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What We Now Know about the Manuscripts of the New Testament

I have talked about how the Greek New Testament was first published by Erasmus in 1516, and about how scholars began to realize, soon after that, just how many differences there were in our surviving manuscripts, with a key moment coming in 1707 with the publication of John Mill’s Greek New Testament, which noted 30,000 places where the manuscripts Mill had examined had alternative readings.    I should stress, Mill did not cite every place he found a difference in the manuscripts.  Only the differences he thought were significant.  Really. So where do we stand today?   Here is my summary of the modern textual situation, over three hundred years later, as drawn from my book Misquoting Jesus. ****************************************************** Whereas Mill knew of or examined some 100 Greek manuscripts to uncover his 30,000 variations, today we know of far, far more.  At last count there have been over 5700 Greek manuscripts discovered and catalogued.  That’s fifty-seven times as many as Mill knew about in 1707.  These 5700 include everything from the smallest fragments of manuscripts – the [...]

2020-04-03T02:35:17-04:00February 14th, 2017|New Testament Manuscripts, Public Forum|

New Testament Manuscripts: Good News and Bad News

In my previous post I started talking about the different kinds of manuscripts of the New Testament we have, as a prelude to my discussion of my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.  I now want to say something further about these manuscripts and how they can help us reconstruct what the authors of the NT originally wrote (and why they pose problems for us to that end). Below is what I say about the matter in my textbook on the New Testament, in the new sixth edition that has just appeared. **************************************************** When trying to reconstruct what the authors of the New Testament actually wrote, based on the surviving copies, we have both good news and bad news. The good news: We have more manuscripts for the New Testament than for any other book from the ancient world—many, many more manuscripts than we have for the writings of Homer, Plato, Cicero, or any other important author. We have something like 5,700 manuscripts of the New Testament—from small fragments of tiny parts of a single [...]

2017-11-29T21:27:57-05:00July 18th, 2015|New Testament Manuscripts|
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