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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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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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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How were the Canonical and Non-Canonical Books Categorized?

This article in my series about the Biblical Canon will be short, although the footnotes are extensive. In the first few hundred years after Jesus's resurrection, the church was trying to understand which books were in the canon. God made the canon, but it was still up to the church to recognize which books were appropriate for use.

Have you ever walked into a crowded room and seen some faces which are vaguely familiar, but you can't remember the...

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Why Create a Written Canon? Part 2

The Biblical Canon contains all the scripture "...breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...." (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV). Last week I wrote Why Create a Written Canon? Part 1, about heresies the early church was combating. However, that's not the main reason the canon was formed. If the canon had been created to fight heresies, that would make the canon reactive, an attempt to fix...

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What is the Biblical Canon?

My last several articles have been about the Gospels, and now I want to change directions slightly and research how the Bible became comprised of the books we know: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. At some point in the past, some group of people put these 66 pieces of writing together into one book. When did that happen? Who was involved? Why did they believe these books are the Word of God and not others? I'll be writing several...

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What are the ‘M’ and ‘L’ Sources?

I've been writing about the Gospels, and last week I wrote about the Q Source Hypothesis (a.k.a. Document Q). The Q Source Hypothesis proposes the Gospel of Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source, while also using the hypothetical source Q for material common to both Matthew and Luke, but not Mark.

My article this week will be short, as I'm just including this for completeness. There is material...

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What is the Q Source Hypothesis?

In my last two articles I've researched What is the Synoptic Problem? and Which Gospel was Written First?. It is frequently accepted by modern scholars that Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source. 

There is material common to both Matthew and Luke which is not in Mark, so where did they get that material? It is generally believed Luke was written third, so either Luke copied the...

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Which Gospels was Written First?

(This post was supposed to go out last Saturday, but I realized yesterday it hadn't.)

The order of the Gospels in the New Testament is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, however, scholars typically believe they were written in a different order. How did they come to this conclusion?

In my article What is the Synoptic Problem?, I showed there is so much in common between the Synoptic Gospels that the later...

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