before 1844 - poof provenance ( Georgi Parpulov confirms 1734 catalog by Nikephoros Marthalis Glykos )

Steven Avery

In this thread we will begin to collate the materials relating to the lack of any references to the Codex until it became a major find in the 1840s by Tischendorf and Uspensky.

Ancient Catalog

Facebook - Sinaiticus Forum - Dec 31, 2013
Steven Avery

The Greek and Latin Manuscripts of Mount Sinai and the Scholarly World (2010)
Georgi R. Parpulov

SA in blue, quotes in brown

Parpulov confirms what was said by Chris Pinto from Pierre Evald, from another source, that there was a report of a 1734 catalog:

"catalog by Nikephoros Marthalis Glykos in 1734"

that so far is a poof catalog. Parpulov has a complementary reference with Glykos involved in the library at that time.

p. 36
At the convent itself, Porphyrius, like many others before and after him, was led through a door marked "Infirmary for the Soul", with the following inscription above it:

"This library was renovated in 1734 through the care and stewardship of Kyr Nicephorus, most holy and pious Archbishop of Mount Sinai, and the labour of the Sinai monk and mason Philotheus and of Simeon. Remember them, ye who read this".


He has a lot on the New Finds.

And he points out that Uspensky tended (like Tischendorf) to ms. thievery.


And Parpulov hints that we can find more detailed info from Uspensky about what he saw.

"The archimandrite and his companions took detailed notes of many Sinai manuscripts, thus starting the long process of their scholarly cataloguing. The history of this as yet unfinished collective enterprise is briefly recounted here in the hope that it might prove instructive .8

8 For a much more scholarly and detailed account see V. N. Beneshevich,, Les manuscripts grecs du Mont Sinai et le monde savant de l'Europe depuis le XVII siecle jusq'a 1927. (Athens, 1937) to which work the title of the present article pays tribute.

Beneshevich, V. N. (Vladimir Nikolaevich), 1874-1943. Les manuscrits grecs du Mont Sinai et le monde savant de l'Europe depuis le XVIIe siecle jusq'a 1927, par V. N. Benechevitch. Athen, Verlag der "Byzantinisch-neugriechischen jahrbucher, 1937. Series title: Texte und Forschungen zur Byzantinisch-Neugriechischen Philologie ; nr. 21.


However, Parpulov misses noting one very critical aspect (once authenticity is properly questioned) from Uspensky:

"white parchment"
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Steven Avery

Blavatsky report - "such a Codex never existed in the library"

There should be a separate thread on the general significance of provenance in any item of antiquity :).


You can theorize whether Blavatsky, an occultist, wrongly thought Sinaiticus was good for Christianity or not. However, this report stands on its own account and is consistent with everything else we have learned about the history of the Sinaiticus manuscript.


Blavatsky wrote to V. de Zhelihovsky in June of 1877.

The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky: Volume 1 1861-1879 (2003)
By Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

We have no manuscript of the Old Testament earlier than the tenth century. The Bodleian Codex is considered to be the oldest. But who can vouch for its authenticity? Tischendorf is the authority for it and has convinced the whole of Europe that he had discovered on Mount Sinai the so-called Sinaiticus. And now two other scholars (one of them a Theosophist of ours), who have spent several years in Palestine and have been on Mount Sinai, are about to prove that such a Codex never existed in the library. They have conducted investigations for two years and searched all the hidden places, with the help of a monk who has lived there for the last sixty years and who knew Tischendorf personally. And this monk stated under oath that he had known for many years every manuscript and every book, but has never heard of the one spoken of. The monk, of course, will be tucked away; and as to Tischendorf, he simply deceived the Russian government by a counterfeit.

One contra tried to have fun mocking this report, but really it stands as an interesting addition to our history, and should not be rejected just by the genetic fallacy.

Here is his blog and my response is in the comments.

H.P. Blavatsky for the Defense
Fred Butler - Dec 29, 2013

Clearly, this should not be given a lot of weight, however excluding the report would be wrong as well, since we are trying to give a comprehensive history by the posts on this forum. And there really is zero evidence that the manuscript existed before 1840, as stated by Blavatsky.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

the hardest thing to forge is provenance - a forger cannot alter the past

The Jesus Wife Papyrus in the History of Forgery (2015)
Christopher Jones

"Perhaps the hardest thing of all to forge is provenance. A forger cannot alter the past as he can alter documents or material objects, and thus it is that forgeries often break down on provenance - the establishment of a chain of evidence (location, ownership, documentary record) that will lead securely back to the alleged source."

Sinaiticus lacks any chain of custody, one of the points that first hits the researcher. It suddenly appeared, in a time when three special Bibles in the monastery became four.

In fact, the forger can try to create a false past, up to a point, with additional supporting forgeries.

Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents (1996) (2015 ed)
Joe Nickell

bills of sale, dealers' certificates of authenticity, written statements purporting to come from previous owners—all can easily be fabricated by the determined forger. Indeed, even published descriptions of a document from old sales catalogs mean little, since many of the autograph dealers of the past sold their goods "as is."

e.g. an "ancient catalog" could have been brought forth from the 1700s, and any such catalog that was clearly authentic would have been a proof of authenticity, in the sense of not being an 1800s replica or forgery. In that case the past trumps the present. However, the catalog itself would be examined for provenance and authenticity.

However, on Sinaiticus, although such a claim was strongly made in the debate of the 1860s, (and Simonides, familiar with the monastery, gave details in declaring with full defineteness that there was no such document.) And no such catalog has ever showed up, authentic or not.

My memory is that there was reference to a catalog being created at the time of the library restoration in the 1730s, (more detail on this planned) and the lack of any catalogs showing up in Sinai becomes an evidence from silence against authenticity. Once Sinaiticus became a valuable international object, any catalogs that did not show the ms. (also any manuscript at the ms made by Simonides, as he claimed, although clearly that is historically more problematic) would be embarrassing in terms of prestige and finance. And would be likely to be crumbled, discarded or burned, or stashed away from searching eyes.

Basically, provenance is most helpful in establishing authenticity. There is usually nothing than can be done to eliminate an existing past that establishes authenticity for a document. However, Sinaiticus lacks any authenticity documents to even be examined.


The other point that can bust a document is future elements, from the time of the writing. There is no time symmetry in palaeography. A writer in 700 AD or 1840 AD can easily write in the style of 350 AD. A calligrapher in 200 can write by hand how the AV looked printed in 1611, so that it is hard to tell which is printed and which is hand. However nobody can copy what is only a future style of writing, nor can they write about future events. (The latter was claimed as the important point in at least one of the Simonides manuscripts.)

However, keep in mind that looking backwards for future script has its limitations, in that the very definition of who contributed to the document is largely dependent on the script, so authenticity can be proclaimed in a circular manner. If a writer in 1840 had a document with his writing from 350 AD, and then writes a note on the document in a later script, (e.g. in the margin or bottom) it can just be said that the note was a later addition, after 350, by another hand.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery


James Donaldson on Sinaiticus provenance

Here, I would like to turn to a section where James Donaldson, who is helping us with many linguistic aspects of Hermas and Barnabas, talks about the poof provenance aspect of Sinaiticus.

Remember, the white parchment trickery was hidden, so that does not come up. It does show you that one of the very top scholars remained very skeptical of the Tischendorf Sinaiticus juggernaut.


perception of James Donaldson - Sinaiticus provenance - ancient catalog

One man stands out as the scholastic giant of the 1800s, when it comes to Sinaiticus and understanding the basic issues of ms. integrity, authenticity and dating. Here the Scottish scholar James Donaldson was discussing a ms which some thought might have been a forgery.

Codex Hierosolymitanus
"... The codex contains the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the First Epistle of Clement and the Second Epistle of Clement, the long version of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch and a list of books of the Bible following the order of John Chrysostom. It was discovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, the metropolitan of Nicomedia, at Constantinople. He published the texts of the two familiar Epistles of Clement in 1875, overlooking the Didache, which he found when he returned to the manuscript."

The discovery of the Greek Orthodox scholar:

Philotheos Bryennios (1833-1917) ... 9_of_Nicom

and Donaldson stopped to consider the general problem of mss with sketchy and dubious provenance explanations. Donaldson pointed out that the situation was more unsatisfactory in regard to Codex Sinaiticus.


The Theological review (1877)
The New MS. of Clement of Rome
James Donaldson

We have given nearly all the information in regard to this manuscript which Bryennius has vouchsafed to impart to us. He does not say anything of the history of the Library or of the manuscript. He supplies us with no external testimony to its antiquity. He mentions the fact that he was aided in the collation by his illustrious friend, the Metropolitan of Korytzas, Dorotheus Evelpis. We have to trust entirely to the honour of these two Greek clergymen for the fact that a really genuine manuscript has been found, and to internal evidence. We cannot think that this is an entirely satisfactory method of procedure. When a manuscript is discovered, all the external testimony that can be adduced should be adduced. In this particular case we are met with a puzzling circumstance. Gebhardt and Harnack state that a catalogue of this Library was prepared by Bethmann in 1845, and exists in Pertz's Archiv, but no mention is made of our Codex. Was it in the Library then? Still more unsatisfactory is the absence of such external testimony when so important a Codex as the Sinaiticus is concerned. Tischendorf rescued a portion of this manuscript from the waste-basket in 1844. In 1853 he could hear nothing of it. In 1859 he accidentally found it in the possession of the steward, the most complete copy of the Old and New Testament in existence, with the Epistle of Barnabas and the Pastor of Hermas. Could not the monks state its history during the period of 1844 to 1859? Could they not have detailed the efforts they made to gather the scattered fragments together? Could not the steward have told when he became the custodian of the work? All this information would be exceedingly interesting in itself and very valuable for posterity. This generation may have perfect confidence in Bryennius and Tischendorf. But circumstances might arise at a long subsequent period which might awaken doubts as to the genuineness of the manuscripts. The appeal to internal evidence may prove to be unsatisfactory. And then what is there ? It might well be urged that if a Tischendorf were inclined to forge a manuscript, he had unrivalled opportunities of so doing. No one was so well versed in manuscripts as he. None knew so well as he all the forms of the letters, all the mistakes of copyists, all the various readings. And it might also be said that there is no guarantee that the terrible results of a discovery of such a practice would be sufficiently deterrent. Chatterton was not deterred. Constantine Simonides was not deterred. Nor were these influenced by a base love of gain, but an eager desire to shew their power. A fascination was upon them which blinded them to all consequences. We cannot therefore but think it a grave error both in Tischendorf and Bryennius that they have not adduced external testimony to the history of their manuscripts.


There is an interesting irony in the Bethmann catalog reference, since the St. Catherine's ancient catalog, by Nicephorus Marthalis, is similarly part of the poof provenance.

"Still more unsatisfactory is the absence of such external testimony when so important a Codex as the Sinaiticus is concerned."

"... circumstances might arise at a long subsequent period which might awaken doubts as to the genuineness of the manuscripts. The appeal to internal evidence may prove to be unsatisfactory."

And that day is today.


Tischendorf did not even have a collaborating scholar. He spoke of two mystery Germans, no names, not scholars, who worked with him with the ms when it was privately in his hands in Cairo in 1859. They were tradesmen, or professionals, not scholars.

Uspensky gave a limited account of the ms. in 1845 and 1850, and his account talked of a white parchment ms. And a bound codex. All conflicting with the Tischendorf fabrications.

How did everything but Frederico-Augustantus, which departed Sinai in 1844 with Tischendorf in unusual circumstances, become so yellowed?

James Donaldson would ask a question of that nature, had he known about the parchmant colour problem, by contrast many of the scholars today are in a fog.


James Donaldson shows his high level of skill in analyzing these texts, with a strong familiarity with the Greek and Latin classics and Biblical writings. Gebhardt and Harnack call him:

"Donaldsonius, vir doctissimus inque litteris Graecis versatissimus"
Donaldson, a learned man versed in Greek literature.

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Steven Avery

sinai bible 1863 not collation not 1867 not townsend not waffen not anfechtungen not wright not bushby not westcott not daniels not zakharova not thackeray not polyglot not kenyon not sacred not snapp not stowe not barrows not donation not russian not 1860 not 1862 not 1866 not 1935 not contested not thackery


Eclectic Magazine p 477-487
December 1863


"From the

London Quarterly (Review) - Oct 1863 to 1864
p. 238-270

Ottawa Citizen


What renders the discovery and publication of the Sinai manuscript matter of so great interest is the vastness of its age.
Dr. Tischendorf has been careful to draw out the proof of this at length in his Prolegomena ; and it is so ample and cumulative as to leave no room for skepticism except with those who are resolved to doubt.

It is true we know little of the external history of the Codex. The original "writers of it have nothing to say on the subject. No traveler, so far as is ascertained, up to the year 1844 makes any mention of having seen it. The Sinai monks are wholly ignorant of its origin and of the circumstances under which it became the property of their convent.

At the same
time it is clear that for ages it was in
possession of the famous Arabian monas-
tery founded early in the sixth century
under the auspices of the Emperor Jus-
tinian, and never since destroyed. The
manuscript has several names upon it,
Dionysius, Hilnrion, Thcophylact, written
about the time of the twelfth century,
which are pretty evidently those of digni-
taries belonging to the Christian frater-
nity of Mount Sinai. Again, the Russian
archimandrite Porphyry, already named,
brought with him from the Sinai convent
to St. Petersburg portions of Dr. Tisohen-
dorf s manuscript, which had been used—
ages before, as it would seem—in the
binding of certain other manuscripts of
later date; the fragments so obtained be-
ing pieces of the Books of Genesis and
Numbers. On this point, however, there
can be no question. From time immemo-
rial the Codex has lain hidden among the
literary treasures, or buried in the literary
rubbish of the Sinai monastery. This
outward and negative pro*f of its an-
tiquity is transmuted into full demonstra-
tion, when we turn to the marks of age
which the Codex carries in its internal
make and composition.
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Steven Avery





Une «chambre pour les livres» ou «bibliothèque» est mentionnée et décrite en 1712 par le savant suédois M. Eneman '). le P. Sicard (on 1715)’) et le voyageur hollandais J. Aegid van Egmont van Nyenburg (vers 1712-1721)') l'ont vue. Il n'est pas certain . si cette pièce peut être identifiée avec celle que l'archevêque Nicéphore avait installée pour la bibliothèque en 1734 et munie d'inscription - latociov vns. - Mais il est fort probable que cette besogne fut exécutée aux dépens des sommes considérables reçues par l’archevêque du gouvernement et du peuple russes, et spécialement des mille roubles envoyés par le Saint ' ) V. plus haut

P 7.

A 'chamber for books' or 'library' is mentioned and described in 1712 by the Swedish scholar M. Eneman'). P. Sicard (on 1715)’) and the Dutch traveler J. Aegid van Egmont van Nyenburg (around 1712-1721)’) saw it. He's not sure. if this piece can be identified with that which Archbishop Nicephorus had installed for the library in 1734 and provided with the inscription - latociov vns. - But it is highly probable that this task was carried out at the expense of the considerable sums received by the Archbishop from the Russian government and people, and especially the thousand rubles sent by the Saint') See above

He's not sure. if this piece can be identified with that which Archbishop Nicephorus had installed for the library in 1734 and provided with the inscription - latociov vns. - But it is highly probable that this task was carried out...

p. 33


p. 31
difficultés le P Cyrille bibliothécaire au Sinaï vers 1830

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Steven Avery


Christfried Bottrich

Christfried Böttrich's further work "Supplements to the Re-Discovery of Codex Sinaiticus in the Nineteenth Century" in Early Christianity 8 (2017), 395–406.

[22] Fyssas, “Recent History” (see n. 21), 190, mentions a letter of Callinicos of Sinai quoted by F.H.A. Scrivener, A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus with the Revised Text of the New Testament (Cambridge, 1864), vii n. 1, saying “that the manuscript was always kept in the library and was inserted in the old catalogues of the Monastery.” Alas, there is again no proof of this.

Bénéchevitch, Les manuscrits Grecs (see n. 8), 25–31, mentions a first but incomplete catalog prepared by Cosmas, later patriarch of Constantinople, of 1704; this catalog does not include the codex. The same is true for the new catalog by the librarian Cyrillos in the 1840s; further work in cataloging the manuscripts (after Tischendorf’s first visit) was done by Porfirij Uspenskij (1845 and 1850), Archimandrite Antonin Capustin (1850), Victor Gardthausen (1886), and Vladimir Nikolaevicˇ Bénéchevitch (1911); the most comprehensive now is M. Kamil, Catalogue of All Manuscripts in the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai (Wiesbaden, 1970; Arab. original, 1951).
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Steven Avery

p. 26


Le «catalogue» de l’archevêque Cosinas ne pouvait aucunement être un catalogue général de tout le fonds grec tant imprimé que manuscrit. On n’en pouvait dresser un semblable qu'après avoir tiré les manuscrits de tous les coins, les avoir rassemblés dans la bibliothèque et préalablement inventoriés, dût cet inventaire être aussi défectueux que celui de Cosmas. La réalité ne se prêtait nullement à de telles exigences. On ne faisait pas alors au Sinaï la différence entre les imprimés et les manuscrits dans le catalogue, parce qu’elle n’existait point dans la vie pratique: les manuscrits servaient aussi aux fonctions liturgiques dans le couvent même et dans ses dépendances au Sinaï, et en partie celles dans d’autres pays du monde.

The “catalogue” of Archbishop Cosinas could in no way be a general catalog of all the Greek collection, both printed and manuscript. One could draw up a similar one only after having taken the manuscripts from all corners, having collected them in the library and previously inventoried, even if this inventory was as defective as that of Cosmas. Reality did not lend itself to such demands. The difference between the printed matter and the manuscripts in the catalog was not then made at Sinai, because it did not exist in practical life: the manuscripts were also used for liturgical functions in the convent itself and in its dependencies at Sinai, and partly those in other countries of the world.


NOTE DONATI on p. 44!
p. 10 16 21 28 34 (7 total)


2. La vraie valeur du récit de la manne aux rebuts.
L'affirmation de Tischendorf n'est pas exacte . Quant aux voyageurs , nous en connaissons déjà un qui a vu le Codex en 1761 : c'est Donati 1 ) ; et quant aux religieux du Sinaï, Tischendorf lui même reconnaît aisément que Dionysios, Hilarion et Théophylacte , qui avaient inscrit leurs noms dans le Codex , étaient moines sinon archevêques du Sinaï ' ) ; qu'il ajoute que les 270 feuillets manquants au Codex, ont été à diverses époques employés au Sinaï même à la reliure des manuscrits 3 ) .

2. The true value of the waste manna narrative.
Tischendorf's assertion is not accurate. As for travellers, we already know one who saw the Codex in 1761: Donati 1); and as for the monks of Sinai, Tischendorf himself readily recognizes that Dionysios, Hilarion and Theophylact, who had inscribed their names in the Codex, were monks if not archbishops of Sinai'); that he adds that the 270 leaves missing from the Codex were at various times employed at Sinai itself for the binding of manuscripts 3 ).



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