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A biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. The word Bible
Bible
comes from the Greek biblia (books); manuscript comes from Latin
Latin
manu (hand) and scriptum (written). Biblical manuscripts vary in size from tiny scrolls containing individual verses of the Jewish scriptures (see Tefillin) to huge polyglot codices (multi-lingual books) containing both the Hebrew Bible
Bible
(Tanakh) and the New Testament, as well as extracanonical works. The study of biblical manuscripts is important because handwritten copies of books can contain errors. The science of textual criticism attempts to reconstruct the original text of books, especially those published prior to the invention of the printing press.

Contents

1 Hebrew Bible
Bible
(or Tanakh) manuscripts

1.1 Extant Tanakh
Tanakh
manuscripts

2 New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts

2.1 Transmission 2.2 Manuscript
Manuscript
construction 2.3 Script and other features 2.4 Cataloging

2.4.1 Von Soden 2.4.2 Gregory–Aland

2.5 Dating the New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts

2.5.1 Earliest extant manuscripts

2.6 Textual criticism 2.7 Listings

3 Gallery 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Hebrew Bible
Bible
(or Tanakh) manuscripts[edit]

A page from the Aleppo Codex, Deuteronomy

Main article: List of Hebrew Bible
Bible
manuscripts The Aleppo Codex
Aleppo Codex
(c. 920 CE) and Leningrad Codex
Leningrad Codex
(c. 1008 CE) were the oldest Hebrew language manuscripts of the Tanakh. In 1947 CE the finding of the Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
at Qumran
Qumran
pushed the manuscript history of the Tanakh
Tanakh
back a millennium from the two earliest complete codices. Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament
Old Testament
were in Greek in manuscripts such as Codex Vaticanus
Codex Vaticanus
and Codex
Codex
Sinaiticus. Out of the roughly 800 manuscripts found at Qumran, 220 are from the Tanakh. Every book of the Tanakh
Tanakh
is represented except for the Book
Book
of Esther; however, most are fragmentary. Notably, there are two scrolls of the Book
Book
of Isaiah, one complete (1QIsa), and one around 75% complete (1QIsb). These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE to 70 CE.[1]

Extant Tanakh
Tanakh
manuscripts[edit]

Version Examples Language Date of Composition Oldest Copy

Silver Scrolls

Paleo-Hebrew

587-586 BCE[2] (Amulets with the Priestly Blessing
Priestly Blessing
recorded in the Book
Book
of Numbers)

Dead Sea Scrolls

Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek c. 150 BCE – 70 CE c. 150 BCE – 70 CE (fragments)

Septuagint Codex
Codex
Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
and other earlier papyri Greek 300–100 BCE 2nd century BCE (fragments) 4th century CE (complete)

Peshitta

Syriac

early 5th century CE

Vulgate Codex
Codex
Amiatinus Latin

early 5th century CE early 8th century CE (complete)

Masoretic Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex
Leningrad Codex
and other, incomplete MSS Hebrew c. 100 CE 10th century CE (complete)

Samaritan Pentateuch

Samaritan Hebrew 200–100 BCE Oldest extant MSS, c. 11th century CE; oldest MSS available to scholars, 16th century CE

Targum

Aramaic 500–1000 CE 5th century CE

Coptic Crosby-Schøyen Codex, British Library MS. Oriental 7594 Coptic

3rd or 4th century CE

New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts[edit]

Folio 41v from Codex Alexandrinus
Codex Alexandrinus
contains the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
with decorative tailpiece.

The New Testament
New Testament
has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin
Latin
manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. The dates of these manuscripts range from c. 125 (the

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

52 papyrus, oldest copy of John fragments) to the introduction of printing in Germany in the 15th century. The difficulty is in the origin of manuscripts. Often, especially in monasteries, a manuscript cache is little more than a former manuscript recycling centre, where imperfect and incomplete copies of manuscripts were stored while the monastery or scriptorium decided what to do with them.[3] There were several options. The first was to simply "wash" the manuscript and reuse it. That was very common in the ancient world and even up into the Middle Ages; such reused manuscripts were called palimpsests. The most famous palimpsest is probably the Archimedes Palimpsest. If that was not done within a short period of time after the papyri was made, then washing it was less likely since the papyri might deteriorate and thus be unusable. When washing was no longer an option, the second choice was burning: since they contained the words of Christ, they were thought to have had a level of sanctity;[3] burning them was considered more reverent than simply throwing them into a garbage pit, which occasionally happened, as in the case of Oxyrhynchus 840). The third option was simply to leave them in what has become known as a manuscript gravesite. When scholars come across manuscript caches, like at Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai
Sinai
(the source of the Codex Sinaiticus), or Saint Sabbas Monastery outside Bethlehem, they are finding not libraries but storehouses of rejected texts[3] (sometimes kept in boxes or back shelves in libraries due to space constraints). The texts were unacceptable because of their scribal errors and contain corrections inside the lines[4] possibly evidence that monastery scribes were comparing them to what must have been a master text. In addition, texts thought to be complete and correct but had deteriorated for heavy usage or had missing folios would also be placed in the caches. Once in a cache, insects and humidity would often contribute to the continued deterioration of the documents.[3] Complete and correctly-copied texts would usually be immediately placed in use and so usually wore out fairly quickly, which required repeated recopying. Manuscript
Manuscript
copying was very costly when it required a scribe's attention for extended periods so a manuscript might be made only when it was commissioned. Then, the size of the parchment, script used, any illustrations (thus raising the effective cost) and whether it was one book or a collection of several would be determined by the one commissioning the work. The idea of stocking extra copies would probably have been considered at best wasteful and unnecessary since the form and the presentation of a manuscript were more often than not customized to the aesthetic tastes of the buyer. That is part of the reason that scholars are more likely to find incomplete and sometimes-conflicting segments of manuscripts than complete and largely-consistent works.[3] Distribution of Greek manuscripts by century[5]

New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts Lectionaries

Century Papyri Uncials Minuscules Uncials Minuscules

2nd 2 - - - -

2nd/3rd 5 1 - - -

3rd 28 2 - - -

3rd/4th 8 2 - - -

4th 14 14 - 1 -

4th/5th 8 8 - - -

5th 2 36 - 1 -

5th/6th 4 10 - - -

6th 7 51 - 3 -

6th/7th 5 5 - 1 -

7th 8 28 - 4 -

7th/8th 3 4 - - -

8th 2 29 - 22 -

8th/9th - 4 - 5 -

9th - 53 13 113 5

9th/10th - 1 4 - 1

10th - 17 124 108 38

10th/11th - 3 8 3 4

11th - 1 429 15 227

11th/12th - - 33 - 13

12th - - 555 6 486

12th/13th - - 26 - 17

13th - - 547 4 394

13th/14th - - 28 - 17

14th - - 511 - 308

14th/15th - - 8 - 2

15th - - 241 - 171

15th/16th - - 4 - 2

16th - - 136 - 194

Transmission[edit] The task of copying manuscripts was generally done by scribes who were trained professionals in the arts of writing and bookmaking. Some manuscripts were also proofread, and scholars closely examining a text can sometimes find the original and corrections found in certain manuscripts. In the 6th century, a special room devoted to the practice of manuscript writing and illumination called the scriptorium came into use, typically inside medieval European monasteries. Sometimes a group of scribes would make copies at the same time as one individual read from the text.[6] Manuscript
Manuscript
construction[edit] An important issue with manuscripts is preservation. The earliest New Testament manuscripts were written on papyrus, made from a reed that grew abundantly in the Nile Delta. This tradition continued as late as the 8th century.[7] Papyrus
Papyrus
eventually becomes brittle and deteriorates with age. The dry climate of Egypt allowed some papyrus manuscripts to be partially preserved, but, with the exception of

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

77, no New Testament
New Testament
papyrus manuscript is complete; many consist only of a single fragmented page.[8] Beginning in the fourth century, parchment (also called vellum) began to be a common medium for New Testament manuscripts.[9] It wasn't until the twelfth century that paper (made from cotton or plant fibers), which was invented in first-century China, began to gain popularity in biblical manuscripts.[10] Of the 476 non-Christian manuscripts dated to the second century, 97% of the manuscripts are in the form of scrolls; however, eight Christian manuscripts are codices. In fact, most New Testament manuscripts are codices. The adaptation of the codex form in non-Christian text did not become dominant until the fourth and fifth centuries, showing a preference for that form amongst early Christians.[11] The considerable length of some New Testament
New Testament
books (such as the Pauline epistles), and the New Testament
New Testament
itself, was not suited to the limited space available on a single scroll; in contrast a codex could be expanded to hundreds of pages.

The beginning of the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
from the Book
Book
of Durrow.

Script and other features[edit] The handwriting found in New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts varies. One way of classifying handwriting is by formality: book-hand vs. cursive. More formal, literary Greek works were often written in a distinctive style of even, capital letters called book-hand. Less formal writing consisted of cursive letters which could be written quickly. Another way of dividing handwriting is between uncial script (or majuscule) and minuscule. The uncial letters were a consistent height between the baseline and the cap height, while the minuscule letters had ascenders and descenders that moved past the baseline and cap height. Generally speaking, the majuscules are earlier than the minuscules, with a dividing line roughly in the 11th century.[12] The earliest manuscripts had negligible punctuation and breathing marks. The manuscripts also lacked word spacing, so words, sentences, and paragraphs would be a continuous string of letters (scriptio continua), often with line breaks in the middle of words. Bookmaking was an expensive endeavor, and one way to reduce the number of pages used was to save space. Another method employed was to abbreviate frequent words, such as the nomina sacra. Yet another method involved the palimpsest, a manuscript which recycled an older manuscript. Scholars using careful examination can sometimes determine what was originally written on the material of a document before it was erased to make way for a new text (for example Codex
Codex
Ephraemi Rescriptus and the Syriac Sinaiticus). The original New Testament
New Testament
books did not have titles, section headings, or verse and chapter divisions. These were developed over the years as "helps for readers". The Eusebian Canons
Eusebian Canons
were an early system of division written in the margin of many manuscripts. The Eusebian Canons
Eusebian Canons
are a series of tables that grouped parallel stories among the gospels. Starting in the fifth century, subject headings (κεφαλαία) were used. Manuscripts became more ornate over the centuries, which developed into a rich illuminated manuscript tradition, including the famous Irish Gospel
Gospel
Books, the Book
Book
of Kells and the Book
Book
of Durrow. Cataloging[edit]

A page from the Sinope Gospels. The miniature at the bottom shows Jesus
Jesus
healing the blind.

Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
compiled the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament in 1516, basing his work on several manuscripts because he did not have a single complete work and because each manuscript had small errors. In the 18th century, Johann Jakob Wettstein was one of the first biblical scholars to start cataloging biblical manuscripts. He divided the manuscripts based on the writing used (uncial, minuscule) or format (lectionaries) and based on content (Gospels, Pauline letters, Acts + General epistles, and Revelation). He assigned the uncials letters and minuscules and lectionaries numbers for each grouping of content, which resulted in manuscripts being assigned the same letter or number.[13] For manuscripts that contained the whole New Testament, such as Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex
Codex
Ephraemi Rescriptus (C), the letters corresponded across content groupings. For significant early manuscripts such as Codex Vaticanus
Codex Vaticanus
Graecus 1209 (B), which did not contain Revelation, the letter B was also assigned to a later 10th-century manuscript of Revelation, thus creating confusion. Constantin von Tischendorf
Constantin von Tischendorf
found one of the earliest, nearly complete copies of the Bible, Codex
Codex
Sinaiticus, over a century after Wettstein's cataloging system was introduced. Because he felt the manuscript was so important, Von Tischendorf assigned it the Hebrew letter aleph (א). Eventually enough uncials were found that all the letters in the Latin
Latin
alphabet had been used, and scholars moved on to first the Greek alphabet, and eventually started reusing characters by adding a superscript. Confusion also existed in the minuscules, where up to seven different manuscripts could have the same number or a single manuscript of the complete New Testament
New Testament
could have 4 different numbers to describe the different content groupings.[14] Von Soden[edit] Hermann, Freiherr von Soden
Hermann, Freiherr von Soden
published a complex cataloging system for manuscripts in 1902-10.[15] He grouped the manuscripts based on content, assigning them a Greek prefix: δ for the complete New Testament, ε for the Gospels, and α for the remaining parts. This grouping was flawed because some manuscripts grouped in δ did not contain Revelation, and many manuscripts grouped in α contained either the general epistles or the Pauline epistles, but not both. After the Greek prefix, Von Soden assigned a numeral that roughly corresponded to a date (for example δ1-δ49 were from before the 10th century, δ150-δ249 for the 11th century). This system proved to be problematic when manuscripts were re-dated, or when more manuscripts were discovered than the number of spaces allocated to a certain century.[16] Gregory–Aland[edit] Caspar René Gregory
Caspar René Gregory
published another cataloging system in 1908 in Die griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, which is the system still in use today. Gregory divided the manuscripts into four groupings: papyri, uncials, minuscules, and lectionaries. This division is partially arbitrary. The first grouping is based on the physical material (papyrus) used in the manuscripts. The second two divisions are based on script: uncial and minuscule. The last grouping is based on content: lectionary. Most of the papyrus manuscripts and the lectionaries before the year 1000 are written in uncial script. There is some consistency in that the majority of the papyri are very early because parchment began to replace papyrus in the 4th century (although the latest papyri dates to the 8th century). Similarly, the majority of the uncials date to before the 11th century, and the majority of the minuscules to after.[17] Gregory assigned the papyri a prefix of P, often written in blackletter script (

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

n), with a superscript numeral. The uncials were given a prefix of the number 0, and the established letters for the major manuscripts were retained for redundancy (e.g. Codex
Codex
Claromontanus is assigned both 06 and D). The minuscules were given plain numbers, and the lectionaries were prefixed with l often written in script (ℓ). Kurt Aland continued Gregory's cataloging work through the 1950s and beyond. Because of this, the numbering system is often referred to as "Gregory-Aland numbers". The most recent manuscripts added to each grouping are

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

131, 0323, 2928, and ℓ 2463.[18] Due to the cataloging heritage and because some manuscripts which were initially numbered separately were discovered to be from the same codex, there is some redundancy in the list (i.e. the Magdalen papyrus
Magdalen papyrus
has both the numbers of

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

64 and

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

67).[19] The majority of New Testament
New Testament
textual criticism deals with Greek manuscripts because scholars believe the original books of the New Testament were written in Greek. The text of the New Testament
New Testament
is also found both translated in manuscripts of many different languages (called versions) and quoted in manuscripts of the writings of the Church Fathers. In the critical apparatus of the Novum Testamentum Graece, a series of abbreviations and prefixes designate different language versions (it for Old Latin, lowercase letters for individual Old Latin
Latin
manuscripts, vg for Vulgate, lat for Latin, sys for Sinaitic Palimpsest, syc for Curetonian Gospels, syp for the Peshitta, co for Coptic, ac for Akhmimic, bo for Bohairic, sa for Sahidic, arm for Armenian, geo for Georgian, got for Gothic, aeth for Ethiopic, and slav for Old Church Slavonic).[20] Dating the New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts[edit]

An illustration of a European scribe at work

The New Testament
New Testament
books appear to have been completed within the 1st century. The original manuscripts of the New Testament
New Testament
books have not survived. The autographs were lost or destroyed a long time ago. What survives are copies of the original. Generally speaking, these copies were made centuries after the originals from other copies rather than from the autograph. Paleography, a science of dating manuscripts by typological analysis of their scripts, is the most precise and objective means known for determining the age of a manuscript. Script groups belong typologically to their generation; and changes can be noted with great accuracy over relatively short periods of time. Dating of manuscript material by a radiocarbon dating test requires that a small part of the material be destroyed in the process.[21] Both radiocarbon and paleographical dating only give a range of possible dates, and it is still debated just how narrow this range might be. Dates established by radiocarbon dating can present a range of 10 to over 100 years. Similarly, dates established by paleography can present a range of 25 to over 125 years.[22] Earliest extant manuscripts[edit] The earliest manuscript of a New Testament
New Testament
text is a business-card-sized fragment from the Gospel
Gospel
of John, Rylands Library Papyrus
Papyrus
P52, which may be as early as the first half of the 2nd century. The first complete copies of single New Testament
New Testament
books appear around 200, and the earliest complete copy of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
dates to the 4th century.[23] The following table lists the earliest extant manuscript witnesses for the books of the New Testament.

Book

Earliest extant manuscripts

Date

Condition

Matthew

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

1,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

19,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

21,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

25,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

37,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

53,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

64,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

67,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

70,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

77,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

101,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

103,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

104[24]

c. 150–250 (2nd–3rd century)

Large fragments

Mark

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45

c. 250 (3rd century)

Large fragments

Luke

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

4,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

69,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

75,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45

c. 175–250 (2nd–3rd century)

Large fragments

John

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

5,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

6,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

22,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

28,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

39,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

52,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

66,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

75,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

80,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

90,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

95,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

106

c. 125–250 (2nd–3rd century)

Large fragments

Acts

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

29,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

38,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

48,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

53,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

74,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

91

Early 3rd century[25]

Large fragments

Romans

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

27,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

40,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

1 Corinthians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

14,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

15,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

2 Corinthians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

Galatians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

Ephesians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

49

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

Philippians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

16,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

Colossians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

1 Thessalonians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

30,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

65

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

2 Thessalonians

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

30

Early 3rd century

Fragments

1 Timothy

א

c. 350 (4th century)

Complete

2 Timothy

א

c. 350 (4th century)

Complete

Titus

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

32

c. 200 (late 2nd – early 3rd century)

Fragment

Philemon

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

87

3rd century

Fragment

Hebrews

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

12,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

13,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

17,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46

c. 175–225 (2nd–3rd century)

Fragments

James

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

20,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

23,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

100

3rd Century

Fragments

1 Peter

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

81,[24]

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

72

c. 300 (late 3rd – early 4th century)

Fragments

2 Peter

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

72

c. 300 (late 3rd – early 4th century)

Fragments

1 John

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

9

3rd century

Fragment

2 John

א

c. 350 (4th century)

Complete

3 John

א

c. 350 (4th century)

Complete

Jude

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

72,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

78

c. 300 (late 3rd – early 4th century)

Fragments

Revelation

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

18,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

24,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

47,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

98,

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

115

c. 150–250 (2nd-3rd century)

Fragment

Textual criticism[edit] Main article: Textual Criticism Further information: Textual variants in the New Testament
New Testament
and List of Bible
Bible
verses not included in modern translations Palaeography
Palaeography
is the study of ancient writing, and textual criticism is the study of manuscripts in order to reconstruct a probable original text. None of the original documents of the New Testament
New Testament
is extant and the existing copies differ from one another. The textual critic seeks to ascertain from the divergent copies which form of the text should be regarded as most conforming to the original.[26] The New Testament
New Testament
has been preserved in three major manuscript traditions: the 4th-century-CE Alexandrian text-type, the Western text-type, and the Byzantine text-type, which includes over 80% of all manuscripts, the majority comparatively very late in the tradition. Since the mid-19th century, eclecticism, in which there is no a priori bias to a single manuscript, has been the dominant method of editing the Greek text of the New Testament. This is reflected in the Novum Testamentum Graece, which since 2014 corresponds to both the United Bible
Bible
Society, 5th edition and Nestle-Aland, 28th edition. In textual criticism, eclecticism is the practice of examining a wide number of text witnesses and selecting the variant that seems best. The result of the process is a text with readings drawn from many witnesses. In a purely eclectic approach, no single witness is theoretically favored. Instead, the critic forms opinions about individual witnesses, relying on both external and internal evidence. Even so, the oldest manuscripts, being of the Alexandrian text-type, are the most favored, and the critical text has an Alexandrian disposition.[27] Modern translations of the New Testament
New Testament
are based on these copies. Textual scholar Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman
writes: "It is true, of course, that the New Testament
New Testament
is abundantly attested in the manuscripts produced through the ages, but most of these manuscripts are many centuries removed from the originals, and none of them perfectly accurate. They all contain mistakes - altogether many thousands of mistakes. It is not an easy task to reconstruct the original words of the New Testament...."[28] In reference to the textual evidence for the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger
Bruce M. Metzger
wrote,

In evaluating the significance of these statistics...one should consider, by way of contrast, the number of manuscripts which preserve the text of the ancient classics. Homer's Iliad...is preserved by 457 papyri, 2 uncial manuscripts, and 188 minuscule manuscripts. Among the tragedians the witnesses to Euripides
Euripides
are the most abundant; his extant works are preserved in 54 papyri and 276 parchment manuscripts, almost all of the later dating from the Byzantine period...the time between the composition of the books of the New Testament
New Testament
and the earliest extant copies is relatively brief. Instead of the lapse of a millennium or more, as is the case of not a few classical authors, several papyrus manuscripts of portions of the New Testament
New Testament
are extant which were copies within a century or so after the composition of the original documents.[29][30]

Biblical scholar Gary Habermas adds,

What is usually meant is that the New Testament
New Testament
has far more manuscript evidence from a far earlier period than other classical works. There are just under 6000 NT manuscripts, with copies of most of the NT dating from just 100 years or so after its writing. Classical sources almost always have fewer than 20 copies each and usually date from 700-1400 years after the composition of the work. In this regard, the classics are not as well attested. While this doesn't guarantee truthfulness, it means that it is much easier to reconstruct the New Testament
New Testament
text. Regarding genre, the Gospels are usually taken today to be examples of Roman biographies.[31]

Every year, several New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts handwritten in the original Greek format are discovered. The latest substantial find was in 2008, when 47 new manuscripts were discovered in Albania; at least 17 of them unknown to Western scholars.[32] There has been an estimate of 400,000 variations among all these manuscripts (from the 2nd to 15th century).[33] If you spread those 400,000 variations over 5,600 manuscripts, that comes out to only about 71 variations per manuscript. (400,000 divided by 5,600). And some of these manuscripts are the equivalent of several hundred pages of text, hand-written (see Codex
Codex
Vaticanus, Codex
Codex
Alexandrinus, et al.). The number of variants is additionally less significant than may appear since it is a comparison across linguistic boundaries. More important estimates focus on comparing texts within languages. Those variations are considerably fewer. The vast majority of these are accidental errors made by scribes, and are easily identified as such: an omitted word, a duplicate line, a misspelling, a rearrangement of words. Some variations involve apparently intentional changes, which often make more difficult a determination of whether they were corrections from better exemplars, harmonizations between readings, or ideologically motivated.[34] Variants are listed in critical editions of the text, the most important of which is the Novum Testamentum Graece, which is the basis for most modern translations. For over 250 years, Christian scholars have argued that no textual variant affects key Christian doctrine.[35][36] Listings[edit]

List of New Testament
New Testament
papyri List of New Testament
New Testament
uncials List of New Testament
New Testament
minuscules List of New Testament
New Testament
lectionaries List of New Testament
New Testament
Latin
Latin
manuscripts

Gallery[edit]

This section contains what may be an unencyclopedic or excessive gallery of images. Galleries containing indiscriminate images of the article subject are discouraged; please improve or remove the section accordingly. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
on display at the Archeological Museum, Amman

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

52 is the oldest known manuscript fragment of the New Testament, containing a portion of the Gospel
Gospel
of John

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament.

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

45 is a manuscript of Gospels and Acts. It contains the earliest known text of Mark. Scholars find it hard to read it because of its fragmentary state.

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

87 is the earliest known manuscript of Philemon.

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

37 is a fragment of the Gospel
Gospel
of Matthew containing nomina sacra.

P

displaystyle mathfrak P

1 is an early third century fragment of the Gospel
Gospel
of Matthew.

Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
(c. 350) contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament, as well as most of the Greek Old Testament, known as the Septuagint

Codex Vaticanus
Codex Vaticanus
Graecus 1209 is one of the best available Greek manuscripts of almost the entire bible.

P. Chester Beatty VI showing portions of Deuteronomy

Uncial
Uncial
0308 is a fragment of the Book
Book
of Revelation.

The first page of the Gothic language
Gothic language
Codex
Codex
Argenteus

Folio 5r of the Codex
Codex
Amiatinus, manuscript of Vulgate

See also[edit]

Bible
Bible
portal

Dating the Bible Biblical criticism Textual criticism Categories of New Testament
New Testament
manuscripts

Alexandrian text-type Byzantine text-type Caesarean text-type Western text-type

List of major textual variants in the New Testament Higher Criticism Manuscript
Manuscript
culture Nag Hammadi library Fifty Bibles of Constantine List of Hebrew Bible
Bible
manuscripts List of illuminated manuscripts

Notes[edit]

^ Bruce 1964 ^ Barkay, Vaughn, Lundberg and Zuckerman 2004 pp. 41-71 ^ a b c d e Ehrman 2005 ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2008-12-31.  ^ Aland, p 81 ^ "Seid". Retrieved 4 October 2014.  ^ Metzger 2005, pp.3f ^ "Waltz". Retrieved 4 October 2014.  ^ Metzger 2005, pp.3-10 ^ Aland 1995, p. 77 ^ "Seid". Retrieved 4 October 2014.  ^ Metzger 2005, pp. 17-18, 20 ^ Aland 1995, p. 72 ^ Aland 1995, pp. 72-73 ^ Hermann von Soden, Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments, in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte 4 vols., Berlin: Glaue, 1902-1910. ^ Aland 1995, pp. 40-41 ^ Aland 1995, pp. 73-77 ^ New Testament
New Testament
Virtual Manuscript
Manuscript
Room at the University of Münster website ^ Aland 1995, pp. 73f ^ NA27 1996, pp. 64*-76* ^ "Britannica Online: Types of manuscript errors". Retrieved 4 October 2014.  ^ F. V. Greifenhagen, Egypt on the Pentateuch's Ideological Map. ^ Ehrman 2004, pp. 479-480 ^ a b Willker, Wieland (17 April 2008). "Complete List of Greek NT Papyri". Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.  ^ Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, 2001, p. 65. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. ^ Aland, B. 1994: 138 ^ The New Testament: An Historical Introduction To The Early Christian Writings, Bart Ehrman p. 449 ^ The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption & Restoration, 1992, Third Enlarged Edition, Bruce Metzger, p. 33-35 ^ As a footnote to his comments, Metzger also said, "Lest, however, the wrong impression be conveyed from the statistics given above regarding the total number of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, it should be pointed out that most of the papyri are relatively fragmentary and that only about fifty manuscripts (of which the Codex Sinaiticus is the only Uncial
Uncial
manuscript) contain the entire New Testament." The Text Of The New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption & Restoration, 1992, Third Enlarged Edition, Bruce Metzger, p. 34 ^ [Quoted from http://www.garyhabermas.com/qa/qa_index.htm] ^ Michelle A Vu, "NT scholar on discovery of giant trove of Bible manuscripts," Christianity Today, April 21, 2008 ^ Daniel Wallace, https://bible.org/article/number-textual-variants-evangelical-miscalculation ^ Ehrman 2004, pp.480f ^ Wallace, Daniel. "The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?". Retrieved 23 November 2013. ^ c.f. F.F. Bruce, "Are the New Testament
New Testament
Documents Reliable?"

References[edit]

Barkay, G., A.G. Vaughn, M.J. Lundberg and B. Zuckerman, "The Amulets from Ketef Hinnom: A New Edition and Evaluation," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 334 (2004): 41-71. (An innovation in the report was the simultaneous publication of an accompanying "digital article," a CD version of the article and the images). F. F. Bruce (1964). "The Last Thirty Years". Story of the Bible. ed. Frederic G. Kenyon
Frederic G. Kenyon
Retrieved June 19, 2007 Aland, Kurt; Barbara Aland (1995). The Text of The New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 40f, 72f. ISBN 0-8028-4098-1.  Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. pp. 480f. ISBN 0-19-515462-2.  Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-516667-1 Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece
Novum Testamentum Graece
rv. 27 (2006) Hendrickson Publishers, ISBN 1-59856-172-3 Seid, Timothy W. "Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts". Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts Web - Earlham School of Religion. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  Waltz, Robert. "An Introduction to New Testament
New Testament
Textual Criticism". A Site Inspired By: The Encyclopedia of New Testament
New Testament
Textual Criticism. Archived from the original on 18 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  Wilson, Robert Dick. (1929) 'The Textual Criticism
Textual Criticism
of the Old Testament', The Princeton Theological Review 27: pp. 40f.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bible
Bible
manuscripts.

Look up manuscript in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Michael D. Marlowe's Bible
Bible
Research site Micheal W. Palmer's Greek-Language.com Manuscripts page TextCrit.com: Eusebian Canon in Codex
Codex
A Biblical Manuscripts Project Fragment of Psalms
Psalms
at the Heidelberger Papyrus-Sammlung  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Manuscripts of the Bible". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  Contantinus Siamakis, Oldest Manuscript
Manuscript
of the Bible

v t e

Books of the Bible

Principal divisions

Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament
Old Testament
Protocanon

Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1–2 Samuel 1–2 Kings 1–2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Deuterocanon and Apocrypha

Catholic Orthodox

Tobit Judith Additions to Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Wisdom Sirach Baruch / Letter of Jeremiah Additions to Daniel

Susanna Song of the Three Children Bel and the Dragon

Orthodox only

1 Esdras 2 Esdras Prayer of Manasseh Psalm 151 3 Maccabees 4 Maccabees Odes

Tewahedo Orthodox

Enoch Jubilees 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan Paralipomena of Baruch Broader canon

Syriac

Letter of Baruch 2 Baruch Psalms
Psalms
152–155

New Testament

Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation

Subdivisions

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Synoptic

Epistles

Pauline Johannine Pastoral Catholic

Apocalyptic literature

Development

Old Testament
Old Testament
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New Testament
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Manuscripts

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Masoretic
Text New Testament
New Testament
manuscript categories New Testament
New Testament
papyri New Testament
New Testament
uncials

See also

Biblical canon Luther's canon Authorship English Bible
Bible
translations Other books referenced in the Bible Pseudepigrapha

list

New Testament
New Testament
apocrypha Studies Synod of Hippo Textual criticism

Category Porta

.