Why did I Study Biblical Manuscripts?

This entry is part 27 of 27 in the series What are New Testament Manuscripts?

People study Biblical manuscripts for a variety of reasons.

  • Some manuscripts have detailed drawings in them, and it’s amazing how many years it took to create some of the manuscripts (What are Illuminated Manuscripts?).
  • The study of paleography (What is Paleography?) shows how writing styles changed over time.
  • Manuscripts are evidence of how people have valued God’s written word.
  • Manuscripts can give information about the person who wrote the manuscript, and the circumstances under which it was written.
  • Manuscripts can provide a history lesson of who previously owned them.
  • The reasons go on.

My study of manuscripts was completely unplanned.

Last summer I did a series What are the Gospels? and a series What is the Biblical Canon?. While I was researching the Gospels and Canon, I learned a bit about Textual Criticism. I started researching textual criticism in August, with the intent of starting a series in September or October.

I quickly realized I needed to learn about New Testament manuscripts before studying textual criticism. New Testament Textual Criticism is the study of Greek New Testament manuscripts, with the primary purpose of trying to determine the exact words the Apostles wrote. Understanding manuscripts is foundational to textual criticism, as the evidence we have for what the Apostles wrote is contained in the manuscripts that have been preserved over the past two thousand years.

After realizing I needed to study manuscripts, I had expected to write a few articles on manuscripts before moving on to textual criticism, but this was a case of the more I learned about manuscripts, the more I realized I didn’t know much about them. Now my manuscript series has run for six months and it’s time to finally move on to my series on textual criticism.

Textual criticism is a topic people can spend their entire careers studying. Over the past six months I’ve had time to read some books about it, and in hindsight I’m glad I had an extra six months to study textual criticism before blogging about it. It was my naivety that allowed me to think I could blog about textual criticism after only studying it for a few weeks. Being delayed for six months certainly helped my research, but there is still a lot I don’t know.

I hope you’re ready for a new topic!

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  1. Regina says:

    Not making light of this, but it reminded me of “if you give a mouse a cookie” and the process is true about so many things in our lives.

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