Sinaiticus as a Commentary on John's Apocalyse?
That's the issue raised at the Sinaiticus conference by Juan Hernández Jr. (Bethel University, St. Paul). Juan has been educating us about the text of John's Revelation for 3 or 4 years now. In this paper, he writes, "[The Apocalypse in Codex Sinaiticus] exhibits dozens of differences at key points, reflecting the concerns...of its earliest copyists and readers. Taken as a whole, Sinaiticus' text of Revelation may constitute one of our earliest Christian commentaries on the book..., anticipating the later concerns of Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea." He qualifies this claim to an extent, but reinforces it by concluding "[W]e can discern a concerted effort to elucidate the Apocalypse's message by scores of changes throughout."
Juan states that Sinaiticus differs substantially from modern critical editions. It is difficult to evaluate this claim without seeing the differences relative to other manuscripts. Could we say the same about any witness to Revelation? Which mss come closer to NA27? Compared with NA27, Juan cites Sinaiticus as having 182 additions and 389 omissions, with 207 word losses. Juxtaposing this data with the same data of other mss would help ascertain how substantially different Sinaiticus is from NA27, and whether the scribe of Sinaiticus really did make a concerted effort to alter the text.
As part of his thesis that the scribe of Sinaiticus deliberately altered the text, Juan argues that there is a number of theologically motivated variants: Jesus is the beginning of the church, not the beginning of creation (Rev 3:14); Jesus does not vomit (avoidance of base bodily functions, 3:16); both God and the Lamb are ascribed the blessings, honor and "glory of the Almighty" (instead of "and the power," 5:13); Jesus summons Jezebel, rather than throwing her (2:22); Jesus himself opens the door rather than any man (3:20).
Someone remarked that it might be significant that the corrector fixed all these variants (except the last one, involving the mere change of an eta to an omega.). If the corrector corrected these before it left the scriptorium or some time while the Christological issues were raging, then perhaps the charge that scribes deliberately altered texts for theological reasons is somewhat mitigated.
One also must ask if theological motivation really is the cause of alteration; perhaps, as might be the case with 3:20, the change was accidental, rather than arising from "intelligent design" (P.J. Williams' terminology). Moreover, as Tommy Wasserman argued in his SBL Rome paper in regard to theologically motivated alteration, one should ask if a given scribe was consistent in altering texts before ascribing motivation; Tommy demonstrated that this was not the case with many of Bart Ehrman's passages, and one wonders the same for Sinaiticus in Revelation.
Less spectactorily, Juan gave a helpful list of orthographical variations, nonsense readings, grammatical and contextual alterations, dittographic and haplographic reeadings, singular readings, etc. There was also an interesting list of alterations, possibly from liturgical interference.
Lacking expertise in many of these issues, I withhold judgment, except to say that it is a rather spectacular claim that the text of Sinaiticus reflects a "concerted effort" in its transmission history to improve "the Apocalypse's message" by incorporating "scores of changes throughout."