Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph)

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by kman, May 28, 2002.

  1. kman

    kman
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    Hi All:

    I have a few questions regarding Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph).

    I've read a number of people say that Aleph is full of omissions, has many corrections added, and is highly suspect as a reliable source for Textual Criticism.

    I've read others that admit Aleph has some corrections and omissions, but is still very reliable.

    Does anybody have any opinions/insights into this?
    I'm not sure what to believe.

    Also, what impact does Aleph have on current Greek texts (N/A and UBS)? For example, if Aleph
    didn't exist, would that cause most of the variant readings to be Byzantine vs. Alexandrian?

    many thanks,
    kman
     
  2. Forever settled in heaven

    Forever settled in heaven
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    is this Bible in the British Museum?

    perhaps someone here who lives in/near London cld drop by n check it out. i hear entrance is free!

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mikayehu

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    I had the privilege this past year of being able to collate the gospel of John in Sinaiticus. (For those who aren't familiar with the term, to collate means to compare a document against some standard -- in this case, Sinaiticus against the TR.) Bob Jones University has a facsimile of Sinaiticus, which, for all intents and purposes, is an exact replica of the original. On a personal note, it was an incredible experience. Here I was handling a Bible used by 4th century Christians. I had to wear gloves to handle the manuscript, and I felt like I was handling a priceless treasure (and so I was, the Word of God).

    As far as the character of the document itself, it was very neatly and beautifully done. It has also been often corrected. As the document went down through the centuries, new scribes would go through and correct it. Some of the corrections were done right after the document was produced. Others date from quite late. There is a clear tendency of the corrections to reflect a TR type of text (especially the later corrections). The original scribe was careful, but he did make clear errors. The great thing is, though, that Sinaiticus was very carefully "proofread" by the same scribe and, most likely, by another scribe, within a short time after the original copy was made. There is very little reason to doubt that Sinaiticus, after the first few proofreadings, matched very closely with whatever document was being copied.

    As for the value of the text, it seems difficult not to consider it very carefully. First, there probably is no other document which shows as careful scrutiny by scribes from the 4th to the 11th century as does Sinaiticus (hence the corrections). Secondly, it is also the earliest copy of the complete Scriptures extant. Finally, the extensive corrections show what the scribes in various centuries thought the text should be. If Sinaiticus were not available, I doubt that Westcott and Hort would have been able to advance their theory, because Vaticanus, if by itself, would have been viewed as an anomaly. But the discovery of the early papyri, and their general preference for a "Vaticanus-type" text would have eventually led to a "critical text" predominance among scholars.

    I'll probably go into more detail when I can have my collation in front of me.

    [ May 29, 2002, 12:06 PM: Message edited by: Mikayehu ]
     
  4. Forever settled in heaven

    Forever settled in heaven
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    wow, i wonder who made up the bit about Sinaiticus being a worthless, error-filled piece of scrap crafted by itchy-handed Alexandrian cultists n centuries later pulled fr the trashpapers intended for use as fuel in St Catherine's monastery?!

    u mean it looked as good as some of the Byzantine Text MSS?

    [ May 29, 2002, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: Forever settled in heaven ]
     
  5. kman

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    Well..if you get a chance to take a look at it at the British Museum let us know what you think.

    (Also..take a ink pen and scribble in 1 Jn. 5:7 TR version in the margin when nobody is looking).

    -kman

    [ May 29, 2002, 10:27 PM: Message edited by: kman ]
     
  6. kman

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    Thanks for the info Mikayehu. Is any of this
    information online (or is there any online info
    about Codex Aleph that you would recommend)?

    What have your collation results shown you so far?

    thx,
    kman
     
  7. Mikayehu

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    kman,
    Sorry, I've never run across any information online regarding Sinaiticus. Maybe Chris or Doccas know of some. My collation is at home right now. I'll try to post something this evening when I have access to it.

    As far as the "trash-heap" bit, Tischendorf did indeed barely keep it from being fuel for a monastery fire. I guess I look at that as a miraculous act of God's preservation.

    Sinaiticus is certainly not viewed today as being as weighty in Textual Criticism as it was by Westcott and Hort, but it is difficult to ignore a 4th century manuscript because of what unbelieving (most likely) monks tried to do to it.
     
  8. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Unfortunately, it is not as difficult as it should be, as evidenced by the number of people who discount it out of hand. It gives pause to wonder what else might have been destroyed.
     
  9. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
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  10. Mikayehu

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    Kman,
    Sorry, I keep forgetting to bring my collation. I haven't forgot about it though. I'll try to post at the beginning of next week.
     
  11. HankD

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    In a collection of his writings - The Revision Revised , John Burgon who lived and was caught up in the 1880's Wescott and Hort controversy said that the Siniaticus was one of three of the most scandalously corrupt and shamefully mutilated texts in existence (page 16).
    He presents evidence of such throughout the book.

    A reprint of the collection is (or was) available from:
    Conservative Classics, Paradise, PA. Or

    http://www.deanburgonsociety.org/whowasdb.htm

    HankD

    [ June 01, 2002, 01:23 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  12. Mikayehu

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    Well, I said I was going to post again, but now that I have my collation in front of me, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do [​IMG] . First, regarding Burgon, I have a great deal of respect for what he did, but the statement posted by HankD above is a good example of why Burgon, unfortunately, is ignored: He overstated his case on numerous occasions. Calling Sinaiticus "one of three of the most scandalously corrupt and shamefully mutilated texts in existence" is a statement which simply cannot be taken seriously. It goes way beyond what the evidence bears out.

    I doubt what I will post here will be of interest to most, but some may wish to see a little proof of what I just said. I have chosen to go through John 13, which I believe to be a good "snap-shot" of Sinaiticus and post the types of variants between it and the TR. I will summarize the data in the next post, so feel free to skip to it if you don't want to see the raw data. I'm just posting it to make sure every one understand's I'm not dreaming it up.

    Verse 1 -- verb tense, change from "one's own" (TR) to "Jews" (corrected to = TR)
    Verse 2 -- spelling, spelling, word order
    Verse 3 -- spelling, omission of "Jesus," verb tense, spelling
    Verse 4 -- spelling, spelling
    Verse 6 -- spelling, spelling, spelling
    Verse 7 -- neuter pronoun instead of masculine (corrected to = TR)
    Verse 9 -- omit "Lord," spelling
    Verse 10 -- word order, omit "the feet," spelling, spelling
    Verse 12 -- spelling, omit "and," spelling, plural instead of singular ("their" vs. "his") (corrected to = TR), add "and," verb mood (corrected to = TR), spelling, spelling
    Verse 13 -- spelling
    Verse 14 -- spelling, word order, spelling
    Verse 15 -- spelling, verb tense, spelling, spelling
    Verse 16 -- spelling, spelling
    Verse 18 -- add "for", change from "whom" to "certain one," spelling
    Verse 19 -- word order
    Verse 20 -- substitution of equivalent words, spelling
    Verse 21 -- omit "the"
    Verse 22 -- add "the Jews" (corrected to = TR)
    Verse 23 -- "the" replaced by "out of"
    Verse 24 -- adds "and he said to him, 'Tell whom it is concerning whom'"
    Verse 25 -- substitution of equivalent words, ditto
    Verse 26 -- corrector adds "therefore," adds "and he said," omit "and," substitution of equivalent words, adds "therefore," spelling
    Verse 27 -- omits "then," spelling
    Verse 29 -- spelling, omit "the" (twice), spelling
    Verse 30 -- word order, spelling
    Verse 31 -- spelling, omits "the"
    Verse 32 -- omits "if God be glorified in him" (corrected to = TR), substitution of equivalent terms, spelling, substitution of equivalent terms
    Verse 33 -- spelling, word order, spelling, spelling
    Verse 34 -- omit the second "in order that"
    Verse 35 -- spelling, substitution of equivalent terms
    Verse 36 -- adds "I", word order, omit "to me"
    Verse 37 -- omits "the," omits "Lord" (corrected to = TR), spelling, word order
    Verse 38 -- spelling, omit "to him," omit "the," spelling, spelling

    Note -- All I had in front of me during this post was the Majority Text and my collation. So I was just translating the Greek into English, so it might not exactly match what you see in the KJV (e.g. when I said the TR had "in order that," it might very well be that the KJV has simply "that")
     
  13. Mikayehu

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    OK, in summary, I've broken the variants down below:

    Spelling -- 44
    Word order -- 8
    Omission -- 17
    Addition -- 9
    Verb Tense -- 4
    Change in noun gender -- 1
    Change in number of noun -- 1
    Substitution of equivalent words -- 8
    Other substitution of words -- 4

    Notes on the types of variants
    Spelling -- These are absolutely insignificant. They are never more significant than the difference between the American word "encyclopedia" and the British "encyclopaedia."

    Additions/Omissions -- This is a characteristic of Sinaiticus. As you can see from the data, there are 26 times in John 13 where Aleph differs from the TR in this respect. This might be a bit misleading though. About half of the changes have no affect on meaning, and would not be reflected in a translation. Of the remaing "significant" variants, there is generally very good support for favoring the reading of Aleph. And, certainly none of them could be deemed unorthodox.

    Word order -- This is also a prevalent change in Sinaiticus. However, Sinaiticus, when it differs significantly from the TR in word order, is almost always supported by the two early papyri of John.

    Anyway, I'll quit now; though I will be happy to answer any questions or consider any objections.
     
  14. HankD

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    Actually, even Burgon (or one of his contemporaries) admitted that the Gospel of Saint John was the "the best preserved" book of the alexandrian Uncial family.

    To give you the page number though would be a challenge.

    HankD

    [ June 13, 2002, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  15. Mikayehu

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    Do you (HankD) or anyone else no any more about this statement of Burgon's regarding the good state of the preservation of John in the Alexandrian manuscripts? I didn't read much of Burgon when I was doing my collation, but I did read a good deal of Pickering and Colwell. My general impression was that the Alexandrian manuscripts have been particularly attacked in John. Hence P66 and P75 (along with P72, though it does not deal with John) are attacked rather strongly as untrustworthy. The reason this is important is that P75 shows a striking resemblance to Vaticanus in John. Also P66 certainly favors a Sinaiticus or Vaticanus type text.

    All of this evidence seems to corroborate that Sinaiticus accurately reflects the text as it was known (at least in Egypt) in the 4th century. Moreover, the striking agreement among the Alexandrian witnesses in John (P66, P72, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus) seems to kick against the Majority Text view that these early Alexandrian texts are some random, error-filled, haphazardly-done texts.
     
  16. HankD

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    Dear M,

    I can't remember where in Burgon's writings (and they were extensive) I read this.
    I do remember that the comparison was with the Stephanus TR.
    I'll give it a go this weekend.
    You may be thinking of Revelation where the wild differences exist.

    HankD
     

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