why the colour and condition of Sinaiticus points to inauthenticity

Steven Avery


When looking at Sinaiticus the historical evidences intertwine with the physical. Since the physical was virtually unknown to recently, the study of the physical initially was largely seen as corroborative to what was learned historically. Historically, there are historical impossibilities in the standard scenario, a huge question of provenance, and an alternate history that began the ms. in the 1840s. Knowing those elements spurred the actual physical condition study, as was also encouraged to be done by those utilizing the CSP Project, which supplies so much of the basic data.

However, the physical evidences, and their history can, for the purpose of analysis, be separated from the historical narrative about the question of whether the ms was created c. 1840. That is the goal of this mini-summary.


Physical Evidences Summary Overview Separated from Historical Corroborations

1) the bulk of the ms. was coloured, darkened, stained in the period, around the 1850s. (Why this should be seen as a fact is a key element of the presentations here and on www.sinaiticus.net. The historical narratives and observations support the Tale of Two Manuscripts. ) The conscious and deliberate tampering to make the ms look older was noted in the days of Sinaiticus "discovery", and the history shows means, motive and opportunity for the tampering.

Note: this does not by itself prove the ms. is recent and inauthentic (an ancient ms. that does not visually look "old enough" might be darkened by a person simply in a type of misplaced sincerity to have the ms. received as old.) However, the moment this colouring is acknowledged, all historical scenarios have to be drastically modified, and there is a prima facie assumption of intent to deceive, along with a huge evidence in the direction of inauthenticity. The burden of evidence as to authenticity takes a drastic shift.

Keep in mind that the evidences of colouring and staining go beyond the white leaves in Leipzig being compared to the coloured leaves in England, although knowing the Uspensky accounts, that is fundamental. They also include the wide disparity of colour in the English leaves compared to a virtually zero disparity in Leipzig. They also go the auxiliary components (e.g. paucity of stain) in Leipzig.

2) the condition of the "fine snow-white" leaves in Leipzig, the 1844 43 leaves, 10% of the ms, simply do not match this historical knowledge of what happens to parchment leaves used for a millennium and more. And this was the condition of the full ms. up to about 1850, based on Uspensky. It is well well known that parchment yellows, and this can be seen on ms. after ms. that is presumed authentic. When forgery mss are found, such as 2427, and they look yellow with agte, scientists do extensive testing in order to find out if they were yellowed artificially. In point of fact, any white leaf ms. should start with a presumption of youth. Note that the condition of those leaves actually give some support to the idea that the Sinaiticus ms. was designed origially more as a replica than a forgery (which was also a part of the historical narrative.) With the Leipzig leaves, there are additional elements that correlate well with the snow-white leaves. One is the Leipzig complete lack of leaf variance in the colour, another is the lack of grimy handling on the edges, and a third is their generally excellent conservation, very little wear and tear and suppleness and flexibility.

3) the ms in general, including the major sections in England, does not show the age matching its heavily used century-by-century handling in the "vulgate" version of its history. Here we are including the coloured and stained 1859 Russia, later to England, 90%. This was noted with emphasis by the Russian scientist Morozov in 1914. First you have the extraordinary conservation condition that is noted even by the British Library writers. You have a strength and flexibility that belies 1000+ years of desert use followed by another 400 years of supposed desert storage. You lack the grime on the edges of the 1000 years of uses. Colouring and staining may change the appearance of the ms., however it does not change its fundamental properties.


These three components are complementary to one another. The historical narrative is consistent with them, even pointing out the tampering that was done, who did it, why, etc. Yet even without the historical narrative, they are sufficient for a major questioning of authenticity, looking towards the testing of material and ink that has never been done.

The spur to this short presentation summary were the questions asked by Peter Kirby here:

Biblical Criticism & History Forum
Codex Sinaiticus - the white parchment Friderico-Augustas