16 JANUARY 1864, Page 17

THE CODEX SINAITICUS.* AVE can imagine the satisfaction with which

Bentley would have opened a volume containing iu a neat compendious form a com- plete collation of the oldest and most perfect manuscript of the New Testament in existence. Opportunities, such as he could only dream of, for forming a critically trustworthy text, abound in this generation, but Bentleys do not abound. Let us,however, recognize with thankfulness the labours of such men as Tregelles, Scrivener, and others who are the precursors of a new critical era amongst us, and are doing their wo...k well. The Church of England has long sinned against that excellent maxim of Polonius,

"To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canal not then be false to any man."

While the utmost respect has been professed for every line and word of the sacred books, a text well-known to be faulty in many not unimportant particulars has been retained with Chinese pertinacity, and the countrymen of Bentley have been content to look to Germany for solid information upon a subject in which they profess so deep an interest. Not that critical talent of the very highest order has been want- ing amongst us during the last hundred years; but, owing to circumstances, its results have been thin and slight. Tischen- dorf now stands at the head of living critics of the text of the New Testament, and he was worthy to have the good fortune of discovering such a treasure as the Sinai manuscript, of which no one guessed the existence, though the monastery of St. Catherine must have been visited over and over again by European travellers during the last century. The story altogether is a romance, so much so as t.3 excite the attacks of scepticism and of imposture, and at the moment when we write we believe that the public is not altogether recovered from the effects of the mystification to which it has been subjected. Mr. Scrivener's introduction contains a very clear account of the matter, and will be sufficient to remove from the minds of all who choose to pay attention every reasonable doubt as to the genuineness of the Codex Sinaiticus. The first discovery of a part of the manu- script was made by Tisehendorf in 184, who was then travelling in the East, under the patronage of King Frederick Augustus of Saxony. He found at the convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai, forty-three vellum leaves containing portions of the Septuagint version, chiefly from the First of Chronicles and Jere- miah, with Nehemiah and Esther complete. These were in a basket of papers destined to light the stove. We need not trouble our- selves to explain the stupidity and carelessness by which a bundle of vellum leaves could have got into such a position ; but we shudder to be reminded of the number of valuable paper manuscripts which must have perished in the stoves of :Anal and many another monastery. The forty-three neglected leaves were easily obtained by Tischendorf, and on inquiry it was found that more existed. The monks produced a few containing Isaiah and a part of Maccabees, but when Tischendorf let out his belief that these belonged to the fourth century, they were speedily withdrawn from his view, and he was only permitted to copy one leaf. He brought to Europe the few he had obtained, and these were published in 184U as the " Codex Frederieo- Augustanus." They are now deposited at Leipsic. In 1853 he again visited the monastery, but this time be could gain no tidings of the leaves he had left behind, and concluded that

a The Codex Sinailivot. A full collation of ihe Codex Sinai:lens with ti.e reeeie,,d text of the New Testament. By nederick II. Scrivener, M.A. London: Bell and Biddy.

some more fortunate collector had carried them off. In 1859 he made a third visit to Sinai, under the auspices of the Emperor of Russia, and after having been for five days a guest at the monastery, and when on the point of leaving, the steward, with whom Tischendorf had been talking about the Greek text of the Old Testament, produced from a corner of his own cell a manu- script on loose leaves wrapped up in a red cloth, which the German savant at once perceived to be the treasure he had so long searched for. It contained large portions of the Septuagint version and the New Testament entire, together with the Epistle of Barnabas and a fragment of the Shepherd of Hermits. Tischendorf sat up all night transcribing Barnabas, and sub- sequently obtained leave to copy the whole manuscript, which was sent to Cairo for his use. He shortly afterwards succeeded in persuading the monks to make a present of the treasure to their patron, the Emperor Alexander IL, and before the end of the year it was safely conveyed to St. Petersburg. A splendid edition of 300 copies was published in 1862, at the expense of the Emperor, as a memorial of the thousandth anniversary of his kingdom. A cheaper edition, containing the New Testament, Barnabus and Hermes alone, was published in 1863, in the ordinary Greek type.

The Codex consists of 345k leaves of fine vellum, probably fabricated from the skins of antelopes or asses, each leaf being 13,} inches in length and nearly 15 inches in height. The writing on each page is in four columns, in uncial characters. Tischendorf considers that four different bands were originally employed upon it, though this diversity of penmanship is doubted by some. It is considered with probability to have been produced in the fourth century. Corrections attributable to no less than nine different hands, the latest being of the twelth century, occur in different parts, and notes by four other persons, some being in Arabic, are scattered throughout the margin. This is the only very ancient manuscript containing the New Testament entire. The four Gospels stand in their usual order, then follow St. Paul's Epistles, that to the Hebrews preceding the four pastoral letters ; then come the Acts and the Catholic Epistles in their usual order, and lastly, the Apocalypse. The manuscript does not contain the last twelve verses of St. Mark's Gospel, nor the story of the woman taken in adultery, nor, it is almost unnecessary to add, the three witnesses of the First Epistle of St. John.

Mr. Scrivener devotes a whole chapter to the question, " Was the Codex Sinaiticus written by Constantine Simonides ?" This " ingenious person," as Mr. Scrivener terms him, has asserted that he wrote the Codex Sinaiticus with his own hands twenty- four years ago, without the wish, or design, or, indeed, the smallest expectation, of misleading the most ignorant and un- wary as to the true character of the work. To those who have a knowledge of palaeography, and who have looked into the mass of well-ascertained facts respecting the Codex, and the remarkable text it contains, which are detailed in Mr. Scrivener's volume, no argument is necessary to prove that this manuscript is not the work of Simonides or of any man now living. If, therefore, Simonides really ever wrote a complete copy of the Greek Scriptures, taken, as he affirms, from a Moscow edition, corrected by the help of three ancient MSS., and the printed edition of the " Codex Alexandrinus," there is internal evidence that the Codex Sinaiticus is not the one. The English advocates of the pretensions of Simonides appear to be little aware of the means which palaeographical and philological science afford for testing the authenticity of manuscripts. Com- petent scholars have as little difficulty in pronouncing the Codex Sinaiticus to be a genuine monument of antiquity, as they have in declaring the fragments of Gospels, early fathers, Egyptian history, &c., written in Greek characters upon papyrus, and produced by Simonides from the collection of Mr. Mayer, of Liverpool, to be manifest forgeries. Mr. Simonides has been held up by his defenders as the victim of illiberal persecution ; but neither he nor they have any right to complain if the learned world refuses to be taken in. According to a biographical memoir of Simonides, published in 1859, "by Charles Stewart" (Mr. Scrivener calls him " Mr.Charles Stuart, of Brighton"), there are now lying in concealment in the island of Syme five thousand bulky volumes of manuscripts, formerly at Mount Athos, and bequeathed to Simonides by his uncle Benedict. What a fortune lies at his disposal, if he would only allow copies to be taken of a portion of this wondrous collection The specimens which he has produced here were, however, unfortunately selected, as many turned out to be forgeries; a few genuine ones were purchased by the British Museum. Mr. Stewart, in the preface to the memoir says, "The facts related in the present memoir have all come within the knowledge c' the writer, and every incident can be corroborated by the mos unimpeachable testimony," and he concludes with saying " Should any doubt be entertained as to the veracity of th, statements contained in the memoir, the writer will feel a plea- sure in replying to any inquiry, and in furnishing the authority on which the statement is made." The address given is merely "London." A .perusal of the biography shows that the greater part of the facts it contains can rest upon no other authority than that of Simonides himself, and the style sufficiently proves it to be merely a translation of a Greek original. The statement in the preface, therefore, is obviously ambiguous, and calculated to impose upon the unwary. Still it is possible that Charles Stewart (or Stuart) may know something of the 5,000 manuscripts said to have been taken from Mount Athos by Simonides, and if so, he cannot do better than give the public an account of this collection. Those gentlemen who, like Mr. Stewart, have come forward as partisans of Simonides, with no better authority for their belief than the astounding assertions of this person himself, certainly owe the public an explanation of their conduct, which has been calculated to lead to very serious and mischievous consequences.