Biography of Constantin von Tischendorf
Constantin von Tischendorf - German New Testament textual critic
Lobegott Friedrich Konstantin Von Tischendorf (1815-1874),German New Testament textual critic
Born in Lengenfeld, Tischendorf studied at Leipzig (1834-1838) under J. G. B. Winer, a noted Greek grammarian whose grammar of New Testament Greek (1822) had become a standard for many generations. For many years thereafter Tischendorf also taught in the theology department at Leipzig. Influenced by Winer, He developed an intense desire to utilize the most ancient manuscripts and thereby recover the purest and earliest form of the Greek New Testament. To that end he devoted a lifetime of labor to discovering manuscripts and producing accurate editions of the Greek New Testament. In fulfillment of his desire, he discovered Codexi Sinaiticus, deciphered the palimpsest Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, collated countless manuscripts, and produced several editions of the Greek New Testament.
Of all Tischendorf's accomplishments, the best known is his discovery of Codex Sinaiticus at St. Catherine's Monastery (located near Mount Sinai). The manuscript, dated around AD. 360 to 375, is one of the two oldest vellum (treated animal hide) manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. The first time he visited the monastery (1844), he retrieved several leaves of an ancient Septuagint from a wastebasket. Many other leaves, he was told, had already been used to stoke fires! On another visit (1859) he was shown a copy of the Greek Scriptures (containing books of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament) by the steward of the monastery Recognizing it as the oldest extant copy of the Greek Scriptures, Tischendorf attempted to purchase the manuscript but was refused. After making a transcription of the text, he did some political maneuvering wherein the czar of Russia was given the manuscript in exchange for favors conferred upon the authorities of the monastery. Tischendorf greatly used the textual evidence of Codex Sinaiticus in preparing his critical editions of the Greek New Testament.