Burgon called Hort out on the supposed "unique criterion supplied by the concord of the independent attestations of א and B" (so Hort). Burgon remarked:
"...'independent attestations'?! But when two copies of the Gospel are confessedly derived from one and the same original, how can their attestations be called independent? This is however greatly to understate the case:
The non-independence of א and B in respect of St. Mark 16:9-20 is absolutely unique; for, strange to relate, it so happens that the very leaf from which the end of St. Mark's Gospel and the beginning of St. Luke's is written (Mk 16:2 - Lk. 1:56), is one of the 6 leaves of א which are held to have been written by the scribe of codex B. Scrivener remarks 'The inference is simple and direct, that at least in these leaves א and B make but one witness, not two.' (cf. F.H.A. Scrivener, Intro. vol. 2 p 337-8)
- Burgon, Traditional Text, (London, 1871,1892) p. 233
However, the identity of the second scribe, Scribe D, need not be confirmed as the scribe of Codex Vaticanus for the essential problem to remain. Its not that the 'cancel-sheets' or replaced pages of Sinaiticus were written by the scribe of Codex B that really matters. Its the fact that the pages were taken out and replaced at all. This puts collusion of some kind back on the table.
The supposed independence of the two MSS remains badly eroded, if not destroyed, by the fact that these MSS rested at the same scriptorium in Caesarea at about the same time during their manufacture, that is, before they ever left the scriptorium where they were made. At that time, pages were removed and replaced by someone (scribe D) so that א now conforms to B, in omitting Mark's Ending.
The two manuscripts do not necessarily witness to an ancient text per se, but rather the two MSS actually witness to a single policy in a common scriptorium in the 4th century. This policy may indeed have been based on an old manuscript omitting the verses or missing a page, but in the 4th century it may also have been based on political problems or religious controversy caused by the teaching found in the verses (e.g. Mk. 16:18 etc.).
Next, we'll look at Kirsopp Lake's examination of the pages.