evidences that could demonstrate authenticity and falsify Simonides involvement in the making of Sinaiticus

Steven Avery

Here are evidences that could essentially falsify Sinaiticus as a c.1840 creation. They are generally in the realm of external harder evidences.

Planned is a thread on hard and soft evidences.

It is important to remember that the discussion is often one of dueling improbabilities.
As an example, take the colouring of the 1859 section to make it look an aged yellow. Even if properly accepted, that does not PROVE that the ms. was made in the 1800s. It does not ipso facto falsify the 4th century theory. After all, it is remotely possible that:
1) Tischendorf decided to help along the ancient manuscript - he was just trying to make it easier for its early date to be accepted.
2) The statements by Kallinikos and Simonides that the ms was coloured could have been simply a blind, lucky and wild guess, unrelated to what actually happened.
See, it is often hard to fully falsify a textual or palaeographic and history analysis dating theory. However you work with the preponderance of evidences.

Here are some ideas that have been floated that would falsify the Simonides involvement.

1) the "ancient catalog" at St. Catherines could describe the manuscript
2) any pre-1840 provenance such as a description of the manuscript by a traveler or manuscript hunter before 1840 (Vitaliano Donati's vague ms description, second hand, has been the main attempt.)
3) the Sinaiticus scribe worked on Vaticanus
4) the New Finds room was sealed before 1840, e.g. in the 1700s
5) the Nikolas Sarris New Finds fragment was definitely Sinaiticus and was definitely part of a binding that could not be done later than the 1700s
6) thousands (or large numbers) of Sinaiticus readings are only found extant in later discovered papyri (the main James White argument)
7) documents from Sinai or from Tischendorf in the 1840s and 1850s that really support the Tischendorf stories.
8) materials testing by a super-respected organization like BAM in Berlin, with Dr. Ira Rabin, could go a long way to falsifying late or early dating. However, there has been no such testing, and the tests that were scheduled for 2015 were cancelled. My conjecture is that the library personnel are aware of the "phenomenally good condition" and the colour anomaly between the Brit and German sections, and will resist any solid, independent scientific testing that includes consideration of the date of the parchment and ink.
9) Simonides needed a specific vector of transmission and time for the ms. to be created, at Athos, for him to be at Athos, and for the ms. to get to Mt. Sinai. Any real holes in that story (e.g. if Simonides could be shown to be too young, or simply was not at Athos) would falsify the Athos creation of the ms.

More will be placed here as they come to view in discussions.

On #1, this was claimed c. 1862 and was confidently and decisively rebuffed by Simonides, no such catalog was ever found
More info here:

ancient catalog at St. Catherine's Monastery?


On #7, generally, these give zero corroboration (as pointed out by Daniel Wallace and Nicholas Fyssas and Michael D. Peterson) and his own private writing and the Uspensky material severely undercuts his public narrative.


Most of these turn out to be poof claims, here today, gone tomorrow, or they simply are weak evidences. However, if any such claim turned out to be actually verifiable and true, they could falsify the c. 1840 scenario. By looking closely at how these claims arise, and which ones are totally defunct and which ones might have some valid discussion, we avoid the circular approach of the early date proponents. (Their major attempts are "soft" evidences questioning how such and such a text could be created, and these attempts generally miss many basics of the history.)

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Steven Avery

Timothy Mitchell
Is this theory of Simonides forging Sinaiticus falsifiable? If so, what would it take to disprove this theory?

First. the Simonides involvement is based on a consistent perponderence of evidence. There is no actual basis for the 4th century, it was simply pushed by Tischendorf, who was clearly far from an objective party. Even at the time,

#1 - any confirmed provenance of the ms from before 1840 would falsify the 1800s creation theory and would go a long way to verifying it as a much older ms. The supposed ancient catalogue was a false claim that was made in this regard.

#2 - Scientific testing that actually confirmed the age of the manuscript parchment and ink would be extremely strong evidence. The BAM group could do many different tests, as they did on the DSS, but their 2015 tests were canceled. No testing has been done. Zero.

#3 - any series of consistent, verifiable explanations for the condition and material and history of the ms. and that explained the disparity of the Leipzig and Sinaiticus mss, and that explained the pre-knowledge of Barnabas and Hermas by Simonides, and explained the prescient knowledge of Kallinikos about events in Sinai, and that negated the Lampros catalogue showing them working together in Athos c. 1840 -- would go a long way to countering the Simonides claims

See above for more specifics.
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Steven Avery

the consensus soft argument approach

There are a number of soft arguments for 4th century dating, however they are generally presuming antiquity, not even considering a more recent attempt to look like an ancient manuscript. And thus they are just discussing 4th century vs. somewhat later, and even there they tend to simply ignore counter-evidences such as that given by Hilgenfeld and, especially, Donaldson.

Here is an example of this type of summary:

17 Consensus places Codex Sinaiticus in the first half of the fourth century, see esp. Lake, New Testament, pp. 9—15, and Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, pp. 60—65. A few scholars have been inclined to date it a bit later. The grounds for a fourth century date are: the presence of the Eusebian sections and numbers in the hands of two of the scribes of the manuscript itself (Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, pp. 36-37); palaeographical analysis, (Milne and Skeat, Scribes and Correctors, pp. 60-64); and the actual contents of the manuscript, indicating a late though not yet definitive form of the Christian biblical canon. Still, these considerations permit no more precise dating than the fourth century as a whole. -
Harry Gamble,
Codex Sinaiticus in its Fourth Century Setting, New Perspectives 2015, p. 16, Note 17
Emanuel Tov on p. 27 gives a few examples of the modern consusus dating, and references Jongkind's Scribal Habits, p. 18.


In response to the new evidences, James Snapp and Elijah Hixson have pioneered the soft argument emphasis, giving many rather weak reasons why they say the 1840s creation as unlikely.