Almost every field of study has a unique vocabulary and ancient manuscripts are no exception. Some words (i.e. Boustrophedon) are unique to the study of manuscripts, while other words (i.e. hand) use an uncommon definition.
When I started studying the topic of New Testament manuscripts, I quickly realize I needed to learn a lot of new terminology. Writing down the definitions (or my understanding of the definitions; I can't vouch for...
In the second millennium B.C., when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and for the first few hundred years after the Exodus, documents were typically written on papyrus. Papyrus sheets were made from the papyrus plant, which was common among the Nile river. Sheets of papyrus were fragile, and creases in papyrus could tear easily. Typically, documents were made into scrolls rather than books, which would help prevent sharp bends in the sheets.
What is a Manuscript?
The word manuscript comes from the Latin words manu, meaning hand, and scriptus, meaning write. Historically, a manuscript is a handwritten document, or a handwritten copy of a document. In modern times, a manuscript could be made on a typewriter or computer, but then refers to the original document created by the author, as opposed to mass-produced copies of the same document.
Manuscripts are a...
After writing 13 articles on the canon, I've started researching a new topic: New Testament manuscripts. I haven't exhausted the subject of the Biblical Canon (I've focused on the New Testament canon and haven't written about the Old Testament canon), but I've exhausted my current interest in studying it.
The books of the canon make the Bible, but how did the Bible get from the early church to us? How do we know the Bible has been...
This week's question may seem odd, especially after writing a dozen previous articles on the Biblical Canon, and emphasizing the importance of the written Word of God (Why Create a Written Canon? Part 2). I'll start my answer with this statement: People don't need a Bible to become Christian.
Becoming a Christian
The earliest books of the New Testament (written by the Apostle Paul) were written 10-20 years after the resurrection of...
My last post, How was the Biblical Canon Found?, described the different ways the canon could be formed. I now want to show the tragic results when people decide what books are the word of God.
The Jesus Seminar is an organization trying to find the "Historical Jesus", or the life and teachings of Jesus, using both Christian and non-Christian resources. These resources can include ancient historians, ancient manuscripts, legends and...
I've referred to the conclusion in this article quite a few times in previous articles, but I think it's important to show how I arrived at the conclusion. There have been different approaches used in developing the canon, and two of them are based on human desires, while the third one is based on revelation by the Holy Spirit. Of course, there is overlap in all three, since none of us perfectly knows God's will. People didn't decide what books...
A common claim from people who don't believe the Bible is the word of God is that the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (Constantine I) created the Bible. They'll probably acknowledge some version of the texts existed before Constantine legalized Christianity, but say Constantine dictated what books were to be in the Bible, the ones which fit his personal beliefs. The skeptic may claim the result of this fiddling created Christianity as we know it...
In my article Can New Books be Added to the New Testament Canon?, I listed four categories a book could be in if someone proposes adding a book to the New Testament Canon:
- A Missing Book is Found
- A Book Written by a Student or Co-Worker of an Apostle
- A Book Not in Every Canon
- New Revelation
For each of the categories, I picked a book and showed why it doesn't meet the criteria (What...
The practical answer to this question is easy: No, new books can't be added to the canon. The technical answer is a bit more involved. I wrote the article What are the Criteria for a Book to be Canonical? on how the church fathers recognized the books in the New Testament canon. It's possible a book "slipped through the cracks" when the church fathers were studying them, although it's not probable.
I'll limit this article to...