Notes on Early New Testament Manuscripts

Related posts:

From Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & New Testament by Philip W. Comfort (see Annotated Bibliography on New Testament Text and Canon).

Given a twenty-five year lifespan for a church codex, whether of Paul’s epistles or of the four Gospels, it could be guessed that there would be about two hundred copies by the beginning of the second century. There would be an additional 250–300 church copies by the end of second century.  [Kindle location 1376]

J. Duplacy estimated that the total number of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament produced in the fourth century was between fifteen hundred and two thousand.  This allows for about four or five copies produced by each church (or diocese) during this century.  There were about four hundred dioceses towards AD 400.  [Kindle location 1525]

Notes on Early Christian Churches

Related posts:

From Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & New Testament by Philip W. Comfort (see Annotated Bibliography on New Testament Text and Canon).

By the end of the second century, there was a church in almost every major city [in the Greco-Roman world].  [Kindle location 1353]

There were, of course, other churches in villages and the countryside. But these city churches totaled forty-three in the first century and another fifty-four in the second. Roughly, one hundred local churches were in existence by the year 200.  [Kindle location 1369]

From Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World by Larry W. Hurtado, Baylor University Press, 2016, page 3.  In his footnote, Hurtado cites as his source Keith Hopkins in “Christian Number and Its Implications (Journal of Early Christian Studies, 1998) for this information.  He also cites two additional sources for this kind of information.

One recent estimate of the number of sites where there were bodies or “communities” of Christians posits a hundred or so (many of these comprising several house-based groups) by 100 AD and two hundred to four hundred sites by 200 AD.

Is the Bible Reliable? (1 of 4): Introduction | Mark Ashton 

In the introductory video of this 2009 series, Pastor Mark Ashton of Christ Community Church in Omaha says that expecting someone to believe that the Bible is the word of God is too big a leap.  He suggests following a process that consists of these three steps:

  1. Believe the Bible is historically reliable.
  2. Believe what the Bible says about Jesus.
  3. Believe the Bible is the word of God

He says we can do this by focusing on these three tests:

  1. Internal
  2. External
  3. Manuscript

This constitues the outline of the videos that follow the first one.

 

 

How Geographic Separation Affirms the Reliability of the New Testament | J. Warner Wallace

(4-minute read; 904 words)

Source: How Geographic Separation Affirms the Reliability of the New Testament | Cold Case Christianity

HT: Greg West at The Poached Egg of Ratio Christi

Michael Kruger Reports on Craig Evans and the Expected Life of the New Testament Autographs

This post explains that the extant copies of the New Testament might be more closely related to the originals than previously thought.

(2 min read; 581 words)

Source: Is the Original Text of the New Testament Lost? Rethinking Our Access to the Autographs | Canon Fodder

The Reliability of the Oral Tradition That Preceded the New Testament

This 14:49 video discusses the oral tradition about Jesus which preceded, and was the basis for, the written texts we have in the New Testament.

Excerpt (14:14 through 14:35):

Scholars estimate the reliability of an oral tradition can last for over a century before we could expect corruption to seep in.  Gilbert Garraghan says it cannot go past 150 years (A Guide to Historial Method, p. 259-262).  Marelene Ciklamini sets the limit at 200 years (Old Norse Epic and Historical Tradition, p. 21).  This is well within the time frame of when the New Testament was written down even if we take the latest dates for when the books were written.

The Reliability of the New Testament (Oral Tradition) – YouTube. (Source:  Inspiring Philosophy)

A Sub-Bibliography of Nineteenth-Century and Prior Works

This is a subsidiary post of Annotated Bibliography on New Testament Text and Canon.

Because my bibliography on text and canon (“apostolic apologetics”) is so long, and because older works have particular advantages and disadvantages, I thought it might be helpful to list here those works in the bibliography that come from prior to the 20th Century.

To be clear, this bibliography is a subset of the Annotated Bibliography on New Testament and Canon.  There is no work you will find below that is not already included in that much longer list.  However, to keep this list concise I have not included the annotations with the entries.

Alexander, Archibald (1772-1851).  The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained; or, The Bible, Complete, without the Apocrypha and Unwritten Traditions.  Presbyterian Board of Education, 1851.

Athanasius (296-373).  Festal Letter 39.  This is the earliest statement about New Testament contents that matches our own.  See Athanasius on the New Testament Canon.

Augustine (354-430).  On Christian Doctrine.  He lists the canonical books in 2.8.12-13.  See Augustine on the New Testament Canon.

__________.  Against Faustus (Contra Faustum).  In 33:6 Augustine explains how we can know, even from a purely human standpoint, whether literary works are authentic or false, using Hippocrates as an example.

Charteris, A. H.  Canonicity:  A Collection of Early Testimonies to the Canonical Books of the New Testament.  William Blackwood and Sons, 1880.

Davidson, Samuel.  The Canon of the Bible: Its Formation, History, and Fluctuations, Third Revised and Enlarged Edition.  C. Kegan Paul, 1880.

Eusebius (263-339).  The History of the Church.  Translated by G. A. Williamson.  Penguin, 1965, 432 pages.  (Also translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert.  Archeron Press, 2012, Kindle edition.)

Hodge, A. A. (1823-1886). “Popular lectures on theological themes” in Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1887, p. 68-93.

Jerome (347-420).  Letter 53.  At 53:9, he addresses the canon.  See Jerome on the New Testament Canon.

Josephus (37-100).  Josephus: The Complete Works.  Translated by William Whiston.  Thomas Nelson, 1998, 1159 pages.

Moore, Dunlop.  “The Beginning and Growth of the Canon of the New Testament” inThe Presbyterian and Reformed Review, Vol. 7, No. 25, January 1896, 33 pages.

Reuss, Edward (1804-1891).  History of the Canon of the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Church.  Translated by David Hunter.  Gemmell, 1884, 430 pages.

Schaff, Philip (1819-1893). Editor.  The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection.  Catholic Way Publishing, 2014 (originally published 1886-1900).

Tregelles, Samuel P. (1813-1875).   A Lecture on the Historic Evidence of the Authorship and Transmission of the Books of the New Testament.  Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1852.

Westcott, Brooke Foss.  A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, 4th edition.  Macmillan, 1875.

Zahn, Theodor.  Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons.  Deichert, 1888-1892.

NT Manuscripts – Papyri

This is a catalog that describes prominent papyri, such as P45 (Gospels-Acts) and P46 (Letters of Paul).

NT Manuscripts – Papyri.

Dating the Oldest New Testament Manuscripts

Article by Peter van Minnen, includes bibliography

(6 min read; 1,611 words)

Dating the Oldest New Testament Manuscripts.