Sinaiticus does not follow from rejection of Dr Cooper's thesis. Important scholars have considered that it is a production of the fifth or sixth Century of a fourth Century exemplar. But whether it is a sixth Century copy of a fourth Century edition or an edition made in the fourth Century, there is an important fourth Century component, in a time when the Church was fighting for its life during the Arian controversies, from which there is ample testimony of the corruption of the Scriptures by the Arians.
    Lets say that Sinaiticus was made in 600 AD (e.g. David Trobisch has floated that idea.) It would be a relatively unimportant uncial, and that would mean that the textual world was even that much more duped by Hort.

    However, why all the blah-blah to the supposed "fourth Century component"? Codex Bezae could be said to have a "second century component" in Old Latin sources, but that is simply conjecture and has very little to do with its textual value.

    If Sinaiticus was made at 600 AD., it could easily have lots of variants and corruptions that come from .. 600 AD. The supposed "fourth century component" would be nothing but conjectural manipulations, of very little value.

    The preface reference:

    The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well.

  6. Default interesting historical-textual tidbits - Burgon, Nolan and Erasmus


  7. Default the Jesuit conspiracy question - KM proposes that Simonides would have been murdered

    Jesuit conspiracy?

    The suggestion that Codex Sinaiticus is a nineteenth century forgery by Jesuits, and the attempts to prove such by means of conspiracy theories, are huge distractions from consideration of its real provenance, which reveals a heavy influence from heterodox elements in the early church, certainly in the fourth century, and possibly in the fifth and sixth centuries as well. Introduction - p. 2
    Much of p. 6-14 is around Cooper and the question of conspiracy.

    Some of the McGrane counter-conjecture goes a little wild, like in p. 9 where he implies that the Jesuits would have murdered principles.

    Surely a Jesuitical plot backed by the full panoply of the Roman Church would have avoided all the aforementioned problems of interaction and discovery by having Simonides come by an unfortunate 'accident' shortly after delivery of his codex, since he would have been useful only up to that point, and become a total liability to the success of the plot afterwards as a potential whistleblower who knew far too much. Yet he lived and travelled throughout Europe and the Ottoman and Russian empires after his alleged delivery of the codex in August 1840 until his death in Albania in 1890, aged about 65.
    The SART team avoids the dogmatic statements made by Cooper. There is simply too much unknown.

    Yet, it is ironic that Kevin McGrane's attack on the Cooper theories is essentially a one-up-man-ship theory about the conspiracy theory! Written in the Bill Cooper style. "Surely... unfortunate 'accident" Why wasn't Simonides murdered? This is a bit humorous.

  8. Default British Library acknowledgment

    British Library

    Introduction p. 3

    'aware of the ongoing doubts and concerns about the dating of this extraordinary manuscript.'3

    3 private correspondence

  9. Default materials analysis - Leipzig had planned tests !

    Determining genuineness by materials analysis

    When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 they were submitted for radiocarbon dating in 1950 to establish their antiquity. Researchers also analysed their ink composition using a cyclotron particle accelerator, performed DNA testing on the parchment (animal hide), particle-induced X-ray emissions testing, and broadband fluorescence infrared photography.

    Unlike the case of other manuscripts where palaeography alone failed to distinguish between the genuine and the fake, yet chemical and physical analysis finally confirmed modern forgery, no museum has shown any inclination to perform similar analyses on Codex Sinaiticus - or Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and papyri such as P46 for that matter.
    However, the Leipzig University Library had planned tests on Sinaiticus in 2015. McGrave omits this, even though the tests were planned by the prestigious BAM of Berlin, who did the very same DSS tests he references!

    The tests were cancelled. Why? The most sensible conjecture is that word was getting out that the tests might show Sinaiticus to be of recent vintage. The people in the museums know of the "phenomenally good condition" and the colour variances and other concerns.

    The aforementioned private correspondence with the British Library put the matter clearly with regard to radiocarbon dating: it has no plans to perform C14 dating of Codex Sinaiticus, nor has it done any in the past. Additionally, the Codex Sinaiticus Project, which brings together the work of the four museums that house parts of the codex, confirms that no chemical analysis has been performed on the inks:

    The Codex Sinaiticus inks have never been chemically characterized, and the type and proportions of ingredients mixed together have never been determined. Therefore, the composition of the writing media can only be roughly guessed by observing their visible characteristics and their degradation patterns.5

    This is remarkable considering the case of Gregory-Aland Codex 2427 formerly known as 'Archaic Mark' whose text is extremely similar to Codex Vaticanus, a matter that is touched upon briefly and relevantly by Dr Cooper in respect of chemical analysis (although he makes a grave error in relation to Vaticanus as is noted below). Codex 2427 was highly esteemed by T.C. Skeat, palaeographer at the British Museum, and by Kurt Aland, whose work on the Greek New Testament text forms the basis for most modern translations. However, its genuineness was completely undermined in 2006 when its text was demonstrated slavishly to follow Buttmann's 1860 typographical facsimile of Vaticanus, including its mistakes, and it was confirmed in 2009 by chemical analysis that it is a forgery of later than 1874 since one of the inks used in its production was not marketed until that year.

    A similar example (relevant to this review since Dr Cooper believes that Codex Sinaiticus was written in 1840 by Simonides) is recounted in the newspaper obituary of Constantine Simonides:

    Simonides, the notorious Greek manuscript forger.. .had a most remarkable career, and as a forger of Egyptian and Syrian antiquities he stands without an equal. Among his exploits was the presentation to a committee of scholars of a manuscript of Homer...anterior to the Christian era. Eleven of the 12 members of the committee were convinced of the authenticity of the document, but the twelfth discovered that it was a faithful copy of the text of Homer as published by the German critic Wolff, and that the manuscript reproduced the whole of the printer's errors in this edition...Several of the greatest scholars of Europe were, indeed, deceived by the forgeries of this astute Greek.6

    These embarrassing debacles underscore that through over-reliance on palaeography it really is possible to fool almost all of the people all of the time.

    6 The Times, October 18, 1890. - p. 4-5

  10. Default comparative theories - The Inference to the Best Explanation - begging the question - circular reasoning

    On p. 12 Kevin McGrane attacks the "beg the question" and circular reasoning approach of Bill Cooper. It is clearly a reasonable attack contra Cooper, and has nothing to do with our approach.

    Kevin is also offering a rather facile approach to:

    The Inference to the Best Explanation
    given by Harman in 1965 the Philosophical Review.

    In general, there will be several hypotheses which might explain the evidence, so one must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a "better" explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true...When a detective puts the evidence together.. .he is reasoning that no other explanation which accounts for all the facts is plausible enough or simple enough to be accepted.14

    As we shall see in abundance, Dr Cooper's method, rather than of inference to the best explanation, moves from his chosen explanation to inference: his desired explanation drives all the inferences.

    14 Harman, The Inference to the Best Explanation. Philosophical Review 74: 88-95 (1965).
    Thus here is where McGrane has one of his two major integrity fails, jumping off to attacking others for faults he understandably perceives in Cooper, part of his transference fallacy and false accusation methodology covered in posts 2-3 here.

    One irony is that McGrane's analysis often suffers from the same faults, in the opposite direction.

    On the philosophical level, we see that what McGrave is offering is rather facile.

    Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation
    edited by Kevin McCain, Ted Poston
    Inference to the Best Explanation
    What Is It? And Why Should We Care?
    Igor Douven

    As other commentators have remarked, these and other formulations of IBE raise several questions of clarification, most notably, the question of how to determine which of a number of competing explanations is best. And should we really infer to the best explanation no matter how poorly it might explain the relevant facts, as some of the formulations seem to imply? This apparent problem is avoided by Musgraves version, which requires that the explanation be satisfactory to begin with (see in the same vein Lipton [1993]), but then Musgrave is silent on what it takes for an explanation to qualify as satisfactory. ... (continues)
    Igor Douven explains some of what is wrong with overly simplified attempts to use this philosophical construct.

    However, this discussion can give us a good jumping off point for discussing the comparative theories.

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