"The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance" - James Anson Farrer

Steven Avery


Literary Forgeries by James Anson Ferrar
(more complete quote on post 5)

"The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance"
Literary Forgeries (1907)
James Anson Farrer

The Simonides section is p. 39-66, beginning at:

James Anson Farrer (1849-1925) is talking about the general schema involving Hermas. Sinaiticus is found in Sinai in 1844 by Tischendorf. And we now know many more "coincidences", especially since Farrer did not mention the 1843 Barnabas.


Kallinikos - One Key Element of Evaluating the Sinaiticus in Sinai History

In fact it is upon Kallinikos that the whole question hinges.

Background of Ferrar - Some Points Discussed (spots in bold are planned for additional writing and research here)

p. 39-41 - Original manuscripts brought to Frederick Madden
Purchases by Thomas Phillips- "Some he thought had been dipped in tobacco-water to give them the semblance of age.",
p. 41 - 1851 - Rancabes (Alexandros Risos Rangabe) first denunciation of Simonides mss in Pandora
p. 42-43 Availability of mss on Athos
p. 42 - Many mss from Simonides match up with the Lampros (Lambros) catalog, of mss from Mt. Athos
p. 40-41 & 43 The quantity and size of the Simonides mss stash was massive, forgery of that qty is unlikely
p. 43-44 - 1850s - The chronological problem with Nonnus and Uranius involving Demetrius Magnes - also on p. 51 (missed by the Germans)
p. 45 - Lycurgus and Uranius - . 48 Lepsius and Tischendorf involvement - p. 50 Lepsius disagrees with Tischendorf palaeographical objections
p. 51 - Mordtmann 1853 published in Athenaeum 1856
p. 51-52 - Lycurgus friendship
p. 52 - Charles Stewart list of publications in Memoir
p. 53 - Memnon (three issues, Greek and German) - Egyptian hieroglyphics - "comparison of several alleged copies of the Shephard of Hermas"
p. 53 - Mayer papyri - John Elliott Hodgkin and Mayer - Matthew, Nicolaus the deacon, 15th year after the Ascension - Jan 1863 Royal Society of Literature, Feb report p. 55-56
p. 56 - 1861 and 1864 facsimile publications - Museum of the Free Public Library in Liverpool - "it is almost impossible to believe in his manufacture of these papyri .. three papyri, still unrolled"
p. 57 - defunct argument by Vaux that we do not have such ancient papyri - "an impartial re-study of them"
p. 57-59 - Stewart Memoir, Simonides father was alive till 1860s

p. 58-59 - Benedict, head of the Monastery of Pantelemon or Russico on Mount Athos
p. 59 - first public claims Guardian, Sept 5, 1862 (compare to Tischendorf ref and allusions to earlier notices)
p. 59 - "Simonidies was a good enough calligrapher"
P. 59-60 - coincidence quote
p. 60 - Bradshaw, Tregelles and Scrivener -- Tischendorf

Simonides... the most amazing was his claim to have written when at Mount Athos in 1840 the Sinaitic Codex (Codex A), which Tischendorf discovered at Mount Sinai under highly singular circumstances between the years 1844 and 1859. The claim of Simonides to have transcribed this Codex, at the suggestion of his alleged uncle Benedict, as an intended present for the Czar Nicholas I., was first publicly made in the Guardian of 5th September, 1862, and in the Literary Churchman on 16th December of the same year. Nor could anything be more precise and circumstantial in detail, or more temperate in tone than the letters in which this claim was made. The implication that Tischendorf had mistaken a manuscript of the nineteenth century for one of the fourth naturally roused that irascible theologian to a condition of fury. That Simonides was a good enough calligrapher, even at an early age, to have written the Codex, is hardly open to doubt, and it is in his favour that the world was first indebted to him in 1856 for the opening chapters in Greek of the Shepherd of Hermas, with a portion of which the Codex Sinaiticus actually terminates. The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance. p. 59-60
... the experts in palaeography were strongly on the side of Tischendorf. Tregelles... Henry Bradshaw, who with Tregelles had inspected the Codex itself at Tischendorfs house at Leipsic in July, 1862 ... Scrivener ... Nevertheless these dogmatic assurances are not quite convincing. Simonides' claim was supported on its first appearance by certain letters in the Guardian purporting to come from Alexandria and signed " Kallinikos Hieromonachos ". These letters, inspected at a meeting of the Society of Literature, were thought to be in a handwriting identical with that of Simonides and to be written on paper like that used in Simonides' own letters; the inference being that Simonides had written them himself and sent them to Alexandria to be posted back to England {Parthenon, 14th February, 1863). But this alleged similarity of handwriting was never certified by any expert in handwriting.

And the attempt to throw doubt on the existence of Kallinikos failed as completely as the attempt to dispose in the same way of Benedict. Other Greeks besides Simonides had lax ideas of the value of truth. There was Nicolaides, who had been Archdeacon of Salonica from 1839 to 1853; who had visited Mount Athos five times; and who claimed to know all the MSS. existing there intimately; he wrote to the Parthenon that he not only had never heard of Benedict but that he disbelieved in his existence. Yet one has only to refer to Lampros' Catalogue of the Mount Athos MSS. to find Benedict's name appended to several MSS., and to one as late as 1844 (though Simonides gave 1840 as the year of his death). (See Nos. 5999, 6118, 6194, 6360, 6362, 6393.) The same work attests as conclusively the real existence of Kallinikos. A MS. dated March, 1867, is signed with the hand of Kallinikos who is "also the least of the monks of the monastery of Russico" {i.e., Pantelemon) (No. 638). And there is another MS. at Pantelemon, copied by the hand of Constantine Simonides on 27th March, 1841 (6405), and two other copies of the same work by Kallinikos Monachos (6406, 6407), which prove that Kallinikos and Simonides were at Pantelemon at the same time and associated in the same work.

Simonides, who was always most precise in his information about real or feigned persons, declares that this Kallinikos was born in 1802, a Thessalian, named originally Kuriakos; on his admission to the Church he took the name of Kallinikos, and for his bravery in the war of the Greek Revolution he received the surname of Keraunos. Whether this was so or not, Kallinikos was a real person, and his intervention in the controversy with his attestation of having seen Simonides write the Codex cannot be brushed aside as the testimony of a fabulous being.

In fact it is upon Kallinikos that the whole question hinges. For Kallinikos is said to have had lithographed at Moscow in 1853 and at Odessa in 1854 certain letters between himself and Simonides and the patriarch Constantius, wherein repeated allusion is made to the Codex prepared by Simonides for the Czar. One of these collections of lithographed letters is called "Autographa" and the other "Spoudaion hupomnema". They are both at the British Museum, presented apparently by Mr. James Young, the eminent antiquary, who received them as a gift from Simonides. But were these letters really lithographed in the years assigned to them in the frontispiece? May they not have been concocted by Simonides in 1863 and then antedated by ten years in order to support his claim? This has never been satisfactorily settled. Mr. John Eliot Hodgkin set himself the task in 1863 of trying to arrive at the truth, and he was informed by a "correspondent of unquestionable reputation at Odessa" that the foreman of certain lithographing works in that city perfectly remembered the printing of the letters at the time alleged. But in the case of Simonides, who was well skilled in lithography, one would be glad of some stronger proof.

As such proof Simonides showed Mr. Hodgkin a letter to himself at Munich from a friend B. Panchalos in London, dated March, 1858, which refers chiefly to these publications by Kallinikos in 1853. A copy of this letter in the handwriting of Simonides is still in the possession of Mr. Hodgkin, with a note by him, to the effect that the original letter was in a peculiar writing and that the postmarks seemed to be real ones. The writer professes to have brought from Odessa to London the letters and some works by Simonides which Kallinikos had lithographed. But Mr. Hodgkin's note bears the date of 21st July, 1863, and it is conceivable that the original letter had been produced at a later date than its apparent one.

But if these lithographed letters really were produced in the fifties, long before Simonides made his claim, and if they prove the truth of his statements concerning his work on the Codex, it is of course possible to maintain that it was not the Sinaitic Codex which he produced, but another. Simonides claimed to have seen his own work, the Codex, at Mount Sinai, when he was there in 1852, and his most important lithographed letters are dated from Mount Sinai in the March and April of 1852. But was Simonides at Mount Sinai at that time? Stewart says, presumably on the authority of Simonides himself, that he went to Mount Athos for the third time in 8th October, 1851, and that he stayed there a whole year, which of course is wholly incompatible with his writing letters from Mount Sinai in the March and April of 1852. But again Stewart may have made a mistake about the dates, and it would be unfair to press his statement too strongly against Simonides.

It is to be regretted that this matter was never cleared up at the time the claim was made. It cannot be said to have been settled by the mere opinions of Tregelles or Bradshaw, or by the more critical and palaeographical objections urged by Mr. Scrivener in his Introduction to the Sinaitic Codex (1867). The two former examined the Codex two months before Simonides had made his claim to it as his work, so that they had no reason to examine it with suspicion. And Mr. Scrivener's argument that no mere youth of at most nineteen could in a few months have composed a volume of nearly 4,000,000 uncial letters, though convincing about most youths, is not convincing where that youth was Simonides. On the side of Simonides is his unlimited skill in calligraphy; the very audacity of such a claim if entirely baseless; the remarkable presence in the Codex of a portion of the Shepherd of Hermas, which Simonides was the first scholar ever to have seen in Greek; the very natural allusions to the work in the lithographed letters; the fact that no visitor to the monastery at Mount Sinai before 1844 had ever seen or heard of such a work as belonging to the monks ; and the very extraordinary story told by Tischendorf of his discovery and acquisition of the Codex. The question therefore, pending the acquisition of further evidence, must remain among the interesting but unsolved mysteries of literature. p. 60-65
This is an incredibly important section. When Kallinikos is verified, the general tenor of Tischendorf mangling the ms in Sinai is essentially confirmed.

Two major points quickly come to mind that should be added:

1) If Sinaiticus was produced around 1840-1843, there could easily have been 3-4 hands producing it in Pantelemon. This possibility is verified by the Lambros catalog, and Simonides refers to additional hands involved. This lessons greatly any difficulties about the volume of text in Sinaiticus and the diversity of original scribes.

2) Kallinikos makes many references within the Sinai literature that are internal and historical consistency corroborations. As an example, Kallinikos humoursly discusses the bumbling Greek of Tischendorf (obliquely confirmed in the Tischendorf writing, when he flunked the tests given by the Orthodox Greek speakers.) Kallinikos gently chides Simonides for not following up fully with the ms in the early 1840s (considering the style of Simonides, this is unlikely to be his own craftiness.) And there are the direct concerns about the ms being mangled and .. coloured. The history given by Kallinikos fits very well what we know and what we see (e.g. the yellowing and staining of the post-CFA ms.)

Kallinikos, Simonides and Benedict were active in the scribal copying of mss at the Russico (Pantelemon) monastery in the period of 1841-1844.
This could also help account for work in 3 or 4 hands, in theories of Sinaiticus being of modern production.

1856 - Hermas palimpsest, noted in Hilgenfeld Hermas, 1887, in the Imperial Library of Vienna
Ferrar had contact with at least one principle from the 1860s controversies, John Elliott Hodgkin, and went over various materials that are not easy to find today, if they are still extant.


Pantelemon is the Specific Monastery on Mount Athos where Kallinikos and Benedict laboured with Simonides

In fact, another "coincidence". Pantelemon is the specific monastery where Simonides wrote that he corroborated with Kallinikos.

The Periplus of Hannon: King of the Kaschedonians Concerning the Lybian Parts of the Earth Beyond the Pillars of Herakles (1864)
The Brighton Observer, December 26, 1862

Things went on in this way, — some persons believing Simonides, some Tischendorf, when suddenly a Greek Archimandrite, with an unpronouncable name, wrote to the English papers from Alexandria, corroborating the statement of Simonides, and stating that he remembered seeing Simonides engaged in writing out the copy of the Bible in question, in the Ancient Greek characters, whilst staying at the monastery of St. Pantelemon, on Mount Athos. p. 56 ... The old gentleman,' my late uncle, to whom you facetiously allude, was Benedict, the confidential adviser and spiritual father of John Capo-d'Istrias; and, after his death, Superior of the Monastery St. Pantelemon (Bosicon), in Mount Athos ... p. 60
Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831)


Lambrou Catalogs

1895 - Catalogue of the Greek manuscripts on Mount Athos - Vol 1
Sypridon Paulou Lambrou
https://archive.org/details/cataloguegreekm00lampgoog or http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015034758881

1900 - Catalogue of the Greek manuscripts on Mount Athos - Vol 2
Sypridon Paulou Lambrou
http://books.google.com/books?id=1DdAAAAAYAAJ or https://archive.org/details/cataloguegreekm01lampgoog or http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015034758873

Benedict http://books.google.com/books?id=1DdAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA454
Kallinikos http://books.google.com/books?id=1DdAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA381


Falconer Madan

Falconer Madan
"Librarian of the Bodleian Library of Oxford University."

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

Simonides ... in 1861 he boldly asserted that he himself had written the whole of the Codex Sinaiticus, which Tischendorf had brought in 1856 from the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. The statement was, of course, received with the utmost incredulity; but Simonides asserted, not only that he had written it, but that, in view of the probable scepticism of scholars, he had placed certain private signs on particular leaves of the codex. When pressed to specify these marks, he gave a list of the leaves on which were to be found his initials or other monogram. The test was a fair one, and the MS., which was at St. Petersburg, was carefully inspected. Every leaf designated by Simonides was found to be imperfect at the part where the mark was to have been found. Deliberate mutilation by an enemy, said his friends. But many thought that the wily Greek had acquired through private friends a note of some imperfect leaves in the MS., and had made unscrupulous use of the information.
This is similar, a writer with impeccable credentials who was not really satisfied with the pat, standard conclusions given of the Sinaiticus-Simonides matter.


Metzger on Farrer

One irony is that while Bruce Metzger took the normal line on Simonides, he highlighted the excellence of the Farrer book, totally missing and ignoring the Simonides section.

Reminiscences of an Octogenarian (1995)
Bruce Manning Metzger

My interest in the subject or literary frauds and pseudepigrapna eventually led to my decision to discuss the subject, "Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapna," as my presidential address in 1971 at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. In drawing up an extensive bibliography on the subject, I came upon J. A. Farrer's classic book Literary Forgeries, which was also translated into German.
More on this thread:


James Keith Elliott - Farrer Flunk

Despite the reference from Metzger, his book simply does not mention Farrer.
Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair (1982)
James Keith Elliott

An example of why the book is at most a minor contribution to scholarship, and can be more misleading than helpful. You for many today, he is the end-point of study.


Notes WIP

Sinaiticus - Hermas, Barnabas linguistic, history anomalies - Oct, 2014

Plus review the Farrer material on this thread.

Farrer researches Kallinikos, Simonides and Benedict, notes their activities in the 1841-1844 period on Mt. Athos, giving a strong confirmation to many aspects of the 1844 and 1859 history given above
(published in the Journal of Sacred Literature, Literary Churchman and other publications in the early 1860s.)


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Steven Avery

coincidence, causation and correlation (and synchronicity)

Here we want to discuss coincidence and probability and how to utilize unlike coincidences, far more singular than would be normally expected, in determining historical events.

First, it should be said that any super-wild coincidence is possible. If the historical "facts on the ground" are so demanding.

e.g. With Sinaiticus, if there was a singular proof of pre-1800s authenticity, that would override amazing coincidence concerns. Examples, if a 1700s catalog showed the manuscripts, or if the New Finds was a sealed room by 1800, or if material from Sinaiticus in the New Finds was internally used in bindings of books that were bound in the 1700s, you would have probative evidence.

(to be continued)

Steven Avery

incredible coincidence recognition - tool in the arsenal of the forensic historian

Recognizing the unlikelihood of coincidences remarkable must be in the arsenal of any forensic historian.

In fact, this was a key element in declaring Uranios a forgery.

The National Magazine (1856)
South Australian Register - (1856)

Professor Lepsius, delighted at first by the complete confirmation which Uranius gave to his system of Egyptian chronology, found at last that the coincidences between Uranius and the writings of Bunsen and himself were of too startling a nature.

Steven Avery

dueling improbabilities

In responding to Joseph Mortland Cotterill on an authenticity, dating and forgery question that had been raised about the Epistles of Clement of Rome, Samuel Cheetham (1827-1908) made a point that helps to guide a lot of our research: .

The Contemporary Review, Volume 35
Review of Peregrinus Proteus
Samuel Cheetham

It is said that nothing was over written that was not capable of being answered, and no doubt it is possible to go on giving answers such as these. But the question is, Which are the greater improbabilities? Those which attach to the supposition that the epistle or epistles are genuine, or those which attach to the assumption that they are forged ?

Sherlock Holmes states an important principle that has to be considered by every forensic historian.

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"
[SIZE=-1] Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four (Doubleday p. 111), Arthur Conan Doyle. [/SIZE]

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Steven Avery


(... and including a Greek text of Hermas that was previously completely unknown)

Except that Simonides had published a Greek text of Hermas that was largely the same text, before the Sinaiticus publication, so by 1859 it was quite well known, and even the fact that the text came from Simonides.

"the Codex Athous provides a text, from which the Sinaiticus varies in small details but apparently not in substance"
Skeat and Milne, 1938, Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus, p. 16, also quoted by
Konrad Martin Heide in The Reliability of the New Testament p. 152

Literary Forgeries (1907)
James Anson Farrer (1849-1925)

That Simonides was a good enough calligrapher, even at an early age, to have written the Codex, is hardly open to doubt, and it is in his favour that the world was first indebted to him in 1856 for the opening chapters in Greek of the Shepherd of Hermas, with a portion of which the Codex Sinaiticus actually terminates. The coincidence seems almost more singular than can be accounted for by chance.
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Steven Avery

Historians and journalists and folks attune to probability and the historical imperatives should easily understand the importance of the SImonides Hermas before Sinaiticus.

This was one reason why Chris Pinto was way ahead of the curve.