Constantin von Tischendorf

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Constantin von Tischendorf, around 1870

Lobegott Friedrich Constantin (von) Tischendorf (January 18, 1815 – December 7, 1874) was a world leading Biblical scholar at his time. He discovered the worlds oldest and most complete bible from 325 AD in 1844, with complete New Testament not discovered before. This bible is called Codex Sinaiticus, after the St Catherine Monastery, where Tischendorf discovered it and can be seen either in the British Library in London, or as a digitalised version in the internet.[1] Tischendorf was made an Honorary Doctor by Oxford University 16.3.1865, and an Honorary Doctor by Cambridge University on 9.3.1865 following this find of the century.[2] As student he gained his academic degree and international recognition when he deciphered the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, a 5th-century Greek manuscript of the New Testament, in the 1840s.

The Codex Sinaiticus[edit]

The Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th-century New Testament manuscript, co-exists with two further old bibles of similar age, however they are less complete (Codex Vaticanus is now with the Vatican, and Codex Alexandrinus currently owned by the British Library). The Codex Sinaiticus is also named the α-source for today's most authoritative bible translation, as no older document is available. The content of the "oldest bible of the world" (as it is more complete than Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus) has been digitalised and can be found at "www.codexsinaiticus.net/en/".

Tischendorf's motivation[edit]

During his life Tischendorf was seeking old biblical manuscripts, as he saw it as his task to give theology a Greek New Testament, which was based on the oldest possible scriptures. He intended to be as close as possible to the original References. His greatest discovery was Tischendorf's discovery in the monastery Saint Catherine on the Sinai-Peninsula, which he visited in May 1844, and again in 1853 and 1859 (as Russian envoy).

In 1862 Tischendorf published the text of the Codex Sinaiticus for the 1000. Anniversary of the Russian Monarchy in an illustrious four volume Facsimile edition and in a less costly text edition to enable all scholars access to the Codex.

Tischendorf pursued a constant course of editorial labours, mainly on the New Testament, until he was broken down by overwork in 1873. His motive, as explained in a publication on Tischendorfs Letter by Prof. Christfried Boettrich (Leibzig University, Prof. of Theology), was to prove scientifically that the words of the bible were passed unchanged through all generations.[3]

Life[edit]

Title page from facsimile edition of codex Sinaiticus

Tischendorf was born in Lengenfeld, Saxony, near Plauen, the son of a physician. Beginning in 1834, he spent his scholarly career at the University of Leipzig where he was mainly influenced by JGB Winer, and he began to take special interest in New Testament criticism. Winer's influence gave him the desire to use the oldest manuscripts in order to compile the text of the New Testament as close to the original as possible.[4] In 1838 he took the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, then became master at a school near Leipzig.

After a journey through southern Germany and Switzerland, and a visit to Strassburg, he returned to Leipzig, and set to work upon a critical study of the New Testament text. In 1840 he qualified as university lecturer in theology with a dissertation on the recensions of the New Testament text — the main part of which reappeared the following year in the prolegomena to his first edition of the Greek New Testament. His critical apparatus included variant readings from earlier scholars — Elsevier, Georg Christian Knapp, Johann Martin Augustin Scholz, and as recent as Karl Lachmann — whereby his researches were emboldened to depart from the received text as used in churches.

These early textual studies convinced him of the absolute necessity of new and more exact collations of manuscripts. From October 1840 until January 1843 he was in Paris, busy with the treasures of the Bibliothèque Nationale, eking out his scanty means by making collations for other scholars, and producing for the publisher, Firmin Didot, several editions of the Greek New Testament — one of them exhibiting the form of the text corresponding most closely to the Vulgate. His second edition retracted the more precarious readings of the first, and included a statement of critical principles that is a landmark for evolving critical studies of Biblical texts.[5]

A great triumph of these laborious months was the decipherment of the palimpsest Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus, of which the New Testament part was printed before he left Paris, and the Old Testament in 1845. His success in dealing with a manuscript that, having been rewritten with other works of Ephrem the Syrian, had been mostly illegible to earlier collators, made him more well known, and gained support for more extended critical expeditions. He now became professor extraordinarius at Leipzig, and became married in 1845. He also began to publish Reise in den Orient, an account of his travels in the east (in 2 vols., 1845–46, translated as Travels in the East in 1847). Even though he was an expert in reading the text of a palimpsest (this is a document where the original writing has been removed and new writing added), he was not able to identify the value or meaning of the "Archemedes Palimpsest", which he donated to Cambridge.

From Paris, he had paid short visits to the Netherlands (1841) and England (1842). In 1843 he visited Italy, and after a stay of thirteen months, went on to Egypt, Sinai, and the Levant, returning by Vienna and Munich.

Discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus Bible manuscripts[edit]

In 1844 Tischendorf travelled the first time to Saint Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, where he found the oldest complete known bible. Of the many pages which were contained in an old wicker basket (the kind that the monastery hauled in its visitors as customary in unsafe territories) he was given 43 pages as a present. He donated those 43 pages to King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (reigned 1836-1854), to honour him and to recognise his patronage as the funder of Tischenforf's journey. (Tischendorf held a position as Theological Professor at Leipzig University, also under the patronage of Frederick Augustus II.) Leipzig University put those 44 pages on display in 2011.[6][7] Tischendorf reported in his 1865 book Wann Wurden Unsere Evangelen Verfasst, translated to English in 1866 as When Were Our Gospels Written in the section "The Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript" that he found, in a trash basket, forty-three sheets of parchment of an ancient copy of the Greek Old Testament, reporting that the monks were using the trash to start fires. And Tischendorf, horrified, asked if he could have them. He deposited them at the University of Leipzig, under the title of the Codex Friderico-Augustanus, a name given in honour of his patron, Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, king of Saxony. The fragments were published in 1846, although Tischendorf kept the place of discovery a secret.

Many[quantify] have expressed skepticism at the historical accuracy of this report of saving a 1500-year old parchment from the flames. J. Rendel Harris referred to the story as a myth.[8] The Tischendorf Lesebuch (see References) quotes that the Librarian Kyrillos mentioned to Tischendorf that the contents of the basket had already twice been submitted to the fire. The contents of the baskets were damaged scriptures, the third filling apparently, so cited by Tischendorf himself.[clarification needed]

In 1853 Tischendorf made a second trip to the Syrian monastery but made no new discoveries. He returned a third time in January 1859 under the patronage of Tsar Alexander II of Russia with the active aid of the Russian government to find more of the Codex Frederico-Augustanus or similar ancient Biblical texts. On February 4, the last day of his visit, he was shown a text which he recognized as significant — the Codex Sinaiticus — a Greek manuscript of the complete New Testament and parts of the Old Testament dating to the 4th century.

Tischendorf persuaded the monks to present the manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia, at whose cost it was published in 1862 (in four folio volumes). Those[who?] ignorant of the details of his discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus accused Tischendorf of buying manuscripts from ignorant monastery librarians at low prices. Indeed he was never rich, but he staunchly defended the rights of the monks at Saint Catherine's Monastery when he persuaded them eventually to send the manuscript to the Tsar. This took approximately 10 years because the abbot of St Catherines had to be re-elected and confirmed in office in Cairo and in Jerusalem, and during those 10 years no one in the monastery had the authority to hand over any documents. However the documents were handed over in due course following a signed and sealed letter to the Tsar Alexander II (Schenkungsurkunde). Even so, the monks of Mt. Sinai still display a letter from Tischendorf promising to return the manuscript to them. The letter was traded against a "Schenkungsurkunde" which regulated its exchange with the Tsar, seen as the protector of Greek-Orthodox Christians, against 9000 Rubels and Rumanian estate protection. Thought lost since 1933, the document (Schenkungsurkunde) has now resurfaced in St Petersburg, and has also been commented upon by other scholars. A document from the monastery regulates the exchange of the "Codex Sinaiticus" to the Tsar Alexander II against 9000 Gold Rubels and protection of the monastery's land ownership in Rumania. The monastery has disputed the existence of this letter for some time, but the document has re-appeared in the National Russian Library.[9] In 1869 the Tsar awarded Tischendorf the style of "von" Tischendorf as a Russian noble. 200 facsimile editions of the Codex were printed[by whom?] in order to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the traditional foundation of the Rus' state in 862 with the publication of this most amazing find. Supporting the production of the facsimile, all made with special print characters for each of the 4 scribes of the Codex Sinaiticus, was shift work and contributed to Tischendorf's early demise due to exhausting work for months also during nights. Thus the Codex found its way to the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg.

Quote:[9] When the 4-volume luxury edition of Sinai Bible was completed in 1862, C. Tischendorf presented the original ancient manuscript to Emperor Alexander II. Meanwhile, the question of transferring the manuscript to the full possession of the Russian Sovereign remained unresolved for some years. In 1869, the new Archbishop of Sinai, Callistratus, and the monastic community, signed the official certificate presenting the manuscript to the Czar. The Russian Government, in turn, bestowed the Monastery with 9000 rubles and decorated the Archbishop and some of the brethren with orders. In 1933 the Soviet Government sold the Codex Sinaiticus for 100,000 pounds to the British Museum in London, England. The official certificate with signatures in Russian/ French/ Greek sections has been refound in St Petersburg.[10]

Novum Testamentum Graece - publication with 21 editions[edit]

In the winter of 1849 the first edition of his great work now titled Novum Testamentum Graece. Ad antiquos testes recensuit. Apparatum criticum multis modis appeared (translated as Greek New Testament. The ancient witnesses reviewed. Preparations critical in many ways), containing canons of criticism, adding examples of their application that are applicable to students today:

Basic rule: "The text is only to be sought from ancient evidence, and especially from Greek manuscripts, but without neglecting the testimonies of versions and fathers."

  1. "A reading altogether peculiar to one or another ancient document is suspicious; as also is any, even if supported by a class of documents, which seems to evince that it has originated in the revision of a learned man."
  2. "Readings, however well supported by evidence, are to be rejected, when it is manifest (or very probable) that they have proceeded from the errors of copyists."
  3. "In parallel passages, whether of the New or Old Testament, especially in the Synoptic Gospels, which ancient copyists continually brought into increased accordance, those testimonies are preferable, in which precise accordance of such parallel passages is not found; unless, indeed, there are important reasons to the contrary."
  4. "In discrepant readings, that should be preferred which may have given occasion to the rest, or which appears to comprise the elements of the others."
  5. "Those readings must be maintained which accord with New Testament Greek, or with the particular style of each individual writer."[5]

These were partly the result of the tireless travels he had begun in 1839 in search of unread manuscripts of the New Testament, "to clear up in this way," he wrote, "the history of the sacred text, and to recover if possible the genuine apostolic text which is the foundation of our faith."

In 1850 appeared his edition of the Codex Amiatinus (in 1854 corrected)[11] and of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament (7th ed., 1887); in 1852, amongst other works, his edition of the Codex Claromontanus.

Meanwhile, also in 1859, he had been made professor ordinarius of theology and of Biblical paleography, this latter professorship being specially created for him; and another book of travel, Aus dem heiligen Lande, appeared in 1862. Tischendorf's Eastern journeys were rich enough in other discoveries to merit the highest praise.

Besides his fame as a scholar, he was a friend of both Robert Schumann, with whom he corresponded, and Felix Mendelssohn, who dedicated a song to him. His text critical colleague Samuel Prideaux Tregelles wrote warmly of their mutual interest in textual scholarship. His personal library, purchased after his death, eventually came to the University of Glasgow,[12] where a commemorative exhibition of books from his library was held in 1974 and can be accessed by the public.

He died in Leipzig.

Works[edit]

Matthew 26:52-69 in Tischendorf's facsimile edition (1843)

His magnum opus was the "Critical Edition of the New Testament."

The great edition, of which the text and apparatus appeared in 1869 and 1872, was called by himself editio viii; but this number is raised to twenty or twenty-one, if mere reprints from stereotype plates and the minor editions of his great critical texts are included; posthumous prints bring the total to forty-one. Four main recensions of Tischendorf's text may be distinguished, dating respectively from his editions of 1841, 1849, 1859 (ed. vii), and 1869–72 (ed. viii). The edition of 1849 may be regarded as historically the most important, from the mass of new critical material it used; that of 1859 is distinguished from Tischendorf's other editions by coming nearer to the received text; in the eighth edition, the testimony of the Sinaitic manuscript received great (probably too great) weight. The readings of the Vatican manuscript were given with more exactness and certainty than had been possible in the earlier editions, and the editor had also the advantage of using the published labours of his colleague and friend Samuel Prideaux Tregelles.

Of relatively lesser importance was Tischendorf's work on the Greek Old Testament. His edition of the Roman text, with the variants of the Alexandrian manuscript, the Codex Ephraemi, and the Friderico-Augustanus, was of service when it appeared in 1850, but, being stereotyped, was not greatly improved in subsequent issues. Its imperfections, even within the limited field it covers, may be judged by the aid of Eberhard Nestle's appendix to the 6th issue (1880).

Besides this may be mentioned editions of the New Testament apocrypha, De Evangeliorum apocryphorum origine et usu (1851); Acta Apostolorum apocrypha (1851); Evangelia apocrypha (1853; 2nd ed., 1876); Apocalypses apocryphae (1866), and various minor writings, partly of an apologetic character, such as Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst? (When Were Our Gospels Written?; 1865; 4th ed., 1866, digitized by Google and available for e-readers), Haben wir den echten Schrifttext der Evangelisten und Apostel? (1873), and Synopsis evangelica (7th ed., 1898).

Facsimile of manuscripts
Editions of Novum Testamentum Graece
Editio Octava
LXX

His Publications continued:

  • Doctrina Pauli apostoli de vi mortis Christi satisfactoria. Leipzig, 1837 Google
  • Fritz der junge Mystiker, oder die drei letzten Festzeiten aus seinem Leben...: eine biographische Skizze. Leipzig, [1839]
  • Disputatio de Christo, pane vitae, sive de loco Evang. Ioann. c. VI. vv. 51 - 59 Leipzig, 1839
  • Die Geissler: namentlich die große Geißelfahrt nach Straßburg im Jahre 1349. Leipzig, 1840
  • De ev. Matth. c. 19. v. 16 et 39. Leipzig, 1840
  • De recensionibus quas dicunt textus Novi Testamenti ratione potissimum habita Scholzii: dissertatio historica exegetica critica. Leipzig, 1840 [Hochschulschrift]
  • Novum Testamentum Graece / Ad Antiquos Testes Recensuit Lectionesque Variantes Elzeviriorum Stephani Griesbachii Notavit Constantinus Tischendorf. Paris, 1842
  • Hē Kainē Diathēkē / In Antiquis Testibus Textum Versionis Vulgatae Latinae Indagavit Lectionesque Variantes Stephani Et Griesbachii Notavit V. S. Venerabili Jager In Consilium Adhibito Constantinus Tischendorf. Paris, 1842
  • Codex Ephraemi Syri rescriptus sive fragmenta utriusque testamenti. T.1. Fragmenta Veteris testamenti, T. 2. Fragmenta Novi testamenti. Leipzig, 1843
  • Weihnachtspredigt ... in Lengefeld. Leipzig, 1845
  • Monumenta sacra inedita sive reliquiae antiquissimae textus Novi testamenti Graeci: ex novum plus mille annorum codicibus per Europam dispersis. Leipzig, 1846
  • Codex Friderico-Augustanus sive fragmenta Veteris Testamenti: e codice Graeco, omnium qui in Europa supersunt facile antiquissimo; in Oriente detexit, in patriam attulit. Leipzig, 1846
  • De Israelitarum per mare rubrum transitu: cum tabula. Leipzig, 1847
  • Evangelium Palatinum ineditum sive reliquiae textus Evangeliorum Latini ante Hieronymum versi: ex Codice Palatino Purpureo quarti vel quinti p. Chr. saeculi. Leipzig, 1847
  • Der Geist der Wahrheit: Zeitpredigt am Sonntag Cantate den 6. Mai 1849 in der Universitätskirche zu Leipzig gehalten. Leipzig, 1849
  • Novum Testamentum: Latine interprete Hieronymo; ex celeberrimo codice Amiatino omnium et antiquissimo et praestantissimo. Leipzig, 1850
  • Acta apostolorum apocrypha. Leipzig, 1851 Google
  • Synopsis evangelica: ex quattuor evangeliis ordine chronologico concinnavit. Leipzig, 1851 Google-USA* (5. Aufl. 1884)
  • De evangeliorum apocryphorum origine et usu. In: Verhandelingen / uitg. door het Haagsche Genootschap tot Verdediging van de christelijke Godsdienst, Bd. 12, Den Haag, 1851
  • Codex Claromontanus sive Epistulae Pauli omnes Graece et Latine: ex Codice Parisiensi celeberrimo nomine Claromontani plerumque dicto sexti ut videtur post Christum saeculi. Leipzig, 1852
  • Evangelia apocrypha: adhibitis plurimis codicibus graecis et latinis maximam partem nunc primum consultis atque ineditorum copia insignibus. Leipzig, 1853 Google Editio Altera 1874: Google-USA*
  • Novum Testamentum Triglottum: graece, latine, germanice; graecum textum addito lectionum variarum delectu recensuit, latinum Hieronymi notata Clementina lectione ex auctoritate codicum restituit, germanicum ad pristinam lutheranae editionis veritatem revocavit. Leipzig, 1854
  • Anecdota sacra et profana ex oriente et occidente allata sive notitia codicum Graecorum, Arabicorum, Syriacorum, Copticorum, Hebraicorum, Aethiopicorum, Latinorum: cum excerptis multis maximam partem Graecis et 35 scripturarum antiquissimarum speciminibus. Leipzig, 1855 Google Editio repetita 1861: Michigan, Google, Google
  • Pastor: Graece; ex fragmentis Lipsiensibus. Leipzig, 1856
  • Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine: Graecum textum addito lectionum variarum delectu rec.; Latinum Hieronymi notata Clementina lectione ex auct. codicum. Leipzig, 1858
  • Notitia editionis Codicis Bibliorum Sinaitici auspiciis imperatoris Alexandri II. susceptae. Leipzig, 1860
  • Aus dem heiligen Lande: nebst fünf Abbildungen in Holzschnitt und einer lithographirten Tafel. Leipzig, 1862
  • Vorworte zur sinaitischen Bibelhandschrift zu St. Petersburg : unter den Auspicien seiner Kaiserlichen Maiestät Alexander II. dem Dunkel entzogen, nach Europa überbracht, zur Hebung und Verherrlichung christlicher Wissenschaft. Leipzig, 1862
  • Novum Testamentum Sinaiticum sive Novum Testamentum cum Epistola Barnabae et Fragmentis Pastoris : ex codice Sinaitico ... Leipzig, 1863
  • Die Anfechtungen der Sinai-Bibel. Leipzig, 1865 Google
  • Aus Dem Heiligen Lande. Leipzig, 1865 Google
  • Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verfasst? Leipzig, 1865 Google, 2. Expl. Google
  • Novum Testamentum Graece: ex sinaitico codice omnium antiquissimo vaticana itemque Elzeviriana lectione notata. Leipzig, 1865
  • Apocalypses apocryphae Mosis, Esdrae, Pauli, Johannis, item Mariae Dormitio: additis Evangeliorum et actuum Apocryphorum supplementis. Leipzig, 1866 Internet Archive Internet Archive
  • Appendix Codicum celeberrimorum Sinaitici, Vaticani, Alexandrini cum imitatione ipsorum antiqua manu scriptorum. Leipzig, 1867
  • Philonea: inedita altera, altera nunc demum recte ex vetere scriptura eruta. Leipzig, 1868 Internet Archive
  • Responsa ad calumnias romanas: item supplementum novi testamenti ex sinaitico codice anno 1865 editi. Leipzig, 1870
  • Novum Testamentum graece: ad antiquissimos testes denuo recensuit, apparatum. Leipzig, 1869-1872. 1. Band 1869 Google-USA*, 2. Band 1872 Google-USA*
  • Die Sinaibibel, ihre Entdeckung, Herausgabe und Erwerbung. Leipzig, 1871 Google-USA*
  • Die evangelische Alliance-Deputation an Kaiser Alexander zu Friedrichshafen: zur Abwehr der groben Entstellungen und Verleumdungen des Herrn von Wurstemberger (zu Bach bei Bern). Leipzig, 1872
  • Clementis Romani epistulae. Ad ipsius codicis alexandrini fidem ac modum repetitis curis edidit Constantinus de Tischendorf. Leipzig, 1873. Internet Archive
  • Haben wir den ächten Schrifttext der Evangelisten und Apostel? Leipzig, 1873 Google-USA* (2. Aufl.)
  • Liber Psalmorum: hebraicus atque latinus ab Hieronymo ex hebraeo conversus. Leipzig, 1874

Cooperation

  • Textum ... recensuit, brevem apparatum criticum una cum variis lectionibus Elzevirorum, Knapii, Scholzii, Lachmanni subjunxit, argumenta et locos parallelos indicavit, commentationem ... edd. Stephanicae tertiae atque Millianae, Matthaeianae, Griesbachianae praemisit Aenoth. Frid. Const. Tischendorf. Leipzig, 1841
  • Clementinorum Epitomae duae: altera edita correctior, inedita altera nunc primum integra ex codicibus Romanis et excerptis Tischendorfianis, cura Alberti Rud. Max. Dressel. Accedunt Friderici Wieseleri Adnotationes criticae ad Clementis Romani quae feruntur homilias. Leipzig, 1859 Internet Archive
  • Ad Vetus Testamentum Graecum ex auctoritate Sixti V. Pont. Max. a. 1587 editum a Leandro van Ess quoad textum accuratissime recusum trecentis annis post editionem originalem novis curis iteratum prolegomena et epilegomena. Bredt, 1887
  • Novum Testamentum : Constantin Tischendorf: griechisch, lateinisch, englisch, Ostervald: französisch, Martin Luther, DeWette, Richard Nagel: deutsch ... Hrsg. Eugen Niethe Berlin, 1891

Second Author:

  • Ezra Abbot: The late Professor Tischendorf. Aus: The Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine. März 1875 (Festschrift Konstantin von Tischendorf)
  • Caspar René Gregory: Tischendorf, Lobegott Friedrich Constantin. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 38. Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1894, S. 371–373

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Codex Sinaitius". 
  2. ^ Böttrich, Christfried (1999). Bibliographie Konstantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874). Universitätsverlag, Leipzig. 
  3. ^ "Christfried Boettrich". 
  4. ^ Panning, Armin J. Home Tischendorf and the History of the Greek New Testament Text, Milwaukee: Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Bible Researcher.
  6. ^ "Tischendorf- Search for the oldest bible of the world". University Leibzig. 
  7. ^ Kholodiuk, Anatoly. "Tischendorf in search of the oldest bible of the world - Leibzig Exhibition 2011". pravoslavie.ru/english/44856.htm. Pravoslavie. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "What a run this myth has had, of a convent stove fed with parchment! unhappily for the statement, the basket is still there, a regular part of the library furniture, and not a suggestion can be found that it was ever used to carry vellum books to the kitchen for burning. But any story will be believed against the Sinaitic monks, even that they made fires with parchment." Dr Gregory and the Canon and Text of the New Testament, Expositor, 1908, p. 140
  9. ^ a b http://www.nlr.ru/eng/exib/CodexSinaiticus/zah/
  10. ^ http://www.nlr.ru/eng/exib/CodexSinaiticus/zah/
  11. ^ Constantinus Tischendorf, Codex Amiatinus. Novum Testamentum Latine interpreter Hieronymo, (Lipsiae 1854).
  12. ^ Tischendorf at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sortable articles

Complete Apparatus, 8th Version in pdf - http://www.biblestudyaids.net/nt/tiscapp/main.htm

See also: Tischendorf