Rogues and Rascals

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 25 New Series February, 1963 No. 1

Early in the year 1919 I was asked by Mr. A. E. Knoch to secure for the Concordant Version a copy of both the Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. He had been unable to obtain these. But I soon found them in the City of Edinburgh. In a large book shop I was taken into a dark room, and shown. a large and heavy tome, but that was not what I wanted. Then I was shown another large volume, and at once recognized it as the Vaticanus, with its beautiful lettering. A little later I was able to get the Sinaitic Codex new. Next, I had to get the collations of Scrivener and Tischendorf, and the whole costs came to £17, equivalent to about $85 in those days.

In February, 1919, I turned ill, due chiefly to the lack of any holidays during the long War which began in August, 1914, and ended in November, 1918. However, I was able to do the collation work, that is, comparing one Greek text with another. This task took four years.

During those four years Mr. Knoch wrote a great many letters to me, and of course I had to reply to them all. Some times he sent me four letters within one week. After the task of collating was over, I had to send the two Codices to Los Angeles, so I had to split the Codices into parts and post them separately. I must say I was sorry to part with them, especially the Vatican Codex, with its very beautiful writing.

Now it was Tischendorf who discovered the Sinaitic Codex in 1859. A monk had it in his cells wrapped in a red cloth when Tischendorf first saw it. Imperial gifts to the Convent of St. Catharine purchased the Codex for the library in St. Petersburg. Naturally, the great value attached to these documents stimulated the desire for gain, and many persons unworthy to be engaged in such a work have devoted themselves to the business of securing such documents and offering them for sale.

No bolder attempts in this direction were made than those which rendered the name of Constantine Simonides infamous, especially in connection with the Sinaitic manuscript. This man, in 1856, sought to palm off upon the Academy of Berlin a manuscript purporting to be the "History of Egypt," by Uranios, son of Anaximenes. But it was quite false, and was bought for twenty-five hundred thalers, before the deceit was discovered. Also, a few leaves of a very important document the "Shepherd of Hermas," were also purchased. Then came a message from Professor Lykurgos, of Athens, that probably both the manuscripts were spurious, and Tischendorf at once gave them critical examination and pronounced them false. Simonides next appeared at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, and produced two or three genuine manuscripts of no very great value, and belonging to the tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. He then unrolled with much apparent anxiety a few fragments of vellum, which bore an uncial text of most venerable appearance. The librarian carefully inspected the crumbling leaves of vellum, then smelt them, and gave them back with the single remark that they dated from the middle of the nineteenth century! The baffled Simonides gathered up his wares with many protestations, and departed, going straight to the railway station, whence he sped to the house of a well-known country gentleman in Worcestershire, where he disposed of the whole lot at a satisfactory price. This most extraordinary performance of Simonides was no doubt prompted by a spirit of revenge. It was said that Tischendorf was the means of detecting the fraud perpetrated in Berlin, and some other incidents had also brought him into collision with Simonides.

No sooner had Tischendorf published his earliest fac similes of the newly discovered "Codex Sinaiticus," in 1860, than Simonides declared that Tischendorf himself was at last deceived; that he, Simonides, had written the whole document! He appealed to his wonder skill as a calligrapher and said that while he was still a youth he had been employed by his uncle, Benedict, head of the monastery of Panteleemon on Mount Athos, to make in manuscript from a printed Moscow Bible, a copy of the whole Scriptures, which might be worthy of presentation to the Russian Emperor Nicholas, in acknowledgment of benefits conferred upon the monastery.

It was all a marvellous story, requiring the most colossal impudence, and yet so cunningly planned, so boldly supported, with the manual skill of its author so well known, that for a time it found credit in some quarters. But its refutation was easy. The monks at Sinai, including the librarian who was in charge at the time covered by the story, gave testimony that they had never seen Simonides, and that the book had been catalogued from the earliest times. According to Simonides himself he could not have been more than fifteen years old in 1839, when he began the task, and to have finished it at the given time he must have written at least 20,000 large and separate uncial letters every day, which was incredible. The very mistakes of the Codex show it must have been copied from another manuscript, and not from a printed Bible, because omitted words were in several cases just enough to fill up a line in an old papyrus document, showing that the copyist had a roll or book like his own lying before him. Simonides was said to have died of leprosy in 1867; but two years later he was seen in St. Petersburg, still active under an assumed name. Another attempt at fraud was that of a dealer called Shapira in 1881. He brought to Europe several MSS, among them a Moabite copy of Deuteronomy. It consisted of fifteen leather slips, black with age, and impregnated with the faint odour of funereal spices. They presented to the casual observer only the appearance of a plain oily surface, but on touching them with a brush dipped in spirits of wine, the strange old writing became visible— forty columns of Deuteronomy in the ancient Hebrew characters, just like those on the Moabite Stone, and apparently dating from about the eighth or ninth century before Christ. These documents were brought to the British Museum by Shapira, and he estimated the value of this new-found treasure at one million pounds sterling! After careful examination it was decided that the document did not belong to 800 B.C., but to a date as late as 1880 A.D. Next week he committed suicide.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009