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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Do I Need a Dictionary to Study Ancient Manuscripts?

Yes!

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...

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Why were the Early Christians More Likely to Write on a Codex Rather than a Scroll?

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.

In...

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What is a Manuscript?

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...

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What Media has the Bible been Written On?

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...

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Did Emperor Constantine Create the Canon?

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...

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