What is Scriptio Continua?

The written word has evolved significantly over the millennia. Many of the evolutions have made writing easier for the sender, and reading easier for the recipient. The media that has been used for writing is one example: some of the oldest knowing writings (or drawings) are on cave walls, and sometimes clay tablets were used. Papyrus (made from the papyrus plant, common along the Nile river) was used for well over 2,000 years, then parchment (made from animal...

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Why Didn’t God Preserve the Autographs of the Bible?

My last two articles have been What’s the Difference Between an Autograph and an Original? and How Long did the Autograph or Original New Testament Manuscripts Last?. Now I want to address a common question: Why Didn't God Preserve the the original Bible?

In my last article, I showed that some of the autographs lasted over 200 years, according to Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (martyred in A.D. 311). Since God is...

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How Long did the Autograph or Original New Testament Manuscripts Last?

My last article was What is the Difference Between an Autograph and an Original?. Now I want to research how long the autographs by the Apostles may have lasted. I own a few books which are nearly 100 years old (I collected The Hardy Boys series for many years, and have some of the originals printed in the 1920's), and some of the books are pretty good condition. If a few of my unimportant The Hardy Boys books have lasted nearly 100...

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What’s the Difference Between an Autograph and an Original?

Thomas Kinkade, Walk of Faith

In the world of ancient manuscripts, the words autograph and original are used in slightly different ways than we typically use them in modern times. I was (and still am) a fan of the series Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Years ago, I went to a seminar where Tim LaHaye was one of the featured speakers, and I had him autograph copies of the first three books. When new books in the series came out, I ordered autographed...

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How does the Quality of New Testament Manuscripts Compare to Other Ancient Manuscripts?

Last week I showed some data about the quantity and ages of both New Testament manuscripts and ancient Greek and Roman authors in the article How does the Quantity of New Testament Manuscripts Compare to Other Ancient Manuscripts?. I had originally planned on using these quotes in last week's article, but it was getting too long. This week is mostly quotes by scholars and authors regarding that data.

So what we have are...

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How does the Quantity of New Testament Manuscripts Compare to Other Ancient Manuscripts?

In my last article, How Many New Testament Manuscripts Exist?, I showed there are over 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts that have been cataloged. Scholars also know of over 20,000 manuscripts in other languages, about half of them in Latin. There are also undoubtedly thousands of manuscripts in private collections, churches and libraries which are effectively lost to the academic world and haven't been studied.

Unfortunately, there...

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How Many New Testament Manuscripts Exist?

I've been wanting to write about the number of New Testament Manuscripts for a while, but I haven't been able to find the types of resource I thought would be available. In my article What is the Gregory-Aland Numbering System?, I showed the most common system scholars use to track Greek New Testament manuscripts and fragments, but there are probably many fragments which haven't been submitted to the...

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What is the Gregory-Aland Numbering System?

Prior to the K-Liste (What is the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments?), there were several different systems for cataloging New Testament manuscripts, which created confusion and inconsistencies for scholars. For a while, Latin letters were used (i.e. Codex Vaticanus is 'B'), but when there were more manuscripts than letters in the Latin alphabet, some people started using Greek letters (i.e. Codex Sangallensis is 'Δ') and one person used a...

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What is the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments?

P52 - Manuscript Workspace

In my last article, Where are Manuscripts Found?, I briefly mentioned scholars use published lists to keep track of the New Testament manuscripts which have been cataloged. The list used by most New Testament manuscript scholars is Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (Short List of Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament), produced by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, University of Munster, Germany. Fortunately for...

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Where are Biblical Manuscripts Found?

Archaeological sites

Surprisingly, archaeologists don't often find manuscripts, but there are some notable exceptions.

A famous manuscript find was the Codex Sinaiticus (א, Gregory-Aland 01) found by Constantin von Tischendorf, at Saint Catherine's Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, between 1844-1859. This book was written about A.D. 325-350. It originally contained the entire Bible, along with the Apocrypha and...

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