Petition to C14 date codices Vaticanus & Alexandrinus

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,961
Rural Australia
Please consider taking a few seconds to sign a petition to C14 date the codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus at the British Library.

[Link removed by moderator.

Sorry, Kookaburra, the rules don't allow petitions and stuff like that.]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 2013
1,040
Breakdancing on the Moon.
No, carbon dating is unhelpful to ascertaining dates due to re-usage of manuscripta as well as possible damage. Palaeographical dating is more than good enough. The less untrained idiots meddle, the better.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,961
Rural Australia
Please consider taking a few seconds to sign a petition to C14 date the codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus at the British Library.

[Link removed by moderator.

Sorry, Kookaburra, the rules don't allow petitions and stuff like that.]

Sorry about that.

I trust it is OK to discuss whether C14 testing of these key codices (and others) is a good idea or not.

Naturally I am arguing that C14 testing can only provide additional data, which may or may not prove useful in the field of ancient history.

For the record, the "Biblical Historians" are obviously reluctant to submit samples for C14 testing.
The technology has been around for decades, and the only C14 test on "Christian related manuscripts"
was commissioned by National Geographic. (The DSS are not "Christian related mss").

See: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/auth_dating.html

The National Geographic Society submitted five tiny samples of the Gospel of Judas for AMS testing at the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating lab in Tucson—the same lab that dated the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Judas fragments included four minute pieces of papyrus and a small bit of the book's leather binding with a piece of attached papyrus page.
No part of the ancient script was altered or damaged during this process.
The results allowed lab experts to confidently date the papyruses to between A.D. 220 and 340.
"The calibrated ages of the papyrus and leather samples are tightly clustered and place the age of the Codices within the third or fourth centuries A.D.," reported Tim Jull, director of Arizona's AMS facility, and research scientist Greg Hodgins




KJ
 
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Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,961
Rural Australia
No, carbon dating is unhelpful to ascertaining dates due to re-usage of manuscripta ...
The subjects - Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus - are definitely not re-used manuscripts.

as well as possible damage.
Garbage. The samples required are very small.




Here are some samples from a C14 test on the Codex Tchacos in 2005:

Palaeographical dating is more than good enough.
C14 provides an independent check. Manuscripts have been forged en masse from Ecclesiastical forgery mills in the past. A clever forgery may fool the palaeographers, but it will not necessarily fool the scientist. For an example a 9th century KNOWN FORGERY MILL have a read of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-Isidorian_Decretals

The less untrained idiots meddle, the better.
I am not suggesting that you or I perform the C14 test.
 
Mar 2013
1,040
Breakdancing on the Moon.
It's good practice to avoid even the smallest bits of damage, especially when a powerful organisation will get irate. It really, really, won't help. There are many reasons why this sort of stuff isn't done.

Palaeography often is indeed one of the easiest ways to spot forgeries. Look it's not as if Christian forgeries are ever really sophisticated, Valla was happily able to demonstrate the falsity of the Don. Con with his very basic toolset. Nowadays with our much better knowledge not only of letter forms and physical media, but phonology, register, sentence structure it's quite easy to spot such things.

You also have the fact that it makes NO material difference where Christianity is involved. It is quite possible to take a doctorate in theology with less knowledge of the past then one would wish from a neophyte Classicist. They don't partake in wider ancient history. Moreover you've the mindset of actual normal Christians too: I've had a discussion with a group of otherwise intelligent people who honestly argued that the depiction of religions of the ancient near East by their own people (e.g Babylonians) was wrong because it contradicts the OT. In other words, they felt the OT was a more correct indicator for Akkadian cult than their own materials.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,961
Rural Australia
It's good practice to avoid even the smallest bits of damage, especially when a powerful organisation will get irate.
If the tiny fragments of test material are extracted with great precision from only a few pages of the codex, leaving the scribal material untouched, nobody will notice any change in the Museum display.


It really, really, won't help. There are many reasons why this sort of stuff isn't done.
You still have not answered the question as to why National Geographic commissioned a C14 test on the manuscript containing the Gospel of Judas in 2005, or indeed why a fragment of the Shroud of Turin was C14 dated.

There are many reasons why the scientific method of C14 dating is applied to relics, and one of them is scientific accountability.


Palaeography often is indeed one of the easiest ways to spot forgeries. Look it's not as if Christian forgeries are ever really sophisticated, Valla was happily able to demonstrate the falsity of the Don. Con with his very basic toolset. .

The massive 9th century ecclesiastical forgery mill known as the "Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals" fooled the best scholarship until the 17th century.

A really good forgery *may* fool the handwriting experts whereas it will NOT fool the C14 dating technology.

Nowadays with our much better knowledge not only of letter forms and physical media, but phonology, register, sentence structure it's quite easy to spot such things.
Do some background reading on "Pseudo-Isidore". The forgery was conducted by harvesting (in the 9th century) over 10,000 ancient phrases (from the centuries prior to the 9th) and then cobbling them together into a forgery which genuinely looked "ancient" in all ways.


You also have the fact that it makes NO material difference where Christianity is involved. It is quite possible to take a doctorate in theology with less knowledge of the past then one would wish from a neophyte Classicist. They don't partake in wider ancient history.
Tell me about it. There is a gap between "Ancient History" and "Biblical History" and C14 testing has the potential to bridge that gap and introduce some scientific accountability into the reverence of theological artefacts which are deemed "ancient".


Moreover you've the mindset of actual normal Christians too: I've had a discussion with a group of otherwise intelligent people who honestly argued that the depiction of religions of the ancient near East by their own people (e.g Babylonians) was wrong because it contradicts the OT. In other words, they felt the OT was a more correct indicator for Akkadian cult than their own materials.

Yes of course there are people who still argue that the Shroud of Turin is a relic of the 1st century even though the C14 dates indicate it is a relic of a thousand or more years later.

But the point is that the education process for the people of planet Earth on the dating of the Shroud now includes the C14 date, and they are free to follow whatever principles of accountability that they choose.

I am not suggesting people pick up stones and throw them at the British Museum, I am suggesting that people (in principle) agree that the process will not substantially harm the relics, but will bring some application of the scientific method from the field of ancient history into the field of Biblical history.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
The subjects - Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus - are definitely not re-used manuscripts.



Garbage. The samples required are very small.




Here are some samples from a C14 test on the Codex Tchacos in 2005:



C14 provides an independent check. Manuscripts have been forged en masse from Ecclesiastical forgery mills in the past. A clever forgery may fool the palaeographers, but it will not necessarily fool the scientist. For an example a 9th century KNOWN FORGERY MILL have a read of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-Isidorian_Decretals

I am not suggesting that you or I perform the C14 test.
I wouldn't mind signing such a petiton. I am curious what the testing would reveal, and it would help date manuscripts. With modern techniques, only a small piece would be needed, not like the old days of carbon testing.

I understand their reluctance to damage even a snall piece of the codices, but the Vatican did allow testing of the Shroud of Turin. I guess the owners of these codices don't see the need, since they are confident of the dating, and you don't want to add further damage, even a small bit of damage, needlessly.
 

fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,405
I basically agree with KJ here, the codices are huge and any damage would be negligible, and C14 dating would provide us with reliable dating, though I am wondering if there is really much doubt about the actual dates of these works. What I would really like to see is C14 dating of the early Christian papyrus fragments.
 

Moros

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,097
Is there any particular reason for focusing on these manuscripts? Is there controversy surrounding their dating, or does their dating effect the comparative dating of other manuscripts?

Carbon dating every object in every museum just to check that the date ascribed to it by scholars agrees with a scientific date would be very costly. I'm not sure if you are suggesting this, but without a better reason to C14 date these items other than pure curiosity, you might as well be.

Having said that, I personally would like to see every object in every museum carbon dated. It would be very interesting to see what controversy any revised dates created, not just for received history but also for other dating practices (it might even call doubt upon C14 dating itself!).