Thursday, July 09, 2009

[TC-Alternate-list] Codex Sinaiticus, Tischendorf, and J Rendel Harris

Codex Sinaiticus is online, and now the whole high-speed-connected world can see the manuscript, right down to the stichoi-notes!
It is inevitable that the new online publication will lead many viewers to read accounts about how Tischendorf "rescued" the codex from the monks at St. Catherine's. So I take this opportunity to say:
Tischendorf's story is not true.
The codex was essentially stolen. It was borrowed under the pretense that Tischendorf would return it on request.
As for Tischendorf's claim that he rescued part of the manuscript from a trash-basket, and that the basket's contents were about to be burned -- J. Rendel Harris has some interesting things to say about that in the 1908 February issue of The Expositor, which is available to download online, in the course of his article/review, "Dr. Gregory on the Canon and Text of the New Testament." Whereas Gregory took Tischendorf's side entirely, Harris is the complete opposite.
J. Rendel Harris was uniquely qualified to judge the plausibility of Tischendorf's claims, having visited St. Catherine's monastery himself. And Harris, as you will see when you read his remarks, provides good reasons to reject Tischendorf's version of events. Yet that fabrication -- whether promoted innocently, or with calculation, God knows -- is still being promoted.
This is an opportune moment for the British Library to do the right thing and offer to return Codex Sinaiticus to St. Catherine's Monastery. There has been a little bit of publicity about the online release of the photographs. It would be more, and better, publicity, in my book, if the people in charge at the BL would admit that Codex Sinaiticus was essentially stolen, and offer to return it to its rightful owners at St. Catherine's Monastery.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.

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