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GUEST POST! Dr. Brent Nongbri on How We Date Manuscripts

One of the people we are lucky to have as a member of the blog is Dr. Brent Nongbri, who did his Ph.D. at Yale in 2008 and who is now a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Macquarie University (see here).  Among other things, Brent is one of the most knowledgeable and productive scholars working in the field of paleography – the discipline that deals with the dating of ancient manuscripts. He has been following this discussion of a possible first-century copy of the Gospel of Mark, and to my great appreciation has agreed to do a GUEST POST for us all, on an area many of us are very interested in.  How would we know the first-century manuscript if we saw one???   Here is his succinct and lucid summary of how scholars date ancient manuscripts, from a leading authority, in his own words.   Many thanks, Brent! Brent Nongbri - How We Date Manuscripts Brent Nongbri’s most popular books are Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept and God's Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest [...]

2022-06-07T20:20:09-04:00February 1st, 2015|New Testament Manuscripts|

Would We Recognize an Original Manuscript?

READER'S QUESTION: Were we to have any *original manuscript* of any NT document in our midst, would we be able to recognize and confirm it as such?  If so, how? BART'S RESPONSE: Now that’s a question I’ve never been asked before!  And in fact, that I’ve never really thought about before.  It’s been fun to reflect on it a bit. To get to the short answer: I think the answer would almost certainly be "No". The reasons are of particular interest, though.   Suppose by chance a very early copy of the Gospel of John appeared.   How would we date it?  Manuscripts are dated on the basis of palaeography – an analysis of the handwriting.   Since, before the invention of printing, handwriting changed slowly, over periods of time, we can collect specimens of Greek manuscripts (or Latin or Coptic etc.) and find ones that have dates written on them.  We can then establish what Greek handwriting looked like at one period or another.   This, of course, has all been done for us already by experts [...]

2020-04-03T19:36:05-04:00June 26th, 2012|New Testament Manuscripts, Reader’s Questions|
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