Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ten More Reasons Sinaiticus Was Not Made by Simonides

Continuing from where I left off:

(11)  Sinaiticus Has Rare Alexandrian ReadingsAs Scrivener observed in his 1864 Full Collation of Codex Sinaiticus, in Matthew 14:30, after the word ανεμον, the word ισχυρὸν is missing.  The printed edition of Codex Vaticanus’ text that was available when Simonides claimed to have made the codex reported that Codex Vaticanus included this word.  It was not until 1855 that the collation of the text of Codex Vaticanus was revised, and it was found that the main text of Vaticanus did not have this word; it was added by a later corrector. 
            This agreement between Vaticanus and Sinaiticus is one of many examples of the special affinity of their contents – agreements which would not exist between Codex Vaticanus and any artificially created composite-text based on the sources described by Simonides.  Simonides claimed to have used a Greek Bible prepared at Moscow, and printed by the Zosima brothers; this was understood to refer to a Greek Bible published by the Holy Russian Synod in 1821, in which the Old Testament portion is based on Grabe’s edition of the text of Codex Alexandrinus (an edition finished in the early 1700’s by other scholars after Grabe’s death).  According to T. C. Skeat, the New Testament portion of this edition consists of the Textus Receptus.  It may thus be expected to represent a fifth-century form of the Greek text of the Old Testament books, but the extraction of many Alexandrian readings from its New Testament text would be impossible.   
            Even if Simonides had somehow acquired a collation of Codex L (a manuscript known from the time of Stephanus (mid-1500’s) to have a text of Mark, Luke, and John which often deviates from the normal Byzantine standard (because, as later researchers discerned, its text in those three Gospels, and in the closing chapters of Matthew, is Alexandrian)), this would not have helped him find Alexandrian readings in the first 20 chapters of Matthew, where L’s text is primarily Byzantine.
            Yet we see many agreements between Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in Matthew 1-20 – of which the following are samples – which are inexplicable if the text of Sinaiticus were put together by the process which Simonides claimed to have used:
            ● The omission of Και (“And”) at the beginning of 3:2.
            ● The omission of (“his”) αυτου in 3:7.
            ● The omission of Ἰωάννης (“John”) in 3:14.
            ● The omission of ρημα (“word”) in 5:11.
            ● The harmonization τασσόμενοος (“placed”) in 8:9.
            ● The omission of και (“and”) in 8:13a.
            ● The omission of αυτου (“his”) in 8:13b.
            ● The omission of αυτου (“his”) in 8:21.
            ● The omission of πολλα (“often”) in 9:14.
            ● The omission of ανθρωπον (“a man”) in 9:32.
            ● The addition of και before Ἰάκωβος (“and” before “James”) in 10:2.
            ● The omission of εισίν (“are”) at the end of 11:8.
            ● The omission of οχλοι (“crowds”) in 12:15.
            ● The inclusion of αυτω (“him”) in 12:38.
            ● The omission of ἀκούειν (“to hear”) in 13:9.
            ● The variant φησιν (“says”) in 13:29.
            ● The omission of ανθρώπω (“a man”) in 13:45.
            ● The omission of αυτον (“him”) in 14:3.
            ● The omission of τὸν in 14:10.
            ● The omission of ισχυρὸν (“strong”) in 14:30.
            ● The omission of αυτων (“their”) in 15:2.
            ● The omission of αυτου (“his”) in 15:12.
            ● The omission of με (“I”) in 16:13.
            ● The addition of Χριστος (“Christ”) after Ἰησους (“Jesus”) in 16:21.
            ●  The variant εχει (“is ill”) instead of πάσχει (“suffers”) in 17:15.
            ● The omission of 17:21.
            ● The omission of εις με (“against you”) in 18:15.
            ● The omission of ανθρώπω (“a man”) in 19:3.
            ● The omission of αυτου (“his”) in 19:10.
            ● The omission of 20:16.
            The theory that anyone in the early 1800’s could happen to create all these agreements with Vaticanus is extremely unlikely.  Most of them are agreements in error (regardless of whether one’s standard of comparison is the Byzantine Text or the Nestle-Aland compilation).   

(12)  Sinaiticus Contains Many Non-Alexandrian Readings Which Are Singular or Almost Singular.  A person creating a text in the early 1800’s based on a printed Greek Bible and a few manuscripts from Mount Athos would have neither the means nor the motive to create many readings found in Codex Sinaiticus. Such a person would occasionally make a mistake which at least one earlier copyist also made – but the appearance of so many singular or almost singular readings – not just mistakes – in Codex Sinaiticus puts very heavy strain on the theory that they were made by someone in the early 1800’s who was attempting to produce a gift for the Russian Emperor, because in such a setting there is nothing to provoke them.  Some examples from chapters 1 and 2 of the Gospel of Luke:
            ● The variant Ἰουδαίας (of Judah) instead of Γαλιλαίας (of Galilee) in 1:26.
            ● The harmonization και πατριας (“and lineage”) in 1:27.
            ● The variant Και αναστασα instead of Ἀναστασα δε (both meaning “And rising up”) in 1:39.
            ● The harmonization ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει (“in joy”) in 1:41.
            ● The variant διὰ (“through,” or, “because of”) instead of διελαλειτο πάντα in 1:65.
            ● The variant Θεου (“God”) instead of Κυρίου (“Lord”) in 2:9.
            ● The insertion of λέγοντες (“saying”) in 2:15.
            ● The omission of the last εἰς (“for”) in 2:34.
            ● The insertion of πονηροι (“evil”) at the end of 2:35.
            ● The variant ἐβδομήκοντα (70) instead of ὀγδοήκοντα (80) in 2:37.
            ● The omission of Ἰησους (“Jesus”) in 2:43.
            ● The variant Θεου instead of παρὰ Θεω in 2:52

(13)  Significant Parts of Sinaiticus Are Not Extant.  Simonides claimed that he had visited Saint Catherine’s Monastery in 1852, and that he had seen his codex there, and that it was “much altered, having an older appearance than it ought to have.  The dedication to the Emperor Nicholas, placed at the beginning of the book, had been removed.”  However, much more of the Old Testament is not extant.  No pages from Genesis were known to Tischendorf except the small fragment he found in 1853; the parts from Genesis 21-24 were either taken by Porphyry Uspensky, or discovered at Saint Catherine’s Monastery as part of the “New Finds” in 1975.  The entire book of Exodus is gone; only chapters 20-22 of Leviticus are extant, and the surviving pages contain no more than ten chapters of Leviticus; only five of Deuteronomy’s chapters are attested on the surviving pages.   Only two chapters of Joshua are extant, and no text from Judges was known to exist until fragments containing Judges 2:20 and Judges 4:7-11:2 were discovered among the “New Finds” in 1975.  Such a museum of neglect and decay!  And yet all that Simonides can say upon encountering his work in such condition is that it was much altered, and looked a little older than it should?  And that the dedication-note at the front was missing??    
            There is a good reason why Simonides did not express dismay that what had been a complete Greek Bible in 1841 had been so thoroughly damaged that only a small fraction of the pages containing the Pentateuch had survived:  he was unaware of it, having never seen the manuscript at Saint Catherine’s Monastery or anywhere else. 

(14)  Sinaiticus Has a Nearly Unique Text of the Book of Tobit.  No resources at Mount Athos, or anywhere else in the early 1800’s, could supply the form of Greek text of Tobit that appears in Sinaiticus.  As David Parker has noted, the text of Tobit in Sinaiticus agrees with the Old Latin translation of the book more closely than the usual Greek text does.  In addition, the fragment Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1076, assigned to the 500’s, contains Tobit 2:2-5, and it agrees at some points with the text of Sinaiticus.  (For example, both read καὶ ἐπορεύθη Τωβίας (“And Tobias went”) and ἔθνους, “nation,” (instead of γένους, “race”) in 2:3.)

(15)  A Copyist of Codex Sinaiticus Was Probably Familiar with Coptic.  Scrivener explains the evidence for this in the Introduction to his Collation of Codex Sinaiticus:  “It has also been remarked that no line in the Cod. Sinaiticus begins with any combination of letters which might not commence a Greek word, unless it be θμ in Matt. viii. 12; xxv. 30; John vi. 10; Acts xxi. 35; Apoc. vii. 4.”  The letters θμ are capable of beginning words in Coptic, and this is probably why this exception was made; i.e., it was not an exception in Coptic. 
(16)  One of the Later Correctors of Sinaiticus Had Unusual Handwriting.  Several individuals – not just one or two – attempted to correct the text of Codex Sinaiticus.  One corrector not only corrected the text, but occasionally corrected earlier correctors.  This corrector’s handwriting was somewhat unusual; he added a small angular serif at the bottom end of the letters ρ, τ, υ, and φ.

 (17)  Constantine Simonides Was a Notorious Con Artist.  It may be helpful, when evaluating Simonides’ claims about Codex Sinaiticus, to observe his other activities that he undertook at about the same time that he published those claims.  In the same letter written by Simonides that was published in The Guardian on September 3, 1862, Simonides claimed that while at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in 1852, he had not only seen the codex, but also, among the manuscripts in the library, he found “the pastoral writings of Hermas, the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, and the disputed Epistles of Aristeas to Philoctetes (all written on Egyptian papyrus of the first century).”  He had mentioned this manuscript earlier, in a book with the verbose title, Fac-Similes of Certain Portions of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and of the Epistles of Ss. James & Jude, Written on Papyrus in the First Century, and Preserved in the Egyptian Museum of Joseph Mayer, Esq. Liverpool.  
            In that book, Simonides claimed that in the antiquities collection of a resident of Liverpool, England named Joseph Mayer (a silversmith who was also an antiquities-collector), there were five papyrus fragments containing text from the Gospel of Matthew.  After a long defense of the view that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek, rather than in Hebrew – and in this part of Simonides’ work there is some genuine erudition on display – Simonides described, complete with a transcription and notes about textual variants, this item.  (The book even has pictures of the papyri.)
            He claimed, for instance, that its text of Matthew 28:6 read “the Lord over death,” rather than simply “the Lord,” and he stated, “I prefer this text of Mayer’s codex over the others.”  He also stated, “The 8th and 9th verses of the received version [i.e., the Textus Receptus] are extremely defective when compared with the text of Mayer’s’ codex.”  Simonides belittled the usual readings of the passage [Matthew 28:9b] repeatedly, calling them incorrect and defective, “while Mayer’s codex gives the passage pure and correct, Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτάς, ἀπήντησεν αὐταις ὁ Ἰησους λεγων Χαίρετε.”
            As Simonides described the text of Matthew 19 on one of Mr. Mayer’s papyrus fragments, he remarked upon its text of verse 24:  “ΚΑΛΩΝ is the reading I found in a most ancient manuscript of Matthew, preserved in the Monastery of Mount Sinai (Vide fac-simile No. 8, Plate I. p. 40.)  This remarkable and precious manuscript, which I inspected on the spot, was written only 15 years after Matthew’s death, as appears from a statement appended by the copyist Hermodorus, one of the seventy disciples mentioned in the Gospel.  It is written on Egyptian papyrus, an unquestionable token of the highest antiquity.”
            Max Müller, in the journal The Athenaeum, in an article written on December 7, 1861, harshly reviewed the career of Simonides before declaring that “not one of these pretended documents is genuine.”  Simonides, Müller wrote, had once visited Athens and had claimed that among the manuscripts at Mount Athos, he had found “an ancient Homer,” but when examined, this document “turned out to be a minutely accurate copy of Wolf’s edition of that poet, errata included!”  That is, the supposedly ancient handwritten text was based on a printed edition of Homer.  
            Müller proceeded to list several more attempts by Simonides to defraud people with false antiquities.  After Simonides had been repeatedly exposed as a charlatan, Müller contended, he “came soon afterward to Western Europe, bearing with him a goodly stock of rarities, and a reputation which the Cretans of the Apostolic times would have envied.”  [The meaning of this remark is that the Cretans were notoriously dishonest, a la Titus 1:12, but Simonides’ reputation was far worse.]   
            Müller also mentioned that at a meeting of the Royal Society of Literature in May of 1853, Simonides presented what he claimed to be “four books of the Iliad from his “uncle Benedictus of Mount Athos,” an Egyptian Hieroglyphical Dictionary containing an exegesis of Egyptian history,” and “Chronicles of the Babylonians, in Cuneiform writing, with interlinear Greek” –  but by the end of the day, it was pointed out that “the so-called cuneiform characters belonged to no recognized form of these writings, while the Greek letters suspiciously resembled badly or carelessly formed Phoenician characters.” 
            Müller’s summary of Simonides’ career as a huckster of forgeries stopped with his mention of “the explosion of the Uranius bubble.”  By this phrase, Müller was referring to an earlier incident in which Simonides had offered to sell to the German government what he claimed to be an ancient palimpsest, containing the remains – 284 columns of text – of a work by a Greek historian named Uranius about the early history of Egypt, over which, it seemed, other compositions had been written in the 1100’s.  
            The members of the Academy of Berlin were persuaded, except for Alexander Humboldt, that it would be worthwhile to make a scholarly edition of this newfound text, and this task was undertaken by K. Wilhelm Dindorf.  Eventually, however, a closer examination of the document, by Constantine Tischendorf and others, was undertaken, and with the help of chemicals and a microscope it became clear that the document was a fake (or half-fake – the forged ancient writing which, chronologically, should have had the medieval writing written over it, was above it instead).  In 1856, Simonides was arrested, as reported on page 478 of the National Magazine.  The case was not pursued in the courts; instead, Simonides left the country.
            Tischendorf, in a letter written in December of 1862, responding to Simonides’ claim to have made Codex Sinaiticus, reminded his readers about that incident:  “He contrived to outwit some of the most renowned German savants, until he was unmasked by myself.”  
            This should provide some idea of the nature of Simonides’ career, and how he worked:  he created fraudulent manuscripts, using genuinely old – but blank or already used – papyrus or parchment on which to introduce his own work.  He also occasionally acquired genuine manuscripts (including several Greek New Testament minuscules), in the hope that the affirmation of their genuineness would rub off on his own creations.  He was guilty of fraud many times over.  
            After Tischendorf had helped expose the fraud that Simonides had come very close to pulling over on the Berlin Academy, Simonides may have afterwards harbored a strong desire to embarrass, or at least distract, Tischendorf.  This may be why he later claimed that the most important manuscript Tischendorf ever encountered was actually the work of Simonides himself – a claim which, had it been true, would have drawn into question the accuracy of Tischendorf’s earlier appraisal of the Uranius palimpsest. 
John 21:24-25 in Codex Sinaiticus,
viewed under ultraviolet light.

(18)  The Last Verse of John Was Initially Omitted in Codex Sinaiticus.  Although Tischendorf insisted that there was something weird about the final verse of John in Codex Sinaiticus, this was doubted by subsequent researchers, since even in photographs nothing seemed amiss.  When the scholars Milne and Skeat, studying the manuscript in the early 1930’s for the British Museum,  applied ultraviolet light to the passage, however, Tischendorf was vindicated:  the copyist at this point finished the text at the end of 21:24, and drew his coronis, and wrote the closing-title of the book – and then he erased the closing-title (gently scraping away the ink) and the coronis, and the closing title.  Then he added verse 25 immediately following verse 24, and remade a new coronis and closing-title.  All this is as plain as day, as long as one has an ultraviolet light handy to examine the manuscript.
            A thoughtful copyist could decide to reject the final verse, regarding it as a note by someone other than John.  And his supervisor could overrule his overly meticulous decision.  But Simonides would have had no reason to stop writing at the end of verse 24, add the coronis and closing-title, and then undo his work and remake the text with verse 25 included.

(19)  The Lettering on Some Pages of Sinaiticus Has Been Reinforced.  On page after page, the lettering that was first written on the page has been reinforced; that is, someone else has written the same letters over them, so as to ensure the legibility of what was once faded.  The first page of Isaiah is a good example.  This reinforcement was not undertaken mechanically, but thoughtfully; the reinforcer did not reinforce letters and words that he considered mistakes; he introduced corrections, such as in 1:6, where the reading καιφαλης is replaced by κεφαλης.  Inasmuch as it is highly unlikely that the writing of a manuscript made in 1841 would be so faded that it would need to be reinforced within a few years, this weighs heavily against Simonides’ story. 
(20)  Pages from Near the End of the Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus Are Extant.  When Simonides wrote his letter for The Guardian in 1862, he very clearly stated he concluded it with “the first part of the pastoral writings of Hermas,” but his work then ended “because the supply of parchment ran short.”  Such a description plausibly interlocked with what one could discern at the time about the contents of Codex Sinaiticus by reading Tischendorf’s description of it.  At the time, only the first 31 chapters of the text of Hermas were known to be extant in Codex Sinaiticus; that is all that Tischendorf had recovered from Saint Catherine’s Monastery.  However, in 1975, when the “New Finds” were discovered, they included damaged pages from Hermas – to be specific, from chapters 65-68 and chapters 91-95.  The Shepherd of Hermas has a total of 114 chapters.  In no sensible way can Simonides’ statement that he wrote “the first part” of Hermas and stopped there be interlocked with the existence of pages containing the 95th of its 114 short chapters.
            The clear and incriminating implication of this evidence is that Simonides’ report about how he produced the codex, including the prominent detail that he wrote the first part of Hermas but stopped there because he ran out of parchment, was shaped by his awareness of Tischendorf’s description of the codex, which stated that there was no text of Hermas extant after that point.  If Simonides had actually written the codex, he would have said something to the effect that a large part of his work was missing.  

            More evidence against the plausibility of Simonides’ story could be accumulated:  indications that the copyists of Sinaiticus at least occasionally wrote from dictation, and the existence of textual variants (in Matthew 13:54, Acts 8:5, and First Maccabees 14:5) which suggest that a copyist was working at or near Caesarea, and the remarkable similarity between the design of the coronis applied by Scribe D at the end of Tobit and after Mark 16:8 in Sinaiticus, and the design of the coronis at the end of Deuteronomy in Codex Vaticanus, and the drastic shift in the text’s quality in Revelation, and more.  But enough is enough.
            Simonides’ motives for spreading the false claim that he made Codex Sinaiticus may be a mystery till Judgment Day, but his guilt is not hidden at all.  He was a well-educated charlatan, and his claims about Codex Sinaiticus were false, as Tischendorf, Tregelles, Bradshaw, Scrivener, Wright, and others, equipped with the skill to evaluate the evidence, and the wisdom to evaluate the accuser, have already made clear.    



Tommy Wasserman said...

An eleventh reason: a few years ago another fragment of Sinaiticus was found in the binding of an 18th century book at St Catherine's. Here is a report:

James Snapp said...

Indeed! Thanks.
If those books at St. Catherine's haven't already been investigated, someone should get them to Erik Kwakkel, who has the means to look into bindings non-destructively.