Are the “Oldest” Manuscripts really the Best? Are Sinaiticus and Vaticanus really the "oldest and best" manuscripts?

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:22


Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are considered by most Bible scholars to be the oldest New Testament manuscripts available.  They date back to the 4th century.  Since they are considered to be the oldest manuscripts known, many scholars automatically consider them to be the best and most reliable manuscripts. For example, in the NIV (1978 ed.) just after Matt 16:8 we find this text “The two most reliable early manuscripts do not have Mark 16:9-20.” And what are these two most reliable manuscripts that they are talking about? The Scofield Bible’s (1998 ed) footnote for this passage gives us the answer: “Verses 9-20 are not found in the two most ancient mss., the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. . .”   They are claimed to be very reliable, but are they?


Sinaiticus and Vaticanus disagree with about 90-95% of all known manuscripts, and they even disagree among themselves.   Both have a long history of corruption and obscurity.  


The Vaticanus is so named because it is contained in the Vatican library; it is the sole property of the Vatican.   It was discovered on a shelf there in 1481, where it had been forgotten for centuries!  It is closely guarded by the Catholic church, and only certain individuals are allowed to see it.  When a scholar is allowed to read it, they are watched carefully, and if the guard thinks that they have looked at a certain passage for too long or too closely, they will force the scholar to leave the manuscript.  The Vatican has released a photographic copy of Vaticanus, but even this is suspect because they may have altered the text in the copy.
Sinaiticus is so named because it was found in 1844 at St. Catherine’s Monastery. located at the base of Mt. Sinai.  It was found in a trash can, waiting to be burned!  The monks knew that it was worthless, especially since it had been written over and corrected several times after it had been initially written.
Disagreements between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
For many bare false witness against him, but their witness AGREED NOT TOGETHER.
Mark 14:55,56
Just as false witnesses were sought testify against our Lord, the living Truth, false witnesses have been sought to justifying the perversion of God’s Truth, the Bible.
But now, just as then, the false witnesses AGREE NOT TOGETHER:
Sinaiticus and Vaticanus disagree with each other at 3000+ times in the Gospels alone. It is estimated that the two manuscripts disagree with each other at least 7000 times.  These are major disagreements, not spelling or punctuation.  Such disagreements mean that at least one, if not both, are in error at that specific passage.


Omissions of Sinaiticus ant Vaticanus in the gospels:

Matthew 656+
Mark 567+
Luke 791+
John 1022+
Total 3036+


Sinaiticus and Vaticanus also take away from and add to God’s Word:


For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, GOD SHALL ADD UNTO HIM THE PLAGUES [ALL the plagues of the book of Revelation ]that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, GOD SHALL TAKE AWAY HIS PART OUT OF THE BOOK OF LIFE, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Revelation 22:18,19
Omissions of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus
Vaticanus omits:
a.)     Everything from Genesis 1:1 to 46:28.
b.)     Psalms 106-139     
c.)     All of First Timothy     
d.)     All of second Timothy     
e.)     All Titus     
f.)      All of Revelation     
g.)     All of Hebrews after Chapter 9:14 to the end of the book     
h.)     Our Lord’s agony and blood like sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:43-     44     
i.)     Our Lord’s prayer for his adversaries. Luke 23:34 “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.”     
j.)      Mark 16:9-20.   There is a significant blank space in the manuscript where this passage would have gone, testifying for it’s inclusion in the Bible.
k.)     The story of the women taken in adultery John 7:53 – John 8:11″
l.)       Heb 9:15 to the end of the book.
m.)    2 Kings 2:5-7, 10-13


Vaticanus adds the Apocrypha to the OT.


Sinaiticus omits:
a.)    John 5:4, 8:1-11
b.)    Matthew 16:2-3
c.)     Romans 16:24
d.)     Mark 16:9-20  Again, there is a significant blank space where these verses should have gone.
e.)     Acts 8:37
f.)      1 John 5:7


Sinaiticus adds: The Epistle of Barnabas and The Shepherd of Hermas to the NT and the Apocrypha to the OT.


Corrections of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus


Sinaiticus was corrected at least 15,000 times by multiple correctors.  Most of these corrections were made in the seventh century, but some of these corrections were made as late as the twelfth century.  (Sure sounds like the “oldest” reading, doesn’t it?) The writing quality is very poor; many times words or whole phrases are repeated in succession.  The original writing is completely written over in parts, and the original writer even corrected some of his mistakes.  Vaticanus also shows very sloppy penmanship.
Older Manuscripts agree with the Received Text / King James Version


If the scholars really believed that the “oldest” were really the best, they would be forced to admit that the oldest NT manuscript fragment ever found agrees with the Majority Text.  As reported in The Times of London (Dec. 24,1994), this fragment was dated at 66 AD, centuries before Vaticanus and Sinaticus were ever written. But they refuse to admit this; thus they contradict their own theory.


So now we can clearly see that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are neither the oldest nor the best NT manuscripts.


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Updated: February 24, 2015 — 1:57 AM