How Are Textual Variants and Variation Units Related?

Textual variants are words or phrases in a manuscript that are different from the standard text. There may be several textual variants for a verse in the Bible, such as the last verse of the Lord's Prayer. Variation units are places in the standard text where the original wording is uncertain, and scholars try to determine which textual variant most likely reflects the original wording.

Textual Variants in Colossians 2:2

A single...

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What are Diglots and Polyglots?

New Testament, Matthew 1: NRSV, Greek and NIV

The words diglot and polyglot are linguistic terms that come from Greek words meaning "two-tongued" and "many-tongued", respectively; they can also mean "language" rather than "tongued". When used as adjectives, they refer to people who speak more than one language. In this article, I'll be using them as nouns and refer to manuscripts and books which have more than one language. Most of the time, I'll use polyglot to refer to two or more...

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What Symbols has the Church Used to Refer to Christianity?

Christian symbols used by the church

I've been working on the series What are New Testament Manuscripts?, and my last article,  What are Nomina Sacra?, described how names and titles for God were contracted to show a special reverence for them. The other articles in the series were about Biblical Manuscripts, but this one focuses on Christian symbols used by the church, sometimes in copies of the New Testament, but also in commentaries, prayers, letters and even on...

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What are Nomina Sacra?

Nomina Sacra, Matthew 1:1, Papyrus 1 (A.D. 200-299)

Nomina Sacra is a method early scribes used to contract Sacred Names when copying the New Testament. Although the term nomina sacra (plural; singular: nomen sacrum) is Latin, it has a modern origin in Ludwig Traube's 1907 book Nomina sacra: Versuch einer Geschichte der christlichen Kürzung (Essay on the history of Christian abbreviations). In my last article, What is Scriptio Continua?, I indicated...

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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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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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