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Thread: the theft and mutliation of manuscripts

  1. Default the theft and mutliation of manuscripts

    Some manuscript thefts of Tischendorf were unrelated to the immediate Sinaiticus issuees.

    They are significant in that they show the pattern, the tenor of the times and the need for coverups.

    (This is true even if you believe that the thefts were justified for scholarship purposes. Or "everyone did it".)

    Lets point out that Tischendorf would even mutilate existing manuscripts. This is important in understanding that he could have simply pulled out the 1844 heist from an existing codex. It also helps explain the purpose of a creative cover story. So there is a pattern.

    In criminal investigations, a later alibi of convenience, sans substance, years after the events, is looked upon more as an admission of guilt than a serious story. That is how the saved from burning story should be considered.


    Archimedes Palimpsest -and the pattern of theft

    1844 mutilation of Archimedes Palimpsest in Contstantinople, visiting the Library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
    Tischendorf alludes to the theft of this leaf:

    Travels in the East, tr. from [Reise in den Orient]
    by William Edward Shuckard (1847)
    I now went direct with the proffered introduction to the patriarch of Jerusalem. The bishop only was at home, a man of considerable intellectual activity, and not deficient in literary attainments. We went through the catalogue of the library together; but precisely of the manuscripts there was no account. After this he allowed me to inspect the library myself, and permitted me to make any use of the manuscripts I found. They were thirty in number, but they were altogether without any especial interest, with the exception of a palimpsest upon mathematics.
    The leaf made it to Russia, and was sold later by his estate.

    In 1876, Tischendorf's heirs sold the leaf, along with 43 other leaves from as many individual manuscripts, to the Cambridge University Library. ... There are those who are convinced that Tischendorf did not come by the leaf honestly. The Greek mathematician Michael Lambrou stated that in all probability Tischendorf stole not just the palimpsest leaf, but all 43 others gathered on his expedition.

    Tischendorf and the Codex Sinaiticus
    : The Saga Continues (2005)
    Michael D. Peterson,
    Tischendorf ... published observations made during his visit in his book Travels in the Orient, which was published in German in 1846 and in English translation by W. H. Shuckard in 1847. Tischendorf noted that the bishop allowed him "to make any use of the manuscripts I found. They were thirty in number, but they were altogether without any especial interest, with the exception of a palimpsest upon mathematics." It appears likely that the last citation refers to the Archimedes palimpsest. Tischendorf apparently made use of the manuscript in a manner that was no doubt unforeseen by his host, since one leaf from the codex was found among his papers after Tischendorf's death; it now resides in the Cambridge University Library as Add. 1879.23. -

    Infinite Possibilities: Ten Years of Study of the Archimedes Palimpsest, 2010,
    Easton, Roger L.; Noel, William
    Alan Hirshfield in "Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes" wrote of the "rapacious tendencies of scholars like Constantin Tischendorf".

    Ten Years of Lessons from Imaging of the Archimedes Palimpsest (2011)
    Roger L. Easton, Jr., William A. Christens-Barry, Keith T. Knox

    The prayer book was used in Christian Orthodox services at the Monastery of St. Sabas in the Judean desert for hundreds of years. In the 1800s. the book was placed in the library of the Metochion of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Constantinople, where its presence was noted in 1844 by Constantin von Teschendorf, who was most famous for "borrowing" the Codex Sinaiticus from St. Catherine's Monaster}'. He published observations made during his visit to Constantinople in the book "Reise in den Orient," which was published in German in 1846 and in English translation by W.E. Shuckard as "Travels in the East" in 1847. In the book. Tischendorf noted that the bishop allowed him

    "to make any use of the manuscripts I found. They were thirty in number, but they were altogether without any especial interest, with the exception of a palimpsest upon mathematics" (Tischendorf, tr. by Shuckard, 1847, p-274)

    It is quite likely that this citation refers to the Archimedes palimpsest. Tischendorf apparently made use of the manuscript in a manner that was no doubt unforeseen by his host, since one leaf from the codex was found among his papers after Tischendorf s death and now resides in the Cambridge University Library as Add. 1879.23. ....

    Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes (2009)
    By Alan Hirshfeld

    To Tischendorf, who was not mathematically trained, the technical symbolism was meaningless scrawl, not rare Archimedean writings. Whatever it was, it had nothing to do with the New Testament. Nevertheless, Tischendorf must have sensed the document’s potential importance. He took out a blade, surreptitiously excised a sample page featuring both text and diagrams, and spirited it out of the Mctochion.

    That Tischendorf had violated the trust of the patriarchate was not revealed until thirty years later, when Cambridge University purchased the unidentified palimpsest page from his estate—along with several dozen other manuscript leaves Tischendorf had apparently pilfered during his lifetime. The severed palimpsest page became Cambridge Manuscript 1879.23.


    Facebook in Dec 2013
    NT Textual Criticism
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/NTTextualCriticism/permalink/574214029332268/?comment_id=574265979327073&comment_tracking={%22t n%22%3A%22R9%22}

    Archimedes Palimpsest -
    Facebook Aug 29, 2014
    Archimedes Palimpsest


    Archimedes Palimpsest - When the Cover Story Unravels, What is Left?

    Here is the cover story used in Constantinople, Sinai's "saved from burning" was more creative.

    Travels in the East (1847)
    Constantin Tischendorf

    "After this he allowed me to inspect the library myself, and permitted me to make any use of the manuscripts I found. They were thirty in number, but they were altogether without any especial interest, with the exception of a palimpsest upon mathematics."

    Natialie Tchernetska on the Overall Problem

    Constantine Tischendorf and his Greek Manuscripts (2013)
    Natalie Tchernetska

    Despite extensive descriptions of his journeys, Tischendorf was often vague as to the provenance of the manuscripts and to their details, possibly because the means by which he obtained the manuscripts were sometimes dubious ... Sometimes, the means by which he obtained the manuscripts were not straightforward: while some manuscripts were donated or sold to him, others, especially fragmentary manuscripts, were apparently stolen.... Tischendorf’s accounts leave many questions unanswered. Which manuscripts did he possess but omit from his descriptions, and why? Were they merely “fragments of no value, interesting only for palaeography”, as he claimed? Were they used as specimens for the purpose of experimenting with different chemicals to read the lower scripts? Does this dearth of information points to illegal acquisition? Or did Tischendorf conceal details about some manuscripts in order that he might split them and sell the parts as unique items?

    Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus

    A page of Codex Ephraemi disappeared as well, and the circumstantial evidence points to Tischendorf.

    “A Re-examination of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus,” a doctoral thesis presented to the University of St. Andrews
    Robert W. Lyon
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&u act=8&ved=0ahUKEwij5urOrMTKAhWFGD4KHXJ-BUQQFggpMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fecommons.asburysemina ry.edu%2Fjspui%2Fbitstream%2F10910%2F12819%2F1%2F1 994Lyon_R.pdf&usg=AFQjCNGEIlywlyWFelJMa-xSBoZ7tn9oQA

    At the present time the codex is made up of two hundred-eight leaves of which one hundred-forty-five are of the New Testament. When Tischendorf studied the manuscript there was one more folio, but for some unexplained reason folio 138 of the present binding - has disappeared. 1

    1. That this page is missing was, apparently, first noted in 1883 at which time a note to this effect was placed in the beginning of the codex. As far as I know no one has, directly or indirectly,
    laid the blame for its absence on Tischendorf.
    p. 6
    Read between the lines. Especially know, knowing how Tischendorf mangled even the Archimedes palimpsest. Here is the same information summarized in a review.

    Theological Observer (1960)
    John Theodore Mueller

    In the second part of his article Dr. Lyon shows that the codex contains only 208 leaves and not 209 as is commonly stated. The manuscript had 209 leaves when Tischendorf used it, but since then folio 138, the one used for a facsimile by Tischendorf, has disappeared, though no one lays the blame for its absence on the German scholar. The present binding is according to the upper text; the original text is thoroughly out of sequence. More than a few folios were reversed when the later text was written, so that the top of a page of the sermons is the bottom of the page of the biblical text.
    This is the Tischendorf edition, which should include the heisted page

    CODEX LAUDIANUS G35 A Re-Examination of the Manuscript: A Reproduction of the Text and an Accompanying Commentary being a Thesis submitted by Otto Kenneth Walther to The University of St. Andrews in application for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    ...R.W. Lyon in 1958 when he undertook a re-examination of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. At that time he pointed out that while photographic facsimiles had been produced of codices א, A, B, D, and others, only a sample page or two of the palimpsest C were available in textbooks dealing with textual criticism.

    The Question of the Theft of Codex Aleph
    Aug 18, 2011 - quotes compiled by Nazaroo


    Travels in the East
    (1846, German, 1847 English)

    Sinai in 1844 - To my astonishment I discovered amongst the Greek manuscripts which I brought home, a document with the superscription "Golden Bull which the celebrated Emperor Justinian gave to the Abbey of the Monastery of the Holy Mount Sinai."
    This may be the copy of an original deed, although by no means may it be called a title-deed. I shall not defer its publication.

    Was this published? The language is familiar, as with the CFA leaves, the manuscript just came into his possession. And was it returned to the monastery?


    Some manuscript thievery of the 1800s was simply fenced in the antiquities market, so who pulled them out can not be specified, although you might start with the usual suspects.

    MS 2530 - part of MS Sinai Syr.3 - 5th Century Peshitta Manuscript from St. Catherine's

    MS Sinai Syr.3

    MS 2530

    The monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai (founded by the emperor Justinian I between 527 and 565), where the section of the codex containing Romans 11:6 to Hebrews remains as MS Sinai Syr.3. ... The leaves here were presumably lost from the monastery in the nineteenth century, and may have entered the antiquity markets in Cairo.

    (This would have likely been a theft by one of the manuscript hunters in the 1800s known for pulling off heists, and at St. Catherines the big name is Tischendorf, Uspensky is a possibility.)


    Last edited by Steven Avery; 04-03-2018 at 11:02 PM.

  2. Default one theft attempt thwarted

    Stanley E. Porter, p.62-63, The Life and Work of a 19th Century Bible Hunter, relates from a David Parker book:

    At some point at or just before the middle of the last century (that is, the 19th century), it was noticed that the surviving leaves at the end of Codex Bezae were missing. Enquiry was made of the last person to have used the manuscript, a young Leipzig scholar called Tischendorf. In due course a packet arrived from Leipzig, containing the missing pages and an explanation that Tischendorf had run out of time in Cambridge, and so had taken them with him to finish his work. This story is an oral tradition of a century and a half in length, with reasonable attestation and certainly no lack of intrinsic probability. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any written evidence in the library at Cambridge that would substantiate this living voice. 144

    144 "David C. Parker, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript and its Text Cambridge: (Cambridge University Press. 1992), 283-4.

    Porter missed the Natalie Tchernetska writings:

    After leaving St Catherine's on 1 June 1844, Tischendorf's first trip to the monastery complete, he returned to Cairo and then went on to Jerusalem, Mar Saba Monastery, Samaria, Nablus, Nazareth and Beirut and then to Smyrna, Patmos, Constantinople (Istanbul) and Athens in search of further manuscripts. Once he was back in Europe, on the way home he also passed through Italy and stopped to examine manuscripts in Vienna and Munich. At last Tischendorf returned home to Leipzig, during his time away having been promoted to the position of Ausserordentlicher Professor at the University in 1845, a title he held until 1851.65 He brought with him some 50 manuscripts that he deposited in the University library as a special collection bearing his name. I find it interesting to note that I have not (yet!) come across any suspicions raised about how Tischendorf acquired the rest of these manuscripts.66 p. 29-30

    65 Above Privatdozent, in the traditional German university system there were two levels of Professor, aussurordentlichcr and 0rdentlicher.

    66 Parker (Codex Sinaiticus, 135) recognizes that manuscripts from St Catherine’s (and presumably other monasteries and libraries) are found in a number of European and other libraries.
    The brazen theft of manuscripts by Tischendorf is not a topic that most of the scholars want to discuss in depth.

    On another topic, did he find Lobanow and the Uspensky book (Constantinople, possibly St. Petersburg where it was published in 1856) before 1859 for sure? It has been reported that Lobanow showed it to him in Constantinople.

    London Quarterly Review
    Last edited by Steven Avery; 08-01-2018 at 07:25 AM.

  3. Default Tischendorf's theft reputation preceded him to Sinai

    Here is a little note that shows that Tischendorf was suspected as a thief even before his first visit to the monastery, even when he was under thirty years o

    The Discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus as reported in the personal letters of Konstantin Tischendorf
    Jeffrey-Michael Featherstone
    https://www.academia.edu/1123038/The...s_as_reported_ in_the_personal_letters_of_Konstantin_Tischendorf

    Cairo, 15 June 1844 (to his brother Julius) : p. 81
    He took only two letters of recommendation with him to Sinai ; one of them, from the superior of the Sinai monastery in Cairo, was of no use because this perfidious Greek wrote to his monastery that they might put everything at his disposal, but they should be careful with him with regard to manuscripts.
    Quite an unusual "recommendation". Be careful with your manuscripts when this fella is around.

    Thus Tischendorf angled to get in without this recommendation.


    Some writer's work with irony and satire:

    "The pious Tischendorf, who could be trusted with almost anything except a manuscript, eventually persuaded the abbot to allow him to take the codex to Cairo."
    William Baird

  4. Default examining the stash after the heist = Tomas against Barlaam

    p. 79
    (81)n : Having described a fifteenth-century manuscript (the Tomos against Barlaam) which he had acquired on his trip of 1844, Tischendorf copied its curse formula : "the present book belongs... to Mount Sinai. ... whoever removes it from the... monastery, may he be afflicted with the curse of the Holy Fathers and of the Burning Bush." Tischendorf added in brackets, for no apparent reason, " I found these leaves when I was already far away from Sinai."—Ihor Sevcenko

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

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