the Theft of Codex Aleph

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Nazaroo, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    “Codex Sinaiticus, most of it taken by Dr von Tischendorf in 1859 from St. Catherine’s monastery beside Mt Sinai in Egypt– the monks say stolen –”
    http://www.theologicaleditions.com/Features/religioustexts.htm

    “J. Rendel Harris (who had visited St. Catherine’s) had no illusions: in his review of Gregory’s “Text and Canon” in the February 1908 issue of The Expositor, Harris expressed extreme skepticism (bordering on outright ridicule) of Tischendorf’s version of events pertaining to the “rescue” of Codex Sinaiticus.” – James Snapp Jr.
    http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2009/07/codex-sinaiticus-highlights-ii.html

    “While staying at St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai, he made the momentous discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus–a text dated to be from the fourth century C.E. He brought back the text with him. (According to the Mt Sinai monks, though there were bad feelings, and claims that Tischendorf had “stolen” the manuscript.)”
    http://www.entheology.org/library/winters/NEWTEST2.TXT

    “See for example D.A. Waite, Defending the King James Bible (The Bible For Today: 1993), p. 61, “They just about worship that manuscript.” This was just after alleging, inaccurately, that a was about to be burned (one will note that the steward at St. Catherine’s kept the manuscript in his cell, wrapped in a red cloth, hardly the way in which one treats trash). ”
    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1290

    “Under a complicated arrangement, Tischendorf was allowed to transcribe the manuscript, but did not have the time to examine it in full detail. Tischendorf wanted to take the manuscript to the west, where it could be examined more carefully.
    It is at this point that the record becomes unclear. The monks, understandably, had no great desire to give up the greatest treasure of their monastery. Tischendorf, understandably, wanted to make the manuscript more accessible (though not necessarily safer; unlike Saint Petersburg and London, Mount Sinai has not suffered a revolution or been bombed since the discovery of Aleph). In hindsight, it seems quite clear that the monks were promised better terms than they actually received (though this may be the fault of the Tsarist government rather than Tischendorf). Still, by whatever means, the manuscript wound up in Saint Petersburg, and later was sold to the British Museum. ”
    http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/ManuscriptsUncials.html

    “A story of high adventure swirls around the Codex Sinaiticus. Tischendorf was granted an audience with the pope. The czar of Russia showered him with money and financed his final mission. Despite his fame, though, a shadow hangs over the man, who some insist was a thief.
    Scattered Book, Checkered Reputation

    However, opinion on Tischendorf is as diffuse and puzzling as the ancient pages themselves. Christfried Böttrich, an expert on the New Testament at Germany’s University of Greifswald, claims that “Tischendorf was a man without blemish and above reproach.”
    But the monks at St. Catherine’s have a less flattering view. They think he stole the manuscript. “The Codex Sinaiticus Was Stolen,” was the headline of a 2000 article in the Sunday Times about a conference a British parliamentary committee held on stolen artifacts. Prince Charles, who is chairman of the St. Catherine’s Foundation, has reportedly demanded the return of the manuscripts to Egypt.”
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,479791,00.html

    peace
    Nazaroo
     
  2. Thinkingstuff

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    So are you saying that the codex wasn't actually found in the trash as had been the story but was actually intentionally stollen? That changes some things.
     
  3. Nazaroo

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    Yes, it colors the whole situation differently.

    To put it bluntly, does God need a petty-thief to "restore" the true text of the NT, 1400 years after it has already been in circulation?

    Why should anyone put their trust in an unknown document of unknown origin, made by unknown hands, unauthenticated, unverified, undated, and by comparison to the other famous document (Codex B) it is obvious that one or both must be badly corrupted?

    Maybe Christians should just hang onto their traditional texts, until textual critics can come clean about their methods, especially their methods of "acquiring" manuscripts...
     
  4. InTheLight

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    As long as we're speculating....

    Perhaps God wanted the text to be liberated from the Catholic church's monks that were zealously guarding its existence?

    If this story is true, the document was not found in a trash can as has been widely reported. I often wondered about that report--it would mean that the monks in the monastery hadn't taken out there trash in over a thousand years?
     
  5. Dr. Walter

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    Nazeroo,


    What is your view of the antiquity of the Sryiac Peshitto Version and its development?
     
  6. Nazaroo

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    Thanks for asking about the Peshitta Syriac translation.

    It is known that it predates the 5th century Syrian fathers usually attributed to it.

    It follows the TR / Majority text more closely than the Alexandrian texts do.

    I believe the translation behind the current Peshitta must have been done in the 3rd century or earlier, although it may have had a tough time being adopted while the earlier Syriac versions were freely circulating. All the Syriac versions are closer to the Maj. Text than to the Alexandrian.

    There are some telltale omissions however, that strongly suggest that the Peshitta was nonetheless an Ecclesiastical text, meant for use in a worship service context.

    This was a time when church services were becoming standardized, while at the same time the separate lectionary system was still in development. This means that the text itself, originally a "continuous-text" type copy of the Four Gospels, had been modified for public reading. As a result, it has certain quite obvious "Lectionary-readings".

    Thus the omissions do not substantiate Alexandrian readings (themselves often originally homoeoteleuton errors), but rather the Syriac translations substantiate an early Lectionary tradition, which had already modified the text for church use.

    This modification included altering the beginnings and endings of pericopes or passages already divided up for reading in pieces. So the Peshitta is a very early witness to the text where it preserves the continuous-text (based on translation from the Greek), but where it parts from the traditional text, it shows signs of editing for ecclesiastical purposes, and also reflects a text reconstructed from early Greek 'lectionary-style' texts which already had a few corruptions in them.

    The corruptions of the Lectionary text in large part escaped notice and correction, because they became familiar readings read regularly in church services. Thus the errors became entrenched and even preferred, as recognizable old 'friends'.

    This is precisely what we should expect. new churches and poor churches would be founded around a copy of the text used for church services, in other words, a church handbook.

    All early translations suffer from this fault. They were made by translating church worship-books into new languages for direct application and performance of church services in the new language and location.

    But this led to a number of early problems:

    (1) Modified versions of the gospels became more familiar to listeners than the original continuous-texts.

    (2) Both versions and popular texts in isolated areas and outposts largely escaped correction and conformity to good copies of the original text.

    Even in big centres like Alexandria, 'local-regional' texts dominated, and cross-checking between far away places was simply impractical.

    So the early versions including the Syriac (Peshitta, and Old Syriac too) are valuable witnesses where they confirm that Byzantine readings are very old, but are not so reliable where they part company with the continuous text, and reflect rather ecclesiastical strains of copying.

    This creates an added caution to the application of 'versions' for textual criticism. Their weight is uneven, in value, depending upon whether they agree or conflict with the mainstream Greek traditions.

    P.S. I'm hoping soon to have hold of recent work by Voobus on this very subject, but that may take some time getting to me. When I have it, I will post some quotations.

    Peace
    Nazaroo
     
  7. Nazaroo

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    If so, it seems unlikely that God couldn't just speak to the monks, as He did to Samuel. He could even call them by name.

    It is preposterous that God would need to send a professional conman and thief to trick the naive monks out of one old 4th century copy. Why not simply pull out a much better 3rd century copy, from some location like Oxyrhynus or Alexandria?

    This smacks of the kind of "God" portrayed living at the center of the Galaxy in the Star Trek movie: i.e., a powerful being who is actually not God at all, but an imposter.

    Well, things are slow in a monastery. I once had to wait about 4 hours for my meal there, as a guest. There were other priorities, like chanting.
     
  8. Dr. Walter

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    It has been many years since I researched this subject in some detail (1982). However, I do not believe that Rome was first to cannonize the scriptures. Neither the jews or Protestants except the Catholic Cannon as both reject the Old Testament apocrapha.

    I believe that the early apostolic churches had the complete New Testament canon prior to the year 300. The old latin vulgate and the old Syric Peshetto seem to be as early as 150 AD (and I believe earlier) and I do not believe their progress ended with just the four gospels but there are strong tradtions among the Syrian Christians that they possessed a full N.T. Canon early on and long before Rome.
     
  9. Thinkingstuff

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    Often ancient documents are compared to their contemporary documents. So when for instance if Ireneaus quotes the NT and the quotation is closer to the Aleph then doesn't that give it some credence?
     
  10. Nazaroo

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    When evaluating any specific evidence of the type described above, key points must be considered:

    (1) Where did Irenaeus live? What text-type is he expected to have used?

    As an example, Clement of Alexandria does not use the Aleph/B text at all, but rather appears to use a form of the Western text.

    This is remarkable, even startling, because Clement is one of the earliest ALEXANDRIAN writers. It can only mean that the Aleph/B text was not circulating or not popular in Alexandria at the time of Clement.

    It also means that the "other" alleged 'Alexandrian' text-type, (Hort's,) also did not exist at the time of Clement.

    Clement, contrary to all expectations, does not supply any evidence that either the Aleph/B text-type, or Hort's 'Alexandrian' text (a vague collection of Egyptian readings), ever existed as early as the 1st and 2nd centuries.

    On the other hand, Clement does provide hard evidence to support the fact that the Western text was dominant in Alexandria (!) as well as in Caesarea and the West. That is, the 'Western' text is not really Western at all, but in the earliest period was almost universally known all around the Eastern Mediteranean.

    The so-called "Western" text is the earliest attested text, when we examine the records of the Early Christian Writers (ECWs).

    It now however, needs to be recalled that many of the most important "Western" readings are also "Byzantine" readings, i.e., a very large number of them are not exclusively Western, but are readings extending not only to the Byzantine text (Majority text/Traditional text), but also to various 'versions' like the Syriac etc.

    All of this should have a heavy impact upon NT textual critical conclusions, and cause a significant re-evaluation of the Byzantine (Maj.) text-type.

    If the German group behind the UBS text weren't so heavily entrenched and committed to the Westcott-Hort explanation for the variants, we could make some real progress in this field, especially in the direction you suggest (using the evidence of the ECWs).

    peace
    Nazaroo
     
  11. Thinkingstuff

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    Ireaneus lived before Clement of Alexandria in Lyons, France. So what does that say about his textual use?
     
  12. Nazaroo

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    Textual Criticism is still obsessed with "age", seeking simple solutions to very complex problems.

    Irenaeus (2nd cent. AD – c. 202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (France).

    Clement Clemens (c.150 - c. 215) of Alexandria was not just a contemporary, but wrote many of his works much earlier than Irenaeus. He was a prolific writer who wrote for many years.

    (1) Irenaeus was then a Western Latin, with an early text which seems to be based on North African textual streams. Perhaps he came from Carthage.

    (2) Clement was for the most part an EARLIER writer than Irenaeus. So Irenaeus' testimony here is secondary on two counts.

    a) he's too late to be of real use to help determine the 2nd century text.

    b) he's too much of a peripheral/outpost witness to give us any idea of what was going on in the major Christian centres, like Jerusalem, Caesarea, Antioch, Alexandria, the Greek islands.

    Irenaeus cannot 'trump' Clement, our most prolific early witness, seated in Alexandria and the centre of the Eastern Mediterranean.
     
  13. Thinkingstuff

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    Ireneaus was a student of Polycarp therefore most likely came from Turkey originally. ostensibly according to you therefore he should have been more familiar with the other text. Also note Ireneaus lived from about 140 to 202 and wrote Adverse Herisies around 177 AD. Clement of Alexandria was a contemporary for sure and was in the Metropolitan Alexandria however as noted Alexandria also dealt with a lot of speculative theology. Age should be a consideration.
     
  14. Dr. Walter

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    he should have been more familiar with the text underlying the Old Syriac as Polycarp was a disciple of John and John was the Pastor at Ephesus, a daughter congregation of Antioch in Syria. Indeed, all the congregations in Turkey that were products of Paul's ministry should have been familiar with the early Syriac translation and the textual basis for it.
     
  15. Thinkingstuff

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    Ok. Aleph is closer to?
     
  16. Dr. Walter

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    You agree with me so I must be wrong!:laugh: I don't think Codex A is that old. My copy has 1 John 5:7 in it.
     
  17. Nazaroo

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    The question of whether or not Aleph is a forgery should also be reopened.

    The vested interests like Tischendorf and the British Museum (who paid a quarter million for it) can't be trusted on this issue.

    Sinaiticus may really be a forgery after all...
     

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