Reformed Churchmen

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

18 January 1815 A.D. Count Tischendorf Born—A Manuscript in the Trash

18 January 1815 A.D.  Count Tischendorf Born—A Manuscript in the Trash

Editors. “Konstantin von Tischendorf.”  Encyclopedia Britannica. 9 Sept 2012.  Accessed 9 Jul 2014. 

Konstantin von Tischendorf, in full Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf    (born Jan. 18, 1815, Lengefeld, Saxony [Germany]—died Dec. 7, 1874, Leipzig), German biblical critic who made extensive and invaluable contributions to biblical textual criticism, famous for his discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus, a celebrated manuscript of the Bible.

While a student at the University of Leipzig, Tischendorf began his work on the recensions of the New Testament text, a task that he was to pursue for the rest of his life. In 1844 he went to the Middle East. While working in the library of the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula, he discovered, among some old parchments, leaves of what he was certain were among the oldest biblical manuscripts that he had ever seen. He was permitted to take 43 of these leaves back with him to Leipzig, and in 1846 he published a facsimile edition, taking care to keep secret the place where he had obtained them. In 1853 he made a second journey to Sinai with the hope of recovering the other leaves he had seen on his first trip, but he found no trace of them. He made still a third trip, with the support of the Russian government, in 1859. Just as he was about to give up all hope of finding the manuscripts, the steward of the monastery showed Tischendorf the manuscripts that he was looking for and others besides. After intricate negotiations, and for a sum that has been estimated at about $7,000, Tischendorf procured for the tsar Alexander II what is now known as the Codex Sinaiticus. In 1933 the codex was purchased from the Soviet government by the British Museum for £100,000 (about $500,000). These manuscripts date probably from the latter half of the 4th century, were probably written in Egypt, and include most of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament, as well as the Letter of Barnabas and part of the Shepherd of Hermas.

In numerous writings, Tischendorf presented the results of his work. His eighth edition of the Greek New Testament is considered to be of most value to contemporary textual critics.

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