ETC - 2019 colour discussion spurred by Elijah Hixson handwave attempt - Daniel Hugh Boggs

Steven Avery

A review of a series of posts and one superb discussion.
Some of this will be moved to other new threads.

Unpublished paper: 'New' Evidence on "Is Codex Sinaiticus a Fake?"
Elijah Hixson

Evangelical Textual Criticim
Is Codex Sinaiticus a Fake? New Evidence
Elijah Hixson - Feb 8, 2019

Is Codex Sinaiticus a Fake? New Evidence
BVDB - 20 posts from the contras - Feb 2019

Unpublished Review of David W. Daniels, "Is the 'World's Oldest Bible' a Fake?"
Elijah Hixson

Sinaiticus and Simonides (2017)
James Snapp, Jr.
(much or all of this is already answered on this forum, the 20 points, the multiplication of nothings)
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Steven Avery

And this is the excellent set of responses from Daniel Hugh Boggs in this thread:

Evangelical Textual Criticim
Is Codex Sinaiticus a Fake? New Evidence
Elijah Hixson - Feb 8, 2019

Then we should be able to work back to the Elijah Hixson stuff, and related posts.
Emphasis bold added.
A few words added in italics.

Dale Hugh Boggs

Well, I have a degree in film production and have engaged with photography for something like 35 years. Saying that the photography conditions were different in NO WAY invalidates the argument that the leaves are or are not different colors in reality. I find this quite silly. Of course photography conditions were different, and yes we might expect a slight variation in tone depending on a host of factors. However in generally, a difference so stark to be seen seen by even the untrained eye is unexpected under typical light table conditions. What I'm saying is simply this - do not dismiss the distinction with a handwave to photographic principles most are unschooled in. There is sufficient distinction there to raise eyebrows and suggest a further side by side comparison is warranted.


Thanks for the thoughtful response. I suppose had best spell out exactly what my background is for the sake of clarity. Generally speaking, I'm a "scientist", that is after working in the film and vid industry for a decade I went to grad school in Anthropology - initially focusing on genetic archaeology but moving more into historical ecology and cultural resource management. Currently most of my research is cultural. My interest in things biblical and theological is mostly philosophical and stems from an intense fundamentalist baptist upbringing.

When it comes to Siniaticus, I have no dog in the fight. It makes no difference to me if Siniaticus is fake or not. I gather that it is not remotely true of most people taking sides in the issue. Folks seem to be heavily emotionally and financially invested.

To your questions: >>>"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you also seem to suggest that all of the observed difference in the photographs might be due solely to the conditions of photography themselves and not to post-photographing edits."

Mostly yes. The differences in color tone could be due to to any step or several steps in tandem in the process. If brighter lights were used, or differing color temperature setting, or even very different brands of cameras - those all could produce a difference. That's a more likely cause to me than post production editing - like the gamma adjustments you mentioned - because I would expect the color tones to be less affected than they appear to be. It would also meant that each photo was individually adjusted and that would suggest there could be greater variation than what we see.

Nevertheless all these things are possible causes. However, as I said, it is unusual for that much visible tonal difference to exist in photographs taken of the same mss. within the context of the controlled conditions of a light table. It is only possible to consider it because we are talking about two different light tables in two different countries, with the possibility of differing enhancement.

But at this point, all we've got is what we anthropologist like to call a "just-so story", starting with a tale of two cameras. As a scientist, I must maintain the position that without either controlled photography or side by side comparison, NO ONE can or should claim the difference seen in the Siniaticus folios must be a photographic illusion. David Daniels may well have a few loose marbles, but he isn't crazy to point out that the color difference could be significant. Then again they might not be, but just talking about it is like the fabled argument over the number of teeth in a horses mouth. There must be controlled verification using the source material.

If I may, I'd also like to address another point you made.

>>>"If the leaves are different colours in reality, it really wouldn't surprise me or change my position one bit. ...... The bottom line is that no argument about the colour of those folios can be made from two sets of photographs taken in two different places of parchment folios that have been stored in different institutions likely with different storage conditions for over a century and a half."

I'm sorry Dr Hixson, but I'm actually a bit shocked by your above statement. We both seem to be going down the fallacy road of appealing to our own authorities, but as an archaeologist I too have a more than passing familiarity with artifact preservation and old manuscripts. That said, am I to understand that you are suggesting that within a matter of mere decades, the British Library has carelessly? allowed 1500 year old parchment leaves to yellow consistently throughout while the good folks of Leipzig managed to prevent the same thing, consistently throughout, with theirs? That's completely unbelievable to me and contrary to all of my experience. I hope you can see how untenable an argument that is.

If the BL sheets were the ones being claimed to be lighter and better preserved, then the argument might seem a little more persuasive, but even then, degradation over a relatively short period of the claimed lifetime of the mss existence, should be uneven, with some folios from the two sources being closer in tone than others.

Anyway, so there is no confusion, I don't know if Siniaticus is a 19th century fake or not, and I don't think the color of the leaves whether different or not, is proof positive of anything either way, but I do think the color difference Daniels identified is curious and its a no brainier that something like that ought to be physically checked.

As an aside, it probably ought to be mentioned that I've looked at some of Daniels other Siniaticus videos. From what you wrote, I gather that you may not be aware that the color tone difference is only one of his topics, and seemingly a fairly minor point among his various arguments, but discussing all that could be a real rabbit hole. (some are rather conspiratorial, but others seem to have better footing).

I'm reading your paper now and I see that you are aware of Daniels other claims - please disregard my last paragraph.

>>>"Several things at work here...."

Fair enough, being moved around under different preservation conditions could account for a difference in ageing, though, as I said, it would be unexpected for leaves to be uniformly affected. Thank you for clarifying your reasoning.

>>> I have seen pages of Codex Sinaiticus in London with my own eyes,...

Dr. Hixson, I'm sorry but that is not a helpful argument one way or the other.

>>>"Do you have any experience with parchment manuscripts getting dismembered and showing up in different locations? In my experience, that is entirely possible. Additionally, have you been to the British Library to see what the parchment looks like in real life?"

Lobbing shots at me from your tower is not helpful. Seeing one set of parchments in person is not helpful. Seeing both sets together would be.

>>>We also have the insumountable number of improbabilities/impossibilities that go into a 19-year-old kid deceiving the world with the poor work of his youth...

That's way beyond the scope of what I could meaningfully discuss, except to caution you that scoffing at what you *think* a "kid" could or could not do is again not helpful. I'm completely unpersuaded by ad hominem attacks, be they against me, or or Simonodes, or Tischendorf, or any other person living or dead. I'm a scientist, trained to look past socio-cultural layering into the facts of the case. I've watched a few of Daniels videos. I have not read his book. I have in no way come to any conclusions. Your arguments above are less than persuasive, but in fairness I realize you are only making brief, off hand comments.

>>>"All this by a teenager who didn't want to deceive anyone?"

There's way too many assumptions in that statement. I don't know or particularly care what Daniels position is, and I likewise don't care what Simonides may have claimed. If we are to suppose he did actually make the mss., I see no reason whatsoever to suppose Simonides worked entirely alone, or that he wasn't trying to deceive. In fact. IIRC, Daniels claimed Simonides uncle had a hand in the mss work. To be clear, I'm not in any way saying I believe Daniels' claims. I am saying that nobody living was present when Siniaticus was created, therefore the archaeological approach would be to make no assumptions and treat any written ethohistorical source as only a starting place for research questions, not a set of defined parameters for how things "must" have been.

Summary: For the moment, I must be open minded.

>>>"Folks seem to be...
I really do not appreciate comments like this. In my experience, they are almost always made with less than charitable attitudes, a complete ignorance of how scholarship works..."

Wow. It is a simple factual comment. Isn't it? Bible publishing companies are financially invested. KJV only folks are emotionally invested. I assure you Dr. Hixson, if that ad hominem was directed at me, that I know perfectly well how scholarship works and was not attacking the academy or you. I was providing a standard caution regarding what we should all be mindful to avoid.

Let me just add, after reading your paper, it is my understanding that each photograph of each leaf is accompanied by a color bar. Is that correct? If so, then any discrepancy in tone between BL and Lz leaves can be easily resolved. The whole point of color bars is for color match correction. So unless I missed something (entirely possible), all you would need to do is measure the color temp of one color bar (either one) and adjust the other color bar to match. With the color bars matched, then you could see if the tones of the leaves matched or not.
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Steven Avery

Daniel Hugh Boggs did a fantastic job above. We will now go through the other posters on that thread, looking for real substance. We plan to end with Elijah Hixson, as he tends to be the most verbose, while very weak on logic.

Steven Avery

Jean Putmans
Isn't it possible, to have the colours of the original Manuscript measured and compared, instead of debating the colours of photographs?


There are industrial contact-free colour-measuring devices; multiple measurements on multiple sheets of each of both parts of the manuscript should give evidence, whether there is a colour-difference. At least the debate on different colours of photographs would have an end. Now - just with these photographs - you are debating "second hand evidence".

Yes, those measurements would say nothing about the age of the manuscript, but do these photographs tell us something about that? The debate is/was colour-difference, nothing else.

Clearly Jean is right on the key point of a simple, 100% accurate comparisoin.

The simplest solution to avoid all this discourse is simply to have Leipzig, where the leafs are uniform, of course you would avoid the end leaves, bring one leaf to England and do photographs with the Leipzig page and British pages. You would also see the streakiness differences.
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Steven Avery

Peter J. Montoro IV 2/09/2019
Some of the comments above seem to have missed Elijah's point. The color swatches from which Elijah made his chart are, in real life, identical. That, after all, is the point of their inclusion. If the same square (which we know to be the same color in real life) appears to be a different color in the images, it is because *something* about the conditions in which the images were taken or processed is sufficiently different to cause said difference. If, in fact, the color swatches were in fact different, that only proves the the photographers were careless to a level that makes the entire debate meaningless. Try as I might, I cannot think of the slightest hint of a motivation for deliberately using different color standards.


And as anyone who has actually worked with manuscript images knows, irregularities of every conceivable kind are the norm, not the exception.

This adds very little to the conversation, although it allows us to point out important missing elements.

The point is that the colour distinction is marked, easy to see by visual inspection, see Daniel's notes above.

Also the Leipzig pages are in fact quite uniform, without "irregularities of every conceivable kind." The British pages, which appear to have been subject to staining, are irregular.

And the colouring of the manuscript, which would apply only to the leaves now in England, not Leipzig, was stated as having occurred in Sinai in the early 1860s. (A point craftily omitted by Elijah Hixson.)

The British Library personnel have confirmed this difference. (Another point craftily omitted by Elijah Hixson.)
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Steven Avery

Stephen Goranson 3/02/2019

Stephen gives us interesting, but quite irrelevant, history about some Dead Sea Scroll claims. While I often appreciate what he writes, and the DSS history is interesting, it is clear that Stephen is not really aware of the Sinaiticus history and evidences.
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Steven Avery

Matthew Hamilton 2/09/2019 11:13 am
Ex theological librarian with a specialisation in early biblical MSS but for past 2 years have been working as an historical records digitisation specialist in a major archive - so have relevant experience in what is being discussed.

Same operator (me) in the same room with the same wall colours and same ambient lighting, using the same brand and model of scanner with the same settings, I find that the images of a single page will differ, sometimes in quite significant ways if you know what to look for and have 2 or more copies viewable at the same time.

The point of this is that I'm not surprised that there are noticeable differences between images taken under different circumstances. If I was into conspiracies I would be more suspicious if there were not differences.
A reasonable point, although not really adding anything.

Made by someone who simply is not aware of the various corroborating evidences. And, like many dupes, thinks that this is a "conspiracy" matter, rather than a needed palaeographical/historical study.

All he really has to do, to start, is watch the videos of the manuscript. And ask why it seems so new and supple. Then he could look at the palaeographical puzzles. Study and learn.
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Steven Avery

Eric Rowe2/09/2019 1:36 pm
Now, here's the next step, for whoever has the skills to do it:

Use these color swatches to calibrate the photos.

Can the hue of each of the Leipzig photos be adjusted so that the colors on that swatch (I think there are multiple colors on it right? not just that pale yellow one) match up with the ones on the BL photos on a computer monitor, so that the shades of the pages can then be compared in more of a comparison of like with like? I don't know if this would be a reliable method or not. But it seems like it would be a step closer to making valid comparisons.

At any rate, just from looking at what Elijah has shown us, by my eye the difference in shades between the color swatches looks pretty close to the difference in shades between the pages, which does prove that the pages themselves must be closer to the same color than they way they appear in their online images, so that conclusions can't be drawn from that apparent color difference about different histories for the respective pages.

Eric is definitely right that it would be nice to try to re-calibrate, however this does not seem to be a normal skill, to try to compensate.

The last paragraph obviously misses the point.
SA Quick Summary
There is immediately a strong prima facie case that the colours are markedly different. The visual difference is huge, and the CSP tried hard for uniformity.

And the colour distinction is confirmed by the British Library.

And it is matching the historical report of colouring after the Leipzig pages were remove.

And staining is on the Brit pages, not Leipzig.
The actual colour difference could be totally resolved just by bringing one leaf from Leipzig to the British Library.

Steven Avery

Next we have the liar, Jacob Peterson, who in the earlier conversations claimed it was "demonstrably untrue" that there is a "drastically different" colour distinction. When he never demonstrated any such thing. (I will remove the liar accusation if and when Jacob retracts the false statement.)

Today Jacob gives us some geek numbers that really don't tell us anything, since he does not try any actual compensation attempt. (As had been suggested in the earlier conversation, and by Eric Rowe above.)

Jacob Peterson 2/09/2019

Right, but the point is that you wouldn't make up sweeping conspiracies over the fact that there were differences in the images while ignoring such a noticeable shift in the color target between locations. Some very slight variation is acceptable (such as the *very* subtle differences at each location) depending on the setup and equipment, but the color target is what allows you to check that variation and can be measured in any number of programs.

As to acceptable variation in an MSI setup (which is of course pretty much ideal), we have a tolerance range of Δ1 for each L*a*b* variable for a total ΔE of 1.7. I just did a random sampling from Elijah's chart in Photoshop and found ΔL(+4), Δa(-7), Δb(+34) for a total ΔE of 34.9 (calculated as each valued squared, then summed, then find the square root). That's tremendous variation. Unsurprisingly, the b* variant is where yellow-blue is measured and that's exactly the type of shift we see in the images (i.e. "cooling" in the Leipzig images and "warming" in the BL images).

Jacob does not support actually bringing one leaf to London, because then it is likely that it will be shown that he is really saying nothing. Or he could offer to take pictures in both locations (not as good a solution, but still close.)

Plus again you have the textcrit dupe talking of "sweeping conspiracies" simply because he is ignorant of the Sinaiticus history, and the MANY anomalies involving much more than the colour and staining disparity.

As charlatan writer, Jacob and Elijah simply do not discuss issues like the staining distinction, the history of the colour accusation, the "phenomenally good condition" of the manuscript, the accusation of colouring being made in the 1860s, and why supposed 1700 year old ink (heavy use in the hot desert sun) looks like the 175 year old Leipzig ink in the same ms. They are totally one-dimensional in approach.

If fact, in gross ignorance, Jacob Peterson in 2016 actually claimed on the Yahoogroups textualcriticism forum that there should be no emphasis on the condition of the parchment and ink!

Apparently he is totally unawares of how the Dead Sea Scrolls were subject to intensive studies of the parchment and ink.
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Steven Avery

The other possibly relevant comments are by Elijah Hixson.

lack of damage
despite being over 1600 years old, the pages of Codex Sinaiticus held at the British Library consisted of a supple, high quality parchment ... most of the folios appeared to have survived the rigours of 16 centuries with an unexpected lack of damage
more - gal

`First, a thank you to DH Boggs, who added so much common sense, logic and professionalism to the question of the colour disparity (a disparity even recognized by the British Library. ) REFERENCE - Cillian O'Hogan

DH Boggs
"NO ONE can or should claim the difference seen in the Sinaiticus folios must be a photographic illusion. ... am I to understand that you are suggesting that within a matter of mere decades, the British Library has carelessly? allowed 1500 year old parchment leaves to yellow consistently throughout while the good folks of Leipzig managed to prevent the same thing, consistently throughout, with theirs?"

To tweak this important point from DH Boggs, the British Library yellowing is NOT consistent, in fact, the inconsistency, the stains on page after page, uneven, supports the repeated historical staining accusation of the 1860s. REFERENCE - Kallinikos

DH Boggs
"I do think the color difference Daniels identified is curious and its a no brainier that something like that ought to be physically checked."

And it would be trivially easy to check. Simply take one folia or sheet from Leipzig (which is unbound) and transport it to the UK. The Leipzig sheets, unlike the Brit, are essentially uniform so you can take almost any sheet, preferably not the front or back. Then place it next to British Library pages.
As DH Boggs says:

"Seeing one set of parchments in person is not helpful. Seeing both sets together would be."

And for Leipzig you only need one folia (or a sheet).

"the color tone difference is only one of his topics, and seemingly a fairly minor point among his various arguments"

Correct, the Mt.Athos-Simonides position has many interlocking and corroborative elements. There are historical imperatives that are probative to the work being done in Athos.

In the standard Sinaiticus theory absurdities are ignored, such as contending that the Three Crosses Note, which describes the scribal error of a duplicate section, being put into the text hundreds of years after composition.

Elijah Hixson throws out a red herring:
"He (David Daniels) is asserting that the photography conditions were identical."

Nope, Elijah, I have worked closely on this with David for years, and I never heard that claim.

"the insumountable number of improbabilities/impossibilities that go into a 19-year-old kid deceiving the world with the poor work of his youth ... with enough differences to suggest distinct correctors"

You seem to not understand the history. Simonides did not juggle correctors. There were likely three hands on the original text, with Simonides being the major hand on the NT and Barnabas and some OT. The correctors are easily explained as other hands, in Athos, Constantinople and Sinai. The quirky Arabic notes likely from one of the latter two.

We can go into this more in a venue to be named later .. but your whole theory of "impossibility" involving quire numbers unravels very quickly. DH Boggs does touch on some of these issues.

"then regardless of what colour they are in photographs, in real life, they should look like they have been treated with something. They don't."

Elijah, please explain how a 160 year old coffee or lemon-water stain would look today. Other than the streakiness we see in the British (and notably - not the Leipzig) leaves.

Clearly, chemical tests could tell a lot, but the libraries have avoided that, especially after Leipzig cancelled their planned 2015 tests by Ira Rabin and BAM.

There is a group, the Library of Stains, that could really assist if the goal was to look at Sinaiticus stains.

DH Boggs
"If we are to suppose he did actually make the mss., I see no reason whatsoever to suppose Simonides worked entirely alone, or that he wasn't trying to deceive."

Correct. If the original goal was not a replica, if it was to send the Tsar a supposed ancient manuscript, the replica idea would be a good cover. (Note: I do not claim a position on this question, but simply want to give context.)

This brings us up to the recent 2021 comments :).
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