This is, with small modifications, a post I placed on a couple of forums replete with scholars on Facebook. One of the forums has a couple of manuscript scholars whose work on the Archimedes Palimpsest is quite interesting. The goal is to get the simplicity and pizazz of the amazing evidences expressed in a manner that is brief enough, filled with solid info and interesting.

This can be seen in Facebook format at:{%22t n%22%3A%22R%22}&hc_location=ufi


The Mysteries of Codex Sinaiticus

It was suggested by a student/associate of Daniel Wallace that the issues below would make an interesting topic for an SBL meeting in 2017. (He was hoping SBL could have a negative response to such a talk, finding holes and errors galore. ) Now, I have never been to an SBL conference, although I did come close to traveling to a few conferences. And I would likely join and attend if there is a paper on this topic, allowing that the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) might really be a more compatible venue. Another possibility would be a special conference (In Vienna there was a scholarly conference in 2014 on Simonides, and there is some overlapping interest from those participants. They know a lot about Simonides, not so much about Sinaiticus.)

We know that searching out this issue at times will get dismissive response from those professionally involved in textual criticism, often with an appeal to the J. K. Elliott book. (Contrast the helpful, inquiring response on the Bible Criticism and History Forum). For that reason I have added explanations of the "argument from fallacy" used in the dismissals, and a review of the Elliott book (url at bottom), explaining why it is a totally inadequate source for the topic.

Intro complete, I will share a post, welcoming feedback.

The beginning of the post, about the Archimedes Palimpsest, referred to a couple of scholars on a manuscript forum. They may be on this forum as well, and the principles apply here, so I will keep the intro context.


April 5, 2016

The Mysteries of Codex Sinaiticus

Greetings. Some of our esteemed members have written on the Archimedes Palimpsest, a manuscript from which Constantine Tischendorf (1815-1874) heisted, or abstracted, a leaf. And they have done superb conservation and analysis and science work with parchment forensics. And wonderful video stuff is on the net from talks. (as an excample: look up the talks online by William Gerard Noel.)

Tischendorf is most famous for Codex Sinaiticus. From the point of view of manuscript condition and colour, the two main parts of Codex Sinaiticus, Leipzig 1844 and England 1859 (formerly St. Peterburg), have very severe anomalies. They are "exceptional" in a way that is beyond the normal chemical processes of deterioration and that points to artificial interference.

A simple look shows you that they are radically different in colour. The 1859 British Library section has an unusually large internal colour variance. And these leaves are overall "yellow with age", all 347 leaves.

In contrast, the 43 leaves of the Leipzig two sections are all a pristine white parchment. Ernst von Dobsch├╝tz, (1870-1934) in Halle near Leipzig even said "snow-white". Amazing. This can be seen at a glance in a composite picture of the ms. that puts all the pages into one unit.

Codex Sinaiticus Authenticity Research - Parchment Color

Historically, in 1862-3, the accusation was made that the manuscript had been coloured artifically in the 1850s. Lemon-juice was referenced as the tool. And because of the dates this would only affect the St. Petersburg part, not Leipzig. And this accusation was simply never checked by going to "the manuscript facts on the ground" .. until after the CSP brought the parts of the ms together by digitization in 2009. Note that this colouring event would cause precisely the anomalistic colour variances we see today. (Interestingly, the Tischendorf method of abstraction was also noted as well as other items that show knowledge of what happened with Tischendorf at St. Catherine's)

While there were earlier interesting, singular, observation references, all this anomaly became apparent only after the superb Codex Sinaiticus Project of 2009 visually combined parts of the manuscript into one digital unit. In fact, the two manuscripts had been hardly ever seen and handled by any scholars, so all this can be called "The Tale of Two Manuscripts".

Many questions arise, and some involve both sections of the ms equally as one unit. (i.e. They should have arisen even if we did not have the glaringly obvious issues with the 1844 and 1859 sections.)

Why is a manuscript that was supposed to be heavily used for a millennium, handled frequently, corrected, changed, unbinding and rebinding, moved .. and then stored for another 500 years .. is without grime and without the normal signs of manuscript aging?

This "unexpected" flexibility and suppleness and ms. youth can be seen online in a wonderful British Library video as well.

The Codex Sinaiticus: The Oldest Surviving Christian New Testament - The Beauty of Books

A second question is more a puzzling head scratcher. In the midst of all this manuscript jambalaya over 1650 years, this hodge-podge found strewn over the monastery, how did the NT amazingly stay perfectly intact, every single verse? A quite unlikely coincidence, although very helpful to a scholar who was specifically looking for a full New Testament. One of the many "too good to be true" elements.

Now, returning to the flexible, supple, youthful condition of the manuscript, The skilled Russian scientist Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov (1854-1946) said that the reason was simple .. the manuscript was really not all that old. This observation by Morozov that was not shared in the English manuscript histories. (Nor buy the Russians to the Brits when they bought the ms. "as is" in the Russian fire-sale of real and fake items in the 1930s.)

Along with this we have one fundamental point. Remember the manuscript in Germany was only described as "white parchment" (Uspensky seeing the whole manuscript in 1844 in the "before" mode, Dobsch├╝tz in 1910 as well.) Historically, nobody ever used sufflava or light yellow to describe the Leipzig pages, Tischendorf simply ignored the colour although he used sufflava to describe the St. Petersburg section. Now consider basic manuscript chemistry.

Gavin Moorhead, in the Codex Sinaiticus Project literature, wrote:
Parchment Assessment of the Codex Sinaiticus Gavin Moorhead - May 2009

"White sheep or calves and goats will tend to produce white parchment, whereas animals with darker coats will produce parchment showing shadowy brown patterns. ... The colour of parchment varies with animal type, making process and condition or state of decline. New parchment can be near white but as it ages or is exposed to detrimental factors it will start to yellow and go brown-black if left to degrade completely. The colour change can also be influenced by the type of degradation and degree of gelatinization."
So the Leipzig pages forgot to yellow, and stayed snow-white, overturning manuscript chemistry. Why?

More on these mysteries can be studied at:

Codex Sinaiticus Authenticity Research

Sinaiticus - authentic antiquity or modern?

Review of the James Keith Elliott book

Your thoughts, explanations, counterpoint and feedback welcome. Thanks!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY
Sinaiticus Authenticity Research Team