Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chris Pinto answers a typical accusation of Constantine Simonides who claimed to have created Codex Sinaiticus

I got an anonymous comment on one of my earlier posts on the Constantine Simonides Controversy, just a quote from Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts by Frederic G. Kenyon, written in 1939, in which Kenyon passes on the accepted understanding of the Simonides affair, which makes Simonides out to be the villain in the story and Tischendorf his victim.  I sent it on to Chris Pinto and got back the following comment from him:
[Kenyon]  “The romance of the Codex Sinaiaticus was not yet over, however. Since the year 1856 an ingenious Greek, named Constantine Simonides, had been creating a considerable sensation by producing quantities of Greek manuscripts professing to be of fabulous antiquity, - such as a Homer in an almost prehistoric style of writing, a lost Egyptian historian, a copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel on papyrus, written fifteen years after the Ascension (!), and other portions of the New Testament dating from the first century. These productions enjoyed a short period of notoriety, and were then exposed as forgeries." 

[Chris Pinto:]  This first part of the quote has to do with the MSS. unrolled by Simonides in the Mayer Museum in Liverpool.  The MSS. belonged to the museum and had been purchased by Joseph Mayer years before he ever met Simonides.  Furthermore, they were opened in the presence of Mr. Mayer and the curator, John Eliot Hodgkin.  Hodgkin knew that these papyri were genuine, and could not have been forged by Simonides.  This, I believe, was part of the reason why Hodgkin defended Simonides to the end, because he knew that he had been falsely accused. 

In 1907, James Farrer wrote about about these scrolls.  Though he was not entirely in the camp of Simonides, Farrer defended him on this point and said: "It is almost impossible to believe in his manufacture of these papyri.  They correspond in writing and appearance with numberless other papyri which have of recent years been discovered and published ... If these are forgeries, they can hardly be forgeries by Simonides; and if he was guiltless in respect of these, he was presumably guiltless in respect of the others." (James Farrer, "Literary Forgeries," p. 56)

"Among the scholars concerned in the exposure was Tischendorf; and the revenge taken by Simonides was distinctly humourous. While stoutly maintaining the genuineness of his own wares, he admitted that he had written *one* manuscript which passed as being very ancient, and that was the Codex Sinaiaticus, the discovery of which had been so triumphantly proclaimed by Tischendorf! The idea was ingenious, but it would not bear investigation. Apart from the internal evidence of the text itself, the variations in which no forger, however clever, could have invented, it was shown that Simonides could not have completed the task in the time that he professed to have taken; and this little cloud on the credit of the newly-discovered manuscript rapidly passed away.

  Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (4th ed.), Kenyon, Frederick G. (1939), Pages 123-124"

The "time" issue in terms of how long it would take to complete the MS. has been confronted by at least one other scholar, who says the argument is unsustainable.  Farrer also says Simonides could have certainly done it in the time he claimed.  Furthermore, the argument about "revenge" against Tischendorf doesn't work either.  The reason is that they claim Simonides wanted revenge because Tischendorf had supposedly "exposed" his copy of the Shepherd of Hermas as a forgery in 1856 at the University of Leipzig.  What most researchers don't realize is that as a result of the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, Tischendorf would eventually retract his objections to that codex, and admitted that it was genuine in 1863.  Why?  Because included in Cod. Sinaiticus was a copy of the Shepherd of Hermas, that apparently matched the copy presented by Simonides at Leipzig.  See below:"The Greek text (brought from Mt. Athos by Constantine Simonides, and called Cod. Lipsiensis) was first published by R. Anger, with a preface by G. Dindorf (Lips. 1856); then by Tischendorf, in Dressel’s Patres  Apost., Lips 1857 (p. 572–637); again in the second ed. 1863, where Tischenderf, (sic) in consequence of the intervening discovery of the Cod. Sinaiticus retracted his former objections to the originality of the Greek Hermas from Mt. Athos, which he had pronounced a mediaeval retranslation from the Latin" (Source: History of the Christian Church, by P. Schaff)

As such, it doesn't make sense that Simonides would want revenge in this way.  The discovery of Codex Sinaiticus actually vindicated him, and proved that Tischendorf had been wrong and Simonides had been right.  Furthermore, when Simonides presented his "Shepherd" in 1855, it was the only known copy of that MS. in Greek.  Western scholars had only seen it in Latin beforehand.  This was a major point in favor of Simonides' story, and was considered proof in favor of the possibility that he had created Codex Sinaiticus.  CJP

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chris Pinto challenged to debate with James White on Codex Sinaiticus Validity

Chris Pinto mentioned in passing on today's radio show [runs from about 18:22 to 20.00] that he is going to debate James White (who wrote The King James Controversy) in December, about the validity of Codex Sinaiticus.  Gotta pray that Pinto will be sharp and on target, and not easily derailed by any attempts to make him out to be KJV-only, although that may not even come up I suppose.  More likely he'll be characterized as a conspiracy thinker with the usual implication that it's all in his imagination and imposed on the facts.   That shouldn't be too hard to dispel, though,-- if White is an honest debater and I expect that of him -- because Chris has mustered his facts well on this subject .

But this is exciting news to me since Pinto has been convincing me for some time now that Sinaiticus was the work of paleographer Constantine Simonides and not an ancient manuscript at all, and I very much hope he will succeed in persuading James White and Daniel Wallace and many others. 

If it's the truth of course, but as I said, I believe it is.

On his site he has an article about a video of Daniel Wallace speaking on Tischendorf's find of Sinaiticus that James White had posted on his website as his argument against Pinto's claims, about which he comments: 
The video below was posted on James White's Alpha and Omega ministry website, as an alleged refutation of the claims of Constantine Simonides.  The headline for the article appears thus: "Evangelical Textual Scholar Debunks Chris Pinto's Conspiracy Claim that Codex Sinaiticus was a Forgery."  It is worth noting that the scholar in question (Dr. Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary) does not mention Chris Pinto, or the film Tares Among the Wheat.  Had Dr. Wallace actually seen the film, his comments would most likely have been orchestrated differently, and he might have even been convinced to change his mind.  
Dr. Wallace is obviously unfamiliar with certain particulars surrounding the Simonides affair, and we believe this is not entirely his fault, since this history has been largely buried for more than a century. The purpose of Tares is to show the untold history surrounding the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus, and to draw attention to the fact that this single manuscript has been used to destroy confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  As such, whether or not this codex is genuine becomes very significant.

A few things: Dr. Wallace says that Tischendorf had "exposed" Simonides as a forger years earlier, which is untrue....

Furthermore, Dr. Wallace mentions Henry Bradshaw's testimony as if it were conclusive proof that Codex Sinaiticus was genuine.  Yet (as we document in Tares) Bradshaw's argument was not based on any scientific evidence or analysis, which he openly admitted.  His argument was that he didn't know why he believed it, but that his "senses" told him it was real.  That's it.  There was no deep scientific argument.  Just his senses.  This is further proof that he and the other men who confirmed Codex Sinaiticus as a genuine fourth century MS. were themselves of provably limited abilities, and they based their conclusions on analysis that was, at best, doubtful.