New Finds - Uspensky and Tischendorf at work and play

Steven Avery


Elsewhere (WIP, will plan on bringing over here as well) we have some of the material about how fragments of Uspensky and Tischendorf in the Penateuch and Hermas overlap with New Finds material.

Here is a new one, noticed today, that asks as another confirmation of the New Finds as a discard spot, or play space, in those crucial 1840s years.

The New Finds

The most important documents were twelve pages and twenty-four fragments of the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus, and leaves from a psalter written in 862/3, the rest of which had been taken by Porphiry Uspenski in the nineteenth century.
While this can have a couple of possible historical reconstructions, again and again we find the New Finds connected with Uspensky and Tischendorf materials.
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Steven Avery

New Finds as an 1840-1850s Sinaticius work or dump zone

The New Finds was clearly an 1840s-1850s work or dump zone. This can be seen also by the fragments of the manuscript which are found there. (Including the Uspensky Psalter connection external to Sinaiticus in the post above, which is also quite salient.)

From Sinaiticus, we start with Genesis 21-24 fragments. Genesis 24 was specifically noted as a Simonides marking page, so it would be expected to be a Tischendorf target zone. Remember that Falconer Madan, the Bodleian librarian, reported in his 1893 book:

Books in manuscript: a short introduction to their study and use : with a chapter on records (1893)
Falconer Madan

how specific spots noted by Simonides were in fact actually checked with the Tischendorf ms in St. Petersburg. And the ms was found deficient at those spots. Madan indicates that there was no simple way that Simonides would know the ms. deficiency. Uspensky also takes fragments from Genesis 23-24 to St. Petersburg as well, so it is an especially noted mangle section.

In disparaging this specific Genesis spot, Tischendorf apologist William Aldis Wright wrote:

"Simonides .. knows perfectly well that no part of Genesis has been recovered, and therefore makes his assertion with full assurance that it cannot be put to the test."
Which we now know is untrue.

This is similar to Wright and his cohorts aggressively claiming that the "ancient catalogues" in St. Catherines described the Sinaiticus ms .. ie. totally untrue. Simonides immediately and confidently dismissed that catalogue claim as impossible, he knew the Sinai library. And he was right, not a trace of such a catalogue was every produced. How could Simonides be so confident that there was no provenance to this ms. before c. 1840? The answer to that is Simplicity 101.

As to connection zones (Uspensky-Tischendorf with New Finds) we have a similar situation with Hermas. We start with Uspensky fragments from precisely where Hermas was truncated, clearly from Tischendorf embarrassment after his confused retraction on the Hermas Latin-source linguistics. See e.g. the amazing section highlighted by Donaldson, which we can call Tischendorf vs. Tischendorf:

" opposite opinion is proved correct..."

More of Hermas would create more linguistic troubles. (Note: this connection spot is Uspensky and Tischendorf, not New Finds, but the concept is the same.) The modern linguistic experts have simply closed their eyes to the problems pointed out by James Donaldson and have not even studied the new Hermas fragment for comparison with the earlier Simonides writings.

Then we go to the New Finds and we find the ending of Hermas. There is thus no surprise that parts of Hermas are in New Finds, it would be expected to be the Tischendorf drop zone, a defense against too many Simonides and linguistic connections. (The learned Scotish scholar James Donaldson made these connection on the first part of Hermas anyway, and also with the Sinaitic Barnabas of Simonides of 1843 which was less well known. We can conjecture that the Hermas difficulties would be even greater in the later dumped parts.)

Now, from a tischendupe perspective you could consider this all another amazing coincidence, every phrase of the New Testament perserved through rubble and dismantling for 1500+ years of heavy use, yet the charged Hermas vanishes into some dump and into the New Finds. Even without that extra knowledge from the New Finds, even without referencing all the Donaldson information, James Anson Farrer referred to the Hermas work of Simonides, followed by the Sinaiticus Hermas "discovery" as:

"The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance"
This is historical forensics.

The Joshua 1:10 fragment found by Nikolaos Sarris:

Fragment from world's oldest Bible found hidden in Egyptian monastery (2009)

A New Fragment of the Codex Sinaiticus Discovered at St. Catherines (2010)

may be a "Sinaiticus" fragment. It is said to be the same size as the puzzling Brugsch fragment which was originally thought to be Sinaiticus. Yet the Brugsch fragment today is considered to be from some other unknown manuscript, supposedly similarly ancient, another super-puzzling anomaly. (This could be analogous to the Chronicles situation where you have duplicate writing called Sinaiticus, indicating work being done on the ms at Sinai.)

We can only conjecture a bit what went on in Sinai in the 1840s and 1850s when everybody and their brother, and a gentleman named Tischendorf and his inside cronies, were handling the ms. The 1850s colouring and mangling is specifically discussed by Simonides and Kallinikos. And on a recent thread we showed that Tischendorf even trimmed notes off of pages when he reduced the size, what we can call the "gone notes". (Simonides had specifically referenced margin notations.)

The Sarris fragment is related to book binding or repair or reinforcement. This was an ongoing activity at Sinai, remember that even in the normal Sinaiticus history type of explanation they claim that there was a full attempt at rebinding Sinaiticus between 1844 (Tischendorf claimed he saved loose leaves from burning) and 1845 (Uspensky describes a full ms, apparently a codex). Now, we can be qute sure this rebinding never actually happened and we are dealing with the modern vulgate version of Sinaiticus history and "Sinaiticus science" being skewed by one of the many Tischendorf fabrications.

This false conjecture about an 1844-1845 rebinding (in fact, Tischendorf simply stole the five quires + 3 leaves from an intact codex and took them to Leipzig with nary a peep to anybody, like the common criminal Tischendorf wrote his family that the leaves had simply come into his possesssion) does help though, when we look at the Sarris fragment. As it shows that there is a recognition that book-binding and repair was understood to be an ongoing enterprise in the 1840s-1850s.

That, combined with the simple fact that from the overlap of Uspensky and Tischendorf material it is crystal clear that Sinaiticus material was being placed in the New Finds dump zone in the 1840s, places the Sarris find as more an interesting anomaly than any substantive evidence. If, in fact, with the tentative identification as a Sinaiticus fragment, it could be shown that the material was part of the original binding, definitely not related to repair and rebinding, and that the original binding was definitely earlier than the 1840s, the evidence would be far stronger.

Uspensky similarly heisted some fragment(s) that was said to be utilized in bookbinding.

Stanley Porter has it as:

"Archimandrite Porfiri Uspensky ... two different visits to the monastery in 1845 and 1850, and that most likely he had been given some pages of it that had already been divided up for use as bookbinding."

Stanley E. Porter - Constantine Tischendorf: The Life and Work of a 19th Century Bible Hunter -p. 34

The evidence is solid that such binding, including repair, was active when Uspensky and Tischendorf were in Sinai.


This is from Nicholas Pickwoad. Interestingly, the (possible) second leaf and the earlier tearing of the pastedown is not referenced in the Sarris article.

"At some date, someone tore part of the pastedown away to reveal the manuscript (and in the process apparently removing some of the ink), but there appears to be no further record of it. From a brief visual examination of the fragment, it would appear to be in a badly deteriorated condition with possibly a second leaf under it, but the turn-ins of the leather cover are very firmly adhered to it, as is much of what is left of the paper pastedown . . ."

New fragment of Codex Sinaiticus discovered
This sounds like the manuscript was subject to a repair or reinforcement after the original binding. One possibility is that the (possibly) leaf under is the original binding, with the Joshua piece being the reinforcement. Logically it is hard to understand pastedown being torn away to "reveal" a manuscript (how would you know what is there?) granted there is the ink question, is it removed where the pastedown is torn, yet you only see where there is no pastedown.).. The pastedown could have been torn in the process of using the leaf for reinforcement, the second leaf fragment over the first.

"The bindings of the eighteen manuscripts are either first bindings on contemporary manuscripts (eleven volumes) or re-bindings of older manuscripts." Perspectives, p. 248
Rebinding and repair are frequently mentioned in terms of the Sinai books. Again, that seems to be how Uspensky got his fragments.

We plan to add more here about the Uspensky fragments and the references to repair and rebinding at Sinai.


Beyond all that, the situation with the Brugsch fragment should be studied and clarified, since that fragment indicates that there was some other Sinaiticus-similar material at Sinai. And the cutting of the Brugsch fragment led to the same size as the Sarris fragment. Whether this Brugsch fragment involved work on Sinaiticus at Sinai in the 1840s, or some unknown manuscript, is quite unclear. Afawk, nobody has checked the script of the Brugsch fragment with the current scribal theories on Sinaiticus.

Also, the Brugsch fragment entails another coincidental overlap or contiguous spot with the Sinaiticus New Finds material.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

does the New Finds support Sinaiticus authenticity?

An interesting discussion with a gentleman who thought the New Finds vindicated Sinaiticus authenticity

Why Sinaiticus is not Fake - July 2018 (under 2 minutes)
TruthFinder - July, 2018

How We Got the Bible (2010)
Neil R. Lightfoot

Truth Finder

Some people claim that Sinaiticus is fake. I came across evidence that it is NOT a fake. I am not a supporter of the modern corrupt Bibles made from Sinaiticus, just giving truth.

Steven Avery

Hi Truth Finder,

The main part of Sinaiticus that was in the New Finds is from the latter part of the Shepherd of Hermas. Hermas was a very embarrassing book for Tischendorf, because he had originally accused the Simonides Hermas (which was published in 1855) of being a late document! Including Latin medieval retranslation.

This accusation he immediately retracted, in a funny awkward retraction, as soon as he had the very similar SInaiticus Hermas which he had to claim was from the 4th century!

Thus, Tischendorf had an incentive to limit the amount of Hermas in the final Sinaiticus, thus a group of leaves were dumped in the back room. In fact, Uspensky in 1845 had almost surely seen a complete Hermas, based on what he wrote in 1856.

You can find information on this on this site:

New Finds - Uspensky and Tischendorf at work and play

It is a bit techie, and could use a bit of a rewrite for easy readability :) 

Truth Finder

I don't follow. If Tischendorf admitted that Hermas was not late, but from the 4th century, what difference does it make how much of it he brought forth? Plus, there were thousands of other MSS under that rubble, and he was a MSS hunter, so why would he leave them all there if he knew about them and just some more to it?

Steven Avery

Tischendorf only made the convoluted, awkward retraction, "admitted" it, because otherwise his own manuscript would be shot as 4th century. This becomes clear if you read the history.

As Tischendorf supporter (also, though, a realist) Casper Rene Gregory curtly summarized:

The Bibliotheca Sacra - Volume 33 (1876)

"This was followed by a contest about the text which Simonides had used for his Hermas. Tischendorf insisted at first that it was a text made by retranslation from the Latin; but after he found the part of Hermas in the Sinaitic manuscript, he at once said that the text used by Simonides was from the original Greek, though corrupted by use of the middle age Latin text."
And more detail about the retraction is here:

Tischendorf 1860 Hermas retraction - Notitia editionis codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici

The learned Scottish scholar James Donaldson, in articles from 1864-1877, contended that the original Tischendorf accusation was correct, and that neither Hermas or Barnabas (which Simonides published in 1843) in Sinaiticus should be seen as 4th century, the linguistics places the texts as later. Nobody ever refuted Donaldson, although Hort in 1866 said that the Hermas part of the analysis (the study of Barnabas came later)

"proves too much"

Also, in general, consider the dual "coincidences" that Simonides published what are essentially "Sinaitic" editions of Hermas and Barnabas before the Tischendorf discoveries!

And in that context you can also consider the various lies that Tischendorf concocted about the discoveries. And remember, Uspensky saw the full ms. in 1845. You might also study how the ms. was coloured artificially between 1844 and 1860.

Exactly how the dump spot was formed, nobody knows. The fact that a good part of Hermas (and other material directly related to the actions of Uspensky and Tischendorf as can be seen in my url above) got there, does not mean that everything in what is under the rubble today was easily accessible.

Beyond that, there were similarly hundreds, or thousands, of manuscripts in the normal libraries of St. Catherine's that Tischendorf did not write about or steal. He may have seen a lot of that New Finds material and considered it not relevant for his purposes.