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8181[textualcriticism] Vaticanus retracing - spectrographic analysis - palimpsest - umlauts and underwriting - Codex Sinaiticus English translation

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  • Steven Avery
    Nov 12, 2013

      Vaticanus Retracing Date

      My question in the previous post is most directly only about the date of the retracing. 

      [textualcriticism] Vaticanus retracing - 15th century date traces to Enrico Fabiani, by monk Clement
      Steven Avery - November 11, 2013

      11th century? 15 century? dunno?  Did Fabiani just make up out of thin air the name of the monk Clement who he said did the retracing?  Ok, found a bit more. Scrivener is skeptical, he does point out that Clement's name is found in the manuscript.  And Fabiani called Clement an erudite and patient man. Here is a bit more, to add to what is at bottom from the earlier posts. 

      A plain introduction to the criticism of the New Testament (1883)
      ... the breathings and accents are now universally allowed to have been added by a later hand. This hand, referred by some to the eighth century (although Tischendorf, with Dr Hort's approval, assigns it to the tenth or eleventh
      1), retraced, with as much care as such an operation would permit, the faint lines of the original writing (the ink whereof was perhaps never quite black), the remains of which can even now be seen by a keen-sighted reader by the side of the thicker and more modern strokes; and, anxious at the same time to represent a critical revision of the text, the writer left untouched such words or letters as he wished to reject. In these last places, where no breathings or accents and scarcely any stops 2 have ever been detected, we have an opportunity of seeing the manuscript in its primitive condition before it had been tampered with by the later scribe. (continues) (p. 103-104)

          1 The writer of the Preface to the sixth volume of the Roman edition of 1881 (apparently Fabiani), is jubilant over his discovery of the name of this retracer
      ("eruditissimi et patientissimi viri," as he is pleased to call him, p. xviii) in the person of Clement the Monk, who has written his name twice in the book in a
      scrawl of the fifteenth century. But mere resemblance in the ink is but a lame proof of identity, and Fabiani recognizes some other correctors, whom he designates as B4, posterior to the mischievous "instaurator."

          2 Hug says none, but Tischendorf (Cod. Frid.-Aug. Proleg. p. 9) himself detected two in a part that the second scribe had loft untouched; and not a very
      few elsewhere (N. T. Vatican. Proleg. p. xx., xxi., 1867); though a break often occurs with no stop by either hand. In the much contested passage Rom. ix. 5, Dr Vance Smith ("Revised Texts and Margins" p. 34, note *), while confidently claiming the stop after
      oarka . in Cod. A as primâ manu, and noticing the space after the word in Cod. Ephraemi (C), admits that "in the Vatican the originality of the stops may be doubtful." In the judgment of Fabiani, " vis aliqua primo exscriptori tribuenda" (Praef, N. T. Vat. 1881, p. xviii.).

      According to Fabiani, however, this retracing was done early in the fifteenth century by the monk Clemens (qui saeculo XV ineunte floruisse videtur). - Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913

      Questions on dating of Vaticanus retracing and Clemens the monk

      So is there a clear analysis over the possibility of the monk Clemens having done the retracing?  Is it proper for Fabiani's idea to be ignored today? Why? Is it Tischendorf's observation about lapsing into minuscule writing? If so, has this analysis and conclusion been verified and discussed?  And is it the one and only right conclusion?  Either way, can we accurately say with some confidence what work was done by Clemens?


      What is Under the Overwrite?

      James Snapp has also shown interest in the accuracy of the current (implied) textual theory that what is underneath the overwrite of Vaticanus is the same as what we see.  In a foreign land, James astutely raised these questions:

      .....other important questions remain.  For example:  how do we know that the letters which were retraced were in the manuscript when it was produced in the 300's, and were not instead corrections (or, "corrections") that were made centuries later -- before the retracing, obviously, but still centuries later than the production-date of the codex?  Where the retracing completely covers the original lettering, how can we know that the reading encountered in B goes back to the 300’s, and is not a medieval correction of the original lettering of which no trace remains?  How do we know, in any specific case, that the visible letters (put there by the letter-tracer) cover letters that were written in the 300's, rather than letters that were written in, say, the 700's, or the 800's, or the 1300's, by someone attempting to correct the manuscript?  If 1 in 20 of the readings in Codex Vaticanus originated with a corrector who worked, say, four centuries after the manuscript’s production, and two centuries before the retracing was done, how would we know? - James Snapp

      In other words, texts that may be scribe B3, in reality, are listed in the apparatus as surely the original scribe B.
      As an example, let's just extract six letters from the fairly large-print section with the "fool and knave" pictures.

      Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03
      A textcritical complaint
      Wieland Willker


      Are the letters underneath the same as above?  ---

      (No cheating by reading the up letters down.)


      Spectrographic Imaging

      James Snapp,
      Steven, At http://abmc.org/projects_dssImaging.html there's a brief description of some sort of x-ray-ish technique of recovering otherwise unreadable text in some DSS fragments.  I suspect that the same technique could easily be applied to Vaticanus, and thus whatever erasures and corrections were made to the original writing, before the overwriting, would be detectable.  Too bad nobody seems to be making this a priority.  I'm not sure if there is even much awareness of the potential problem.

      Ok, here is a related note about modern technology.  Maybe René Larsen can be contacted, and ask to comment on the state of the art for underwrite determination.

      Codex Sinaiticus Highlights - Christian Askeland
      The Danish scholar, René Larsen, who works with IDAP, described how one can determine the animals used to create a particular sheet of parchment. I may blog more on this in weeks to come. Additionally, he also described the potential to localize the provenance based on spectrographic analysis; impurities in the water and the type of substances used in preparation may suggest specific regions. If I remember correctly, Sinaiticus is mostly cow with a few sheep thrown in.

      Codex Sinaiticus Conference and René Larsen
      July 8, 2009 


      On smaller variants, can we trust "B" in the Apparatus?

      Now, as to James thoughts:

      James Snapp,
       Too bad nobody seems to be making this a priority.  I'm not sure if there is even much awareness of the potential problem.

      Yep. And the problem is actual

      The possibility of errors in the apparatus are potential. Who has the burden of proof? The ones asking the questions, or the ones who make the apparatus decisions?

      While I sort of stumbled over the question, through the back door of Sinaiticus studies, I still wonder why there is not a strong body of analysis on this question of the Vaticanus underwrite-overwrite situation.  After all, on texts like this one:


      Mark 7:19 example - Analyzing the underwrite -- let's not be fools, misdirected by knaves :-)

      Here is a small textual variant with huge doctrinal significance (did Jesus abrogate the Mosaic law while he walked Judea and Galilee?) in which the Vaticanus evidence is virtually the "swing state" for the Critical Text election.

      Mark 7:19 (AV)
      Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly,
      and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

      Byz and TR - kaqarizon
      Alex -           kaqarizwn
      oti ouk eisporeuetai autou eiV thn kardian all eiV thn koilian kai eiV ton afedrwna ekporeuetai kaqarizon panta ta brwmata

      On what basis can we presume (more than "vid") that the Vaticanus original text was kaqarizwn ? On what hard basis can you even presume that the gentleman who did the overwrite actually knew what was the undertext?  Assuming it is overwrite-underwrite and the bottom is indistinct ... why would there be any Vaticanus original entry in the apparatus?

      Or, to put it gently ... is the apparatus rigged?

      (Note: perhaps Mark 7:19 is clear by the Vaticanus picture analysis, for some reason.  I am just using it as a simple example of the question.)


      Vaticanus as Palimpsest

      There seems to be an implied question of textual fealty and accuracy in the apparatus on Wieland's page when he considers the possibility that the original ink was washed over.

      Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03
      Wieland Willker
      I think that it is possible the codex has been washed off to create a palimpsest.
      That a codex ink is fading throughout so strongly is quite exceptional. I think it is possible that at some point someone decided to wash off the ink to create 'recycled' blank parchment. For some reason it was decided later to keep the text and codex and someone had to retrace everything.
      Well, just my private speculation

      The Codex is still in the Vatican library and deteriorates.
      Nobody seems interested in analyzing it.
      The master has not yet been found... 

      An exceptional fading would be, clearly, (in a sense .. not clearly), a great hindrance to proper copying centuries later.


      When discussing umlauts - hmmm ... scholarly question -- are we sure of the underwrite?

      When the question is umlauts, all of a sudden the word is "caution" - we don't know the underwrite text, we don't know the original text.
      Here are examples from a recent paper.

      The Text Critical Sigla in Codex Vaticanus 
      Gravely, Edward D. - (2009)
      Arguments from Secondary Mechanical Observations
      Since most of the umlauts have been completely retraced, access lo the ink underneath is unavailable and thus cannot be used to date the umlaut. p. 72

      Second, though it is possible that some of the umlauts were placed in the manuscript later, all of the evidence points to the fact that the umlauts are made very early, close to the time of the manuscript's production, possibly by the original scribe of Vaticanus.  (p. xiii)

      If the observation is correct that there are, in fact, unretraced colons, this would push the date for at least some of the colons to a time before Vaticanus was retraced in the early Middle Ages. Until an expert analysis is performed, however, any conclusion based on ink color observations should be taken cautiously. p. 38

      We are not to assume too much about the 4th century text, based on the overwriting text.

      Smart thinking .... now about the New Testament text.


      Extra note:  Codex Sinaiticus "English translation"

      This is a follow-up to numerous earlier posts, where it was pointed out that the Codex Sinaiticus Project was confusing and deceiving readers by giving a hybrid English text and claiming it was the actual Sinaiticus text translation.

      Responding to a spot of pressure, the Codex Sinaiticus Project has made some moves to correct the "English translation" disinformation disaster.  Here is the note I received from a British Library principle.

      October 14, 2013

      Subject: FW: question on CSP misidentification of an "English translation"  of Codex Sinaiticus

      Dear Steven Avery,
      Following on from your correspondence with Scot McKendrick, I have had some text added to the Library's online gallery webpage about Codex Sinaiticus, clarifying the status of the English translation on the Codex Sinaiticus Project's website. We are also going to contact Leipzig University Library, which hosts the Codex Sinaiticus Project website, to seek to have similar text added to that site.

      Yours sincerely,
      Claire Breay
      Lead Curator, Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts

      So far we have:

      Online Gallery
      Sacred Texts
      "Codex Sinaiticus Project website "

      The Codex Sinaiticus Project was primarily a conservation, digitisation, transcription and publication project. It did not undertake a new English translation of the New Testament from the manuscript. The English translation included in the Codex Sinaiticus website was taken from H. T. Anderson, The New Testament: translated from the Sinaitic manuscript discovered by Constantine Tischendorf at Mt Sinai (Cincinnati, 1918). It was included only to provide a navigational aid to users of the website.

      Which helps, but does not resolve the problem. The complete omission is covered, yet the language is still very uninformative, since the reader is not told that the English text is massively different than Sinaiticus. 

      More critical will be what is (eventually) placed here by the
      Leipzig University Library.

      Codex Sinaiticus - English

      Anyway, it is good to see (finally) some response, concern and action from the British Library. Scot McKendrick had acknowledged that many had asked about this "English translation" question.  And thanks to any here who might have helped in that way, concerned about the integrity of what is presented to the public.  And special thanks to James Snapp for helping to keep the issue in the forefront.   

      Steven Avery
      Bayside, NY


      "possibly before the ninth" - Skeat
      10th or 11th CE - Tischendorf, Wieland Willker
      15th century - Scot McKendrick (verbal, possibly a memory error)

      > Scot McKendrick, British Library (on video)
      > ".. Vaticanus does not have the extent of correction ...

      Vaticanus has a very strange appearance. When you look at it as a manuscript expert
      ... actually it looks like a fifteenth century manuscript.  There is one very simple reason for that. Almost the entire text has been overwritten by a 15th century scribe..."

      Peter Head. 
      Other than the 15th cent date this is all common knowledge. I suggest taking a close look at one page in a colour facsimile or photograph and
      coming to your own conclusions. It has been over written. Tischendorf dated the overwriting to the  10th-11th century on the basis of some writing in the same ink. That  seemed relatively plausible to me when I looked at it. Probably Scot  simply mistook the connection between the filler texts (e.g. end of  Hebrews and Revelation, definitely 15th cent.) and the overwriting. No clear evidence how many scribes were involved in that. Some parts  seem to be done better than other parts. Surely relevant to the  determination of what the underlying text says.

      > Scot McKendrick, British Library (on video) - correspondence
      "You are correct re the earlier date. Mea culpa."

      The 15th century dating was given by Fabiani who worked on the Vercellone-Cozza edition, naming the monk.

      The Church Quarterly Review, Volume 15 (1883)
      Canon Cook and the Revised Version of the First Three Gospels

       in B it was due to the scribe who retraced the faded writing, at a date placed by some critics as early as the eighth century, but by the latest editors of the Codex as low as the beginning of the fifteenth century.

      * Vercellone and Cozza's edition of the Codex Vaticanus, vol vi.,pp. xvii., 150.

      Giuseppe Cozza-Luzi (1837–1905)

      Carlo Vercellone  (1814–1869)

      Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecus Codex Vaticanus Tomus V. Complectens Novum Testamentum (1868) - an example of one volume of the earlier edition online


      The Beginnings of Christianity : part I, the Acts of the apostles (1920)
      Frederick John Foakes-Jackson, 1855-1941; Kirsopp Lake, 1872-1946
      This work of B3 , it should be noticed, in all its branches is held by Fabiani to have been done in the early fifteenth century, and to have included long Greek interpretative scholia, Latin notes in Greek letters, and the sixty-two supplementary pages, but this is doubtful. 1
      1 Note Battifol's observation, mentioned above p. xxxii

      which takes us to
      the hand which has written extended scholia on fol. 1205v, 1206, 1239, and elsewhere in Codex B, resembles a Greek hand of the thirteenth century, "easily recognizable by its ligatures as well as by the greenish ink which it employs," 1

       1 This observation was made by Batiffol, L'Abbaye de Rossano, 1891. p. 49 note I. Codex Vat. gr. 1648 was at Rossano in the fifteenth century, later at Grotta Ferrata. For the statement found, for instance, in P. Batiffol, La Vaticane de Paul III a Paul V, Paris. 1890. p. 82. that Codex B was in South Italy in the tenth and eleventh centuries, positive grounds are not given.

      The restoration of the codex by retracing the letters, etc., is commonly associated with the work of a certain corrector who occasionally lapsed into minuscules that betray his date as the tenth or eleventh century (Tischendorf, Novum Tesamentum Vaticanum p. xxvii); but as to the locality where these corrections were made there seems to be no evidence. The Roman editors, 'Prolegomena,' 1881. p. xvii. hold the re-inking and the addition of breathings and accents to be the work of the scribe (Clemens monachus) who, they think, supplied the missing portions of the codex in the early fifteenth century.

      Henricus Canonicus Fabiani (Enrico Fabiani) was one of those who replaced Vercellone.

      Scrivener on Fabiani

      REVIEW by A. F. Kirkpatrick
      Veteris Testamenti Graeci Codices Vaticannus et Sinaiticus cum Textu Recepto collati (1887)
      Eberhard Nestle

      Dr. Nestle warns the student that Fabiani's confident identification of the scribe who retraced the text with the monk Clement in the fourteenth or fifteenth century is in opposition to the gtmeral opinion which has hitherto assigned that corrector to the tenth or eleventh century.   

      Caspar Rene Gregory and Ezra Abbot (1894)


      So, in summary the 15th century date has some historical backing. 

      Now, are the issues above so clear that the Fabiani date, connected to the name of a monk, is simply wrong? 
      If so, based on what? -- the lapsing into minuscule writing?

      Note, that there are related issues as to whether the:

        a) added sections from end of Hebrews and Revelation  (sixty-two supplementary pages?)
        b) long Greek interpretative scholia, Latin notes in Greek letters,
        c) retracing with breathings and accents included/added

      Are all the same scribe, at one time.

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