What are Illuminated Manuscripts?

Illuminated manuscripts are manuscripts with pictures that, originally, were intended to make the text more understandable. In places where literacy was low, illuminated manuscripts could help non-readers understand the Bible (or other texts) more easily. In later times, illumination came to mean decorated, regardless of whether the decorations were related to the text.

Lindisfarne Gospels


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Do Fake or Forged Biblical Manuscripts Exist?

I want to address several related issues in this article:

  • Are Authentic Manuscripts Legally Available for Sale?
  • Are Biblical Manuscripts Sold Illegally?
  • What Are Unprovenanced Biblical Manuscripts?
  • Do Fake or Forged Biblical Manuscripts Exist?

Are Authentic Manuscripts Legally Available for Sale?

I did a quick search on Google and found several web sites that sell old Biblical manuscripts and...

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What is “First Century Mark”?

There's a lot of conflicting information on this subject, so please forgive me if I get some details wrong.

The Players

This whole story is convoluted, so a "cast of characters" (and organizations) may help, and I'll be using some below.

  • Egypt Exploration Society (ESS) - The organization that owns and curates the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Based in...

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What is Boustrophedon?

In my article Do I Need a Dictionary to Study Ancient Manuscripts?, I included the word boustrophedon, but I haven't used the word yet in any of the articles. I've read there are (or were) New Testament manuscripts which use (or used) boustrophedon, but I was unable to find any specific manuscripts. 

Most languages that I'm aware of write from left-to-right, while some languages are written right-to-left (e.g. Hebrew and Arabic)....

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What is Paleography?

My article last week was How are New Testament Manuscripts Dated?. Today's article is a follow-up describing one particular method of dating ancient manuscripts: paleography.

The word paleography comes from the Greek words παλαιός (transliterated: palaiós; English: old), and γράφειν (transliterated: graphein; English: to write), meaning "old writing". Paleography is the study of how old manuscripts were...

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How are New Testament Manuscripts Dated?

Scholars have found tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts that contain parts of the Bible. Each manuscript had two aspects to it: 1) the physical media it's on; 2) the text that has been written on it.  The media and the text have to exist at the same time, but they don't have to be created at the same time. It is possible for a 2,000 year old text (i.e. the New Testament) to be written on modern media (i.e. paper). It is not possible for modern text...

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Should the Bible be Copied Like Links in a Chain?

My last article was Was the Bible Copied Like Links in a Chain or a Tangled Ball of String?. Here's a joke I found showing the dangers of the links-in-a-chain method of copying. There are several versions of this joke on the Internet, so I don't know who at attribute it to.

A new monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to help the other monks in copying the old texts by hand. He notices, however, that they are copying...

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Was the Bible Copied Like Links in a Chain or a Tangled Ball of String?

Chain or String

A common complaint against the Bible is that it's been copied, re-copied and corrupted so many times that it's impossible to know what was originally written. Behind this complaint is the assumption that scribes frequently made errors while copying the Bible, and that later scribes simply copied the errors rather than correcting them.

Many people believe the Bible was copied like links in a chain, with each copy made from the last one that was...

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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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