before 1844 - poof provenance ( Georgi Parulov 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