Archive for the ‘Chris Pinto’ Category

Some Responses to Steven Avery’s and Chris Pinto/NOTR’s Counterpoints

December 23, 2013

In the comment box on my previous post (link), Steven Avery has provided some counter-points to the points I raised regarding the debate between James White and Chris Pinto. Mr. Avery has also quoted some material that he attributes to Chris Pinto/ Noise of Thunder Radio.

Steven Avery said: “If he was to comment on one thing right now, I would be all ears as to his thoughts about the James White papyri blunder. Since that was, in real terms, the James White big chief argument.” Actually, I disagree. The big chief argument was the fact that the codex was not the work of a single scribe, but of multiple distinguishable scribes. And the second was like unto it – there were numerous hands (from different centuries) that corrected manuscript. Either of these arguments alone would sink Mr. Pinto’s ship.

However, let me respond to what Steven Avery (SA) and Chris Pinto/Noise of Thunder Radio (NOTR) has said (the NOTR material comes to me via SA, so I have hopefully correctly attributed the parts to NOTR that belong to him).

Me: 3) There are no known examplars that could have been the source for Codex Sinaiticus.”

Chris Pinto is a documentarian, he raises the historical issues missed (essentially ignored by James White) and then hopes they get hashed out properly, and he will join in the studies. Chris did mention the ancient Syriac Codex, but he was still somewhat of a beginner on the details about the Vaticanus collations and the textual interrelationships, the question of alexandrian mss on Mt. Athos, and the complexities of what happened to the NT until it arose pristine in 1859.

Once you look at all the details, you see that the source question is interesting (the biggest question is the source for the unique Sinaiticus blunders) but not an especially strong point contra the idea of Sinaiticus not being an authentic 4th century ms. Sinaiticus has major problems in delivery whether 4th century 6th century (Hilgenfeld), 19th century or some combinations thereof, where the NT was especially subject to “care”.

a) The debate over whether manuscript should be dated to the 6th century rather than the 4th century is a different debate. The issue of exemplars is totally irrelevant to the 4th/6th century debate.
b) Yes, Simonides/Chris mentioned an “ancient Syriac Codex,” but they have not produced such a codex. So, as I said, there are no known exemplars.

That is, no examplars known by Dr. White. During the debate, White admitted that he has not examined the manuscripts that were in Simonides’ possession, and was not even fully aware of what they were. In his argument, he overlooked three of the MSS. entirely. He was also unaware that there are many manuscripts on Mt. Athos today that have never been catalogued. His assertion was mere speculation based on his own limited knowledge.

a) There are no examplars known to anyone – not to Chris Pinto, not to any living person.
b) Simonides’ claim to have collated his primary text with three additional manuscripts only makes his story *less* credible. I’m not sure why NOTR has so much trouble understanding this point. Not only does trying to collate three manuscripts dramatically increase the time needed to produce the codex, it also makes it less likely that the exemplars would all be lost.
c) Likewise, identifying that Simonides claimed he had manuscripts is not equivalent to identifying what manuscripts he could have used.
d) NOTR’s argument seems to be that there might possibly be an as-yet-unknown manuscript that could be the exemplar. That argument is simply wishful thinking.
SA: “This is true, and is largely the ignorance of James White, in the area that is supposed to be his bailiwick. And it is best combined with what I shared above, which takes the more affirmative sense of what could have been used.”
I answer: Yes, every person who knows about NT manuscripts is going to be “ignorant” of manuscripts that do not exist. Calling that “the ignorance of James White” is a strange way of putting it – but yes, he’s unaware of non-existent manuscripts.

Me: 6) The amount of time necessary for collating multiple manuscripts of the entire Bible (plus some apocrypha) would have been prohibitive in the timeline proposed by Simonides.

There is no collation problem, all of that is bogus. e.g. The Griesbach NT, as pointed out by James Snapp, was out and could easily be used as a starting point. Collation could be somewhat ad hoc as well. All of this collation timing point was based on an error of James White that what would be required was the type of Stephanus collation of multiple manuscripts with markings, etc. This was all a straw man complaint where James White fantasized a complex scenario of collation creation, and then complained that his own complex scenario might take too much time.

Beyond all that, the whole question of collation and creation is one area where Simonides and Kallinikos have to be studied with all parts together, including Tischendorf mutilating and tampering with the mss and the distinctions of the NT ms. Beyond that, we should allow that if the SImonides involvement was not all pristine, to make a gift to the tsar, if there were some shady elements involved, the creation story would be the fudgiest element. That should not surprise us much, Tischendorf was a bald-faced liar about the events of those years and Uspensky was considered, like Tischendorf, as one who purloined manuscripts. It was the best of time, it was the worst of times.

Actually, Simonides is the one who claimed he produced his manuscript by a process of collation. Of course, if you’re throwing out Simonides’ claims then we are in agreement.


While Dr. White raised the issue, he never defined the “timeline proposed by Simonides.” He simply claimed it was prohibitive, but gave no explanation as to why.
In reality, Simonides claimed that the work happened over a period of 20 months from 1839-1841. By comparison, Desiderius
Erasmus famously completed his first edition Greek New Testament in less than half that time. He wrote: “I have got through six years work in eight months.” The first edition of Erasmus is especially known for its remarkable number of errors. This is the same characteristic of Codex Sinaiticus. If the work was done hastily by Simonides and his uncle, this would at least partly explain why it has so many corrections.
As a footnote, the number of reported “corrections” in the manuscript have changed since it was first discovered. The first number given was 8,000 corrections in 1862. That number later jumped to 14,800, as reported by Tischendorf. Today, the British Library reports a total of some 23,000 corrections. To understand where the all corrections came from, it would need to be understood why they have so dramatically increased over the past 150 years.

a) Erasmus was one of the brightest minds of his generation. It’s hardly reasonable to compare his speed with that of someone who was primarily known for his good penmanship.
b) Similarly, Erasmus was about 40 and seriously trained by that point. By contrast, Simonides was a teenager.
c) Moreover, Erasmus was focused on the New Testament only, whereas Codex Sinaiticus contains OT, OT Apocrypha, NT, and NT apocrypha.
d) Additionally, except where Erasmus back-translated from Latin, Erasmus was working from Greek manuscripts only. By contrast, Simonides claimed to be working from both Greek and Syriac.
e) The codex may have been composed in haste in the 4th century. However, the more that there is an appeal to haste, the less likely that the work can be a nuanced forgery. It’s hard to simulate a 4th century scribe – it’s harder yet to do so in haste (much less multiple distinguishable scribes).
f) Regarding the “footnote,” all that has increased is the reported number. The reason for such an increase is most obviously the increased amount careful study of the manuscript over the years.


I would more bluntly say that the whole collation question as raised by James White was simply a red herring, where he simply assumed his own complex machinations. The corrections issue discussed by NOTR is interesting, and can be added to a long list of puzzling questions as to how this ms. has developed. Read the CSP discussions of ink and parchment for other puzzles.

This is answered above.


As for Mt. Athos mss. James White astutely pointed out that Codex Ψ Psi 044 (giving the three notations) is a Mt. Athos sourced Alexandrian ms. The idea that all mss on Mt. Athos were Byzantine was a James White fabrication as well.

Dr. White did not say (or if he did, he mispoke) that there are no manuscripts with Alexandrian readings in the Athos monestary libraries.

Codex Athous Lavrensis (aka Ψ/044) is a mixed text. Some portions are “Alexandrian,” some are Byzantine (see much more detail here).
Codex Athous Dionysiou (Ω Omega 045, using your notation method) is also a codex from Athos, which has some Alexandrian readings.
Also, Codex Athous Pantokratoros (051) is a codex from Athous with an eclectic text.
Codex Coislinianus (H^p or 015) is a generally Alexandrian ms. on Athos.
Uncial 050 is also a mixed text on Athos.



Chris Pinto vs. James White – Debate Summarized

December 17, 2013

The Chris Pinto vs. James White debate on whether Codex Sinaiticus is a modern forgery can be boiled down to a few considerations.

1) Constantine Simonides claimed that he wrote the document based on collating pre-existing manuscripts, and that his uncle corrected the document.

Both sides agree that he so claimed. Dr. White demonstrated that these claims are essentially impossible, as explained below.

2) The most sympathetic source for Simonides says that Simonides was not a truthful person.

Dr. White raised this point, and Pinto did not dispute it except to say that this source was not the only supportive source and that the source himself says Simonides did not always lie.

3) There are no known examplars that could have been the source for Codex Sinaiticus.

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto’s response was to point out that the source(s) could be as-yet-unknown manuscripts on Mt. Athos.

4) Codex Sinaiticus was written by several different, distinguishable scribes (as evidenced by different handwriting, different style of abbreviations, and different accuracy of work).

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto did not respond to it.

5) Codex Sinaiticus has corrections by multiple different correctors.

Dr. White raised this point, Pinto did not respond to it except to say that two other men (a monk and a scribe) may have been involved in the corrections.

6) The amount of time necessary for collating multiple manuscripts of the entire Bible (plus some apocrypha) would have been prohibitive in the timeline proposed by Simonides.

Dr. White raised this point, and Pinto responded that possibly his uncle started on the project years before Simonides began.

Additional notes:

1. Regarding the Mt. Athos manuscripts, there is an on-going digitization project (link). At one point, Mr. Pinto alleges that the one way to resolve the mystery was to explore the Mt. Athos library for manuscripts corresponding to Simonides’ claims. He won’t be able to stand behind that argument from ignorance forever.

2. Simonides himself states that the collation began after Simonides himself joined the project, as demonstrated by Dr. White. So, although the uncle allegedly had corrected the other manuscripts in advance, the collation project had not been done in advance, according to the primary source for Mr. Pinto’s theory.


The fact that the manuscript was written by several different scribes and was corrected by numerous additional hands makes it impossible for Simonides’ story to be true. The necessary hypothesis would be that Simonides deliberately altered his handwriting several different times during the writing of the manuscript to give the impression of different scribes. Such a hypothesis is simply implausible – there is no reason for Simonides to do this for the purpose of creating a text for the Tsar (as he claimed).

The fact that collation of documents takes an enormous amount of time, especially when one of the documents is not in the base language (allegedly one of the manuscripts was a Syriac manuscript), also weighs against Simonides claim. While it might be conceivable that such a collation could take place, the necessary time and training for such a collation to be undertaken are simply not there.

The fact that the supposed exemplars of Sinaiticus do not produce the unique readings of Sinaiticus and the fact that some of these unique readings are found in later discovered papyri also weighs against Simonides’ claim.

In view of these facts, it’s hard to see how anyone could come to any other conclusion than that Simonides was not the scribe of Sinaiticus, whether or not Simonides actually did create a manuscript intended for the Tsar.


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