why do we know that the Sinaiticus ms is an 1800s production?

Steven Avery

why do we know that the Sinaiticus ms is an 1800s production?


Let's keep it simple.

For the first three points, let us remember that this information was generally unavailable even to the palaeographic experts that were following the Tischendorf date over the years.

The basics here are in brown, the additional commentary is blue.


1) The condition of Sinaiticus is flexible and supple in a way that is totally inconsistent for a theorized ms. from antiquity that was heavily used for 1,000 years and then stored for 500 more. We can add clean, with special attention to the edges which would show the centuries of grime from handling.

All t
his is crystal clear from the body of evidences, including the descriptions and comparisons of the ms., the CSP images from 2009 and the video from the BBC. And all this has counterpoint from the many descriptions of the phenomenon of the yellowing and aging of mss, how they will become brittle over time and conservators have to handle them gingerly, with ultra-special care. By constrast, the Sinaiticus parchment is in "phenomenally good condition" (Helen Shenton, 2009) and we can actually actually watch it be handled very lightly and easily, pages turning, as if it were almost new.

The details of all these elements are described in various threads here on the purebibleforum, Sinaiticus section.

The counterpoint to this by authenticity proponents is nothing more than disjointed diversions. When they are asked to give analogous manuscripts that survived long-term in a similar manner, none are given. (Overall, the "exceptional" Sinaiticus with parchment in the "phenomenally good condition" is really explained in one way ... the ms. was produced in the 1800s.)

The Russian scientist Morozov said it point-blank. Too flexible to be more than 600 years old. (Much less yet a heavily used ms for 1500 years.)

Helpful Note:
Let's remember that the provenance theories of the ms. only support two possibilities.

1) An early antiquity ms as claimed by Tischendorf .. 4th century. Or, more precisely, some time up to the 5th-7th century, as some have argued. Either way, with heavy antiquity usage, corrections, notes and other changes virtually each century up to the 1500s is theorized. This is the poof provenance theory where Sinaiticus suddenly appears in Sinai, no catalogues, missed by ms. hunters, until Tischendorf.

2) The 1800s. A Mt Athos production, brought to Sinai, where it was handled and mangled.

With Sinaiticus, there is no middle ground production possibility that makes any sense. i.e. While physically, the ms. possibly could have been made in the 1500s, corrected and stashed away quickly, this does not align with any historical narrative. Historical forensics includes looking at both the physical and the historical evidences.
2) The Leipzig Codex Friderico-Augustanus 43 leaves, from the 1844 heist, are white parchment. They simply are not "yellow with age" as was claimed for Sinaiticus when the early date was pushed by Tischendorf, Scrivener (who had not actually seen the ms.) and others. A fiction was used to help push the early ms. date. There is no analogous heavily used antiquity ms that is white parchment. This is empirical and evidentiary proof of the late production date rather than the 300s date, for which all the pages of the ms. would yellow. This fact was never even discussed publicly until 2014 and the Leipzig conservators will not comment on it today.

Again, authenticity defenders have not responded on this question. Some have questioned the colour distinction that is glaring and crystal-clear in the Codex Sinaiticus Project pictures, taken by professional image specialists following special technical working standards guidelines for consistency and including colour bars. e.g. They can blame shutter-speed or lighting or colour balancing. Not one has actually denied that the Leipzig pictures are white parchment. (Making the objections superficial, diversion irrelevancies.)

3) The comparison of Leipzig and the British Library pages shows that the Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus leaves, that went to St. Petersburg in 1859 (and now are in the British Library) were artificially coloured. They were made "yellow with age" by hand between 1850 and 1862 and can be compared with the 1844 Leipzig pages, not one of which is coloured, which left Sinai before the colouring occurred.

An absolutely amazing historical forensics trail, a dream evidence, history before your eyes.

Special Note:
Which is then corroborated (below, in the historical section) by the historical narrative dream evidence, the noting of this exact phenomenon. Even pointing to the culprit, the motive, the excuse, the time and the technique, lemon-juice. This historical corroboration of what we can only see today, that was hidden for 155 years, was a supposedly blind narrative made by an individual who, supposedly, did not know anything of the ms!
This is reinforced by the unusual colour variance within the British Library pages, specifically highlighted by the Codex Sinaiticus Project in the days before authenticity concerns. A variance that is consistent with artificial staining and for which we have not seen an analogy in any other ancient ms. Remember, the 43 Leipzig pages, taken out of Sinai from before the colouring, are uniformly white parchment, with close to zero variation.

Now, to be clear, by itself the artificial colouring does not prove that the ms. is not authentic. This is simply an evidence that is totally consistent with a modern ms tampered to make it look old. A ms. owner or handler could conceivably help along his opinion of the date and thus artificially colour an ancient ms. They would be demonstrating their own doubts about its age, or at least its appearance of age. And it is very difficult to accept and argue that the ms was both ancient and tampered to look ancient :) .

And, when the white parchment compared to coloured pages issue is acknowledged, there is no sensible response and historical scenario that fits the evidences that has been offered by authenticity defenders. Only vague allusions to storage or cleaning, none of which actually could fit the present condition and the historical observations.

More on this in the "why do we know.." series here:

why do we know that the 1859 CSP leaves were artificially coloured?


Notice that we have three compelling super-evidences that Sinaiticus is not an antiquity ms. even before we examine the lack of provenance and the fabrications created to explain the discovery. Or the alternate historical narratives with Simonides involved in the production, amazingly in the right place at the right time, with the right skills and connections and the right contacts, and the "coincidental" working on Hermas and Barnabas. Nor have we examined a large group of ms anomalies. Or evidences ignored like the Donaldson linguistics. And various amazing coincidences like every verse of the NT surviving in the tattered and supposedly unbound ms.

(In fact, for this study we are keeping it simple, only discussing the principle points.)

These evidences were generally hid from the experts before the analysis of the 2009 reunification of the ms. that was analyzed in the period of 2013-2014 till today.

Thus, all the legion of Tischendorf parrot writing, working off his facsimile editions, deeply entrenching an early Sinaiticus into modern scholarship, is simply irrelevant.

If anyone really wants to defend Sinaiticus authenticity, they must start with the condition of the ms, an area where the truth has been out for only two years, and presented publicly for only a few months.

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Steven Avery

poof provenance

The next point to be noted is the total lack of provenance for this manuscript before the 1844 "discovery" by Tischendorf in the vulgate historical version.

This is a highly suspicious poof provenance, especially as the Sinai monastery had already been a venturing ground for European adventurers for decades. All forgery and authenticity analysis starts with provenance.

This is augmented by false claims, like the "ancient catalogues" that were referenced as supporting Sinaiticus (easily dismissed by Simonides, who knew the ms and the history) and that have never appeared.

This is also related to the fabrication stories of Tischendorf around the discovery. (Part of this can be attributed to his propensity towards the theft of leaves and manuscripts, but overall it is a mark against authenticity that Tischendorf came up with such creative fabrications.) Also auxiliary elements, like the unusual months in Cairo with Tischendorf control of the ms supposedly making a copy of the ms that has vanished.

And the puzzling attempt for years after 1859 of Tischendorf not officially connecting the two sections of the ms. There is one good explanation for not declaring the obvious, Tischendorf was concerned that the colour comparison of the two manuscripts (he never described the colour or the condition of the Leipzig CFA parchment, St. Petersburg he described the colour as sufflava, light yellow and ignored the condition) would be .. embarrassing. In addition, Tischendorf kept the manuscript virtually inaccessible and kept the two clashing sections far from one another.

While nothing in the provenance issues directly proves that Sinaiticus is not 4th-7th century, everything in the provenance issues supports it being a late production.

We also have the "too good to be true" nature of the discovery in this category of historical, provenance evidences, as was pointed out in the Secret Mark studies, this is properly seen as an evidence against authenticity.

Another point here is how the "New Finds", by interlocking Tischendorf and Uspensky material with the storage or dump room, acts as yet another confirmation of 1840s-1850s tampering.

In here, under mangling and tampering, we can add additional points, such as Tischendorf originally finding a larger manuscript, and trimming the edges, and notes and/or symbols that were on those edges (which were a part of the Simonides controversy.) See also how the end of Hermas, the dicey book because of the linguistics controversy and the Tischendorf retraction, ended up in the New Finds. Note that Uspensky's writing supports Hermas being a full volume in 1845-1850.

Steven Avery

the Simonides ihstorical narrative - retribution or contribution?

We now go to the historical and journalist inquiries about the events of the 1860s, where Constantine Simonides directly declared his involvement in the creation of Sinaiticus and a major controversy was documented in the English journals.

In the common narrative today of these events, Simonides supposedly came up with an ad hoc retribution attempt to embarrass Tischendorf. (At the time, a superior failure attempt was floated, saying that Simonides confused two manuscripts. This at least has the advantage of a type of theoretical possibility.) The historian and journalist can easily see the huge problems with this dismissal.

First, this would be a wild attempt, as one real provenance support or catalog (which you would expect, e.g. Vaticanus is in the 1481 Vatican archives) would immediately sink the whole claim. How could Simonides be so brazenly stupid as to claim he worked on a manuscript if e.g. a 1730s catalog could simply be produced showing the ms. at Sinai? Simonides was clever, but he was not stupid. He knew there was no historical record, because he knew the Sinai library and he knew the manuscript's history. Essentially, when they made the "ancient catalogues" claim, he laughed (read the history) because he knew it was baloney on rye.

We have the coincidental confluence of historical events.
Simonides supposedly made this wild claim, yet he was, amazingly enough:

a) in the right place with the right materials (Mt. Athos, where parchment and old Greek writing skills are abundant, and monks and scribes have time)

b) at the right time (c. 1840)

c) with the right skill set (calligraphy, and, if you read between the lines, replica and forgery)

d) with the right connections (especially Benedict and Kallinikos, confirmed by the Lambrou catalog of 1895)

e) with the necessary church and personal connections to St. Catherine's.

This is an amazing set of coincidences for a supposedly wild retribution attempt! Again, the journalist and historian (think Chris Pinto as an example) can understand these events, the textual geek is clueless. A person can not recreate where they were years back to match a new ad hoc fabrication. This inability to have a historical perspective is one reason why you almost have to ignore much of the "textual criticism" oriented writing about Sinaiticus, except to have a hearty chuckle.

Already a sharp analyst will see that there looks to be real substance to the Simonides claims. And they can see that the dismissal attempt by the argument from fallacy (Simonides said something wrong he fudged this or that) is irrelevant. What we really have to do is look at the manuscript, however until 2009 that was close to impossible. Tischendorf begged off showing up in London during the controversies, upsetting even his supporter Scrivener.

Today we can see the manuscript, and the manuscript "facts on the ground" supports Simonides fully on the basic fact of it being a modern manuscript tampered to give an appearance of age. While Tischendorf is shown to be involved in chicanery and subterfuge and misdirection. Which he combined with a weird, almost loony (in his two 1863 books, Assaults and Weapons of Darkness, which is how he described any questioning), belligerent pushing of the manuscript as 4th century. Berating anybody who even raised questions who thought it might be a little later. Tischendorf had the aggressive charm and insecurity of the con man. He was not interested in a dispassionate, scholarly discussion of the manuscript. Why? We believe the answer is quite obvious.
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Steven Avery

the "called shots" of Simonides and Kallinikos

When we read the history with clear eyes, it is 100% clear that Simonides knew the Sinaiticus manuscript. And that this is refutation of the authenticity proponent position, that has him wildly attempting to embarrass Tischendorf.

We alluded to one element above, when discussing the simple fact that the 1859 St. Petersburg section had been coloured:

1850s colouring
Special Note:
Which is then corroborated (below, in the historical section) by the historical narrative dream evidence, the noting of this exact phenomenon. Even pointing to the culprit, the motive, the excuse, the time and the technique, lemon-juice. This historical corroboration of what we can only see today, that was hidden for 155 years, was a supposedly blind narrative made by an individual who, supposedly, did not know anything of the ms!
Once again, the details are here on the PBF threads.

What we have is Simonides and Kallinikos nailing, again and again, details about Tischendorf and Sinaiticus, details that show they were fully involved with the ms in the 1840s and even aware of what was happening into the 1850s.

They nailed virtually everything, including:

1) 1844 theft

2) 1859 bogus loan

3) Tischendorf's bungling Greek

4) the colouring of the manuscript to give it an appearance of age (fortunately, Tischendorf started this late, so we have The Tale of Two Manuscripts as the most incredible evidence, the smoking sufflava. All verifiable by looking at the Codex Sinaiticus Project, 2009.

5) the mangling of the ms. (confirmed even in the Gregory discussions which have Tischendorf trimming the ms, also the New Finds)

6) the fact that Simonides knew the claim of "ancient catalogues" showing the ms. at Sinai was bogus, and confidently explained his working with the library

7) alcohol as a Tischendorf tool at the monastery

Simonides and Kallinikos gave other details about the monastery, at the moment I am emphasizing the points that have clear corroboration.


The edges being trimmed by Tischendorf (margin notes being mentioned by Simonides) and Genesis 24 showing up in the New Finds and the account of Falconer Madan in 1893 about specific parts of the ms being noted and found deficient, and the related account by James Anson Farrrer, all are additional confirmations of Simonides knowledge of the ms.


Also, we have Tischendorf actually fretting about Simonides on his way to heist the ms. in 1859 (this is in the family correspondence.)

The Discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus as reported in the personal letters of Konstantin Tischendorf
Jeffrey-Michael Featherstone

Alexandria, 17 January 1859 p. 281
The Prussian consul and Russian consul (from Cairo] are old acquaintances of Tischendorf. The Russian vice-consul in Alexandria tells Tischendorf that during the past year the Russian consulate has done much in favour of the Sinai monastery: Good preparation ! All correspondence from the Synod in Petersburg goes through the Russian vice-consulate, and there is nothing to arouse suspicion. The goal of his journey is known at least here in Alexandria, but there is no connexion here with the monastery. He has heard again of the stories told by Simonides. He is in a hurry to go to Cairo and then further on to his goal.

The historian and journalist can piece this together easily now. There is a limit to coincidental speculation, one where the history simply becomes compelling. A little coincidence is possible, but the realm of blind called shots, confirmed 35 years (the Lambou catalog showing the Athos connections c. 1840) and 165 years later (the Codex Sinaiticus Project showing the colour tampering) is the realm that goes way beyond even:

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

And, for corroboration, the historian and journalist can go back and see that the manuscript is not even old! It is in "phenomenally good condition".

Why are the textual criticism theorists bungle this so badly? Circularity. Sinaiticus as ancient has become "deeply entrenched" in the "scholarship". However, their foibles do not affect us. Overall, the fact that the ms. is 1800s is confirmed and corroborated on all the essentials.

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Steven Avery

short summary - es suficiente - herb tea

While we have omitted in this short summary tons of additional evidences (e.g. anomalies galore, cancelling of tests, Barnabas 1843, Donaldson linguistics) we believe that we can say about the basics above -- es suficiente.

The basics are laid out. Sinaiticus was produced c. 1840. Simonides was involved, although he likely tweaked the story to his own advantage. The manuscript is young, it simply is not an ancient ms.. The two sections of the manuscript show that the 1859 section was tampered by being coloured to give the appearance of age. We have the incredible before and after forensics now available right before our eyes.

It is virtually impossible to be given stronger evidences than we now have after the CSP 2009.

Wake up and smell the herb tea! :)

If you do not want to drink the tea, you can experiment with it to colour some manuscripts.

Steven Avery

Steven Avery

spots where Simonides an Kallinikos describe Tischendorf, Sinaiticus, St. Catherine's Monastery


Examples of 1-7 above.

Journal of Sacred Literature (1863)


Kallinikos exposes Tischendorf shenanigans

Often additional information is on specific threads, e.g. the stories that describe the Tischendorf heists from Sinai.


"A portion of this was secretly removed from Mount Sinai, by Professor Tischendorf, in 1844." p. 228

"This manuscript then being thus estimated (as very old) by the German Tischendorf, was snatched away from the monastery, was afterwards transferred to Cairo, and after a few days was lent to Tischendorf, by the mediation of the Russian consul in Egypt. And it is said that the restoration of the Codex after its publication was guaranteed by the Russian ambassador in Constantinople. But I do not believe in any promise of the ambassador or the consul for the restoration of the Codex, and even if they did promise it, I do not believe that they would ever restore it to the monastery of Sinai. I judge from previous events..." p. 224

Now we shall see whether they will endorse the vain talking of Tischendorf, whom I have myself seen and conversed with four times, and whom I found superficial in all things, and quite ignorant of the language of our immortal ancestors. ... " p. 224
see also http://www.purebibleforum.com/showthread.php?p=253
See also the "bad Greek" of Tischendorf referenced here: https://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.co...hendorf-letter-at-saint-catherines-monastery/

1862 - "much altered, having an older appearance than it ought to have" - Simonides, per his 1852 visit
“the same Codex was cleaned, with a solution of herbs, on the theory that the skins might be cleaned, but, in fact, that the writing might be changed, as it was, to a sort of yellow colour.”
(Kallinikos, The Literary Churchman, Dec. 16, 1862) (Codex Sinaiticus & the Simonides Affair by J.K. Elliott, p. 77)
1863 - "The MS. had been systematically tampered with, in order to give it an ancient appearance, as early as 1852" - Simonides, Jan, 28,1863 to the Guardian
1864 - “had also been cleaned with lemon-juice, professedly for the purpose of washing the vellum, but, in reality, to weaken the freshness of the letters.”
claim summarized by The Christian Remembrancer, (Elliott, p. 78)

"The rest, with inconceivable recklessness, he mutilated and tampered with, according to his liking, in the year 1859." p. 227
Some leaves he destroyed, especially such as contained the Acrostics of Sirnonides..."



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Steven Avery

decoloration - and does colouring of ms prove non-ancient text and ms?

> Question
> could there have been "decoloration"

There is great difficulty finding any explanation for the pristine white parchment condition of the 43 folia in Leipzig. The ms. was supposed to be heavily used, also travelled, for 1500+years. We have here an unusual confluence of circumstances.

historical observation
The full codex ms. was identified as white parchment in 1845.by Uspensky
(the Leipzig 1844 sections were gone by then, sitting in the Leipzig library, and could not be changed)
The Leipzig pages were identified as white parchment by Dubschutz.in 1910.
They are white parchment today, as we see very clearly from the Codex Sinaiticus project.. Every one of the 86 pages.

Yet Tischendorf. told the world that the whole ms. is sufflava, Scrivener, relying on Tischendorf, says "yellow with age". No distinction was made for Leipzig and St. Petersburg. The facsimile of Tischendorf smoothed out the difference. The fiction that Tischendorf had created had been maintained by stashing the ms. sections far apart. And pointing all the scholarship to his facsimile. The fiction was maintained by the desire for the textual establishment to accept his theories and representations. And many accepted even the absurd lies he told about the discovery, such as saving the leaves from fire. Even the 2011 Hendrickson and British Library publication, pictures, were adjusted to hide the colour distinction.

We do not have the expected grime in either locale.
We have a ms. in "phenomenally good condition" (Helen Shenton, British Library), supple, easy page turning. (This can be seen in a BBC video.)

Even if the whole ms., Britain and Germany, was in this same colour, it would be a matter of great perplexity.
How could it really be the age claimed?

There is no science to a real antiquity ms resisting ms. aging, and yellowing.

One example given was a Dead Sea Scroll taken out of a jar.
Whille whitish coming out, the scroll quickly yellowed.

The ms. experts tend to ignore the problem, because the Sinaiticus ms. is known to be fourth century. So let's change the subject. Maybe we can modify the science of parchment and ink to match what we know is true of Sinaiticus. Circularity.


However, the soup thickens.

Simonides and Kallinikos said that the ms. had been coloured in the 1850s. Using substances like lemon-juice and herbs.

Nobody ever checked this accusation by simply looking at the ms sections closely. (And the ms. has never had materials testing.) This changed when the true manuscript photos, done with great professionalism, was put online in 2009 by the Codex Sinaiticus Project. Oops.

This colouring in the 1850s would lead to a:

white parchment 1844 BEFORE in Leipzig and a
yellowed 1859 AFTER in the British Library

This is exactly what we see, courtesy of the Codex Sinaiticus Project.
And, for added pizazz, you can see streaky staining on the British Library pages.


> Questions
> Can we be sure this is really "artificially coloured"?
> And would colouring disprove the genuineness of the ms and the text it contains?
a) Even if the ms was coloured for an appearance of age, the text it contains might be ancient
b) the ms parchment itself could be ancient and authentic, and mistakenly coloured.

If Tischendorf and/or his allies stained the major part of the ms. in the 1850s, it is very strong evidence that there was deliberate deception involved. And as David Daniels said:

Why stain what you think to be the treasure of a lifetime, the oldest and best manuscript in history? It's like the guy who got a gold medal, and was so excited that he went out and had it bronzed!

At this point, we have to conclude that the Simonides explanation is essentially correct. Everything fits. Now, of course, that does not tell us much about the textual aspects, but it does tell us that the ms. itself was created c. 1840.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Benedict copied a 4th century ms. perfectly in creating Sinaiticus. From the point of view of textual science, that would not matter. The ms. is 1840s. And it is a fairly new parchment, clumsily coloured to make it look yellow.

In fact, the text is a hybrid mess, full of errors. There are various fheories about how it was made.
However, the bottom line is simple .. the Sinaiticus ms was made c. 1840.

Steven Avery

salient arguments that authenticity defenders do not address

salient arguments that authenticity defenders do not address

Placed in the David Daniels book section but related to this thread.

This thread will be "pinned" as the fundamental thread for point-by-point presentation.
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