comparison with Codex Alexandrinus - why not?

Steven Avery


In the superb page by Gavin Moorhead, in which he describes the "exceptional" Codex Sinaiticus, we have:

Parchment Assessment of the Codex Sinaiticus
Gavin Moorhead
May 2009

Preliminary Examination
The conservation team discovered that, despite being over 1600 years old, the pages of Codex Sinaiticus held at the British Library consisted of a supple, high quality parchment in relatively good condition. This is difficult to put into context as the only other similar surviving 4th/5th Century parchment codices, Codex Alexandrinus[19] and Codex Vaticanus[20] are at this stage unable to be physically compared with Codex Sinaiticus.

[19] British Library, MS Royal 1. D. V-VIII.
[20] The Vatican, Bibl. Vat., Vat. gr. 1209.
Yet, in the 1930s, Skeat and Milne said:

The Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus:With Seven Illustrations, 1955

Alexandrinus ... the vellum itself now has a:

'limp, dead appearance in marked contrast to the vellum of the Codex Sinaiticus' p. 37
So, since the British Library is the owner and conservator of Codex Alexandrinus, why not give at least a general, anecdotal, cursory comparison?

Is the reason that Alexandrinus is so brittle that it is rarely touched?
Or is there a concern that the comparison might raise some difficult questions about the age of Sinaiticus?
What is the reason?

Steven Avery

Alexandrinus dating, authenticity, provenance

Since this is the one thread with Alexandrinus in the title, it will be a good spot to hold other information relating to the ms.

Clearly it is a much older ms.

There was one reference recently, coming from the 1800s Simonides discussion, where Alexandrinus antiquity dating was questioned, in an interesting way. I thought it might be in the Elliott book, but apparently not. This type of issue is seen in the Alexandrinus discussions around the time of Simon to Michaelis.

Searching "Alexandrinus" on this forum might find.

Steven Avery

Alexandrinus is currently in much more fragile condition

A Study of the Gospels in Codex Alexandrinus: Codicology, Palaeography, and Scribal Hands
William Andrew Smith

The leaves of the codex are of fine, thin vellum, and some filler material has been affixed where the inner margins (particularly the upper inner corner of the leaves) have been damaged. Woide described a portion of the NT (in medio libri) but referring to the work of the second scribe in the NT) as having thicker and better quality vellum pages. Comparing the thinner and thicker leaves, Woide noted that the ink had etched letter-shaped holes in the former while no such damage was present in the latter." In its entirety, the manuscript is in a state of disrepair; as early as the nineteenth century, Scrivener commented:

"the vellum has fallen into holes in many places, and since the ink peels off for very age whensoever a leaf is touched a little roughly, no one is allowed to handle the manuscript except for good reasons."
Scot McKendrick, Head of Western Manuscripts at the British Library, has commented thai the vellum of Alexandrinus was prepared improperly; if what Cowper reported is true (that the ink peels from the writing surface), then this is most certainly the case. Compared to the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus is currently in much more fragile condition; the OT books of Alexandrinus have deteriorated more than those of the NT. A conservation effort was made by the British Library in late 2012 to address the state of the codex prior to preparing digital images of the manuscript.

The Scrivener quote is from:

Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament and the Ancient Manuscripts ...
Last edited: