I am curious about the early patristic evidence for the various Gospels and other New Testament writings. As I understand these are helpful in establishing the dates for many of these works. Related to this is, when early Church Fathers quote passages from NT writings, are they usually verbatim or do they often differ from the canon that was eventually established? Perhaps my question is a bit broad, but feel free to narrow or expand as time allows.
This is a good set of questions, and I may make two or three posts on it, depending on how it goes. As it turns out, it is an issue I’ve long been interested in. In fact, when I started doing serious research in the textual criticism of the New Testament – back when I was in the last year of my Master’s Program – this was the one topic I was most interested in: the Patristic evidence for the text of the NT. (Patristic = Writings of the Church Fathers.) I told my mentor and advisor, Bruce Metzger, that I wanted to do a PhD dissertation in that sub-specialization of textual criticism; he suggested I work on the citations of the NT in the writings of the fourth-century writer Didymus the Blind; and I did. That ended up being my dissertation. It was the first volume to be published in a series edited by a textual scholar named Gordon Fee, and called The New Testament in the Greek Fathers. After Fee’s term as editor in chief was up, I took on the position myself and stayed on editing the series for six years. And so, I have long and deep interests in the study of the writings of the church fathers and their quotations of the NT text.
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