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

  1. Default notes on the Kevin McGrane paper - review of Bill Cooper

    This is an interesting paper. Much of it has to do with blunders in the book of William Cooper. Many good scholarship references. And at least a place or two where I reexamine my positions and understandings, with appreciation for Kevin's efforts. (Many weaknesses in the paper as well, I will try to be fair on both sides on this set of forum posts.)

    Available in a few spots:

    ... A great deal of research unearthed during this undertaking, but not directly relevant to Dr Cooper’s book and so not included here, is expected to appear in a subsequent monograph Codex Sinaiticus and the Three Constantines.
    We look forward to that monograph.

    My Facebook discussion on Pure Bible:

    Pure Bible group

    Sinaiticus Authenticity - Kevin McGrane vs. Bill Cooper
    Many of you know that I have cordially ripped two Sinaiticus non-authenticity books, one by Bill Cooper, one by David Sorenson, as being loaded with blunders and doozies. This is mostly on and also Facebook threads. I’ve warned friends to be careful about any usage of the books, since the weak spots are open for easy broadside attack....
    Before going into wide-ranging issues, the next three posts have a very specific focus, two on integrity, one on a commonly made claim about palaeographers.

    And here is an overview:


    #2-3 - integrity first
    #4 - appeal to the phantom independent palaeographers
    #5 - "treatment applied to the Leipzig pages"
    #6 - flippant dismissal conclusions by KM
    #7 - the imaginary Benedict
    #8 - effectively countering the (irrelevant) individualistic Bill Cooper errors
    #9 - even more Cooper and Sorenson errors not given by Kevin McGrane
    #10 - photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration (who, when, why?)
    #11 - is the ad hominem component relevant to the Sinaiticus authenticity question? "particularly repugnant"
    #12 - Tischendorf's 1844 theft of 43 leaves p. 35-39
    #13 - Tischendorf's 1859 visit to St Catherine's monastery - p. 41-45
    #14 - is the Jesuit conspiracy theory viable after you discount the Bill Cooper errors?
    #15 - Conclusions: why would a 600 AD Sinaiticus be linked to a "fourth century component"?
    #16 - interesting historical-textual tidbits - Burgon, Nolan and Erasmus
    #17 - the Jesuit conspiracy question - KM proposes that Simonides would have been murdered!
    #18 - The 1975 'New Finds' - p. 46
    #19 - materials analysis - Leipzig had planned tests
    #20 - comparative theories - The Inference to the Best Explanation - begging the question - circular reasoning
    #21 - comments from James Keith Elliott and the British Library
    #22 - Constantine Simonides - p. 47-70
    #23 -
    #24 -
    #25 -

    Please note that I am also going over the Bill Cooper book in detail as well.

    Emphasis is added to various quotes on this thread!
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 10-19-2018 at 06:19 PM.

  2. Default Integrity #1 - transferance fallacy

    A crass smear. Emphasis added:

    4 A more recent book that has appeared, covering similar ground, but in a longer treatment is David W Daniels, Is the “World’s Oldest Bible” a fake? , (2018). Also J A Moorman Was Codex Sinaiticus Written in 1840! [sic] (2018). Most of the critical comments directed to Cooper’s book apply also to Daniels’.
    In terms of the book by David W. Daniels, this is complete nonsense and one of two incredible examples of a lack of integrity from Kevin. (I will note here if he corrects this error.) On virtually all of the dozen of so sections where blunders and bluster of William Cooper are analyzed, there is simply no relationship to David's book or videos at all.

    And I can not comment on what Jack Moorman has written, since I have not seen the book. I was a bit disappointed in his talk at the Dean Burgon Socieity, 2018. Note, however, that Jack is not directly included in the smear campaign.

    Kevin McGrane may be unaware that many videos from David and the research of the SART team preceded the Bill Cooper book.

  3. Default Integrity #2 - responding to arguments given by Sinaiticus authenticity defenders

    The second main spot where Kevin's book suffers from a lack of integrity. This really cheapens his book.

    For now, I will just go over one spot, in the text below:

    12 The blogosphere is freighted with conspiracy theories. Those who resort to internet sites as a source of information are destined to repeat and recycle innumerable errors. Many bloggers do not understand the points being dealt with, do not understand basic logic and how to spot and avoid fallacies, do not have the necessary ability in critical thinking, and do not understand methods of research. Moreover, there is no peer review, or even a sanity check. Many recycle statements taken out of context copied without checking their sources ad fontes, or properly understanding the tilings that they write. Among such in recent years we can mention David W. Daniels, who produced a book Is the 'World's Oldest Bible' a Fake?, Chris Pinto, who produced a video Tares among the Wheat, which includes details about Codex Sinaiticus, and the many blog posts by 'Steven Avery' (= Steven Avery Spencer). These are deeply flawed and unbalanced, and to a greater or lesser extent they utilize the methods of conspiracy theory. Many of the arguments that these writers consider to be most compelling (among themselves) are based on gross misunderstandings of the evidence, and a complete failure to deal with, and in many cases even acknowledge, countervailing evidence. In so doing they are doing great disservice to the causes they claim to espouse. - p. 12
    If this was not an integrity issue, on both sides, I would laugh heartily. Here I am responding for the SART team, which includes David W. Daniels and Mark Michie.

    Again and again, we have acknowledged and responded to supposed countervailing evidences.
    A few examples.

    Stanley Porter summary of James Keith Elliott arguments.
    James Snapp - 20 reasons (every one answered).
    palaeography claims of Elijah Hixson
    colour claims of Jacob Peterson
    Tommy Wasserman on Simonides
    And much more. Either Kevin is ignorant of these discussions, or he is anxious to score cheap debating trick points by lying. (And the more virulent contras therefore rush to quote the false accusation.)

    In fact, It is hard to get authenticity defenders to have any sort of full-orbed discussion. (Will Kevin do a better job?) One common motif is censorship.

    In a sense, this immediately answers the other silly attacks where Kevin cheapens his paper with insanity, unbalanced, and more.

    As to peer review, this is a complex issue. Who did the peer review for Kevin's paper? Who even knows the main issues? There are many places where his paper is strong, and many places where it is weak, but why should people who do not know the wide-ranging topics decide on publication?

    And you can very easily create a solid review by simply sending an advanced copy to five or so individuals who are interested and strong on the issues. They might end up doing a blurb quote, or oublishing their critiques or requesting full anonymity.

    As for ad fontes, Kevin must be kidding. We had the Uspensky material translated from Russian/Old Slavonian. David has researched Vassarion in Athos. We have pulled out primary source material everywhere, from English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian/Slavonian and Latin sources. We have corresponded with scholars on a wide variety of issues.

    As for "conspiracy theory", this is a common canard. Sometimes you have to consider the possibility or likelihood of conspiracy, such as with the JFK assassination. With Sinaiticus, the theory of replica or forgery production has to consider cui bono, who benefits, and any study and conjecture in that realm will be attacked by vapid and scholastically insecure individuals, not aware of the evidences, as "conspiracy theory".

    Yes, we can criticize Bill Cooper for how he plays loose and fancy-free with looking for a Jesuit conspiracy. Plus how he states conjectures, often weak, as supposed obvious facts. However, that applies only to Bill Cooper.


    Integrity Review Footnote:

    Kevin made two crass, false smear attempts against the SART team, and our studies.

    They have been mentioned on the Facebook PureBible forum and here.

    Kevin should at the very least retract the false accusations, although he could do better and also let his earlier readers know.

    If not, these two spots are available as the response, rebuttal and refutation.
    Simply link to these two posts, starting at:

    Integrity #1 - transferance fallacy

  4. Default the appeal to the phantom independent palaeographers who studied the parchment and ink

    Moreover, no qualified palaeographer who has had opportunity physically to inspect the document has doubted that the manuscript was produced centuries before the nineteenth. - p. 8

    Simonides likewise cast himself into the same camp by stating that 'Any person learned in palaeography ought to be able to tell at once that it is a MS of the present age.' Since many learned palaeographers have come and gone since that statement was made in the 1860s, and none have agreed with Simonides, then the implication is that all palaeographers without exception have been involved in an ongoing conspiracy. - p. 8
    What is totally missing here is the names, dates and text of the reports of these palaeographers. Preferably independent, since palaeographers working for a library are not looking to publicize markers of inauthenticity. And preferably these esteemed, independent palaeographers should have personally examined and handled at least both main sections (1844 Leipzig and 1859 British Library, earlier St. Petersburg) and reported on issues like the parchment and ink conditions, the various scripts etc.

    Tischendorf, readers of this forum know, with special emphasis on the palaeographic puzzles section, set script dates without giving any explanation whatsoever, as pointed out by Skeat. Similarly Tischendorf used the old misdirection trick of pointing scholars to his facsimile edition, which of course hides the “phenomenally good condition” of the parchment and ink. As well as hiding the 1844 to 1859 differences. Plus the libraries have had extremely restricted acces. In addition, there have been no scientific tests, and those planned for Leipzig in 2015 were cancelled.

    All this is so fundamental that I am making the first point of inquiry to Kevin McGrane, after the two integrity lapses above.

    Names, dates, and analysis, please. Or the statements should be simply retracted, removed form the paper, and, better, the lack of real palaeography analysis should be discussed.



    Without naming his phantom palaeographers, Kevin plays two sides, astutely attacking some elements of the supposed palaeography:

    Any claim regarding age (and scholars claim production in the fourth century) has, to date, been based mainly on the verdict of palaeography, which as we shall see is unsafe and insufficient. - p. 4
    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. p. 5
    Does Kevin McGrane realize that he takes contradictory positions? This is a rather common occurrence.

  5. Default "treatment applied to the Leipzig pages ... cleaned and perhaps artificially brightened"

    Next we go to a phantom cleaning that becomes a major part of the Kevin McGrane theorizing.

    Introduction p. 3 ....
    elicits questions to which convincing answers—especially of any treatment applied to the Leipzig leaves—would be welcome. ...

    all the evidence leans towards the Leipzig leaves looking slightly lighter because they have been cleaned and perhaps artificially brightened by conservators... In a misguided way, some such treatment of the Leipzig leaves might have sought to improve contrast: darkening the iron-gall ink, and lightening the substrate. p. 111

    The hypothesis that the Leipzig leaves have had an artificial brightening p. 113
    On this topic, we have an incredible irony in the approach of Kevin.

    On one hand:

    1) Kevin wants to claim that the CSP difference is virtually all photography. (Without any proper discussion of streaks, stains and lack of colour consistency, all of which is 1859nBritish Library, not 1844 Leipzig.).

    On the other hand:

    2) Kevin theorizes some (unknown, no evidence) cleansing, bleaching, lightening of the Leipzig leaves.


    Hopefully Kevin will see the obvious and blatant contradiction in his approach .. playing both ends against the middle.

  6. Default flippant dismissal conclusions by KM

    Frequently Kevin gives a type of "nothing here" flippant dismissal of important items.
    I will put a number of those here on this post:

    Hermas recension

    Of course, the fact that the Greek texts of The Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus and in the Athos Codex are similar means nothing more than that they are copies of the same Greek recension. Any other alleged association is accidental or conjectural.
    Kallinikos and Sypridon Lampros catalog
    As I come across these on the rereading, I will put more in here, and plan to add what is missing.
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 10-25-2018 at 11:51 AM.

  7. Default the imaginary Benedict


    Kevin refers to the “imaginary” Benedict, and then explains he is, what was his position, etc. The “imaginary” is quite puzzling.

    Simonides is also parodying Tischendorf's idea that the Codex would make a wonderful present to the Tsar by weaving into his tale that it was his (imaginary) uncle Benedict's idea to make it a gift for the Tsar twenty years previously. p. 49
    Beyond that Kevin makes a very major issue, on many pages, that he was not the Abbot at the monastery. Fair enough, but exceedingly minor. Possibly Simonides embellished his position in his description. Kevin did not interact with the studies of David W. Daniels specifically around Benedict, which are fascinating and comprehensive in describing the gentleman, including his Bible text views.

    Some of the names:

    Didaskalou Benediktou,
    Benediktou Hierodiakonou,
    Tou didimou didaskalou kuriou Benediktou (1837)

  8. Default effectively countering factual errors, poor logic and faux conclusions from Bill Cooper

    Much excellent stuff here. Some of which I pointed out a while back. (Also from Sorenson, e.g. Vaticanus dropcaps.)

    In some cases, short pointers will be placed here. More is not needed, as the ones here apply only to Cooper, and folks following up with his work, and not to the SART team.


    “Dr.” Cooper

    My first note is that I would not use the phrase "Dr. Cooper" unless there really is good evidence a rigorous degree from a University, rather than an honorary or very light study that led to the granting of the degree.


    visible, amateurish forgery every page -
    p. 8

    * For example, 'Almost every page of the manuscript bears telltale signs of forgery, mostly involving fading the text and discolouring the page in a most amateurish attempt to make it much older than it truly is.' (p.105); 'the forgers at Sinai had made all the mistakes that forgers commonly make'(p.86); 'every single one of the telltale signs of evident on the pages of Codex Sinaiticus - almost every page' (p.88); 'almost even' page of the British Library segment bears the telltale signs of the forger's hand.' (p.89). p. 8
    This claim of Cooper is uniquely his, and easily countered by Kevin.


    Application of Method - p. 15 section -


    Vaticanus access error - p. 15-16

    This and the similar claim that 'No Protestant had ever been allowed near this treasure before, it was so jealously guarded' (p.22) are demonstrably false.
    Total nonsense about Vaticanus by Cooper. The responses begin on p. 15, including:

    Contrary to Dr Cooper's assertions, Protestants had easy access to Codex Vaticanus in the eighteenth century. By examining it in Rome, Anglican Thomas Bentley collated Codex Vaticanus, and checked the collations done by Mico in 1720 for his more famous uncle Richard Bentley...
    Kevin McGrane gives enough information to refute Cooper, with an emphasis on Thomas Bentley and Andreas Birch, although more could be given (e.g. Hug is not mentioned here.)


    Tischendorf Travel Expenses - p. 15-19

    Dr Cooper then moves on to the funding of Tischendorf's travels in the 1840s. Because young Tischendorf was not a wealthy man in the early 1840s Dr Cooper says (p.ll),

    We are being asked [by Tischendorf] to believe...that he was able to rack up a $5,000 travel and accommodation bill over five years through several countries on unsecured credit and as a penniless itinerant to boot.
    There are legitimate questions that can be raised about Tischendorf's financing, but Cooper gets the facts wrong, and Kevin McGrane does a good job in going over many details.


    mixes up Tischedorf efforts on Codex Ephraim Rescriptus with a Latin NT edition p. 19-24

    The work for which he received such accolades was an edition of a Greek 'New Testament' based, not on any Greek manuscript, but on the Latin Vulgate Bible. It was merely a rendering into Greek of Jerome's erroneous Alexandrian-based 'translation', expressly intended to advance the Vatican's cause of overthrowing or replacing the Textus Receptus. - Cooper, quoted on p. 21
    Kevin McGrane corrects this blunder over five pages. It is nice documentation, quite unnecessary since it is such a wild blunder, but nothing wrong with giving all the details. He describes how Cooper makes these errors because of a 'conspiracy theory' approach. (See my writing on that issue.)

    (Neither Cooper, who is mixing up the history, or Kevin McGrane go into the issue of the missing leaf on Codex Ephraemi, for which the circumstantial evidence points to Tischendorf.)

    Kevin properly calls the Cooper error a blunder. And such a major blunder should make anyone "very uncomfortable about Dr Cooper's handling of evidence.

    37 It appears that Dr Cooper went looking for a work published by Tischendorf in 1842 and found He Kaiite Dialheke Novum Testmnentum Greece el Latine: in antiquis testibus texlum versionis Vulgats Latins indagavit tedionesque variantes Stephani et Griesbachii notavit V.S. venerabili Jager in consilium adhibito Constant inus Tischendorf (Paris, 1842). This blunder is confirmed by his second reference to the work on p.42: '[Tischendorf] had earned his first flush of fame by retranslating back into Greek Jerome's corrupt Latin Vulgate Bible.' Tischendorf did not gain any international recognition or fame for that unusual work, which was more of a private commission by abbe Jager (mentioned in the title), a professor in the Sorbonne, who urged him to produce a Greek text conforming to the Vulgate. That job, which any competent person could have done, and would certainly not have attracted international recognition or interest, does not in any way comport with the work that Tischendorf describes in his narrative. This makes us very uncomfortable about Dr Cooper's handling of evidence.
    And this gives a seque into the next Cooper blunder.


    claims all of Tischendorf fame artificially manufactured by the Vatican p. 23

    [T]here was (and still remains) one body politic which was able to pull strings simultaneously in many nations of Europe, strings that were then as now attached to their several monarchs and heads of state. In short, it is clear that these bodies had received their instructions to commend and honour one Constantine Tischendorf, a young and hitherto unknown scholar of whom they had never heard, and who would otherwise have remained entirely unknown to them. But they obeyed the instruction and accordingly awarded the honours.
    (The [T] is from Kevin McGrane, some unusual style rather than "...there". I will make the change in a future quote.)There is no evidence for these strings and instructions. And Cooper is building off his major previous blunder (error begets error), not realizing that Tischendorf had received lots of praise for the Codex Ephraimi Rescriptus deciphering.

    The Tischendorf rise to special visits and accolades from the Vatican is a part of the mix, properly analyzed, but it is wrong to simply state a theory about specific events, with no evidence, as fact.


    claims Tischendorf secret knowledge of information in a public report - p. 23-24

    A learned Englishman, one of my friends, had been sent into the East by his Government to discover and purchase old Greek manuscripts [...] had not even gone so far as Sinai; "for," as he said in his official report, "after the visit of such an antiquarian and critic as Dr. Tischendorf, I could not expect any success."

    Tischendorf fails to mention by what strange chance he was able to pry into official British government reports from which he could lift this fortuitous quote.
    And Kevin shows that the last two quotes related to a public report of Henry O. Coxe.


    A look at Codex Vaticanus - p. 25 section


    no doubt, shadow of a doubt, presents theories without tangible evidence as fact

    when Dr. Cooper states that at Tischendorf's papal audience The Jesuits no doubt reminded the pope that the object of the exercise challenge the Textus Recqitus' (p.23)

    Likewise he states that Codex Vaticanus 'was composed in Rome by forgers...doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475' (p.25).
    There are many cases where Cooper uses this faux wording on issues where he does not present any real evidence, or his evidence is easily refuted. Kevin McGrane is absolutely correct in pointing it out as non-scholarship.


    Vaticanus as a mediaeval production - p. 25-26

    Codex Vaticanus 'was composed in Rome by forgers...doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475' (p.25).

    Worse still, Dr Cooper misleads his readers (p.23) in claiming that Vaticanus was a late mediaeval production on grounds that

    Its first mention occurs in the Vatican Library Catalogue of 1475 (in which it is given the shelf number 1209) and then in the Catalogue of 1481...all of which is more than a thousand years after its alleged composition...[I]t didn't come to light until 1475 when it was 'discovered' lying on a shelf in the Vatican Library.

    Dr Cooper's assertion, therefore, that in 1475, Codex Vaticanus 'had strangely eluded the eye of every Vatican librarian for more than a thousand years past' (p.25) is as anachronistic as it is absurd.
    The first Cooper quote is so important it should have been given in full, rather than with ... . In the next section I note a rather incredible blunder by Cooper about the Vulgate history. Here is his fuller quote.

    Codex Vaticanus ... was composed in Rome by forgers brought up in the Vulgate tradition, and hence of Vulgate habits and usages, doubtless shortly before its 'discovery' in 1475.
    After referring to the Vaticanus Library issues, which can be considered an anachronistic argument from Cooper:

    Dr Cooper's assertion, therefore, that in 1475, Codex Vaticanus 'had strangely eluded the eye of every Vatican librarian for more than a thousand years past' (p.25) is as anachronistic as it is absurd.
    On p. 25 Kevin gives a history of how the development of the Vatican library in the 1400s.

    Kevin refers to "Other anachronisms abound" p. 26, yet gives only one:

    'the Jesuit Cardinal Mai',
    This criticism is dubious , as you can see in this article, which allows the inclusion of those who officially left the Jesuits before taking their position:

    Jesuits in the Hierarchy

    It would be different in the case of Jerry Brown, "Jesuit-educated" would be correct. However, when someone is still in the rcc hierarchy, they generally can still be referred to as Jesuit, much like President Reagan is no longer actually President.


    Ending of Mark omitted from Vaticanus in modern times - p. 26-29

    This might be the very worse blunder from Cooper, but we will find some competition.

    Without a doubt, this forged insertion [of a different ending to Mark 16, without vv.9-20] into the text of both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus was instigated by Cardinal Mai. He it was who was responsible for seeing the Vaticanus facsimile though the press in 1857.

    ... the verses Mark 16:9-20 were removed from Vaticanus by Cardinal Mai in 1857.
    p. 26
    And I have covered this Cooper blunder on the Mark ending extensively, on PBF as well as Facebook. Kevin McGrane adds additional information, including more detail from the Andreas Birch edition.

    This next blunder is even worse than it seems, since a "shared scribe" would obviously be a heavy blow to any theory of 1840 creation of Sinaiticus.


    shared scribe of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus - p. 30-34

    Here Kevin McGrane does a good job in giving the history details and disassembling various errors and blunders from William Cooper.


  9. Default even more Cooper and Sorenson errors not given by Kevin McGrane

    This will be the sister post to the one above.

    Here is one just noted on Oct. 24, 2018 (And I will double-check McGrane)

    In Cooper's list of Spyridon Lamprou entries involving Simonides, Kallinikos and Benedict, Cooper has one for the Shepherd of Hermas involving Simonides. This is actually an entry regarding the later German published editions. Oops. And I may add the actual picture from Cooper and what the entry actually says.
    from memory wip

    Cooper messed up:


    the Hendrickson/BL comparison to the CSP.

    the proposed colour adjustment history

    (Why not mentioned by Kevin?)

    Sorenson - drop caps

    Since AD 383 when Pope Damasus ordereed its publication, no Bible version or translation other than Jerome's Vulgate was allowed to be consulted or referred to or even read on pain of death! This ban on all other translations of the Bible was reinforced by the Council of Trent of 1546, and again enforced by Clement VIII in 1592. p. 23
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 10-25-2018 at 11:29 AM.

  10. Default photographic facsimiles adjusted the tone to give a uniform page coloration

    Which Photographic facsimile ?

    Introduction p. 3 ....

    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. A photographic facsimile has very recently been completed in colour by the Codex Sinaiticus Project, so that all the parts can be seen, and compared, but unfortunately the colours are not uniformly represented on their website so the effect is very misleading, and direct visual colour comparisons from the website are invalid. Some differences in physical condition between the leaves recovered in 1844,1859, and 1975, and the fragments recovered at various times, can nevertheless be seen, and this elicits questions to which convincing answers—especially of any treatment applied to the Leipzig leaves—would be welcome.

    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.

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