Alexandrinus history - Scott Mandelbrote - Michaelis et al

Steven Avery

By the 1800s, it was easily understood what type of manuscript would look old, with the Alexandrinus experience.

old boxy script
avoid accents and breathings
nice colophon


Scripture and Scholarship in Early Modern England
By Nicholas Keene

Chapter 4
English Scholarship and the Greek Text of the Old Testament, 1620-1720: The Impact of Codex Alexandrinus
Scott Mandelbrote

Roe had never seen handwriting of such antiquity. As English critics quickly noted, the manuscript was written in a large, square uncial hand and showed almost no sign of the accent or breathing marks of later codices. It was, in other words, something that looked to them very like the descriptions that they had received of Codex Vaticanus, the manuscript of the Septuagint that had been discovered in Rome and formed the basis for the best sixteenth-century editions of the Greek Old Testament. Moreover, this new codex came with an impressive tradition, albeit one that we now suspect that it may only have acquired in the early seventeenth century, perhaps from Lucaris himself. This stated that it had been written by the virgin martyr, Thecla, the supposed date of whose death meant that this was, in all likelihood, an even older manuscript than any that Catholic editors had used. It implied that this was also a manuscript which had been written by someone who had corresponded with one of the most significant of the Greek Fathers, whose own witness to the readings of the Septuagint was regularly cited by critics of the text.24 p. 80
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Steven Avery

Grabe's 1707 Septuagint edition was Alexandrinus with a lot of other influences

From Mandelbrote

Grabe himself began to produce a mixed text of the Septuagint, rather than demonstrating the purity of Codex Alexandrinus as he had perhaps envisaged. Nevertheless, Grabe’s edition ought really to have been the culmination of seventeenth-century English interest in Codex Alexandrinus. It should have proved the importance of that manuscript as source for the true text of the Septuagint. Why did it fail?

The simple answer is that, despite the traditional role ascribed to providence in the protection and dissemination of biblical texts. Codex Alexandrinus was astonishingly unfortunate in or unforgiving of its editors. Grabe died in 1711, when he had published only the first and fourth parts of his edition.
71 Francis Lee, a former follower of the teachings of Pierre Poiret and Jane Lead, took up the edition, but he died in 1719, after only completing the second part of the work.72 The third and final part appear ed in 1720 and was seen through the press by William Wigan.

... Grabe’s initial transcriptions of the text of Codex Alexandrinus were checked by prominent and active scholars - Huinfrey Wanley, the librarian to the Harley family, and John Potter, an expert on Greek history and antiquities who had become Bishop of Oxford by the time that Grabe’s edition was finished.
73 It is therefore worth considering why Grabe’s patrons

... There is, however, a final reason for Grabe’s failure. Despite his commitment to Codex Alexandrinus, his edition was always conceived in critical terms. The idea that a single manuscript might confute Catholic critics of the clarity and authority of Scripture almost seemed unworthy of late seventeenth-century Protestant scholarship. When the royal librarian, Richard Bentley, strode down the burning staircase of Ashbumham House in 1731, he abandoned to the flames the Cottonian Genesis, which had once been a talisman for the hopes of early seventeenth-century English Old Testament scholarship. On the other hand, he carried with him Codex Alexandrinus.
76 Yet the scholarship for which Bentley was already famous was the work of the conjectural reconstruction of ancient texts. This depended on the evidence of many manuscripts, not the witness of a single codex. (continues)

73 Bodleian Library. Oxford. MS Grabe 53, fols 310-11.

- p. 91
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