What are the Most Important New Testament Manuscripts?

The New Testament was written in the first century, but the  date each book was written is highly debated. Conservative Christians usually date most of the books of the New Testament before A.D. 70, since there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, which occurred that year. Other people claim much of the New Testament was written after A.D. 70, and that any apparent prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem was written after...

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How do New Testament Text Types Compare?

Last week's article, What are New Testament Text Types?, gave a brief overview of what text types are in New Testament Textual Criticism. Below is a list of the differences in text types, and some of the most important manuscripts for each type.

Category I – Alexandrian text type

  • High quality manuscripts that should always be consulted
  • Generally found in Northern Egypt, particularly from the city of Alexandria,...

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How Careful were Scribes when Copying the Bible?

Some people claim the early Christians believed they were copying letters, history, biographies, and apocalypses, not scripture, so they may not have been as careful while the copying the New Testament as the Jews had been when copying their Bible, and introduced errors into the New Testament. The belief that the Bible has been corrupted over the past 2,000 years contradicts what is actually known about the early church.

The city of Alexandria,...

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What are Variant Units?

In my article two weeks ago, I wrote there are an estimated 200,000-500,000 textual variants in the Greek New Testament manuscripts. Last week I showed spelling errors are counted, but most aren't significant.

Variant Types

The types of textual variants that exist in New Testament manuscripts are split into two  broad categories:

  • Insignificant Variants are errors that are usually found in only a few manuscripts and that can...

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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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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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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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