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Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133 brill.


Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II

Microscopic, Chemical and Codicological
Analyses Confirm Modern Production

Margaret M. Mitchell,a Joseph G. Barabeb and Abigail B. Quandtc

Chicago, Illinois
Westmont, Illinois
Baltimore, Maryland

Comprehensive testing and analysis (microscopic, chemical and codicological) of Univer-
sity of Chicago ms 972-Gregory-Aland ms 2427 confirms that it is a modern production
made sometime between 1874 and the first decades of the 20th century.

manuscript; Gospel of Mark; forgery; spectroscopy; illumination; parchment; codex

Four years ago an article in this journal co-authored by Margaret Mitchell

and Patricia Duncan summarized the enigmas of this illustrated miniature
codex of the Gospel according to Mark (listed in the Codices Graeci of the
Nestle-Aland 27th edition with the date “XIV?”), provided a partial list of
corrected or supplemented readings, and called for further research.1 In
particular that article emphasized the degree to which the various elements
of the codex (physical and chemical make up, palaeography, iconography,
textual readings) were intertwined, requiring a collaborative effort among
New Testament scholars, curators, conservators, codicologists and scientists
to reach a clear judgment about its provenance, history and text-critical

Margaret M. Mitchell and Patricia A. Duncan, “Chicago’s ‘Archaic Mark’ (Ms 2427): A
Reintroduction to its Enigmas and a Fresh Collation of its Readings,” Novum Testamentum
48 (2006) 1-35.
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/004810010X12591327956349
102 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

worth.2 The latter line of inquiry, into possible modern editions that might
have been used to account for the codex’s surprising level of concurrence
with Codex Vaticanus,3 has been taken up skillfully by Stephen C. Carl-
son, who proposed that the exemplar used by the scribe of ms 2427 was
the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann,4 indi-
cating that the manuscript is a modern forgery. The present article con-
verges on the question from two other directions, as called for in the earlier
study.5 In an effort to close the case on the authenticity of “Archaic Mark,”
the University of Chicago has in the intervening period6 arranged for a
complete and definitive examination of the material components of the
codex. On the basis of further testing carried out by foremost experts in
chemical and codicological analysis, we have secured a fully documented,
indisputable result: ms 2427 is a modern production that was made some-
time between 1874 and the first decades of the 20th century. Accordingly, we
have informed the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster7
of these results, to ensure that ms 2427 will no longer be included in critical

“Obviously much more work needs to be done, and multiple hypotheses about the date
of the images (both original and possible restoration) and the inscription of the text need
to be carefully sifted and tested. The integration of scholarly expertise in a wide range of
fields—paleography, textual criticism, iconography, codicology, history, chemistry—will be
essential to this effort” (ibid., 15).
“. . . such a suspicion still awaits the testing of the codex’s readings against the various
available collations and critical texts of the New Testament published in the late eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries to see if dependence can be established” (ibid., 7).
SBL Forum: “‘Archaic Mark’ (MS 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake” (August,
2006),, which was the sub-
ject of a November, 2006 SBL paper. We shall return to Carlson’s important findings in the
final section of this paper.
“Further chemical testing is, consequently, indicated, both on the pigmentation of the images
and on the parchment itself ” (Mitchell and Duncan, “Chicago’s ‘Archaic Mark’,” 7, n. 23).
Discussions about analyzing the codex began in 2005 as part of the renewed interest in
the manuscript stimulated by the digitization of the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection.
The Library concluded that, using the best available techniques, testing would not further
compromise the research value of the manuscript, which was in poor condition and had
suffered substantial paint loss. Over the next several years, beyond the fund-raising and
arrangements for the analysis, several rounds of testing were conducted to follow up on
initial findings, and then all the results coordinated in order to provide the scholarly com-
munity with a comprehensive report on all the physical components of the codex.
Letter of July 7, 2009, from Dr. Alice Schreyer, Director of Special Collections, Univer-
sity of Chicago Library and and Prof. Margaret M. Mitchell, to Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf,
Director, INTF, Münster.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 103

editions of the Greek New Testament. The data collected in this research
process and published here will, we hope, also assist ongoing scholarly inves-
tigation into and detection of manuscripts forged in the modern period.
Through funds provided by an anonymous donor, the University of
Chicago Library8 and the University of Chicago Divinity School, provi-
sion was made for ms 2427 to be subjected to microscopic chemical testing
by the McCrone Associates, Inc., laboratory in Westmont, Illinois. This
lab was chosen for its internationally recognized status and experience with
similar projects, such as the examination of the “Gospel of Judas.”
Mr. Joseph G. Barabe, Senior Research Microscopist at McCrone,9 was the
scientist responsible both for the taking of a total of 32 samples10 from the
parchment, the ink, and a range of paints in the manuscript illuminations,
and for all the spectrographic analysis carried out on them. The deter-
mined goal was, for the first time, to make a comprehensive chemical
examination of all components of the codex (parchment, ink, paints and
coatings), on the basis of the most current technologies available.
Ms. Abigail B. Quandt, Senior Conservator of Rare Books and Manu-
scripts at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, examined ms
2427 in October, 2007 as part of her own independent research into medi-
eval manuscript forgeries. Ms. Quandt, who is responsible for the conser-
vation of the famous Archimedes Palimpsest,11 generously made her initial
report available to the University’s Archaic Mark committee (see n. 8),
and, as part of the collaborative study of the manuscript, recommended
that it be sent to the Walters for further examination and multi-spectral
imaging. The University of Chicago Special Collections staff made arrange-
ments for the manuscript to travel to Baltimore in February of 2009.
Ms. Quandt’s analysis of the manuscript both confirmed and helped
A group chaired by Dr. Schreyer was convened to oversee the tests. The members of this
Archaic Mark Committee were Dr. Daniel Meyer (Associate Director, Special Collections,
and University Archivist), Ms. Patti Gibbons (Preservation Manager, Special Collections),
Ms. Christine McCarthy (Head of Conservation, University of Chicago Library, now at
Yale University), Ms. Ann Lindsey (Head of Conservation, University of Chicago Library),
Ms. Judith Dartt (Digital Specialist, Special Collections), Dr. Beth Bidlack (Bibliographer
for Religion and Philosophy, University of Chicago Library), and Prof. Mitchell.
Mr. Barabe also was responsible for testing the authenticity of the ink in the “Gospel of
Plus one sample taken by Ms. Quandt, as detailed below.
11) Reviel Netz and William Noel, The Archimedes
Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scien-
tist (New York: Da Capo Press, 2009).
104 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

valuably to interpret the results of the McCrone testing, and has allowed
her to provide a reconstruction of the steps taken by the modern forger in
its production, as will be detailed below.
The results of the recent tests by Barabe and Quandt in some respects
confirm but in others correct and extend considerably beyond the previous
two important analyses of the physical properties of the codex. In 1989
Mary Virginia Orna identified the pigment Prussian blue in the image on
fol. 34v, which “was made by the Berlin color maker Diesbach in or around
1704.”12 This chemical finding on one of the pigments has never been
contested, but its determinative value depended on the paint being part of
the original construction of the codex.13 Microscopic examination in 1971-
1972 by Marigene H. Butler, Associate Conservator at the Art Institute of
Chicago,14 concluded that, “There is evidence that the MS has undergone
restoration to reattach the flaking pigments to the parchment.”15 This
allowed for the possibility that the Prussian blue was applied as a retouch-
ing medium during restoration, not as part of the original construction of
the codex. Further, Robert W. Allison, the Special Collections graduate
student assistant investigating “Archaic Mark” in the early 1970s, reasoned
from Butler’s conclusion that restoration ca. 1900 confirmed an earlier
date for the manuscript, since “age alone would not have caused such dete-
rioration [to the paint layer] within one century.” Hence he concluded that
“it is almost surely too early to have been based on any nineteenth cent.
critical edition of the N.T.”16 The recent tests, making use of superior

Mary Virginia Orna in Mary Virginia Orna, Patricia L. Lang, J.E. Katon, Thomas F.
Mathews, and Robert S. Nelson, “Applications of Infrared Microspectroscopy to Art His-
torical Questions about Medieval Manuscripts,” in Archaeological Chemistry IV (ed. Ralph
O. Allen; Advances in Chemistry Series 220; Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Soci-
ety, 1989) 265-288; Mary Virginia Orna, “Doing Chemistry at the Art/Archaeology Inter-
face,” Journal of Chemical Education 74 (1997) 373-376, 374-375.
This was the assumption of Orna et al.
Butler’s handwritten notes, and a summarizing report by Robert W. Allison, “Report on
the study of the Archaic Mark (Ms 972) under the Stereomicroscope and Polarizing Micro-
scope,” are on file at University of Chicago Special Collections. The samples are archived at
the Art Institute. Butler thought the work was so carefully done that it was likely “executed
under magnification, probably under a microscope.”
Ibid., 3.
Ibid., 14. Allison was responding to a challenge issued by Robert P. Casey in 1947 for
“an advocatus diaboli who would do his best to prove that the codex was a manufacture of
the nineteenth century, executed by a workman with the skill and limitations of a Simo-
nides, familiar with Lachmann’s edition and the modern Greek Bible, and thinking in
Greek” (review of Munera Studiosa, ed. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. and Sherman E. Johnson
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 105

microscopic technology and particle analysis, decisively overturn that con-


McCrone Analysis of the “Archaic Mark” Codex (Joseph Barabe)17

Given the charge to determine the most secure possible date of ms 2427
from its constituent materials, we began with a careful examination of the
codex on January 9, 2008, at the Special Collections Research Center,
University of Chicago Library. On February 13, 2008, the manuscript was
brought by Special Collections staff to McCrone Associates, Inc., in West-
mont, IL. During a five hour session we performed an ultraviolet fluores-
cence examination of the codex, and made white and ultraviolet light
photographs of fols. 1v and 42r. We examined several miniatures in detail,
and they all exhibited numerous similarities in style and often condition.
From all, we chose to sample two, the painting on fol. 1v (Evangelist Por-
trait), which, being in rather poor condition, allowed easy access to frac-
tured edges, and fol. 42r (The Three Women and the Young Man at the
Empty Tomb), which was in better condition but provided access to some
intermediate layers. We took a total of 24 samples, which included the
parchment substrate, paint from the miniatures, inks from both the text
and the miniatures, and surface coatings from the parchment, the paint
and the gold leaf. Analyzing several miniatures provided us with important
information about the consistency of the book’s constituent materials.
Furthermore, the sampling was performed under a stereomicroscope (as
documented in photomicrographs of each sampling site, taken at 7.5u
magnification), so we could be sure that we were taking only original paint,
not later restorations. Most significantly, using this method of sampling we
in fact saw no evidence of retouching of any kind in the manuscript; in
particular, all of the paint appeared to be original. As a follow up to the
initial sampling, at the University of Chicago on May 6, 2009, we took a
total of 8 additional paint and ink samples from fols. 1v, 2v, 12r and 19v, in
order to ensure that the full pigment palette would be represented in the
final report, and to clarify some questions about the composition of the

[including the essay by Harold R. Willoughby, “Archaic Crucifixion Iconography,” 123-144,

to which Casey was responding], The Journal of Religion 27 [1947] 149). It should be noted
that Allison himself did not accept the early, 14th century dating, but identified ms 2427
as “probably 17th century.”
While all three authors have contributed to the whole of this paper, the author respon-
sible for the research and writing of each of the following sections is noted in the heading.
106 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

ink. The results of our comprehensive testing may be found in our final
report; this article will provide a summary of our essential findings.18

Carbon Dating of the Parchment

Samples of parchment were taken from the folded over corners of fols. 7,
33 and 35. These were submitted to the NSF Arizona AMS Laboratory for
carbon dating. Dr. A.J.T. Jull reported19 that the animals from which the
parchment was made most likely died 345 ± 38 years before the present
(uncalibrated radiocarbon age), or a calibrated age range between 1485-
1631 CE (1 sigma, 68% confidence) or 1461-1640 CE (2 sigma, 95%

Analysis of the Pigments

The paint samples were analyzed by several methods, including polarized
light microscopy (PLM), energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (EDS) in
the scanning electron microscope (SEM) for elemental analysis, X-ray dif-
fraction (XRD) and both Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
and Raman spectroscopy (Raman). Each of the chosen methods contrib-
uted important information to the analysis. We sampled light, medium
and dark samples of blue paint and found that the dominant blue pigment
in the miniatures is Prussian blue. This confirmed the previous analysis by
Orna et al.20 Prussian blue was invented in 1704 and was commercially
available by the 1720s.
During our polarized light analyses, we also found trace amounts of
synthetic ultramarine blue, a pigment only available commercially since
the late 1820s.21 This material was only detected with PLM, so the pig-
ment should be considered as most likely present, but unconfirmed. When
examining the miniatures with ultraviolet light, we noted that the white
and near white areas of all of the paintings fluoresced a bright blue-green.
This suggested the possible presence of zinc white, a fluorescent white pigment.

The full report will be posted on the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection website, where
the digital versions of ms. 972 (=Gregory-Aland 2427) and (to date) 42 other manuscripts
may be found:
Dr. Jull’s report is contained in a letter dated October 9, 2008.
See n. 12 above.
Joyce Plesters, “Ultramarine Blue, Natural and Artificial,” Chapter 2 in Artist’s Pigments:
A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, vol. 2, Roy Ashok, ed. (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1993) 55-57.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 107

Analysis of a sample of the white paint by both PLM and elemental analy-
sis unambiguously confirmed the presence of zinc white, a pigment not
commonly available until about 1825. This opaque white pigment has
been known since antiquity, but it was not suggested for use as a pigment
until about 1780, and was not used extensively as an artist’s pigment until
the second quarter of the 19th century,22 which is generally considered the
date of common availability.
Although zinc white, or zinc oxide, was found in just one sample, most
of the paint samples contained an almost-white cream pigment that
included a combination of the elements zinc, barium, and sulfur as detected
with EDS. X-ray diffraction of Sample 1 confirmed the presence of zinc
sulfide (another fluorescent pigment), one of the key components of litho-
pone. Lithopone is also consistent with the PLM findings. This finding is
especially significant, since lithopone was not available until 1874.23

Paint Binding Medium Analysis

Samples of paint were treated with de-ionized water to separate any water-
soluble binding media from the pigments, and with ethanol to isolate any
alcohol-soluble materials. Both solvents provided significant extracts,
which were then analyzed with FTIR. The water extract produced a spec-
trum consistent with that of a gum, whereas the spectrum of the ethanol
extract was similar to that of a resin. Reasonable candidates for the gum
and the resin are gum Arabic and shellac, although the FTIR spectra are
not so specific.
A gum-resin mixture is highly unusual as a paint binding medium. Gum
Arabic is commonly employed with watercolors and gouaches, but resins
are usually used as varnishes. They are occasionally present in some oil
paints, as resins can add both darkness and gloss to a painting.

Clear Coating on Paint

FTIR indicated the presence of cellulose nitrate as a surface coating on the
painted areas. This compound was found only on the surface of the paint,
not on the gold leaf.

Hermann Kuhn, “Zinc White,” Chapter 7 in Artist’s Pigments: A Handbook of Their His-
tory and Characteristics, vol. 1, Robert L. Feller, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1986) 170-171.
Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout, Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopaedia
(New York: Dover, 1942; reprint 1966) 125.
108 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

Ink Analysis
Three samples of the brown-black ink were taken from the manuscript,
including the following:

1. Ink from the text on fol. 42r

2. Ink from a cross sectional core taken from fol. 22
3. Ink from a miniature painting on fol. 1v. This sample only became
available with our additional sampling, but proved highly valuable
in resolving several ambiguities in our analysis of the ink.

The ink in the text varied in density and color but was typically brown to
brown-black, fairly transparent and somewhat glossy; in the miniatures, it
was generally much darker, ranging from deep brown to black. Several com-
ponents were identified in the ink. These include the following materials:

1. An iron gall component was unambiguously found with EDS in the

SEM. The material was found as small particles rich in both iron and
sulfur. Iron gall inks have been identified in documents as early as
the 3rd century and have been common since the 6th century.
2. Brown particles were especially noted in the PLM studies of the ink
used to create black lines in the miniature paintings. These were
identified as, most likely, Vandyke brown, a pigment made from
humic substances such as peat and brown coal. Vandyke brown was
first used around the beginning of the 17th century.24
3. The binding medium in the ink was determined by FTIR to be a
mixture of a gum and a resin, the same binding medium as was iden-
tified in the paints. Again, the most reasonable candidates are gum
Arabic and shellac, which have been available since ancient times but
are not generally used together as binding media in ink.

In addition to sampling discrete materials with an extremely sharp tung-

sten needle, we also removed a 0.5 mm core cross section of an entire folio,
which included both ink and parchment substrate. Light and scanning
electron microscopical imaging of the cross section showed that there
was a transparent layer between the ink and the parchment substrate;
Robert L. Feller and Ruth M. Johnston-Feller, “Vandyke Brown,” Chapter 6 in Artists’
Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, Volume 3, Elisabeth West Fitz-
hugh, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) 162.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 109

spectrographic analysis determined that it was proteinaceous. Additional

testing ruled out egg white; therefore, the material is most likely gelatin.

Other Coatings
All of the text pages of the manuscript had a shiny appearance, and it was
suspected that a coating had at some point been applied as the uppermost
layer. A small amount of material was taken from the surface of a blank page,
fol. 44, and analyzed by FTIR; it was found to be proteinaceous. A good
candidate for the material is gelatin, as the lack of sulfur (determined by EDS
in the SEM) indicated that the material was not egg white. The presence of
a similar proteinaceous coating in between the parchment and the ink in the
core sample (mentioned in previous section) indicates that the material was
applied to the blank parchment before the text was written.
The gold leaf in the miniatures was also found to have a coating that
includes both clear, transparent material and a number of pigments that
impart a yellow-orange color to the bulk. Samples of both water and etha-
nol extracts were analyzed by FTIR, and the material was determined to be
the same gum/resin mixture that was found as a binding medium for both
the paint and the ink. Gums and resins have been used individually since
ancient times, but their combination is highly unusual, and there is thus
no firm date for the first use of this mixture. A number of pigments were
also identified in the coating, including zinc white, calcium sulfate, iron
earths, an organic red lake pigment, and a blue pigment, most likely syn-
thetic ultramarine blue.
We also received a sample of yellow-orange coating located on the tail
edge near the gutter of fol. 25r that had been taken by Ms. Quandt. This
was determined by FTIR, polarized light microscopy and microchemical
tests to be a mixture of degraded starch and dextrin, a product of starch
hydrolysis. Thus, the material was most likely an adhesive made by cook-
ing starch in hot water. This material only appears in the one sample.

Summary of Conclusions from McCrone Associates Testing

• The parchment used as the substrate in “Archaic Mark” most likely

dates from the middle of the 16th century, as determined by carbon
• The brown-black ink of the text and the miniatures consists of an iron
gall ink with a carbonaceous pigment, most likely Vandyke brown, in
110 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

a gum-resin based binder, probably gum Arabic and shellac. Vandyke

brown was available about the beginning of the 17th century.
• Prussian blue pigment was invented in 1704 and was commercially
available by the 1720s.
• Zinc white and ultramarine blue pigments date from the late 1820s.
• The presence of lithopone is especially significant, because it indicates
that the miniatures in the book could not have been created before
• The painted areas are coated with cellulose nitrate.25
• A mixture of gum (probably gum Arabic) and resin (probably shellac)
was used for the paint binding medium, the ink binding medium,
and as a coating (mixed with pigments) over the gold leaf. This mix-
ture is of no known date.
• Throughout our microscopic investigation of the manuscript, we
found no evidence of the miniatures having been tipped in or having
been painted over older, pre-existing illuminations.

In sum, the McCrone Associates’ analyses determined that the “Archaic

Mark” codex was created some time after 1874, using materials not avail-
able until the late 19th century, on a parchment substrate dating from
about the middle of the 16th century.

Reconstruction of the Forger’s Technique (Abigail Quandt)

The physical properties of ms 2427 as identified by the McCrone analysis
are thoroughly consistent with what is currently known of the techniques
of manuscript forgery in the modern period; the procedures used in the
creation of the codex can be reconstructed as follows.

Parchment Acquisition
By using skins that were prepared according to medieval practices and
therefore looked authentic in terms of color, thickness and flexibility (since,
as carbon dating confirms, they are mid-16th century), the forger of the
“Archaic Mark” intended from the outset to deceive potential buyers of his
manuscript.26 It is unlikely that this craftsman would have had at his disposal

The dating of this compound will be taken up by Abigail Quandt, below.
It is a common practice among forgers to recycle older supports, whether wood, canvas,
textile, parchment or paper, rather than risk detection by using a modern material. For
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 111

a supply of blank medieval parchment that was devoid of any text or

inscriptions, even for the production of a book as small as the “Archaic
Mark.” Instead, the forger probably took apart a late medieval manuscript or
cut up several old parchment documents to use for writing material. If he27
had close relationships with art dealers and/or antiquarian book dealers, as
was the practice of many professional forgers,28 it would have been easy to
acquire text manuscripts of little value or late medieval parchment docu-
ments such as charters or indentures, for the making of the “Archaic Mark.”

Parchment Preparation
The surface of every leaf of ms 2427 was intentionally abraded or scraped
very heavily on both sides, presumably in an attempt to remove an older
text.29 On fol. 19v, for example, there is a series of parallel, diagonal scraping
marks that were made with a knife (fig. 1).30

example, the so-called Spanish Forger, active during the late 19th century, used leaves from
medieval choir books as painting supports for his forged miniatures. See Peter C. Sutton,
et al., Fakes and Forgeries: The Art of Deception (Greenwich, CT: Bruce Museum, 2007)
Throughout we shall refer to the forger as “he” for ease of expression, but without an
automatic presumption that the forger was a man.
The 20th century Greek icon painter Demetrios Pelekasis, who produced as many as
two dozen forged miniatures in authentic Byzantine manuscripts, is known to have worked
in close collaboration with dealers in Athens. See Gary Vikan, “A Group of Forged Byzan-
tine Miniatures,” Aachener Kunstblätter 48 (1978-79) 53-70.
Attempts were made by the multi-spectral imaging team working on the Archimedes
Palimpsest Project to reveal traces of an older text that were thought to be present on several
leaves of the “Archaic Mark.” Unfortunately, given the extent to which the parchment sur-
face had been manipulated by the forger, it was not possible to determine if, in fact, the
leaves had been palimpsested for reuse. Imaging was conducted on the blank ruled final
page (fol. 44r), where ultra-violet light examination by Allison in the 1970s detected a
secondary colophon (“MS 972,” 21, report filed at Special Collections, University of Chi-
cago), which he thought was added later to the manuscript, sometime ca. 16th to 18th c.
However, the recent analysis has revealed only a few Greek characters; there is no legible
inscription present (this is confirmed also by the final analysis of Mr. Chad Kainz at the
University of Chicago, as announced in Mitchell and Duncan,” “Chicago’s ‘Archaic Mark,’”
6, n. 17). It is possible that the forger inscribed and then expunged a putative colophon
here as part of his ruse.
These marks are distinct from other types of knife marks that one often finds on the
leaves of parchment manuscripts, made either during the flaying of the raw hide or during
the removal of residual hair or flesh from the limed skin while it is tensioned on the
112 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

Figure 1. Scrape marks made by a knife are pronounced in the lower half of fol. 19v.
Photo: Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library, used by

Other leaves show signs of overall surface abrasion, perhaps made by a

combination of scraping and sanding, which has raised the fibers in a pro-
nounced fashion.31 This work was done on the blank sheets after they were
cut to size, but before they were ruled and written upon. In an attempt to
matt down the raised fibers and to reform the parchment surface so that it
would be smooth for writing, the forger applied a light yellow coating to
both sides of each sheet.32 This coating, identified by McCrone as a pro-
teinaceous adhesive, was initially thought to be either animal hide glue or
its purified form, gelatin, or egg white. Egg white combined with an emul-
sifying agent made from flax seed broth was used by Byzantine scribes to
coat the parchment before writing and give it a smooth and shiny sur-
face.33 While the traditional coating was clear, and acted as a discrete layer
on top of the parchment,34 this coating is very yellow in color and has
completely saturated the skin. In addition, the glassy surface of the leaves of

The flesh side was much more disturbed by the scraping process, due to the greater
looseness of the skin structure.
The forger had a difficult time writing his text on the flesh side, which was still quite
rough in texture despite the application of the coating
Jeffrey Abt and Margaret A. Fusco, “A Byzantine Scholar’s Letter on the Preparation of
Manuscript Vellum,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 28/2 (1989) 61-66.
I.P. Mokretsova et al., Materials and Techniques of Byzantine Manuscripts (Moscow:
Indrik, 2003) 204-207.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 113

the “Archaic Mark” suggests that the parchment has been partially degraded
by the coating, which indicates the use of glue or gelatin.35 Hide glues have
been used throughout history by bookbinders and other craftsmen for a
variety of applications. Once prepared from the raw materials the strained
product would be kept warm in a pot so that it would remain liquid until
ready for use. The application of a warm aqueous solution of glue or gelatin
to the surface would have caused the parchment first to expand and then
contract rapidly upon drying; this may explain the unusual puckering and
tight creases seen on the leaves of the “Archaic Mark.”

Edge Coloring
After the sheets were trimmed to size, the forger’s next step was to color the
edges with a brownish-black liquid, most likely an ink similar to that used
for writing the text.36 This coloring solution may have been applied for two
reasons. First, it hid the evidence of the reused parchment having been
freshly cut with a knife. Second, the forger may have specifically intended
to mimic the appearance of many Byzantine manuscripts, whose edges are
often charred from exposure to a fire. The edges of the “Archaic Mark”
folios are clearly not charred, as the parchment would also be gelatinized
where damaged by heat. The color is not restricted just to the edges but
also overlaps onto both sides of many of the leaves. This strengthens the
impression that the coloring material was applied with a brush and in a
somewhat sloppy fashion.

Second Coating on Parchment

The forger then applied a second coating to the parchment, to further age
its appearance and make it seem damaged. In earlier analysis it was assumed
that this speckled appearance was due to fungal growth on the parch-
ment.37 However, instead of being a natural phenomenon caused by mold

A similar preparatory coating of glue or gelatin may have been applied to the Vinland
Map, an important early world map that is thought by many scientists and scholars to be a
modern forgery, executed on a 15th century piece of parchment. See Paul Craddock, Scien-
tific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries (Oxford: Elsevier, 2009) 341-348.
Although this brownish-black material was not analyzed by McCrone, it looks very
much like ink. The material has largely been absorbed into the parchment fibers along the
unevenly cut edges of the leaves, and there is only a thin film now sitting on the surface.
“. . . the parchment has been affected by some kind of fungal deterioration occasionally
affecting the script as well …” (Allison, “MS 972,” 9).
114 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

attack, this unusual speckling is the result of an applied yellow-orange

coating, which has now been identified as a mixture of starch and dex-
trin.38 The coating appears to have been applied to the blank sheets subse-
quent to the glue/gelatin coating, but before the writing and painting were
executed. It is clearly visible on the illuminated leaves, in areas of the parch-
ment support that are now exposed due to losses in the paint layer.
Although more difficult to determine, due to the thinness and translu-
cency of the ink, the speckled coating seems to lie underneath the writing
as well. The material may have been spattered on the surface with a brush
or sprayed with an atomizer, in an attempt to replicate the appearance of
mold as well as the irregular accumulation of stains, accretions and grime
that are normally seen on the pages of medieval manuscripts (fig. 2).39
While the color of this coating varies from yellow to orange, with occa-
sional darker patches and flecks of brown, it does not resemble anything
that would have occurred naturally, over the course of time. Fungal stains
are typically purple to red in color and the parchment is usually very weak
and degraded in areas where it has been attacked by mold. In such a small
manuscript as the “Archaic Mark” one would expect to see many dark,
greasy stains in the margins, yet this secondary coating does an inadequate
job of imitating the effects of grime and grease caused by handling.

Pricking and Ruling of Folios

The forger was following Byzantine models by ruling his parchment with
a stylus on every leaf. There are no pricking holes in the outer margins and
these may have been trimmed by the forger before binding. Alternatively
he may have ruled the lines using a template, which could also explain the
lack of prickings. The function of the very large holes in the upper corners
of the leaves is unclear. These may be the result of pinning the parchment
sheets to a board to hold them flat for writing or painting. The forger may
This identification is based on only one sample of the material, which was taken from
fol. 25r and analyzed by McCrone. Speculation by this author as to the widespread applica-
tion of a starch/dextrin coating to the parchment is based upon a detailed microscopic
examination of many leaves of the manuscript.
Starch can easily be turned into dextrin by cooking the dry powder at high heat. As it
turns into dextrin the color of the powder changes from pure white to a light yellowish-tan;
further cooking results in dark orange to brown flakes that have a caramelized appearance.
The powder is easily dissolved in water to form a paste or liquid that would adhere well to
parchment, and would vary in color much like the second coating seen on the leaves of the
“Archaic Mark.”
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 115

Figure 2. The speckled coating is more visible under long wave ultra-violet light (fols. 43v-44r).
Photo: Abigail Quandt, with Roger Easton, used by permission.

have also used these holes as registration points for transferring designs for
the miniatures that were traced from their primary source.40 While the
make up of the book was generally thought out quite carefully, the forger
made some careless mistakes, such as using a bifolio (fols. 17-24) that had
been ruled twice in two separate directions. One would never find such an
error in an authentic Byzantine manuscript; it is hard to know if the forger
was just not paying attention, or if he was forced to use an incorrectly
ruled sheet for lack of additional writing material.

Order of Illumination and Inscription

Rather than follow traditional scribal practice by writing the text of his
manuscript first, while leaving room for the miniatures and initials, it
appears that the forger reversed this process, by painting the miniatures

The forgeries in the Archimedes Palimpsest were traced 1:1 from plates in a printed catalog
of Greek manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and transferred to the parchment
with the aid of registration points (Netz and Noel, The Archimedes Codex, 167-168).
116 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

first on each page.41 The text was then written in around the illustrations.
Evidence for this can be seen on many folios where the forger made an
effort to insert his text into the available spaces around the smaller minia-
tures, with the result that the writing is very cramped, and the scribe was
sometimes forced into awkward supralinear word completions at line end-
ings.42 In one case the text rides up on to the red border of the miniatures
and overlaps on to the image itself.43 In others, the red border, apparently
applied after the miniature was completed and the text inscripted, over-
rides the text.44 A possible explanation could be that the forger (if one and
the same person was responsible for text and images) was more of a painter
than a calligrapher, and that his primary focus was on creating the minia-
tures to illuminate his manuscript.45 The writing, at which he was obvi-
ously much less skilled, came second.

Painting Technique
In the production of the smaller miniatures the forger imitated the artists
of Byzantine manuscripts, by applying a gold leaf ground over the entire
area and then painting in his figures on top of the gold.46 Unlike those
earlier artists, however, the forger of the “Archaic Mark” toned his gold leaf

The virtually identical composition of the writing ink and the brown-black ink used in
the miniatures supports this author’s theory that the writing and the illumination of the
“Archaic Mark” were done by the same person.
See, e.g., fol. 19v, lines 3 and 4 (ƣȸƵ-ư˃, ƸƧʴ-ƲƣƳ [Mk 8:23]), and, most conspicuously,
lines 9-10, where ǰƮƪƲƿƱưƶƳ in Mark 8:24 is written as ǰƮƪ, with Ʋƿ suspended above it,
and the final syllabus, ƱưƶƳ, follows on line 10. (This and the following 2 notes reflect
Mitchell’s analysis and reading of the codex.)
An unmistakable example of this is seen on fol. 4v, where the final sigma (of ƮƽƴưƫƳ, Mk
1:34) is seen to ride up over the red border on the left side of the miniature and overlap a
small amount on the image itself.
E.g., on fol. 27v (Mk 11:11), the final letters of ƧȜƳ (line 3), ƅƩƪƣƮơƣƮ (line 4), Ƶ. (line
6, abbreviation for Ƶʧ, the supralinear stroke) and ƤƩƪƣƮơ-ƣƳ (line 9, last syllable suspended
above the line) all appear to be overwritten by the red paint.
The artistic skill of the forger is demonstrated especially well in the full page Evangelist
portrait on fol. 1v, where the layering of base colors, shadows and highlights is done in an
expert fashion, following Byzantine models. A photomicrograph taken of the head of the
Evangelist shows this skill very clearly (fig. 3).
The gold leaf ground can clearly be seen extending underneath the paint layer of the
smaller miniatures, not only around the edges but also in the middle of the images where
there are extensive losses of paint. This would be the easiest way to apply the gold on paint-
ings of such diminutive size (e.g., fol. 5v Christ healing the paralytic, 4.4 u 4.0 cm; 19v
Christ healing the blind man, 5.4 u 3.7 cm; 37v Christ Before Pilate, 4.4 u 5.4 cm).
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 117

Figure 3. Photomicrograph of the Evangelist shows the forger’s painting technique and the
overlap between paint and gold leaf ground (fol. 1v).
Photo: Abigail Quandt, used by permission.

with a translucent mixture of a natural resin and gum, most likely shellac
and gum Arabic.47 The reason for this layer may have been two-fold. The
tinted coating would have given the gold a warmer hue and, perhaps in the
forger’s mind, made it more compatible with the artificially aged appear-
ance of the parchment. 48 The resinous coating may have also hidden any
imperfections in the gilding if present. The full page miniatures on fol. 1v
of the Evangelist Mark (fig. 3), and on fol. 39v of the Crucifixion, were

The McCrone analysis identified a resin and gum in the mixture, as well as several pig-
ments. The distinct mustard yellow fluorescence of this coating under long wave ultra-vio-
let light strongly suggests the presence of shellac. In natural light the coating has a pale
orange-yellow color, which is darker where more thickly applied. Allison (“MS 972,” 14)
described a brownish tinge to the gold, which he thought was due to the binding substance
beneath the gold. What he was probably seeing was the resin-gum coating on top of the
gold leaf.
Shellac has traditionally been used as a protective coating over gilding in frames and
decorative objects, as well as over gold metal surfaces, and also served to modulate the color
of the gold.
118 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

treated differently by the forger. On these leaves the composition may have
been sketched in first in outline form, and then the gold leaf ground
applied only to the background. The figures were painted in and over-
lapped the gold to some degree, around the outer edges of the design.
Where the paint has flaked off in these areas one can see that the gold
extends under the paint a few millimeters and then stops. In the rest of the
design area there are no traces of gold where the paint is now missing or
partially flaked away, nor can a gold ground be seen through cracks in the
paint layer.49

Paint Loss
All of the miniatures in the “Archaic Mark” exhibit extensive paint losses,
and the paint that remains is actively flaking on many leaves. In addition,
the paint layer exhibits other forms of deterioration that are less commonly
seen in illuminated manuscripts. For example, on some passages of brown
and yellow (presumably earth pigments) the paint has contracted to form
little islands, with deep cracks in between.50 Elsewhere the cracked edges of
the paint are dramatically curled. With flexing of the pages from repeated
handling these brittle paint chips have come loose and flaked off the page.51
A careful microscopic examination of the miniatures has not revealed any
evidence of these paint losses having been retouched by a restorer. During
the 19th and early 20th centuries retouching was frequently done for deal-
ers, to improve the appearance of a damaged manuscript and thus increase
its sale price. However, as the color matching is often very poor and the
application of paint so sloppy that it extends on to adjacent passages of
original paint, this kind of retouching can easily be detected under magni-
fication. A restoration of the miniatures in the “Archaic Mark” was noted
by the painting conservator Marigene Butler, who analyzed several paint
samples from the manuscript in 1972. However, the restoration work that
The overlap of the gold ground and the paint is seen most effectively in the miniature of
the evangelist Mark on fol. 1v. Along the proper left side of his head the gold leaf extends
only up to his brow. His hair is painted on top of the gold, which can be seen through gaps
and losses in the brown paint.
Two examples of this unusual traction crackle in the paint are the hair of the soldier
standing to the left of Christ, in the miniature of Jesus before Pilate on fol. 37v, and the
dark yellow tunic of the blind man on fol. 19v.
While it is not uncommon to find actively flaking paint as well as paint losses in illumi-
nated manuscripts, the dramatic shrinkage and curling of paint that has been observed in
the “Archaic Mark” is rarely seen.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 119

she described was an apparent consolidation treatment rather than an early

effort to retouch the flaking paint in the miniatures.52

Cellulose Nitrate Coating

A clear, shiny material was found as a discrete layer over the paint of the
miniatures, but not over the gold ground, and was identified by McCrone
as cellulose nitrate.53 Considering the strata of different materials from
which the “Archaic Mark” was constructed, this coating lies on the very
top and is not covered by any other material. For this reason, one cannot
assume that it was applied by the forger. Experiments with the application
of cellulose nitrate as a water-resistant coating for paper took place concur-
rently in France54 and Germany around 1890,55 and by 1898 it was being
recommended for use in European libraries and archives as a strengthener
for paper and parchment manuscripts weakened by mold and corroded by
iron gall ink.56 Despite its widespread use for a variety of applications well
into the 20th century, cellulose nitrate is an extremely unstable material

During her microscopic examination of the manuscript (see n. 14, above) Ms. Butler
observed a “brownish and translucent bonding material” in and along the edges of cracks,
and described it as a discolored glue that had been used for an early consolidation treatment
to stabilize flaking paint. It is very possible that she mistook the toned resin-gum coating
on the gold leaf for a natural consolidant that had turned dark with age (the coated gold
ground extends under the design of the smaller miniatures and would have been seen by
Butler through cracks and losses in the paint layer).
Derived from cellulose in 1838, cellulose nitrate was produced on an industrial scale
from 1845 onwards and was one of the first major plastics in commercial use.
A French restoration manual from 1890 by Ris-Paquot describes the use of cellulose
nitrate or collodion for preserving valuable paper documents. See Margaret Holben Ellis,
“The Shifting Function of Artists’ Fixatives,” Journal of the American Institute for Conserva-
tion 35/3 (1996) 239-254.
The German product called Zapon, comprised of a solution of cellulose nitrate in amyl
acetate with camphor as a plasticizer, was initially used by the military as a coating for
metal. Despite its unstable nature it had many attractive properties and found widespread
use into the 1960s as a water resistant fixative for drawings with friable media, for coating
chalk grounds and varnishing paintings, and for many applications in the restoration pro-
For a discussion of the use of Zapon for this purpose see Claire S. Marwick, “An His-
torical Study of Paper Document Restoration Methods,” Masters thesis, The American
University (1964) 112-117, and L. Herman Smith, “Manuscript Repair in European
Archives, II: the Continent, France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” The American Archivist,
1 (1938) 51-77.
120 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

that decomposes due to the gradual loss of volatile solvents and plasticiz-
ers.57 Cellulose nitrate also contracts dramatically and becomes very brittle
upon aging, which may be the partial cause of the pronounced shrinkage,
curling and cracking of the paint that is seen on all of the miniatures. It is
difficult to understand the reasons why the forger would have applied the
cellulose nitrate himself, unless he simply wanted to seal the paint layer
with a perfectly clear coating. It seems more likely that the cellulose nitrate
was added later and was not part of the original fabrication of the “Archaic
Mark.” The extensive flaking and loss of paint may have begun at quite an
early date, particularly in areas where the paint lies over the gold ground
that was coated with the resin-gum mixture.58 The presence of the coating
would have prevented the paint from adhering well to the gold and thus it
might have flaked off rather quickly. The use of a naturally brittle resin,
such as shellac, as one of the binders in the paint mixture, may have also
made it inherently unstable and prone to cracking and flaking.59 It is con-
ceivable, then, that the cellulose nitrate coating was applied by a restorer at
an early stage, to stabilize flaking paint and prevent further losses. This
work may have been undertaken while the “Archaic Mark” was still in
Greece, and well before the manuscript arrived at the University of Chi-
cago in 1937.

Given the evidence discussed above it seems probable that the forger wrote
the text of the “Archaic Mark” after the miniatures were painted and not
before. His choice of materials for the writing ink was carefully considered.
Iron gall ink, an extremely permanent ink that was used throughout the

See Steven P. Koob, “The Instability of Cellulose Nitrate Adhesives,” The Conservator 6
(1982) 31-34.
It is tempting to think that the forger may have intended his paint to crack and flake,
either by applying an unstable coating to the surface (although it is unlikely that he would
have known this about cellulose nitrate), or by mixing the paint with other materials such
as shellac that he knew would become brittle in a relatively short period of time. Most
Byzantine manuscripts exhibit moderate to extensive paint losses, so to pass his “Archaic
Mark” off as an authentic work it would be logical for the forger intentionally to distress
the paint layer in some way. The surfaces of the miniatures produced by the 19th/20th c.
Athenian forger Pelekasis, as well as those found in the Archimedes Palimpsest (created
after 1938), were scratched and rubbed in order to distress the paint layer and make it look
naturally aged.
Personal communication with Steven P. Koob, June 29, 2009.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 121

Middle Ages and into the 19th century, is a deep blackish-brown color
when freshly made.60 As iron gall ink ages it becomes lighter and browner
in color. While iron gall ink has been identified as one of the components
of the writing ink, the forger may have added the rich brown earth pig-
ment, thought to be Vandyke brown, to his mixture to make it appear
immediately like an older, medieval ink. Gum Arabic is the standard bind-
ing medium for iron gall ink and this was found in the “Archaic Mark” ink
along with a resin, presumed to be shellac. The addition of shellac is
unusual and the reasons for its use are unclear. However, it did contribute
to the translucent and shiny appearance of the ink which may, in fact,
resemble some of the inks in the Byzantine manuscripts that served as
models for the forger.

The gold and occasional red initials in the margins of the “Archaic Mark”
are haphazardly applied and, contrary to medieval practice, often repeat
letters at the beginning of a line of text. Many initials were erased or par-
tially erased, perhaps because they had been written prior to the inscrip-
tion of the adjacent text or because the forger changed his mind in their
placement as he proceeded with his work. Very few of the red initials sur-
vive, most having been scraped away. Allison noted all of these inconsis-
tencies and concluded that the marginal initials had no obvious function,
being simply decorative in nature.61 While the forger had clearly seen red
and gold marginal initials in Byzantine manuscripts he did not necessarily
understand their function, which was to guide the reader through the text.
He also failed to notice that the carefully constructed gold initials in those
manuscripts were first written with a bright red ink, and then covered with
gold leaf and burnished. The purpose of the red ground layer was to give
the very thin gold leaf a warmer tone, and also to give a bit more body to
the letter. Instead of using a red ink the forger chose the same brown-black
ink that he had used for the text, which now gives his gold initials a dark

See Ad Stijnman, “Reconstruction of iron-gall ink recipes for the InkCor project,” Art
of the Past. Sources and Reconstructions, Mark Clarke, Joyce H. Townsend, and Ad Stijnman,
eds. (London: Archetype Books Ltd., 2005) 125-134. The Dutch website,
ecpa/ink/, is also a very useful source of information about iron gall ink.
Allison, “MS 972,” 5-7. He observed that “The alternation of gold and vermilion mar-
ginal initials exhibits some degree of effort toward artistic effect, especially in the matching
of the two vermilion [letter] I’s on folio 2v.”
122 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

and somewhat dirty appearance. The surface of the gold is also very uneven,
which suggests that he omitted the final burnishing step that compresses
the leaf and gives it a high shine.

The materials of the binding on the “Archaic Mark” were not analyzed by
McCrone because the structure was thought to be secondary and possibly
added at any time during the history of the book. While books were
rebound frequently, and often to suit the taste of a new owner, the binding
on this manuscript looks very much like the work of a forger rather than
that of a professional or even an amateur bookbinder. Most telling are the
leather cover and the pastedowns, which were already very deteriorated
before they were used in this binding.62 The blind stamped cover was obvi-
ously taken from a larger book and cut down for re-use.63 Rather than use
a new piece of leather, which would have cost almost nothing given the
small size of the codex, the forger purposely used a fragment from the
cover of an older Greek binding to complete his deception.64 The leather
pastedowns have no decoration but may have come from the turn-ins of
the reused binding, or from yet another discarded book cover. The use of
leather as pastedowns is extremely unusual, and is typically seen only on
modern French designer bindings.65 Perhaps the forger applied these
leather pastedowns as a way to cover up the insides of the wooden boards,
which, given their very light color, seem relatively new. The cut-outs
around the cord lacings are also very odd, and indicate the work of an
Given the wear and tear that bindings invariably receive it makes no sense to cover a
book with a recycled piece of leather, unless the sole purpose is to give the false impression
of an older book that is naturally worn by age.
So Willoughby, “Archaic Crucifixion Iconography,” 129-130: “[The covers] were origi-
nally intended for use on a much larger book. None too skillfully they were cut down in
adaptation to the Archaic Gospel of Mark.” Willoughby identified the pattern of the stamps
on the cover as “Greek-monastic in origin” (cited also by Allison, “MS 972,” 4).
For comparison, the binding that was on the Archimedes Palimpsest since the creation
of the forged miniatures sometime after 1938 was a pastiche made from recycled elements
of other bindings. The brown leather cover has been dated to the 19th century and the re-
used wooden boards have remnants of laced-in cords that are not Greek in style. A large
metal button on the upper cover, made to look like a fore-edge closure of some kind, has
no real function.
The leather pastedowns or doublures of modern French bindings are often of a contrast-
ing color from the cover, and are frequently decorated with leather inlays or onlays as well
as gold tooling.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 123

amateur who may have been making things up as he went along. The fact
that one bifolium of the manuscript (fols. 12-13) was reversed when it was
sewn into the book only strengthens the impression that the forger, while
he may have been an accomplished painter, was not a trained calligrapher
and was even less of a bookbinder.

In summary, the materials and processes used in the creation of the “Archaic
Mark” reinforce, on the one hand, what is already known about manu-
script forgeries during the modern period and, on the other hand, give us
an even deeper understanding of the careful work that went into creating
such a complex and ultimately successful forgery that has mystified schol-
ars up until the present day.66

The Forger’s Textual Dependence (Margaret Mitchell)

As noted at the outset of this article, Stephen Carlson’s keen detective work
has directed attention to Philipp Buttmann’s Novum Testamentum Graece,
ad fidem potissimum codicis Vaticani B recensuit . . . as the exemplar used by
the scribe of ms 2427. Given the timing of publication and continuous
reprints of Buttmann’s critical edition of the Greek New Testament, this
proposal is fully consistent with the dating attained by physical and codi-
cological analysis. After considering Carlson’s argument (as presented
orally and in summation online), and examining the commonalities
between ms 2427 and Buttmann’s edition (and checking other alterna-
tives), I find his thesis convincing. First, in testing ms 2427 against mod-
ern critical editions that draw upon codex Vaticanus, once Lachmann is
eliminated, Buttmann’s is the next logical choice, since he is Lachmann’s
successor (having been responsible for the notes in Lachmann’s 1842-1850
ed. of the Novum Testamentum graece et latine),67 and Buttmann’s intent to

The authors would like to thank Dr. William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts at The
Walters Art Museum and Director of the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, the members of
the Archimedes multi-spectral imaging team and Drs. Nigel Wilson and Georgi Parpulov
of Oxford for their invaluable assistance in collecting and interpreting the data for this
Karl Lachmann, ed., Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine (vol. 1, Gospels; Berlin:
Reimer, 1842; vol. 2 Acts-Revelation, 1850). The title page reads: “Philippus Buttmannus
Ph. F. Graecae Lectionis Auctoritates Apposuit.”
124 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

base his text on the readings of codex Vaticanus (as then known to him)
explains in general terms the striking coincidence between the two.68 Fur-
ther, tellingly, as Carlson observed, Buttmann’s page layout accounts for at
least two scribal omissions: in Mk 14:14, of ƧȠƱƣƵƧ Ƶˑ ưȜƬưƦƧƴƱƽƵʤ
ȱƵƫ ȭ ƦƫƦƞƴƬƣƭưƳ ƭƟƥƧƫż Ʊư˃ ȀƴƵƫƮ (fol. 34r line 12), which corresponds to
a line break in Buttmann, and another parablepsis in 6:2 beween two Ƭƣơ’s
at line end (fol. 12r line 23).69 But beyond this, the linchpin of Carlson’s
analysis is the discovery that ms 2427 agrees also with Buttmann’s own text
when it decides against B: “Buttmann’s text departs from B at eighty-five
variation units; ms 2427 agrees with Buttmann’s text more than eighty-one
times, except in four cases where ms 2427 departs from both (usually with
a singular reading).”70
The most extensive list of comparisons of ms 2427 with Buttmann’s
1860 edition, following on and confirming Carlson’s proposal, was made
in an excellent online contribution by Dr. Wieland Willker.71 Willker lists
nine “first rate indications” of agreement between ms 2427 and features
unique to Buttmann, and seven instances as “additional supporting evi-
dence.” Tracing the genealogical history accounting for these “unique fea-
tures” and “very rare or unusual readings”72 in the Buttmann edition allows
us to confirm how strong and decisive the case is for its use by the forger
of ms 2427. A telling instance is the reading ƩƭƪƧƮ in 2:26 (where NA27
has ƱːƳ ƧȜƴʦƭƪƧƮ). This must be a leading candidate among the places

Ernest Cadman Colwell, “An Ancient Text of the Gospel of Mark,” The Emory Univer-
sity Quarterly 1 (1945) 65-75, 72, calculated that of “seventy-three readings which occur in
Vaticanus but not in Sinaiticus nor elsewhere [ms 2427] reads forty-six of the seventy
Less definitive, perhaps, is Carlson’s appeal to the parentheses in Buttmann’s edition to
explain the omissions of 7:3-4 and 13:14, since the scribe does not do the same at 1:2-3;
6:48 and 7:11. We might add to this that the scribe was similarly not affected by the square
brackets that demarcate the Longer Ending.
Quotation from “ ‘Archaic Mark’ (MS 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake,”
penultimate paragraph. A slightly different (presumably preferable) rendering of the statis-
tics is found in the proposal ( “Buttmann’s text
departs from B at about 90 variation units, with which 2427 agrees more than 80 times,
except where 2427 has a singular reading.” (Carlson has not published his list of readings.)
We shall take up below the issue of what collation of B is the basis for comparison, which
is the crucial question.
“Ms 2427 – a fake,” 2006, at
Willker, “Ms 2427,” 9.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 125

Carlson points to where “Buttmann’s departures from B include his

mistaken reliance on the inaccurate collations of B.”73 Buttmann in the
apparatus does appeal to B for this reading, which he adopts. He takes this
purported reading of Vaticanus via his own notes in the apparatus criticus
of Lachmann’s edition,74 which in turn had received this reading from
Richard Bentley,75 who preserved the collation of Vaticanus by Abbate
Mico (1720). This error in collation was corrected by Mai (first edition,
1857) and reconfirmed by Tischendorf (1867),76 and hence excluded from
later editions of the Greek New Testament.77 Ms 2427’s dependence upon
Buttmann’s text for this reading is therefore conclusive.78 And there are

Carlson, “ ‘Archaic Mark’ (MS 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake,” penulti-
mate paragraph.
Buttmann made reference to this reading as a variant attested by B in the apparatus of
Lachmann, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, 1842, but Lachmann did not adopt it;
his own text read ƧȜƴʦƭƪƧƮ (as Buttmann also indicates in his own apparatus).
Bentley’s collation was published by Henry Ford in Karl Gottfried Woide, Appendix ad
editionem novi testamenti graeci e codice ms. Alexandrino . . . quibus subjicitur codicis vaticani
collatio (Oxford: Clarendon, 1799). Lachmann explains his dependence on Bentley and
Birch, because of the delay of publication of Cardinal Mai’s collation, in Novum Testamen-
tum Graece et Latine, 1842, p. xxii.
Konstantin von Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum (Leipzig: Giesecke &
Devrient, 1867) xxxv: “2,26 recte M utraque ƧƫƴƩƭƪƧƮ, ex errore Mico ƩƭƪƧƮ”; cf. idem,
Novum Testamentum Graece, editio octava critica maior (Leipzig: Giesecke & Devrient,
1869): “Bbent (ex errore ut vdtr) ƩƭƪƧƮ.” The reading ƩƭƪƧƮ for B was listed in the apparatus
of the earlier editions of Tischendorf ’s Novum Testamentum Graece, up until the seventh
(Leipzig: Winter, 1859). Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, The Greek New Testament (London:
S. Bagster and sons, 1857-79, Part I, 1857) lists the B variant in his apparatus as contested:
“ƩƭƪƧƮ B.Btly. (Contra, Blc. [Bartolocci, 1669])” (his own reading is [ƱƺƳ] ƧȜƴʦƭƪƧƮ).
The only other Greek New Testament I have found that adopted Bentley’s (errant) read-
ing in Mark 2:26 is Valentinus Loch, Novum Testamentum. Textum graecum ex codice Vati-
cano, latinum ex Vulgatae editionis exemplaribus romanis correctum (Ratisbona [Regensburg]:
Manz, 1862). Curiously, in his Preface, p. x, Loch had noted the correction of Vercellone
to ƧȜƴʦƭƪƧƮ (which Loch set up as correcting [the apparatus of ] Tischendorf ’s 7th edition),
but he inexplicably retained it in his own text anyway. In other instances, as in 7:9; 7:32
and 15:20, he did correct errors that were retained in Buttmann (and replicated by the
scribe of ms 2427).
Carlson’s logic here is airtight: “Because I knew that Buttmann’s efforts had preceded
Tischendorf ’s most accurate transcription just a few years later, it became clear to me that
Buttmann would have reproduced the inaccuracies of previous collators of the famous
Vatican text” (“ ‘Archaic Mark’ (Ms 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake,” para-
graph 8). However, as we shall see below, his chronological placement of Buttmann in the
history of the collation of Vaticanus requires an adjustment that makes the argument even
126 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

other such cases.79 An easy way to see this is to compare the ms 2427/Butt-
mann overlaps with Tischendorf ’s list of errors in previous collations of
Codex Vaticanus;80 among his corrections of Mico/Bentley and Birch one
finds another five instances like this one, where Buttmann’s errant readings
of B are replicated in ms 2427.81 But the text of ms 2427 must be depen-
dent upon Buttmann’s edition for these early erroneous B readings, because
ms 2427 also contains textual readings that Buttmann had adopted from
Lachmann, such as ȀƮ Ƶˑ ƬƣƵƣƬƧʴƴƪƣƫ ƣȸƵƽƮ in 2:15,82 ȀƯƟƦưƵư in 12:1, or
vưƶ, Ƶɜ ƵʦƳ83 in 14:24.84 The evidence is overwhelming that the scribe of
ms 2427 copied Buttmann’s text, as Carlson discovered.85

This discussion is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive.
As found in Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum, xxxiiii-xxxvi (and confirmed
by his NTG, editio octava).
From Tischendorf ’s list (see n. 80), with his identification of the source of the error in
parentheses (each of which I have rechecked with Bentley and Birch): 7:9 om. ƍƣƫ ƧƭƧƥƧƮ
ƣƶƵưƫƳ (against Bentley); 7:32 vưƥƥƫƭƣƭưƮ for vưƥƫƭƣƭưƮ (against Mai’s first ed. [but we
can add also Bentley]); 13:7 ƣƬưƶƧƵƧ for ƣƬưƶƩƵƧ (against Birch, Mai’s first and second
eds.); 13:21 ƧƫƱƩ ƶvƫƮ for ƶvƫƮ ƧƫƱƩ (against Mico, Birch); 15:20 om. ƫƮƣ ƴƵƣƶƲƺƴƺƴƫƮ
ƣƶƵưƮ (against Mico, Birch). Three of these instances are in Willker’s list of “first rate indi-
cations” (2:26 [mentioned in text, above]; 7:9 and 15:20) (“Ms 2427,” 6). See also, e.g., the
omission of ƩƮ in 3:1 by apparent appeal to B, with Birch (Variae lectiones ad textum iv
evangeliorum [Hauniae: Proft & Storch, 1801] 129), which was corrected by Tischendorf
within his collation, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum, 46. This example is one of Willker’s
“first rate indications” (“Ms 2427,” 6).
Here Buttmann adopted ƥơƮƧƵƣƫ with B (from Birch) over Lachmann’s ȀƥƟƮƧƵư, but
(silently) retained Lachmann’s reading ȀƮ Ƶˑ (with A, C, etc.), which Bentley’s collation of
B had omitted (see Tregelles, Greek New Testament, 1857, 127).
Willker, “MS 2427,” 6, lists this reading in his “additional supportive evidence” cate-
gory (14:24).
In neither of the last two cases did Bentley (in Woide, Appendix ad editionem novi testa-
menti graeci) or Birch (Variae lectiones) offer an expressed reading of Vaticanus; these are
marked by Tregelles as B readings “e silentio collatorum” (Greek New Testament, vii). For the
latter reading, Lachmann had included the Ƶư in his text in brackets (he also read the fol-
lowing ƵƩƳ ƬƣƫƮƩƳ, noting that B omits); Buttmann kept the Ƶư but removed the brackets
(and the following phrase). Both of these readings (ƧƯƧƦưƵư and vưƶ Ƶư ƵƩƳ) were corrected
by Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Vaticanum, xxxv-vi.
Once confirmed, Carlson’s thesis of ms 2427’s dependence upon Buttmann can help
explain other readings. To cite just one example, in our collation (Mitchell and Duncan,
“Chicago’s ‘Archaic Mark’,” 19-35) we did not question NA27’s citation of ms 2427 for the
reading ȯƮ ƱƣƲʤƵư˃ƮƵư in 15:6. But reviewing it after consulting Buttmann’s reading, ȱƮ
ƱƧƲ ɲƵư˃ƮƵư, it seems clear that ms 2427 (fol. 38r, line 1) follows Buttmann (the spaces
demarcating 3 words are very clearly defined; the upstroke on the epsilon is faint, but there,
in ƱƧƲ). This example points to yet another contributing argument (should another be
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 127

Buttmann’s edition of the Greek New Testament was first produced in

1856,86 right before the most turbulent years for the collation of Vaticanus,
and hence it represents an oddly frozen and flawed textual edition that
allows us to recognize ms 2427 as its direct descendent. This 1856 edition
not only preceded Tischendorf ’s corrections (1867),87 but both the first
and second editions of Angelo Mai’s collation (1857, 1859).88 Buttmann’s
1860 edition, “editio altera et emendata,” to which Carlson directs us, did
make use of Mai’s 1857 collation of Vaticanus to correct the first edition,89
but Buttmann was not able substantially to change his own text, for he was
confined to the line and page breaks of the 1856 edition, as he explained
in the opening paragraph of his prefatory letter to the second edition.90
Hence at Mark 15:20-21, while he was able silently to exchange ǰƱ’ ǰƥƲư˃
(1856) for ǰƱɜ ǰƥƲư˃ (1860), he was unable to include the more lengthy
(and important) addition of ȡƮƣ ƴƵƣƶƲƿƴƺƴƫƮ ƣȸƵɝƮ (correcting the read-

needed!) for use of Buttmann’s edition: the very high correspondence in word division
(among others see Willker’s sixth and seventh “first rate indications” of agreement, in 9:11
and 14:2 [“Ms 2427,” 8]), accents and breathing marks.
Contrast Carlson: “a critical edition first printed in 1860” (Carlson, “‘Archaic Mark’
(MS 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake,” paragraph 1).
And others contributing to the corrected collation of Vaticanus, such as Henry Alford,
The Greek Testament, 4 vols. (7th ed.; Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1874) 1.107-109, table of
readings 151-55, who provides a good history of the previous readings, including the
famous history of the acquisition and publication of the readings of Vaticanus associated
with Bentley.
Buttmann’s edition (produced in 1856) was not “based on Cardinal Mai’s edition of B
(1857, 1859)” (as maintained by Carlson, “Proposal”), but on Lachmann’s readings of B (as
Buttmann states in his “Preface,” [first edition, 1856], v: Verba codicis [sc. Vaticani] sumpsi
ex editione maiori Lachmanni, ratione habita et eorum, quae Tischendorf annotavit in
Theolog. Stud. et Crit. anni 1847 pag. 129 ss.”; compare the second, 1860 edition, “Pref-
ace,” v: Verba codicis [sc. Vaticani] in prima editione ex Lachmanni editione maiore dare
me oportuit”). As noted above, Lachmann’s readings of B were in turn drawn from Bentley
and Birch.
Buttmann appears not to have had or used Vercellone’s 1859 corrected edition (“nunc
ea [sc. verba codicis Vaticani] habemus in editione Romana cur. Maio a. 1857, ad quam
textus nunc hic emendatus est” [Preface,” 1860, v]).
“quoniam vero stereotyporum leges in ipso libro quominus omnes emendationes fiant
impediunt, ea quae addenda et emendanda sunt, ad calcem libri ablegavi” (“Preface,” 1860
v, dated July, 1860; the original Preface was dated September, 1856). The editing of that
first paragraph is done sparingly so as to retain the pagination of the Preface and text. All
the editions have vii pages of front matter; the substantial difference between the 1856 and
the 1860 (and subsequent editions) is the appendix, “Addenda et corrigenda,” which
extends the length of the book from 543 to 548 pages).
128 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

ing he now knew to have been mistaken in Bentley). Bound by the typeset-
ting of the 1856 edition he was, however, able to append five pages of
addenda et corrigenda to the end of the volume (pp. 544-48), among
which we find the addition of ƫƮƣ ƴƵƣƶƲƺƴƺƴƫƮ ƣƶƵưƮ (with B added to
the other witnesses) and the correction to ƧƫƴƩƭƪƧƮ as the right reading of
Vaticanus at 2:26, both of which were ignored by our forger.91 These vesti-
gial early misreadings of B carried over from the 1856 edition, which were
not taken from Mai’s famously flawed edition, but from Lachmann, in
dependence upon Bentley and Birch,92 are unmistakable signs that the
forger used Buttmann’s edition, in one of its reprints.93
Ironically, Buttmann in 1862 actually did produce an edition of the
Greek New Testament that incorporated this and other corrected readings
from Mai (1857).94 It was published not by Teubner, but by Decker in
Berlin. Looking at it, one might think that it would have been an ideal text
for a forger to use, for it was a good deal larger than a Teubner handbook
(either 29 or 24 cm versus 18), and printed in an uncial Greek font, that
would have made a much easier visual exemplar than the handbook-sized
edition he chose.95 But the forger employed one of the Teubner re-editions
of the 1856 textual edition, and replicated its page layout and these tell-

Also corrigenda, e.g., at 2:15 (ȀƮ Ƶˑ om. B); 2:17 (om. Ƭƣɚ ante ƫƦưƮƵƧƳ); 2:22 (ư ưƫƮưƳ
ƣƱưƭƭƶƵƣƫ Ƭƣƫ ưƫ ƣƴƬưƫ ƣƭƭƣ ưƫƮưƮ ƮƧưƮ ƧƫƳ ƣƴƬưƶƳ ƬƣƫƮưƶƳ [om ƤƭƩƵƟưƮ] B); 3:1 (ƩƮ
B); 4:28 (ƱƭƩƲƧƳ B); 7:9 (Ƭƣƫ ƧƭƧƥƧƮ ƣƶƵưƫƳ ƬƣƭƺƳ B); and 13:21 (ƶvƫƮ ƧƫƱƩ ƫƦƧ [ȤƦưɞ]
ƅ), all places where Mai’s edition of 1857 corrected Mico/Bentley and/or Birch). Tellingly,
six of Willker’s “first rate indications” and two of his pieces of “additional supporting evi-
dence” are found rectified in the corrigenda of Buttmann’s 1860 edition.
In his critical comments on Buttmann’s edition, Eduard Reuss (Bibliotheca Novi Testa-
menti Graeci [Brunsviga (Braunschweig): Schwetschke, 1872] 245) posits that Buttmann’s
singular readings are due to his reverting to those from Eduard de Muralto (Novum Testa-
mentum Graece, ad fidem codicis principis Vaticani [Hamburg: Meissner, 1848]), but this
does not account for the tell-tale readings we are considering in Mark (they diverge at 2:26
and 7:9, for instance).
Carlson’s argument that the forger must have used the 1860 or subsequent edition still
holds, because ms 2427 replicates its minor emendations in the text from the first edition
at, e.g., 2:16; 5:40; 6:4; 10:31; 10:52; 13:20; 15:21; 16:7 (though oddly not at 14:6).
Novum Testamentum Graece: ad fidem Codicis Vaticani recensuit (Berlin: Decker, 1862),
in microfilm at the University of Chicago libraries, from Caspar René Gregory’s personal
copy, dated in his hand 9 July 1877, later donated to the University of Chicago library.
(WorldCat indicates that there was an earlier edition, of 1857, but only one copy is listed,
in Germany at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; I have not been able to view this edition, in
order to compare line breaks with parablepsis errors in ms 2427.)
None of the omissions in ms 2427 corresponds to a line break in this 1862 Decker edition.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 129

tale errant readings (among others). Perhaps he did so because the hand-
book size of the Teubner edition could help him better to estimate the way
the text would fit on the miniature codex96 that he sought to produce.97
In reconstructing the textual work of the forger in the production of the
codex, he selected as an exemplar one particular German critical edition of
the Greek New Testament that was widely circulated, including in Greece,98
and announced in its title the use of the celebrated codex Vaticanus. But
the forger either did not know enough about textual criticism to recognize
that his exemplar was obsolete (within years of its appearance, to say noth-
ing of the stereotypic reprints in the following five decades)99 and defec-
tive, or chose it for that purpose to avoid detection. The forger had sufficient
knowledge of the orthography of genuine manuscripts to know that abbre-
viations are expected. He therefore introduced them into Buttmann’s text,
but not in a competent or completely standard way. Apparently in an
attempt at archaizing, the modern scribe did not employ nomina sacra for
all fifteen terms customarily thus rendered in medieval manuscripts, but
did so regularly for the four major titles ƋƧƽƳ, ƍƾƲƫưƳ, ’’ƌƩƴư˃Ƴ, and
ƙƲƫƴƵƽƳ, though not for ƓƮƧ˃vƣ, for instance. He also added a few idio-
syncratic ones, such as for the name ’’ƌƺƞƮƮƩƳ.100 The first pages of the
codex show the inconsistency (such as in 1:1, where ’’ƌƩƴư˃ is written
plene, but followed by ƙư˃ and Ƌư˃),101 and irregularity (e.g., the word
Ƌưƶ in Mark 1:14 and 15 has both supra and sublinear strokes).102 The
abbreviations of the conjunction Ƭƣơ and the definite article also show
inconsistencies throughout the manuscript. Such a pattern is fully consistent

A Teubner is 18 × 11.7 cm; ms 2427 is 11.5 × 8.5 cm.
Without a genuine and similarly illustrated exemplar, fitting the text of a printed edi-
tion around the images was no easy task; as discussed above, the scribe had some difficulties
executing it.
Carlson has confirmed in oral presentation that multiple editions of Buttmann’s GNT
are found in the National Library of Greece, which was significantly increasing its holdings
in European books in precisely the period of the late 19th century. The online catalogue
shows that, in addition to the 1871, 1882 and 1910 reprints of the Teubner, there is one
copy of the 1862 Decker edition.
Either the forger did not know Latin (the language of the Preface), or did not care
about the preface or addenda et corrigenda.
Colwell, “An Ancient Text of the Gospel of Mark,” 68-69, regarded these as “primitive
Fol. 2r. I concur with Willker, “Ms 2427,” 2 on this observation.
Fol. 3v lines 3 and 5.
130 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

with ad hoc alteration of a printed edition, rather than copying from any
genuine exemplar.
And yet, any assessment of the scribe’s facility (and possible identity)
must reckon with the fact that he did not in fact just replicate Buttmann’s
edition. Willker lists thirty-three “significant disagreements between ms
2427 and Buttmann,” with the parenthesis “for which there is no obvious
explanation.”103 A large number of errors in the manuscript are spelling
and phonetic variances, and can be explained as either carelessness (work-
ing with such a small exemplar could not have been easy) or possible influ-
ence of modern Greek. And there are a fair number of near line omissions
that are probably due to parablepsis.104 But not all departures from Butt-
mann in ms 2427 are accidental. There are enough substantive deviations
from Buttmann’s text to suggest the scribe was influenced by other text-
types or editions, as, for example, at 15:4, where he reads ƬƣƵƣvƣƲƵƶƲư˃ƴƫƮ
for Buttmann’s ƬƣƵƩƥưƲư˃ƴƫƮ (with A K M N U T Ƈ Ƌ Ɠ ˜, etc.).105 Did
he pick this reading up from Buttmann’s apparatus criticus (which cites
Griesbach and Elzevir), or was it his own harmonizing reading from mem-
ory of Matt 27:13 (a more likely circumstance given his failure to use the
addenda et corrigenda)? Is the same the case for Mark 4:22, where he reads
ȯ vɘ ƷƣƮƧƲɜƮ ƥƧƮƠƴƧƵƣƫ, from Luke 8:18, instead of his exemplar’s ȀɔƮ vɘ
ȡƮƣ ƷƣƮƧƲƺƪʧ, or for 10:22, where he inserts the Lukan version of the
Markan ƥƞƲ clause, ƱƭưƾƴƫưƳ ƴƷƽƦƲƣ (Lk 18:23)?106 Did he use the appa-
ratus, for instance, in reading ƱƣƮƵƣƸƽƪƧƮ in 1:45 (with ˜) instead of
Buttmann’s ƱƞƮƵưƪƧƮ? Unlikely, but not impossible; yet even that explana-
tion cannot account for a reading like ȁƴƵƩƬƽƵƧƳ in 3:31 (with Cc, G, L, ƒƒ 1,
124, 700),107 which is not cited in Buttmann’s apparatus. And did he
intentionally (for theological purposes or just by habit?) turn the demons’
confession of 3:11 from ƴɞ ƧȢ ȭ ƶȝɜƳ Ƶư˃ ƪƧư˃ (“you are the son of God”) to
ƴɞ ƧȢ ȭ ƪƧƽƳ (“you are God”)?108 Why did he drop Buttmann’s ǰƱƟƪƣƮƧƮ in
9:26 in favor of the singular reading ȀƯƟƱƮƧƶƴƧƮ? Use of such synonyms109

Willker, “Ms 2427,” 6-7.
Willker, “Ms 2427,” 8, lists five as probably due to Buttmann’s page lay-out, and seven
that are probably not to be so explained.
Textual evidence cited from Reuben Swanson, ed., New Testament Greek Manuscripts,
Mark (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) 249.
Could the deletion in 3:32 be a (strange, reflexive) harmonization with John 19:27b?
Swanson, NT Greek Manuscripts, Mark, 47.
A reading paralleled in only one ms, 69 (ibid., 40), on which see final note of this
The scribe frequently replaces the Buttmann edition’s prepositions with synonyms: ȀƬ
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 131

suggests the scribe had a full knowledge of NT vocabulary (cf. Mk 15:37

and Lk 23:46), and could improvise as necessary.110 But why?
One possibility is that variations such as these were introduced purpose-
fully by the forger to cover his tracks; a further one is that it was a sign of
his easy and even unconscious familiarity with other editions of the Greek
New Testament. In any case, the forger seems to have a broader knowledge
of the Gospels beyond what he takes from Buttmann’s text of Mark.111 One
of the reasons this matters, of course, is in seeking to answer the question,
which future scholarship will wish to pursue, of whether there are other
products of this text-forger’s handiwork in circulation. This is pressing, for
example, for addressing the question of the relationship of this manuscript
to Hermitage codex, ms 2537, which draws upon a different text base for
Mark 16.112 Could both works come from a single forger’s workshop which
had available multiple textual editions and iconographic models?

The mystery of the date of “Archaic Mark” is now conclusively and inde-
pendently solved from three different angles (textual, chemical and codico-
logical). The manuscript was produced by a forger no earlier than 1874,
and the first secure evidence of its existence places it sometime in the first
third of the 20th century.113 Other mysteries remain, chief of which is why
such eminent scholars as Edgar J. Goodspeed, Ernest Cadman Colwell,

with ǰƱƽ (as in 1:25; 1:26; 6:14; 16:3, and vice versa, as in 1:42); ƧȜƳ for ƱƲƽƳ (6:45, and
vice versa in 7:25, 14:54), even when it requires a case change, as in ȀƮ for ƧȜƳ (9:43, 45);
for other parts of speech see, e.g., vƣƬƲƞƮ for ȄƯƺ in 5:10.
Occasional slips into modern Greek are also evident, as perhaps accounts for the sub-
stitution of ƥƾƲˎ for Buttmann’s ƬƾƬƭˎ in 6:6 (but note that he did not do so later in the
same chapter at 6:36; cf. 3:34).
Willker, “Ms 2427,” 9, refers to his “falling back into the Byzantine text,” which seems
surely right. What can this tell us about the forger, that he would do so?
As argued in Mitchell and Duncan, “Chicago’s ‘Archaic Mark’,” 11 n. 39. The text of
the one folio we examined from ms 2537 (=Hermitage ms Ω1162) from a published pho-
tograph appears to depart too significantly from Buttmann’s edition to have used it as an
Space does not allow a full discussion here, but more recent study of correspondence in
the archives, with the invaluable assistance of Prof. Robert W. Allison, of Bates College,
who helped to preserve additional material, has shown that the history of the codex before
1935 (when a former student of Goodspeed, Mr. Gregory Vlastos, wrote him offering it for
sale), is more murky than formerly believed; hence for the most definite terminus ante quem
it is best to cite September 18, 1935, when it was offered for sale to the University.
132 M.M. Mitchell et al. / Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133

Kirsopp and Silva Lake, and Kurt and Barbara Aland, were persuaded of
its authenticity. In a recently uncovered letter from 1970, Colwell remi-
nisced about the history of the Lakes and ms 2427: “[Silva] and Kirsopp
had dated it first from a photograph and later from seeing the actual MS
in my living room in Chicago.”114 Yet there were lingering doubts all along.
Silva Lake, on seeing the manuscript in California again in late June of
1970, was reported to have said, “It’s either 14th century or a 19th century
forgery, and if a forgery, either a serious attempt or a spoof by someone like
my husband!”115 The reporter of these words and his colleagues at Clare-
mont who studied “Archaic Mark” as part of his “Text Criticism Seminar”
in spring of 1970, demonstrate in their correspondence that Colwell him-
self continued to work on collating the manuscript and in efforts towards
its publication.116 Yet the man who in 1941 called this miniature codex
“the most baffling manuscript from the viewpoint of paleography and text
that I have ever seen”117 had to admit, in a private letter to a student,118 that
“everything about 2427 was wrong.” This was, however, in service of an
Letter of E.C. Colwell to Charles (“Chuck”) Bennison, May 13, 1970, located through
the kindness of Mrs. Anne C. Askren (Prof. Colwell’s daughter), and now in the archives at
Special Collections, University of Chicago. Colwell’s published reference to the Lakes’ dat-
ing (“An Ancient Text of the Gospel of Mark,”67) says the first estimate was “anywhere
between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries” and the second “might be as early as the
thirteenth century.”
Letter of Chuck Bennison to “Pomp” Colwell, July 3, 1970 (same source as previous
note). Bennison continues, “She would not come down on either side of this dilemma.”
For the sake of completeness, it may be worth mentioning that the University of Chi-
cago Library does own a copy of Buttmann’s Novum Testamentum Graece Teubner edition
(editio tertia et emendata, 1865). This volume had an interesting bibliographic history of
its own. The bookplate indicates it came from the Berlin Collection, which means it has
been owned by the University since the late 1890s, but it was not accessioned until Febru-
ary 18, 1928, and may not have been catalogued and on the shelves immediately. Despite
the gap, however, it likely was available in the 1930s or 1940s (unfortunately current
records do not allow more specificity). Hence Carlson’s surmise (as promised in the final
paragraph of “‘Archaic Mark’ (MS 2427) and the Finding of a Manuscript Fake,” and pre-
sented in the 2006 SBL paper) that Colwell missed the connection because he did not have
access to Buttmann’s edition probably does not hold. But it is even more ironic that ms
2427’s exemplar has been in the same collection—in some state of processing—all these
years. Research in the archives of correspondence shows that the Chicago scholars were
only trying to collate the manuscript against Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort. Butt-
mann’s name never comes up.
Letter of Colwell to Goodspeed, September 8, 1941 (Special Collections, University of
Same letter as n. 114.
Chicago’s “Archaic Mark” (ms 2427) II 133

argument for its authenticity, as the context shows: “[Silva Lake] suggested
that you look [for comparative purposes] at MS 69. When I asked why, she
said that everything about MS 69 was wrong, but it was undoubtedly
authentic. I assured her that everything about 2427 was wrong too.” But,
as it turns out, certainly not authentic.