The Greek New Testament
Luke 23:8-23, 25 from Miniscule 28, 12th century
This is a miniscule of Luke 23:8-23,25 from a late Byzantine codex of the Gospels. The majority of the codex is now in Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. The manuscript was used for many important printed Greek New Testaments. Catalogued as Codex 28.78 in Gregory Alands catalog.
Lectionary Reading from John 13:31-38. 1500
A Lectionary is a book with Scriptures organized for reading on specific days. This lectionary was used in the Orthodox church for Passion Week. It is the first lesson of the Twelve Accounts of the Passion which was read on Holy Friday. The lesson begins with a title and illuminations made with brown ink: The reading is from the according to John.
Nouum Iesu Christi D.N. Testamentum. Ex Bibliotheca Regia . Robert Estienne , Paris, 1550
Printer Robert Estienne, known by his Latin name Stephanus, printed four editions of the Greek New Testament. This third edition became normative for most biblical translations into the twentieth century.
Stephanus fourth edition of the Greek New Testament, printed in 1551, was the first New Testament with verse numbers.
. Jacob Wettstein, Amsterdam, 1751
The New Testament in Greek and English. Daniel Mace, 1729.
How Many New Testament Manuscripts Do We Really Have
How does the Bible size up with other books from the ancient world?
Is it really true that the New and Old Testament is the book from the ancient world that has the largest amounmt of extant manuscripts?
Into how many ancient languages has the Bible been translated?
And finally, if we did not have all the manuscript evidence some believe we could still get the gist of the New Testament from early church correspondence. If this is true how does this improve or maintain the general case for an historically accurate New Testament?
- Let me see… I have at least 15. Full Bibles: 1 KJV-1611, 1 Amplified, 1 NASB, 1 NIV, 2 ESV, 1 Russian Synodal, 1 New Russian. New Testament Only: 1 NIV, 6 Greek Texts.Jun 3 ’13 at 20:36
- @Narnian: < pedantic> I’m willing to bet that none of those are true manuscripts.< /pedantic> Jun 3 ’13 at 20:45
The Dead Sea Scrolls currently housed in the Israeli Dead Sea Scroll museum and available online, is a collection of 972 manuscripts from the period 408 – 308 BC. Seeing as the Old Testament itself consists of books written between 1000 – 600 BC and the late 450s, this is a pretty good collection. There are others, but this is the most well-known and complete collection.
More interestingly, a good apparatus can actually show you every variation on the texts, and you will see they are few and far in between. This question shows how an apparatus works.
Understanding The Bibliographical Test
If we were to look at other ancient writings, such as Caesar’s “Gallic Wars,” Livy’s “History of Rome,” Thucydides’s “History of the Peloponnesian War,” and “The Histories of Herodotus,” we would learn how these documents boast anywhere from a handful of manuscripts to just over 250 in existence today.
But the evidence supporting those manuscripts pales in comparison to one of the most recognized and historically reliable works, which is Homer’s “Iliad.” There are more than 1,900 “Iliad” manuscripts in existence, and the earliest manuscript copy dates to 415 BC.1
But the “Iliad” can’t come even close to the number of Old Testament manuscript fragments and scrolls that have been found. Here is a brief survey of the most significant finds of ancient Hebrew texts.
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Is This Interesting Or What Its Certainly Factual Information That You Can Share With Critics Who Assert That The Bible Has Not Been Reliably Passed Down Lets Keep Going Join Us Next Week When We Look At How Archaeology Helps To Confirm The Historicity Of The Bible
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowells recently revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because its true. But share this truth with LOVE!
~ A Chester Beatty Papyri ~
These third century papyrus codices were purchased by British mining engineer A. Chester Beatty in the 1930s from a dealer in Egypt. Also known as P45,P46, and P47, they are housed in Beattys gift to the world: the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.
P45 contains part of a codex of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. P46 contains letters written by Paul: Romans, Hebrews, I and II Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and I Thessalonians. P47 contains the oldest known text of the Book of Revelation.
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Manuscript Evidence For The Bible’s Reliability
Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament
There are more than 25,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament.
These manuscript copies are very ancient and they are available for inspection now.
There are also some 36,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries .
Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability.
The Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts Are Minimal
In the many thousands of manuscript copies we possess of the New Testament, scholars have discovered that there are some 200,000 “variants.”
This may seem like a staggering figure to the uninformed mind. But to those who study the issue, the numbers are not so damning as it may initially appear. Indeed, a look at the hard evidence shows that the New Testament manuscripts are amazingly accurate and trustworthy.
To begin, we must emphasize that out of these 150,000 variants, 99 percent hold virtually no significance whatsoever. Many of these variants simply involve a missing letter in a word some involve reversing the order of two words some may involve the absence of one or more insignificant words.
Even in the few cases where some perplexity remains, this does not impinge on the meaning of Scripture to the point of clouding a tenet of the faith or a mandate of life.
The New Testament Versus Other Ancient Books
Norman Geisler makes several key observations for our consideration:
Manuscripts Of The Bible
Manuscripts are written, as opposed to printed, copies of the original text or of a version either of the whole Bible or of a part thereof. After introductory remarks on manuscripts in general, we shall take up in detail the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic manuscripts of the Bible manuscripts of other versions are not important enough to come within the scope of this article.
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The Cairo Genizah Scrolls
In the late nineteenth century, almost 250,000 Jewish manuscript fragments of the Old Testament were found in a genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo.
Those documents were written from about AD 870 to AD 1880.2 Several years ago, more than 24,000 biblical-related materials were published from this Cairo Genizah Collection.3
They Have Been Used As An Object Of Worship
While there are historical reasons as to why the originals of Scripture no longer exist, there are also some people who have advocated theological reasons as to why these books have not been preserved. They believe that if the originals of any books of the Bible had survived, they would be made objects of worship. The faith of the believer, they contend, would be placed in the wrong object. The text, rather than the ultimate Author of the text, would receive worship.
In fact, it seems that this is what did happen. In the writings of Peter of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 311, he relates how the original of the Gospel of John still existed in his day. He made the comment that this copy was adored by the faithful. This sounds like the people were giving a status to the actual writing that it did not deserve. We do not worship the text of Scripture! On the contrary, we worship the God whom the text of Scripture reveals.
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New Testament Manuscripts And Why Theyre Important
The books of the New Testament share in common the fact that they were all originally written in Greek. Although the original parchments used by Paul, Luke, John, and the other apostles have long been lost, history has left thousands upon thousands of New Testament manuscripts . These manuscripts are a witness to the enduring character of the text and message of the Bible. But theyre also a source of continual debate and discussion concerning the origin of Christianity, the reliability of Scripture, and the nature of divine revelation.
- What are NT MSS?
- Why are NT MSS important for biblical studies?
- What additional resources are available for studying NT MSS?
Modern Christians Dont Have To Defend The Validity Of The Bible Historical Manuscripts Have Already Done So
In last weeks blog post we answered the question, Did ancient scribes faithfully transcribe biblical texts? Resoundingly, research shouts, YES!
I hope one truth youre learning, as we travel this series together, is that the Bible is THE most vetted document in the history of the world. So much historical documentation exists to confirm the faithful transcription of Scripture. I love reposting the following statistic, as its so impressive:
Of just the known 5,800+ Greek New Testament manuscripts, there are more than 2.6 million pages! That equates to one mile of New Testament manuscripts , compared with an average four feet of manuscript by the average classical writer. Combining both the Old and New Testament, we have more than 66,000 manuscripts and scrolls that speak to the validity of Scripture!
In this weeks post, lets look at some important Hebrew manuscripts that help to validate Old Testament Scripture.
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What Is The Most Recent Manuscript Count For The New Testament
What is the Most Recent Manuscript Count for the New Testament?
With the initial release of Evidence that Demands a Verdict in 1972, my father helped popularize the bibliographic test for the reliability of the New Testament. Essentially, the bibliographic test examines the textual transmission by which a document reaches us.
Since we do not have the original New Testament writings , textual critics aim to determine the reliability of existing copies. For any particular work or collection of works, the greater the number and the earlier the dating of the manuscripts, the easier it is to reconstruct a text closer to the original and identify errors or discrepancies.
Since people still regularly cite manuscript numbers from the 1999 “New” Evidence, I thought it might be helpful to write a post with the most recent numbers from the updated Evidence .
Scholars use different sources, such as the Leuven Database or the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. It is extremely laborious to track down the number of both classical and biblical manuscripts. We had a team of researchers and scholars help us with this endeavor. Still, for a variety of reasons, these numbers are educated guesses.
We list the numbers for other classical works and specific biblical manuscripts in the updated Evidence. But here are the key manuscript updates:
GreekManuscript total: 5,856
*Earliest manuscript: AD 130
Non-Greek Manuscripts : 18,130+
Total Manuscripts: 23,986
How Many Old Testament Manuscripts Exist
. Herein, how many manuscripts of the Bible have been found?
Parts of the New Testament have been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work. There are over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages, such as Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian.
Similarly, where are the original manuscripts of the Bible located? The Greek manuscripts which we do possess today are kept in various museums and institutions, mostly located in Europe but there are a few in the United States. One of the Chester Beatty Papyri, which is one of the oldest fragments containing parts of the New Testament is kept at the University of Michigan.
Just so, are there original manuscripts of the Old Testament?
Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were in Greek, in manuscripts such as the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Out of the roughly 800 manuscripts found at Qumran, 220 are from the Tanakh.
What is considered the oldest book ever written in the world?
The Gutenberg Bible, also known as the 42-line Bible, is listed by the Guinness Book of World records as the world’s oldest mechanically printed book the first copies of which were printed in 1454-1455 AD.
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Reliability Of The New Testament As Historical Documents
- “Astounding” number of ancient manuscripts extant: 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin and 9,000 other–totaling over 24,000 manuscript copies or portions of the New Testament. These are dated from 100 to 300 years after the originals.
- Early fragments: John Ryland manuscript 130 A.D. in Egypt Bodmer manuscript containing most of John’s gospel 150-200 A.D. Magdalen fragment from Mat. 26 believed by some to be within a few years of Jesus’ death Gospel fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls dated as early as 50 A.D.
- Comparison with other ancient documents :
Caesar10 copies1000 year gap
Tacitus20 copies1000 year gap
Plato7 copies1200 year gap
- F. F. Bruce: “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good attestation as the New Testament.”
- William F. Albright: “Thanks to the Qumran discoveries, the New Testament proves to be in fact what it was formerly believed to be: the teaching of Christ and his immediate followers circa.25 and circa. 80 AD.”
Reliability Of The Old Testament
- Jewish scholars performed “unbelievable” care in copying and preserving Scripture.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 are dated from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. These manuscripts predate by 1000 years the previous oldest manuscripts. They represent every Old Testament book except Esther . There is word for word identity in more than 95% of the cases, and the 5% variation consists mostly of slips of the pen and spelling.
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Testing The Historical Reliability Of The Old Testament
If the Old Testament is God-breathed words, if God has supernaturally superintended its transmission down through the ages, then the Old Testament should have no problem standing up to the tests that historians use to determine the reliability of ancient documents.
One of these tests is called the “Bibliographical Test.” It is a test to see how many manuscripts we have to work with and how early they come to the time that the original copy was written.
Earlier manuscripts are generally more reliable, and more manuscripts mean that we have more to work with in order to confidently reconstruct what the original text actually said. In this article, we will be looking at the number of manuscripts available. So how does the Hebrew text stack up?
Many Bible Versions From Many Manuscripts
One of the reasons we see different versions of the Bible is because of the number of manuscripts available. There are over 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts known to date, along with over 10,000 Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts and over 19,000 copies in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and Aramaic languages.
The Oldest papyrus fragment is in England at the John Rylands Library of Manchester University called, P52. The fragment dates no later than AD 150 and as early as AD 100.
Scholars have divided these ancient manuscripts into two main families: Alexandrian text-type and Byzantine text-type .
- The text type looks at all the manuscripts and determines the final reading by what the majority of the manuscripts say.
- Rather than looking for a collective majority, the Alexandrian text type looks mainly at the date of the manuscript and the region of the world its from.
Once the manuscript families are determined for the translation of the Bible, translators need to decide what translation philosophy they will follow. There are 3 main philosophies: formal equivalence, functional equivalence, and optimal equivalence.
1. Formal Equivalence focuses on translating word-for-word and strives to be as literal as possible. Bibles that fall under the formal equivalence philosophy would be the ESV, KJV, and NASB.
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~ Great Reason To Believe ~
All told, the sheer number of New Testament manuscripts and the earliness of the extant manuscripts give us great reason to believe the New Testament accurately transmits the contents of the originals.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post titled Testing the Historical Reliability of the New Testament, of just the known 5,800+ Greek New Testament manuscripts, there are more than 2.6 million pages! That equates to one mile of New Testament manuscripts , compared with an average four feet of manuscript by the average classical writer. Combining both the Old and New Testament, we have more than 66,000 manuscripts and scrolls!
Important Early Scriptural Manuscripts That Make The Case For The Reliability Of The Bible
The Bible we use today originates from really early historical documents. Scholars are able to assess the importance of a manuscript by how much of the Bible it includes, and by the date assigned to it.
What factors help to determine the age of a manuscript? Lots of factors, including the material used, the letter size and form, text divisions, ornamentation, the color of the ink, and even Carbon-14 dating.
Lets look at a handful of important early New Testament manuscripts that scholars have discovered so far. Each serves to validate that our modern Bible is, indeed, a reliable representation of those early writings.
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