The original provenance of these two codices is unknown.
One was donated to Britain by the Church of Constaninople in the 17th century;
the other was "found in a rubbish bin" in a church monastery in the 19th century.
How do we know that these manuscripts are not more forgeries by the medieval Church?
To undertake research into the history of the Codex . . . , to commission
an objective historical narrative based on the results of the research
which places the documents in their historical context ...."
-- www.codexsinaiticus.org (March 2005)
|The Case behind the petition to the British Museum for the C14 dating of two most ancient Bibles
|Date of Origin
|Place of Origin
|Presumed Date of Origin
|Presumed Place of Origin
|(1) the West? (2) Rome? (3) Caesarea?
|Discovered By ...
Patriarch of Constantinople (1621-1638)
|Constantin von Tischendorf
Biblical Historian and Theologian (1834-1873)
|Date of Discovery
|Place of Discovery
|Patriarchal library of Constantinople
|Monastery of Saint Catherine, at Mt.Sinai
|Official Statements of Provenance by the British Library
|According to the British Libary Website: The first we know of the Codex Alexandrinus was when it formed part of the patriarchal library at the beginning of the 14th century, although its whereabouts before that are unknown. Since then it has a tradition of regal ownership: in 1627 Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople and a former Patriarch of Alexandria, presented it to King Charles I of England. As part of the Royal Library it made its way into the British Museum, and then the British Library.
A more detailed account is available as follows:
Athanasius III, patriarch of Alexandria (1276-1316), brought by him to Alexandria, between 1305 and 1315, probably from Constantinople, where he primarily resided until 1305: his note in Arabic, reading 'Bound to the Patriarchal Cell in the Fortress of Alexandria. Whoever removes it thence shall be excommunicated and cut off. Written by Athanasius the humble,' 13th/14th century (Royal MS 1 D. v, f. 5r); a similar inscription by Athanasius is included in Oxford, Bodleian Library Roe 13, the Commentaries of Hesychius and John Chrysostom on the Psalms, written on Mount Galesios, near Ephesus, in 1284/85, at the request of Galaction the Blind. Leaves were numbered in the 14th century by Arabic numerals in the lower corners of the verso sides; this numeration has in many cases been cut away during binding. A note in Arabic stating that the manuscript was written by Thecla the Martyr, early 17th century (Royal MS 1 D. v, f. 4v).
Cyril Lucar (1572-1638), Greek Patriarch of Alexandria as Cyril III (1602-1621) and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople as Cyril I (1621-1638), brought by him from Egypt to Constantinople in 1621: Latin note in his hand stating that the manuscript was written by Thecla shortly after the Council of Nicaea of 325 (f. 2r); offered by him in 1625 to Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, as a New Year's gift to James I (1566-1625), king of Scotland, England, and Ireland: a letter from Sir Thomas Roe to the earl of Arundel dated 1625, mentioning the manuscript as the intended gift to the king (see The Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe in his Embassy to the Ottoman Porte, from the Year 1621 to 1628, ed. by S. Richardson (London: Society for the Encouragement of Learning, 1740), p. 335).
Sir Thomas Roe (1581-1644), English ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, received by him in 1627 as a gift for Charles I. Charles I (1600-1649), king of England, Scotland, and Ireland: received by him in 1627 as a New Year's gift. Added note in Latin, being an attempt to translate the Arabic note by Athanasius, stating that the manuscript was given to a patriarchate of Alexandria in 1098: 'donum datum cubiculo Patriarchali anno 814 Mrtyrum', last quarter of the 17th century (Royal MS 1 D. v, f. 1r).
Presented to the British Museum by George II in 1757 as part of the Old Royal Library
In 1844, during his first visit to the Monastery of Saint Catherine, Leipzig archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf claimed that he saw some leaves of parchment in a waste-basket. He said they were "rubbish which was to be destroyed by burning it in the ovens of the monastery", although this is firmly denied by the Monastery. After examination he realized that they were part of the Septuagint, written in an early Greek uncial script. He retrieved from the basket 129 leaves in Greek which he identified as coming from a manuscript of the Septuagint. He asked if he might keep them, but at this point the attitude of the monks changed. They realized how valuable these old leaves were, and Tischendorf was permitted to take only one-third of the whole, i.e. 43 leaves. These leaves contained portions of 1 Chronicles, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and Esther. After his return they were deposited in the Leipzig University Library, where they still remain. In 1846 Tischendorf published their contents, naming them the 'Codex Friderico-Augustanus' (in honor of Frederick Augustus). Other portions of the same codex remained in the monastery, containing all of Isaiah and 1 and 4 Maccabees.
In 1853 Tischendorf revisited the Monastery of Saint Catherine to get the remaining 86 folios, but without success. Returning in 1859, this time under the patronage of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, he was shown the Codex Sinaiticus. He would later claim to have found it discarded in a rubbish bin. (This story may have been a fabrication, or the manuscripts in question may have been unrelated to Codex Sinaiticus: Rev. J. Silvester Davies in 1863 quoted "a monk of Sinai who... stated that according to the librarian of the monastery the whole of Codex Sinaiticus had been in the library for many years and was marked in the ancient catalogues... Is it likely... that a manuscript known in the library catalogue would have been jettisoned in the rubbish basket." Indeed, it has been noted that the leaves were in "suspiciously good condition" for something found in the trash.[n 6]) Tischendorf had been sent to search for manuscripts by Russia's Tsar Alexander II, who was convinced there were still manuscripts to be found at the Sinai monastery
The story of how von Tischendorf found the manuscript, which contained most of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament, has all the interest of a romance. Von Tischendorf reached the monastery on 31 January; but his inquiries appeared to be fruitless. On 4 February, he had resolved to return home without having gained his object:
After some negotiations, he obtained possession of this precious fragment and conveyed it to Tsar Alexander II, who appreciated its importance and had it published as nearly as possible in facsimile, so as to exhibit correctly the ancient handwriting.
|Why is the Codex so important?
|According to the British Library: Codex Alexandrinus is one of the three earliest and most important manuscripts of the entire Bible in Greek, the others being Codex Sinaiticus, also in the British Library, and Codex Vaticanus in Rome. It is therefore of enormous importance in establishing the biblical text. It is also one of the earliest books to employ significant decoration to mark major divisions in the text.
|According to the British Library: The Codex is critical to our understanding of the history of the Christian Bible and the development of Christianity. It is one of the two earliest surviving manuscripts into which the full 'canon' (collection of accepted texts) of the Christian Bible was copied into one volume. It is thus the antecedent of modern Christian Bibles. Before this date the individual books of the Bible were copied into much smaller volumes, often comprising only one or a handful of texts. The ambition of the Codex to include the entire canon of Christian scriptures coincides with the adoption of Christianity by Emperor Constantine the Great and an attempt to define once and for all, or 'codify', the texts that qualified as sacred scripture.
According to Codex Sinaiticus ONLINE: Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.
|9th Century Ecclesiastical Forgery Mill
|The Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals (or False Decretals) are a set of extensive and influential medieval forgeries, written by a scholar or group of scholars known as Pseudo-Isidore. The authors, who worked under the pseudonym Isidore Mercator, were probably a group of Frankish clerics writing in the second quarter of the ninth century. They aimed to defend the position of bishops against metropolitans and secular authorities by creating false documents purportedly authored by early popes, together with interpolated conciliar documents. The Pseudo-Isidorian collection also includes the earlier (non-Pseudo-Isidorian) forgery, the Donation of Constantine.
1.The addition of forged material to an earlier, entirely authentic Spanish collection containing texts from councils and papal letters originating in the 4th through 8th centuries—the so-called Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis (the name is derived from a manuscript that was at some time in the French city of Autun, Latin Augustodunum).
2.A collection of falsified legislation of Frankish rulers allegedly from the sixth to the ninth centuries (Capitularies)—the so-called Capitularia Benedicti Levitae—after the name of the alleged author in the collection's introduction: deacon (Latin levita) Benedictus, as he calls himself. The author falsely states that he has simply completed and updated the well-known collection by abbot Ansegis of Fontanelles (died 833).
3.A brief collection on criminal procedure—the so-called Capitula Angilramni—allegedly handed over by Pope Hadrian I to Bishop Angilram of Metz.
4.An extensive collection of approximately 100 forged papal letters, most of which were allegedly written by the Roman bishops of the first three centuries. In the preface to the collection, the author of the collection calls himself bishop Isidorus Mercator (hence the name of the whole complex). Besides the forged letters, the collection contains a large amount of genuine (and partly falsified or interpolated) council texts and papal letters from the fourth to the eighth centuries. The genuine and interpolated material derives predominantly from the Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis
|Only miniscule samples are required for the C14 test
Gospel of Judas - Radiocarbon dating at National Geographic |
Gospel of Judas - Timeline
University of Arizona Press Release March 30, 2006
UA Radiocarbon Dates Help Verify Coptic Gospel of Judas is Genuine
Scientists at The University of Arizona's NSF-Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Laboratory radiocarbon dated these samples of an ancient Coptic manuscript at between A.D. 220 and A.D. 340. The manuscript contains the only known surviving Gospel of Judas. Left to right are a sample of leather binding that incorporates some of the papyrus on which the manuscript was written; a sample of just the leather binding; a sample of untreated papyrus; and a sample of papyrus after cleaning.
Sample REASONS provided on the petition:
Reason should be guided by facts, not beliefs.
Because knowledge is always necessary and therefore precious - and gaining this more precise knowledge at the price of destroying only a few, small blank portions of writing material seems a reasonable price to more precisely learn when these two ancient Biblical codices may have been written.
What would we not want to know the true date of these manuscripts?
Piltdown comes to mind. As a possible source of historical knowledge it is essential it's age and therefore authenticity be established.
Authenticity is a valuable property, particularly of historical records . . .
We seek "Truth".
Christianity is rife with forgery and deception. It seems plausible that these texts were forged at a later date than the church claims.
To establish the truth
The bible is widely cited as authoritative, and yet much of it seems wrong or made up. We need the truth.
Establishing the correct chronology is vital to understanding history.
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