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 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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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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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 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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What Books Aren’t in the New Testament?

In my article Can New Books be Added to the New Testament Canon?, I listed four categories a book could be in if someone proposes adding a book to the New Testament Canon:

  • A Missing Book is Found
  • A Book Written by a Student or Co-Worker of an Apostle
  • A Book Not in Every Canon
  • New Revelation

For each of the categories, I picked a book and showed why it doesn't meet the criteria (What...

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Can New Books be Added to the New Testament Canon?

The practical answer to this question is easy: No, new books can't be added to the canon. The technical answer is a bit more involved. I wrote the article What are the Criteria for a Book to be Canonical? on how the church fathers recognized the books in the New Testament canon. It's possible a book "slipped through the cracks" when the church fathers were studying them, although it's not probable.

I'll limit this article to...

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What are the Earliest List of the New Testament Books?

In last week's article, I showed how the church father and historian Eusebius of Caesarea categorized the books which churches thought were part of the canon. This week I want to show what some other church fathers thought about the books under consideration. There were over 300 years between the resurrection of Jesus and the first list of books which exactly matches the Protestant New Testament. The books were in use in churches before then, but it took...

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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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