Bible Query from
Q: Where can we look at individual New Testament manuscripts ourselves?
A: One of the best books for reading the actual Greek text, as well as discussion of the text, see The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (A Corrected Enlarged Edition...) edited by Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1999,2001.
For seeing the actual manuscripts themselves, if you do not want to travel to various museums, you can see photocopies of many pages in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible : An Introduction to Palaeography by Bruce M. Metzger. Oxford University Press, Inc. 1981.
If you want to see for a particular verse, the manuscript variations in different versions listed, a good source is The Greek New Testament : fourth revised edition by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren. United Bible Societies 1988.
Q: How can we know the New Testament was translated reliably?
A: We would have a problem if we did not have any Greek manuscripts of the original.
However, we have over 197 Greek manuscripts through the end of the sixth century, and if someone were to deliberately distort something in English (as the Jehovah's Witnesses have), we can all see exactly where they distorted it. However that is not the end of the story.
One could bring up the issue of how do we know we have a correct understanding of the Greek language? There are three independent ways that we know.
1. We have extensive references to the Old and New Testaments in Greek and Latin among the church writers. They not only repeated what was in the Greek, they interpreted and explained it, and we can see how they understood the Greek.
2. We have many non-religious Greek manuscripts, and we can see how most of the words in the New Testament were used in everyday language. For example, a ship could be said to be "baptized" if it was sunk.
3. We have Bibles translated from Greek into other languages, including Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and Latin. One of the more interesting ones is Gothic. This was actually made by an Arian heretic Ufilas. Being an Arian, one might think he would have a motive to either change the meaning, or at least use any Greek variants that had a meaning more favorable to his theology, yet, the meaning of his translation is identical to the Greek Bible with one notable exception. He did not translate the books of 1 and 2 Kings at all, because he thought the Goths were already too warlike.
Q: How could an imperfect book come from a perfect God? As you read through the scriptures, there are a great number of footnotes that say that we can't be sure if certain passages should be included. Christians are told that these problems exist because of alleged "copyist errors," and that the "original writings" of the Bible are perfect. But how does anyone know? We don't have the original writings!
A: God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; 59:21; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35. God is perfect, and a God of truth. Everything God said in the original manuscripts was true. Copyist errors do not affect the truth of what was originally said, copyist errors do not show an imperfect book came from a perfect God. When someone, such as myself, says the Bible is inerrant, they mean the Bible is without any error in the original manuscripts and without significant error (infallible) today.
However, I think part of what you are really asking is how we can trust the message in a book that has copyist errors in it. According to my studies, we are certain of 97% of every word in the New Testament, but that still leaves 3,912 words, with the end of Mark (166 words) being the largest place of uncertainty. I believe we can be sure of the meaning God intended, because these uncertainties do not significantly change the meaning. (By the way, ever single teaching in the end of Mark is mentioned elsewhere, except the drinking of poison.) I have no problem with the end of Mark saying God is able to protect His obedient people when they drink poison, because God can protect people from poison, just as he can protect us from anything. However, the Bible also says we are not to test God in Matthew 5:7 and other places. God is not obligated to protect people who foolishly test Him. So in summary, I do not believe an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God of truth allowed His word to be messed up.
Though the 3% is not very much, we might still wonder why God even allowed that 3% variation. I suggest that perhaps God did that deliberately. Perhaps He did so to make clear that it is not the individual words that are important but the meaning and thrust of what was said. The Pharisees prided themselves on knowing the individual words of the Old Testament, yet they were not looking for the Messiah, they robbed widows instead of caring for the poor, and they loved money and prestige rather than God and people. Unfortunately, it is all to possible to do the same thing today, and this might be a reminder that if you think the goal is just knowing the words, this 3% shows your goal will never be perfectly realized and you are searching in the wrong place.
Q: Is something true just because someone writes it down? Christians are often taught that the "manuscript evidence" proves the truthfulness of the Bible. More specifically, Christians are told that there are thousands of copies of manuscripts of the scriptures, and this somehow makes the Bible reliable. But how? Anyone could write something down, and produce thousands of copies of what they've written. Does that somehow make what they wrote down true? Of course not!
A: Your observation is 100% valid. In establishing the truthfulness of our Bible today, you have to
a) establish that it originally was God's word, and
b) has been preserved without significant error.
Thus the manuscript evidence Christians talk about is necessary but not sufficient. Manuscripts are important to establish b), but they does not address a). When I teach about the reliability of the Bible in Sunday school, I believe it is important to point out both aspects.
Q: How are ancient manuscripts dated?
A: Some, such as the John Rylands fragment (117-138 A.D.), were dated by mass spectrometer radiocarbon dating. Others are simple to date, because the author either wrote the date of writing, or mentioned a famous event (such as the start of a king's reign). Many manuscripts are dated by the style of handwriting compared with documents of a known date (such as burial at Pompeii). In a few cases, the date of a corrector of a manuscript is known, so obviously the manuscript had to be earlier than that.
In English, handwriting at the time of the American Revolution, handwriting at the time of Abraham Lincoln, and 100 years after that are very different. The grammar and words thou might use are different too. Likewise the way of forming Greek letters, and grammatical signs can date a manuscript sometimes within 50 years.
Scribes switched from writing on scrolls to writing in books at the start of the 2nd century. The Magdalen manuscript of Matthew 26:7-8,10,14-15,22-23,31-33 (3 fragments, each front and back) was in all capitals and part of a book. The handwriting is very similar to manuscripts buried at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Scholars debate this one, with dates from as early as 50-60 A.D., but we will go with the "book evidence" and follow Philip Comfort who dates it as the start of the 2nd century (100 A.D.).
In a few cases there have been false leads though. Ways of writing some letters, thought to prove a manuscript was after a certain date, have been found in earlier manuscripts, subsequently discovered, with known dates. Older New Testament scholars tended to be fairly conservative with their results, so dates given in early and mid 20th century books tend to be either correct or a little late.
Q: What is inadequate about many Christian's knowledge of New Testament manuscripts?
A: Many Christians (myself included) have taught something slightly outdated that goes like this.
117-138 A.D. John Rylands (still correct)
150-200 A.D. Bodmer II (p66) (92% of John)
c.200 A.D. Chester Beatty (p45, p46, p47) (most of the New Testament)
325-350 A.D. Vaticanus (B) Most of the Old Testament and Matthew 1 - Hebrews 9:15 (still correct)
340-350 A.D. Sinaiticus (Aleph) Most of the Bible (still correct)
A few other manuscripts dated 25 to 75 years later than they should be.
One shortcoming of this approach is that in the last fifty years so many other early Bible manuscripts that have been found. A second shortcoming is that many other non-Biblical manuscripts have been found, that cause us to redate some of the manuscripts even earlier.
Bodmer II has disagreement over the date. Comfort says mid 2nd century, Hunger says 100-150 A.D., and Turner says 200-250 A.D. Comfort gives an effective rebuttal to Turner's reasons in the Complete Text of the New Testament Manuscripts p.367-368, and he is more cautious than Hunger. So this means Bodmer II is 125-175 A.D.
Chester Beatty II (p45, p46, p47) is dated to 81-96 A.D. by Young Kyu Kim. Comfort dates this to early to mid 2nd century. Kenyon in 1936 dated it to 200-250 A.D., mainly on the stichiometric notes. (Comfort says the scribe was excellent and obviously a professional.). Wilcken in 1935 dated it to 200 A.D., but he only looked at one leaf However, Comfort provides extensive comparisons to other manuscripts, and while he cannot rule out Kim's dating, dates Chester Beatty II to 100-150 A.D.
Other notable facts are that p4 (of Luke) used to be dated 4th century, but is now mid second century. p104 (of Matthew) has been dated end of the 1st century to end of the 2nd century, but it is more likely early to mid 2nd century, about the same as John Rylands fragment of John 18:31-33,37-38.
Q: What are the earliest fragmentary and complete manuscripts of the New Testament?
A: We have preserved 41 New Testament manuscripts up to 300 A.D. Here is a chronological list of them, as well as later ones. Some of these manuscripts were first dated 70 years ago, but subsequent similar papyrii have shown that some of those dates were too conservative (late). The dates are taken primarily from The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts (Comfort 1999) and secondarily from Manuscripts of the Greek Bible (Metzger 1981) and The Greek New Testament 4th Revised Edition (Aland et al. 1993).
|117-138 A.D. or 110-125 A.D. (The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.367)||p52 (John Rylands) (= Papyrii Rylands 457)||John 18:31-33, reverse side John 18:37-38 (5 verses)|
|100-150 A.D.||p104 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4404)||Matthew 21:34-37,43,45(?) Matthew 21:44 was not originally present (5 verses)|
|c.125 A.D.||p87 - The handwriting is nearly identical to p46.||Philemon 13-15,24 (part),25b with gaps (3 verses)|
|100-150 A.D. (Comfort) 81-96 A.D. (Young Kyu Kim)||p46 (=Chester Beatty II) It has 1,390 verses from Paul and 290 verses from Hebrews. This is 70% of the 2,389 verses in Paul and Hebrews.||Romans 5:17-6:3; 6:5-14; 8:15-25,27-35; 8:37-9:32; 10:1-11:11; 11:24-33; 11:35-15:9; 15:11-16:27; Hebrews 1:1-9:16; 9:18-10:20,22-30; 10:32-13:25 (300/303 verses); 1 Corinthians 1:1-9:2; 9:4-14:14; 14:16-15:15; 15:17-16:22 (all but 5 verses); 2 Corinthians 1:1-11:10,12-21; 11:23-13:13 (all but 3 verses); Ephesians 1:1-2:7; 2:10-5:6; 5:8-6:6, 8-18, 20-24 (all but 5 verses); Galatians 1:1-8; 1:10-2:9, 12-21; 3:2-29; 4:2-18; 4:20-5:17; 5:20-6:8, 10-18 (all but 9 verses); Philippians 1:1, 5-15, 17-28; 1:30-2:12, 14-17; 2:29-3:8, 10-21; 4:2-12, 14-23 (all but 20 verses); Colossians 1:1-2, 5-13, 16-24; 1:27-2:19; 2:23-3:11, 13-24; 4:3-12, 16-18 (all but 16 verses); 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1:9-2:3; 5:5-9,23-28|
|100-150 A.D. (Hunger) or 125-175 A.D. (Philip Comfort and Barrett) c.200-250 A.D. (Turner due to broad delta, broad theta, narrow alpha, finial end on the crossbar of epsilon, apostrophe between double consonants like other third century manuscripts. However, we go with Hunger and Philip Comfort because second century manuscripts have been found with these features. This was discovered close to Nag Hamadi (second century). Hunger has found many late first and early second centuries manuscripts that are closer to p66 than 3rd century documents.||p66 (Bodmer II + Inv. NR4274/4296) 808.5 verses, which is 92% of the 879 verses in John||John 1:1-6:11; 6:35b-14:26, 29-30;15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20; 20:22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. (John 7:53-8:11 was never present)|
|c.170 A.D.||0212||Tatian's Diatessaron (Harmony of the Gospels) Matthew 27:56; 27:57; Mark 15:40; 15:42; Luke 23:40, 23:49b-c; Luke 23:50, 23:51a, 23:51b, 23:51c, 23:54; John 19:38 (10 verses)|
|c.175 A.D.||p90 (P. Oxyrhynchus 3523)||John 18:36-19:7 (12 verses)|
|2nd century||p98 (P.IFAO Inv. 237b [+a]||Revelation 1:13-2:1 (9 verses)|
|Mid to Late 2nd century||p77 and p103||Matthew 23:30-39; Matthew 13:55-57; 14:3-5 (10 + 6 verses)|
|150-200 A.D.||p32 (P. Rylands 5) probably from Oxyrhynchus||Titus 1:1-15; 2:3-8 (21 verses)|
|Late 2nd / early 3rd century||p38 (P. Michigan Inv. 1571)||Acts 18:27-19:6, 12-16 (13 verses)|
|Late 2nd / early 3rd century||Uncial 0189||Acts 5:3-21 (earliest parchment of the N.T.) (19 verses)|
|c.200 A.D.||p1 (= p. Oxyrhynchus 2)||Matthew 1:1-9,12,14-20; 2:14? (17 or 18 verses)|
|Second century ca.200 A.D. (150-175 A.D.) Comfort and Barrett||p64 (Magdalen) and p67. All agree these are from the same manuscript.||(p67) Matthew 3:9,15; 5:20-22,25-28 (p64) Matthew 26:7-8,10,14-15,22-23,31-33 (19 verses)|
|c.215 A.D. or 200-250 A.D.||p111 (= P. Oxyrhynchus 4495)||Luke 17:11-13, 22-23|
|Early to mid 2nd century In 1963 Aland dated it to the third century. However, if it is the same original as p64 and p67 then it would have to be early to mid 2nd century.||p4 (the handwriting is the same as p64 and p67.) (Aland disagreed but never gave a reason.) Also, all three have an unusual abbreviation for "Jesus".). p4 was used as padding for a copy of Philo's works that was hidden to avoid confiscation in either 292 A.D. or 303 A.D. The Philo Codex was written about 250 A.D.||Luke 1:58-59; 1:62-2:1,6-7; 3:8-4:2,29-32,34-35; 5:3-8; 5:30-6:16 (95 verses)|
|200-225 A.D.||p29||Acts 26:7-8, 20 (3 verses)|
|175-225 A.D. (ca 175 A.D.) Comfort and Barrett||p75 (=Bodmer 14/15)||Luke 3:18-22; 3:33-4:2; 4:34-5:10; 5:37-6:4; 6:10-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53 [758 verses of Luke]; John 1:1-11:45, 48-57; 12:3-13:1,8-9; 14:8-29;15:7-8 (Jn 7:53-8:11 never present) [597 verses of John] (1,355 verses total)|
|200-225 A.D.||p45 (=Chester Beatty I) Matthew 71 verses Mark 147 verses Luke 242 verses John 84 verses Acts 289 verses||Much of Acts and the Gospels. Mt 20:24-32; 21:13-19; 25:41-26:39 [61 verses]; Mark 4:36-5:2; 5:16-26; 5:38-6:3; 2 letters of 6:15; 6:16-25, 36-50; 7:3-15; (7:44 is a bit hard to make out), 7:25-8:1; 8:10-26; 8:34-9:8; 4 letters of 9:9; 9:18-31; 11:27-12:1; 12:5-8,13-19,24-28 [147 verses]; Luke 6:31-41; 6:45-7:7; 9:26-41; 9:45-10:1; 10:6-22; 10:26-11:1; 11:6-25, 28-46; 11:50-12:13 (12:9 was never written); 12:18-37; 12:42-13:1; 13:6-24; 13:29-14:10; 14:17-33 [242 verses]; John 4:51,54; 5:21,24; 10:7-25; 2 complete out of 16 letters of 10:30; 10:31-11:10; 11:18-36,42-57 [84 verses]. Acts 4:27-36; 5:10-20; (8 out of 33 letters in 5:21) 30-39; 6:7-7:2; 7:10-21; 7:32-41; 7:52-8:1; 8:14-15, 8:34-9:6; (8:37 was never written); 9:16-27; 9:35-10:2; 10:10-23, 31-41; 11:2-13; 11:24-12:6; 12:13-22; 13:6-16,25-36; 13:46-14:3; 14:15-23; 15:2-7,9-27; 15:38-16:4; 16:15-21,32-40; 17:9-17) At Acts 15:7 this scribe lost his place and repeated from Acts 15:2. [289 verses]|
|Early 3rd century||Green Collection #425||Romans 9:18-21, some Romans 10|
|Early 3rd century (ca.225 A.D.)||p30||1 Thess. 4:12-13, 16-17; 5:3, 8-10, 12-18, 25-28 [19 verses 1 Thess]; 2 Thess. 1:1-2; 2:1, 9-11 [6 verses 2 Thess] (25 verses total)|
|Early 3rd century||p5 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 208 + 1781)||John 1:23-31, 33-40; 16:14-30; 20:11-17, 19-20, 22-25 (47 verses)|
|ca.200 A.D. (Comfort and Barrett) vs. 3rd century (Aland)||p23 Urbana (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1229)||James 1:10-12, 15-18 (7 verses)|
|c.220 A.D.||p48 (=Firenze bibl. Medicea Laurenziana; PSI 1165)||Acts 23:11-17,25-29 (12 verses)|
|200-250 A.D||p39||John 8:14-22 (9 verses)|
|200-250 A.D||p106 (= P. Oxyrhynchus 4445)||John 1:29-35,40-46|
|225-250 A.D.||p13 (p. Oxyrhynchus 657 + PSI 1292)||Hebrews 2:14-5:5; 10:8-22; 10:29-11:13; 11:28-12:17 (114 verses)|
|c.250 A.D.||p22 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1228)||John 15:25-16:2; 16:21-32 (17 verses)|
|250-251 A.D. Severe Persecution by the Emperor Decius across the entire Roman Empire|
|285-300 A.D.||p12 (P. Amherst 3b)||Hebrews 1:1 (1 verse)|
|3rd century||p9 (= papyrus Oxyrhynchus 402)||1 John 4:11-12, 14-17 (6 verses)|
|3rd century||p20 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1171)||James 2:19-3:2; (6 out of 96 letters of 3:3); 3:4-9) (16 verses)|
|3rd century||p27 + p40 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1355)||(p40) Romans 1:24-27,31-2:3; 3:21-4:8; 6:4-5; (9 out of 55 letters of 6:15), 6:16; 9:17,27. (p27) Rom 8:12-22,24-27,33-9:3; 9:5-9|
|3rd century||p28 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1596)||John 6:8-12, 17-22 (11 verses)|
|3rd century||p35||Matthew 25:12-15,20-23 (8 verses)|
|3rd century||P Antinoopolis 2.54||Matthew 6:10-12 (Part of the Lord's prayer) (2 verses)|
|3rd century||p69||Luke 22:40, 45-48, 58-61. It never contained Luke 22:43-44 (9 verses)|
|3rd century||p70||Matthew 2:13-16; 2:22-3:1; 11:26-27; 12:4-5; 24:3-6, 12-15 (19 verses)|
|3rd century||p80 (= P.Carcelona 83)||Matthew 3:34|
|3d century||p95 (PL II/31)||John 5:2-29, 36-38|
|3rd century||p101 (= P. Oxyrhynchus 4401)||Matthew 3:10-12; 3:16-4:3 (8 verses)|
|3rd century||p107 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4446)||John 17:1-2,11|
|3rd century||p108 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4447)||John 17:23-24; 18:1-5|
|3rd century||P109 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4448)||John 21:18-20, 23-25|
|3rd century||p113 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4497)||Romans 2:12-13, 19|
|3rd century||p114 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4498)||Hebrews 1:7-23|
|c.260 The date is based on similarities to Letters of Heroninos date c.260 A.D.||p53 (=p. Michigan Inv. 6652)||Matthew 26:29-40; Acts 9:33-38; 3 letters of the 124 letters in 9:39; 9:40-10:1 (23 verses)|
|mid 3rd century||p37 (U Michigan Inv. 1570; P. Mich. 137)||Matthew 26:19-52 (34 verses)|
|mid 3rd century||p49 + p65 (=Yale p.415+531 + Firenze. 1st. di Pap. G. Vitelli PSI XIV 1373)||(p49) Eph 4:16-29; 4:31-5:13 (29 verses) (p65) 1 Th 1:3-2:1; 2:6-13 (19 verses)|
|250-300 A.D.||p47 (=Chester Beatty III)||Revelation 9:10-11:3; 11:5-16:15; 16:17-17:2 (125 verses)|
|mid to late 3rd century||p115 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4499)||Revelation 2:1-3, 13-15, 27-29; 3:10-12; 5:8-9; 6:5-6; 8:3-8, 11-13; 9:1-5,7-16,18-21; 10:1-4,8-10,12-17; 13:1-3, 6-16,18; 14:1-3, 5-7, 10-11, 14-15, 18-20; 15:1,4-7 (published in 1999) (119 verses)|
|late 3rd century||p15/p16 (=p. Oxyrhynchus 1008/1009)||(p15) 1 Cor 7:18-8:4; (p16) Php 3:10-17; 4:2-8 (27 + 15 = 42 verses)|
|late 3rd century||p17 (= p. Oxyrhynchus.1078)||Hebrews 9:12-19 (8 verses)|
|late 3rd century||p110 (=p. Oxyrhynchus 4494)||Matthew 10:13-15, 25-27|
|c.300 A.D.||p72, somewhat similar handwriting to p50. 1 and 2 Peter have page numbers 1-35. Jude has page numbers 62-68. Also contains the Nativity of Mary, the apocryphal letter of Paul to the Corinthians, the 11th Ode of Solomon, Melito's Homily on the Passover, part of a hymn, the Apology of Phileas, and Psalm 33 and 34.||1 Peter 1:1-5:14, 2 Peter 1:1-3:18 and Jude 1-25 (191 verses) (Every verse of those three books)|
|c.300 A.D.||p38||Acts 18:27-19:6, 12-16 (13 verses)|
|c.300 A.D.||p64||Mt 3:9,15; 5:20-22,25-28; 26:7f,10,14f,22f,31-33 (14 verses)|
|ca.300 A.D.||p92||Ephesians 1:10f,11-13,19-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5,11-12 (10 verses)|
|ca.300 A.D.||p100 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 4449)||James 3:13-4:4; 4:9-5:1|
|ca.300 A.D.||p102 (= P. Oxyrhynchus 4402)||Matthew 4:11-12,22-23|
|ca.300 A.D.||0162 (P. Oxyrhynchus 847)||John 2:11-22 (12 verses)|
|ca.300 A.D.||0171 (PSI 2.124)||Matthew 10:17-23,25-32; Luke 22:44-50,52-56,61,63-64 (30 verses)|
|ca.300 A.D.||0220 (MS 113)||Romans 4:23-5:3,8-13. 100% agrees with Vaticanus except Romans 5:1. (6 verses)|
|ca.300 A.D.||0232 (P. Antinoopolis 12)||2 John 1-9 (9 verses)|
|3rd/4th century?||p7 (=Kiev. Centr. Nauch. Bibl. F.301 (KDA) 553P)||Lk 4:1-3 (3 verses)|
|3rd/4th century||p18 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 1079)||Revelation 1:4-7 (4 verses)|
|3rd/4th century||p35 (=Firenze. Bibl. Medicea Laurenziana; PSI 1)||Matthew 25:12-15, 20-23 (8 verses)|
|3rd/4th century||Sinaitic Old Syriac||Most of the four Gospels: Mt 1:1-6:10; 7:3-12:4; 12:6-25; 12:29-16:15; 18:11-20:24; 21:20-25:15; 25:17-20,25-26; 25:32-28:7; Mk 1:12-44; 2:21-4:17; 5:1-26; 6:5-16:18; Lk 1:36-5:28; 6:12-24:52; Jn 1:25-47; 2:16-4:37; 5:6-25; 5:46-18:31; 19:40-end).|
|325-350 A.D.||Vaticanus (B)||Most of the Old Testament and all of the New up to Heb 9:15 (6,979 NT verses)|
|340-350 A.D.||Sinaiticus (Aleph)||Almost all of the New Testament and half of the Septuagint Old Testament|
|4th century||p8 (Berlin Staatl. Mus. Inv.8683)||Acts 4:31-37; 5:2-9; 6:1-6,8-15 (29 verses)|
|4th century||p10 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 209)||Romans 1:1-7 (7 verses)|
|4th century||p24 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 1230)||Revelation 5:5-8; 6:5-8 (8 verses)|
|4th century||p62 (Oslo Univ. Inv.1661)||Matthew 11:25-30 (6 verses)|
|4th century||p71 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 2385)||Matthew 19:10-11,17-18 (4 verses)|
|Late 4th century||p25 (=Berlin Staatl. Mus. Inv.16388)||Matthew 18:32-34; 19:1-3,5-7,9-10 (11 verses)|
|4th/5th century||p21 (=P. Oxyrhynchus 1227)||Matthew 12:24-26,32-33 (5 verses)|
|4th/5th century||p50 (=Yale p.1543)||Acts 8:26-32; 10:26-31 (13 verses)|
|4th/5th century||p57 (=Vienna, osterr Nat. Bibl p. G.26020||Acts 4:36-5:2; 5:8-10 (7 verses)|
|c.400 A.D.||p51 (=p. Oxyrhynchus 2157)||Galatians 1:2-10,13,16-20|
|400-450 A.D.||Peshitta Syriac|
|500 A.D.||Ethiopic Translation|
|507/508 A.D.||Philoxenian Syriac|
|c.450 A.D.||Alexandrinus (= "A", or Uncial 02)||All of the Old Testament is preserved except Gen 14:14-17; 15:1-5, 16-19; 16:6-9; 1 Sam 12:17-14:9; Ps 19:20-79:11. In the New Testament from Mt 25:7 to the end of Revelation, except (Jn 6:50-8:52; Rom 16:24; 2 Cor 4:13-12:6. It also has 1 Clement and 2 Clement until 12:4. The copyist also messed up in one place and copied Rom 16:25-27 twice. From the apocrypha it contains Daniel, Tobit, Judith, 1 Esdras, 1-4 Maccabees, and Sirach. Psalms of Solomon is in the table of contents but is lost.|
|5th century||Ephraemi Rescriptus (C)|
|5th century||p14 (=p. Sinai II, Harris 14)||1 Cor 1:25-27; 2:6-8; 3:8-10,20 (10 verses)|
|5th century||p93||John 13:15-17|
|5th century||Earliest Sahidic Coptic|
|5th century||Curetonian Old Syriac (photos at http://www.katapi.org.uk/BibleMSS/Curetonian.htm)||Mt 1:1-8:22; 10:32-23:25; Mk 16:17-20; Lk 2:48-3:16; 7:33-15:21; 17:24-24:44; Jn 1:1-42; 3:6-7:37; 14:10-29|
|5th century||Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D)|
|ca.600 A.D.||p26 (= P. Oxyrhynchus 1354) (SMU Bridwell Libr.)||Romans 1:1-16 (16 verses)|
|5th/6th century||p54 (Princeton Univ. Lib Garrett 7742, P. Princeton 15)||James 2:16-18,21-26; 3:2-4|
|5th/6th century||p56 (=Vienna, Osterr nat. bibl p. G.19918)||Acts 1:1,4-5,7,10-11 (6 verses)|
|5th/6th century||p105||Matthew 27:62-42; 28:1-5|
|5th/6th century||P94||Romans 6:10-13,19-22|
|6th century||p2 (=Firenze. Mus. Egizio Inv. 7134)||John 12:12-15 (4 verses)|
|6th century||P96||Matthew 3:13-15|
|6th century||Beratinus (Φ)||Matthew 6:2-7:25; 8:8-18:22; 19:4 to end; Mk 1:1-14:61|
|6th/7th century||p3 (= Vienna Osterr. Nat. Bibli. Pap. G 2323)||Luke 7:36-45; 10:38-42 (15 verses)|
|6th/7th century||p43 (=London British Library inv.2241)||Revelation 2:12-13; 15:8-16:2 (5 verses)|
|6th/7th century||p44a (N.Y. Metro. Museum of Art Inv.14.1 527 1 fol.)||John 10:8-14 (7 verses)|
|6th/7th century||p44b (N.Y. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Inv 14.1 527)||Matthew 17:1-3,6-7; 18:15-17,19; 25:8-10; John 9:3-4; 12:16-18|
|6th/7th century||p55 (Vienna osterr Nat. Bibl. p. G.26214)||John 1:31-33,35-38|
|6th/7th century||p94||Romans 6:10-13,19-22|
|6th/7th century||P97||Luke 14:7-14|
|7th century||p11||1 Cor 1:17-22; 2:9-12,14; 3:1-3,5-6; 4:3-5:5; 5:7-8; 6:5-9,11-18; 7:3-6, 10-14|
|7th/8th century||p42||Luke 1:54-55; 2:29-32|
|8th century||p41||Acts 17:28-18:2; 18:17-18,22-25,27; 19:1-4,6-8,13-16,18-19; 20:9-13,15-16,22-24,26-38; 21:1-4,26-27; 22:11-14,16-17|
Q: When a Bible verse has variants, how do we estimate which is more likely to be the original?
A: First, let's look at four types of errors, then the criteria many people use, and finally the relative weighting of the criteria.
Four types of errors
I count about 3,912 variant words in the New Testament where we are not certain which the correct should be. That would mean we are certain of 97% of every word. Generally these are assumed to be from four sources.
Accidental Typos: Many times copyists have simple small spelling errors, or occasionally duplicate a line. Most of these have no pattern and are easy to correct by comparing with the other manuscripts. One exception to this rule is that we are not totally sure how to spell "Iscariot" as in Judas Iscariot. Of all the words we are uncertain of in the New Testament about 1/3 (1,121 words) are single word variants, and 329 words are double word. These fall into both this category and the following two categories.
Deliberate Small Fixes: Many times copyists would attempt to fix spelling or small grammatical errors. Translators into another language would try to translate the meaning accurately. Sometimes they would get it wrong.
Smoothing: Sometimes the Greek grammar or phrasing might be rough, or the word choice might not be the best (in the copyist's opinion.) the copyist would try to correct it to better bring out the meaning. Many manuscripts in different verses says "Jesus Christ" while others say "Christ Jesus".
Large changes: There are 38 places with 10 or more word changes. One of the largest variants is the ending of Mark. The Vaticanus manuscript (325-350 A.D.) does not have the ending of Mark, but has a blank space there. Vaticanus only has blank spaces between a few books, such as Malachi and Matthew. Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) also has a blank space there, but it has a blank space between almost all books.
The following other verses are absent in Sinaiticus but present in Vaticanus: Mt 24:35; Luke 10:32; 17:35; John 9:38; 16:15; 21:25; and I Corinthians 13:2. The following verses are absent in Vaticanus and present in Sinaiticus: Mt 12:47. Lk 23:17. Yet B omits Luke 23:34. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus both do not have: Mt 17:21, 18:11, 23:17; Mk 7:16, 9:44, 46, 11:26, 15:28; Lk 9:55-56, 17:36, 23:17, and Jn 5:4
See http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/vaticanus.html for more info.
Criteria for "strength" of a variant
These criteria are not just good for Bible manuscripts, but for any ancient manuscript.
Earlier manuscripts: In general a manuscript written closer to the event would be considered as having a probability of being more reliable than a manuscript written much later.
Number of manuscripts: In general, a variant appearing in a large number of manuscripts would have more weight than a variant appearing in just a few manuscripts, given that the manuscripts were of similar age.
Heretical readings: Without necessarily intending to, heretics have made a valuable contributions to the church and Bible manuscripts. When a heretical reference says a manuscript is a certain way, and they have no incentive for bias in that direction, or even a possible incentive for bias in the opposite direction, that is strong evidence that the heretic was not aware of a Bible manuscript favoring his view.
Difficulty of reading (Lectio difficilior potior): While it is very improbable that a copyist would try to make the text more difficult to read, it is easy to believe that if a scribe did not copy the text the same, he was trying to make it easier to read. Hence this principle assumes that the more difficult reading is closer to the unedited original. For example, in 1 Cor 14:38, one variant is "ignored" (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, others) vs. "ignorant" (p46 and others). It is surmised that "ignored" is the more difficult and offensive readings, so many would think that "ignored" is probably the correct meaning, even though p46 is earlier than the other manuscripts.
For a second example, in Mt 16:2-3 Jesus compares knowing the times to knowing when the sky is red it is going to rain. This weather phenomenon is true in Palestine but not in Egypt. Manuscripts from Egypt, such as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, do not have this verse. It is easy to hypothesize that since this reading was more difficult for Egyptian readers, Egyptian copyists would have made this large (30-word) change.
Relative weighting of the criteria
Scholars disagree on the importance of these criteria. Here are some "guiding principles" some use, along with a rebuttal.
Manuscript family: Many scholars have decided that the Byzantine family, with it large numbers of manuscripts, though later, is in general more accurate. The NKJV translators seem to favor this. Many other scholars, such as Westcott and Hort, think the earlier, but fewer Alexandrian manuscripts (such as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) are the more accurate. Others, such as the NIV translators, are "eclectic" and claim not to exclusively favor either family. In general, when there are variants, more often than not the Alexandrian family will have the word or phrase be absent (or taken out, depending on your perspective) and the Byzantine family will have the word or phrase by present (or added, depending on your perspective.) In one manuscript, Bezae Cantabrigiensis (5th century A.D.), it will often have both variants together!
Earlier manuscripts: It is not true that everyone thinks the earlier manuscript is always best. Later manuscripts were often done by professional scribes (we can tell by the handwriting) and probably done with more research on variant readings. Some of the earliest manuscripts might have been quickly done by ordinary Christians, with many typos.
Relying on the benefits/mistakes of previous scholars: Origen of Alexandria did a monumental amount of work to collect the variants of different verses which would help determine which was most accurate. Unfortunately, his work, the hexaemeron, with all its symbols and notes, has been lost. However, we are sure the results of his work were known to the Alexandrian church and likely used to help create more accurate manuscripts. If you were to believe that Origen's work and decisions were probably for the most part good, you would tend to trust the Alexandrian manuscript family more. If you think he might have many things incorrect, and you would want to look at manuscripts without his bias, you might trust Byzantine, Latin, Syriac, or other manuscripts more.
Difficulty of reading: Some people use the criteria of difficulty of reading. This assumes that later copyists would fix things and make things smoother to read, so the more difficult way of reading would be the earliest, when all other evidence is the same.
Which variant type and which manuscript: If a manuscript is very similar to other manuscripts in a particular manuscript family, the variants in that manuscript that differ from other manuscripts in the same family would be considered more significant by some people.
Validation: One statistical method is to split the data into training and test sets. Get weights for the training, and then use them to predict the test data, as a measure of how good the weighting is. Applying this to manuscripts.
Caution: Sometimes you get a different answer when you focus on a different question. If you ask, "which manuscript is more probably the original" you might get a "winner" which is 60% certain. But if you ask, "Can we determine which variant is the original and if so which one, then you might say it is inconclusive unless it was at least 96% certain.
Q: What is the evidence (pro and con) that p4 is from the same manuscript as p64 and p67?
A: This is according to Philip Comfort in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.38-39.
Same Manuscript Evidence
S1. All letters but three that could be compared in all three manuscripts are identical. Four letters could not be compared. Sigma, epsilon, and alpha are quite similar in all manuscripts but not quite identical. In some case of p4 the underside is less fully curved than others in p4. In p64 and p67 all these letters are always less fully curved.
S2. The pages are very similar; all are the same width, same number of columns (2), about 36 lines per column, and 15-17 letters per line.
S3. Similar punctuation and paragraphing is common to the three.
S4. p64 and p4 were purchased in the same city.
S5. "Sacred abbreviations" were used in many late-second and early-third century manuscripts for God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, and Spirit. These three did also, but they also had "sacred abbreviations" for Son, Father, man, cross, and crucify.
S6. Accompanying p4 is another small fragment, written by a later writer, that is part of a title page "Gospel According to Matthew." Comfort p.43-44 says it was stylish for scribes to add a title from 175-200 A.D. This does not address whether p4 is the same manuscript as p64/p67, but it attests to an early date for p4.
S7. The reputation of Colin Roberts (who dated the John Ryland's manuscript), Joseph van Haelst, C.H. Roberts, and Philip Comfort.
Different Manuscripts Evidence
D1. Papyrus p4 has finer, thinner pen strokes than p64/p67. A different stylus and/or ink in the hands of the same scribe could produce this difference.
D2. Papyrii p64/p67 is on average lighter than p4, though parts of p4 are the same lightness as p64/p67. Difference in preservation conditions would produce this. Regardless, p4 is not uniform and parts match p64/p67.
D3. Aland's reputation. In 1965 Kurt Aland suggested p4 was the same codex as p64/p67, but afterwards he listed them as separate. Philip Comfort p.36 says he is unaware of any reason Aland gave for the change.
Q: Just how many New Testament manuscripts (including fragments) exist today?
A: Here are the counts from various scholars of just the Greek manuscripts (complete manuscripts, small fragments, and everything in between). One reason the counts differ is that a number of new manuscripts have been discovered since 1975. Also some people call multiple manuscripts what others call one manuscript with multiple pieces.
|Category||Ralph Earle||Aland et al. The Greek New Testament 3rd edition (1975)||Bruce Metzger p.54 (1976)||Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.54 (1981)||A General Introduction to the Bible p.387 (1986)||Aland et al. The Greek New Testament 4th revised edition (1998)|
|Papyrii (p1-p88)||76+||88||88||88||95 (=97-2)|
|Uncials (non-Lectionary)||270||250+||274||274||274||286 (=300-16+2)|
|Lectionary manuscripts (both uncial and miniscule)||not mentioned||1,761+||2,209||2,147||1,977+|
|Ostraca||not mentioned||not mentioned||20||not mentioned||not mentioned|
Q: How many Bible fragments and manuscripts are preserved, century by century?
A: Sometimes scholars disagree about the dates, but here are my numbers, based primarily on Comfort and Barrett, and secondarily on Aland et al. The Other column is artificially small because it is part manuscripts and part languages which contain many manuscripts.
|8th century on||Many||Many|
|8th century on||Many||Many|
Q: For the NT, how many multi-lingual manuscripts exist today?
A: The oldest preserved bilingual manuscript is Bezae Cantabrigiensis. Here is a list of bilingual manuscripts.
Greek and Latin (20 manuscripts) D (Cantabrigiensis Bezae), D (Claromantus), E, F, G, others
Greek and Arabic (16 manuscripts) (0136, 0137, 211, 609, l6, l225, l311, l762, l804, l937, l1023, l1343, l1344, l1746, l1733, l1774,)
Greek and Armenian (1 manuscript) (256)
Greek and Coptic (52 manuscripts) (p6, p41, p42, p62, T, 070, 086, 0100, 0110, 0113, 0124, 0125, 0129, 0139,0164, ethers)
Greek and Slavonic (3 manuscripts) (525, 2136, 2137)
Greek and Turkish (1 manuscript) (manuscript 1325)
There are three known trilingual manuscripts:
Greek and Coptic and Arabic (2 manuscripts) (l1993, l1605)
Greek, Latin, and Arabic (manuscript 460)
See Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.56 for more info.
Q: Briefly, when were these manuscripts written?
A: The Lukan manuscript in Paris (p4) containing parts of Luke 1 to 6 is dated by Philip Comfort to around 100 A.D. Of course, the Gospel of Luke was written prior to Acts. More on this is in the book by Thiede, Carsten P. and Matthew d'Ancona, Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels (NY Doubleday 1996 206 pp.). However, while Thiede and d'Ancona date this as "not much later than 68 A.D., Philip Comfort is more cautious, dating this at 100 A.D. Aland et al's. The Greek Testament fourth revised edition (1998) dated this as fourth century.
The earliest fragment of John, called the John Rylands Papyrus was written 117-138 A.D. The next was the Chester Beatty II papyrii, 150-200 A.D. (or 200-225 A.D.) The next was the Bodmer II papyrii, written about 125-175 A.D. (formerly thought to be 150-200 A.D.) These two manuscripts alone contain 40% of the New Testament according to both my own study and The Qur'an and the Bible p.148
There were a total of 4 preserved manuscripts around 200 A.D., 30 more manuscripts prior to 300 A.D., 8 manuscripts around 300 A.D., 28 more manuscripts before 400 A.D., 16 manuscripts around 400 A.D., and 38 more manuscripts prior to 500 A.D. See The Text of the New Testament : An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism by Aland and Aland p.52 and A General Introduction to the Bible p.387 for charts of all the manuscripts up to 1600 A.D.
Jose O'Callaghan found in cave 7 at Qumran fragments of a papyrus dated 50 A.D., that might be fragments of Mark. However, The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 8 p.608 says this "has been largely rejected by NT scholars (cf. EBC 1:420-421, n.1). The evidence O'Callaghan presents is far too fragmentary to be reliable."
Q: For the NT versus other ancient works, what is the number of manuscript variations?
A: We are certain of over 97% of each word in the New Testament. Homer's Iliad is the next most reliably preserved document. It has 1,757 manuscripts, and is 95% accurate. It has 15,600 lines, with about 764 lines in doubt. The Hindu Mahabharata has 250,000 lines and is roughly 90% accurate according to Bruce Metzger. (See the Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics p.532-533 and A General Introduction to the Bible p.475) It has over 26,000 lines have textual corruption. See A General Introduction to the Bible - Revised and Expanded p.474-475 for more info.
Q: Compared to the NT, what are some of the dates of other early documents and the number of copies?
A: Here are some other ancient works.
|Aristotle wrote 364-322 B.C. There are only 5 copies, the earliest being 1100 A.D.|
|Julius Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 10 copies. This is the only direct evidence we have that Julius Caesar actually entered Gaul.|
|Demosthenes 4th century B.C. 200 copies|
|Euripides' Tragedies 330 copies (The Origin of the Bible p.182)|
|Herodotus 480-425 B.C. 900 A.D. 8 copies|
|Homer wrote The Iiad 1,757 copies, more than any others. 5% of the words are in question|
|Jubilees (A Jewish apocryphal book) 14 copies among the Dead Sea Scrolls.|
|Mahabharata (a Hindu scripture) 10% in question|
|Old Testament Manuscripts 235 scrolls and fragments the Dead Sea Scrolls alone. From the Great Isaiah scroll, about 5% of the words are different vs. the Masoretic text. However, most of these are archaic vs. later words and grammar with the same meaning.|
|Pliny the Younger 1st century A.D. 7 copies|
|Suetonius wrote The Twelve Caesars 70-140 A.D. The earliest copy is 950 A.D.|
|Tacitus 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 20 copies|
|Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 8 copies|
|The Qur'an 765 A.D. 9th century. Aisha said one Sura had 200 verses. After 'Uthman's "standardization", today it has 73 verses. Also, part of Sura 9:30 was abrogated. The Bukhari Hadith 6:509 says that when certain people died, parts of the Qur'an known only to them were lost. Other Bukhari Hadiths saying parts of the Qur'an were missing and/or abrogated are 4:57,62, 69,229; 6:510,511.|
Q: In the NT, what is a summary of the manuscript variations?
A: We are virtually certain of about 97% of the New Testament words. (Other people might have slightly different numbers if they exclude some variations as certainly incorrect.) Here is a book-by-book summary. See the end of the discussion on each book for the details.
Book of the New Testament
Total words in Greek
Greek words in question
100 - % accuracy
|Matthew||1,071||18,346||560||97.0 %||3.0 %|
|Mark (exc.16:9-20)||666||11,270||409||96.4 %||3.6 %|
|-- Mark 16:9-20||Add. 12||---||additional 166||(-1.5%)||+ 1.5 %|
|Luke||1,151||19,482||501||97.4 %||2.6 %|
|John (exc.7:53-8:11)||879||15,635||355||97.7 %||2.3 %|
|-- John 7:53-8:11||Add. 12||---||additional 169||(-1.1) %||+ 1.1 %|
|Acts||1003||18,450||600||96.7 %||3.3 %|
|Romans||433||7,111||201||97.1 %||2.9 %|
|order: Rom 16:25-27||---||---||additional 53||(-0.7%)||0.7%|
|1 Corinthians||437||6,830||108||98.4 %||1.6 %|
|Order: 1 Cor 14:34-35||---||---||Additional 36||(-0.5%)||0.5%|
|2 Corinthians||257||4,477||68||98.5 %||1.5 %|
|Galatians||149||2,230||43||98.1 %||1.9 %|
|Ephesians||155||2,422||54||97.8 %||2.2 %|
|Philippians||104||1,629||37||97.7 %||2.2 %|
|Colossians||95||1,582||36||97.6 %||2.4 %|
|1 Thessalonians||89||1,481||28||98.1 %||1.9 %|
|2 Thessalonians||47||823||13||98.4 %||1.6 %|
|1 Timothy||113||1,591||32||98.0 %||2.0 %|
|2 Timothy||83||1,238||17||98.6 %||1.4 %|
|Titus||46||659||8||98.8 %||1.2 %|
|Philemon||25||335||6||98.2 %||1.8 %|
|Hebrews||303||4,953||87||98.2 %||1.7 %|
|James||108||1,742||28||98.4 %||1.6 %|
|1 Peter||105||1,684||66||96.1 %||3.9 %|
|2 Peter||61||1,099||40||96.6 %||3.4 %|
|1 John(excl. 1Jn5:8)||104||2,141||32||98.4 %||1.6 %|
|2 John||13||245||6||97.6 %||2.4 %|
|3 John||14||219||3||98.6 %||1.4 %|
|Jude||25||461||11||97.6 %||2.4 %|
|Revelation||404||9,851||135||98.6 %||1.4 %|
|Totals||7,964||137,986||3,912||97.2 %||2.8 %|
Q: Why does the percentage of variants listed (97%), differ from another number of 99.5%?
A: The Aland et al's Greek Translation of the New Testament, besides giving manuscript variations, gives an estimate of the certainty of the translation. In the fourth edition p.3, the letters mean:
A - "indicates that the text is certain"
B - "indicates that the text is almost certain"
C - "indicates that the Committee had difficulty in deciding which variant to place in the text."
D - "which occurs only rarely, indicates that the Committee had great difficulty in arriving at a decision."
Note that in the 3rd edition on p.xii-xiii, the letters have slightly different meanings.
A - "virtually certain"
B - "some degree of doubt"
C - "considerable degree of doubt"
D - "very high degree of doubt"
You arrive at close to the 97% figure by including all categories, and the 99.5% figure by only including the C and D categories. The 99.5% figure does not include, for example, many Greek textual variants that were the primary choices the Biblical scholars who translated the NKJV, including the longer ending of Mark, and the pericope (pronounced per-I-co-pe) of the adulteress. As for myself, rather than try to say which set of scholars is right, I simply want to report where trustworthy scholars are not certain or disagree. That is why I included in the 97% number instead of the 99.5% number. The 97% number includes all variants except those with very obvious conclusions.
Q: What are characteristics of the typographical errors in the New Testament?
A: The following table was calculated from the possible significant manuscript variations listed at the end of the discussion of each book.
The following table shows differences primarily due to typos, spelling, grammar, and word changes. Note the relatively high number of single word changes.
|Section of the New Testament||Total Greek words||Total words in question||Percent accuracy||Places with the number of words in question|
|Paul's writings||32,408||735||97.75 %||348||58||14||7||6||0||2||2||0||1||11,13,14,36,53|
|1 Corinthians||6,830||144||97.9 %||66||11||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||36|
|2 Corinthians||4,477||68||98.5 %||45||5||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||-|
|1 Thessalonians||1,481||28||98.1 %||10||3||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||-|
|2 Thessalonians||823||13||98.4 %||11||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|1 Timothy||1,591||32||98.0 %||13||5||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|2 Timothy||1,238||17||98.6 %||12||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Other NT||12,544||267||97.9 %||158||23||6||2||4||0||1||0||0||1||-|
|1 Peter||1,684||61||96.1 %||30||8||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|2 Peter||1,099||40||96.6 %||20||3||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|1 John(excl. 1Jn5:8)||2,141||32||98.4 %||27||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|2 John||245||6||97.6 %||6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|3 John||219||3||98.6 %||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-|
|Totals||137,986||3,912||97.2 %||1306||287||106||53||38||17||14||8||10||11||31 total|
|% of inaccuracies||-||-||100%||33%||>15%||>8%||>5%||>4%||>3%||>3%||>2%||>2%||>3%||>22%|
Thus over half of the New Testament words with variants are in places with only one to three word variations. It is interesting that the percentage of words subject to uncertain typographical errors is very similar in the 1, 2, and 3 word variations. Mark and the other NT books have more uncertain typographical errors, probably due to having fewer preserved manuscripts.
Q: How did you arrive at the number of 97% for manuscript uncertainties?
A: I found the total number of Greek words in the New Testament to be 137,986 according to both Aland et al. 3rd ed. And Aland et al. 4th edition. This includes words in question which were in brackets. This includes the longer ending of Mark, not the shorter ending.
The total number of words of manuscript variations I have seen are 3,912 words in 1,288 places. These were determined by looking through Aland et al. 3rd edition, Aland et al. 4th revised edition, Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the New Testament, Barry, and footnotes from the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV.
I excluded at least 441 words in 82 places listed below, because most of the following criteria were met:
1. There was no disagreement between the Alexandrian and Byzantine manuscript families,
2. The earliest manuscripts were unanimous
3. Aland et al. in 3rd or 4th revised edition called it "A ' virtually certain"
4. The variant was only in one manuscript or else only in some late manuscripts.
I had the following assumptions.
1. I generally paid more attention to early manuscripts,
2. Paid less attention to church writings for one and two word differences, because they could have paraphrased,
3. Did not discount either the Alexandrian or the Byzantine manuscript families.
|p75 (=Bodmer 14/15)||4||4|
|2nd corrector of Sinaiticus||1||4|
|Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus||1||1 (1 letter spelling difference)|
|Bezae Cantab., sometimes some Italic||15||116|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis + Sahidic Coptic||1||5|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Italic, Mid Egyptian Coptic||1||44|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Priscillian||1||2|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Syriac||1||?|
|p15 (3rd century)||1||1|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis + Alexandrinus||1||1|
|Slavonic, Armenian, Clementine Vulgate||1||4|
|Corrected Alexandrinus, Middle Egyptian Coptic||1||7|
|Order of Philippians 1:16 and 17||1|
|Tertullian and F (9th century)||1||2|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Some Syriac, Italic||1||2|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Italic, some Syriac Mid Egyptian Coptic||1||23|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Athanasius||1||1|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Syriac||4||56|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Italic, Syriac||1||2|
|Bezae Cantabrigiensis Syriac, p38 (300 A.D.)||1||21|
|Italic, Middle Egyptian Coptic||1||1|
Q: What are some other people's opinion of the uncertainty of words in the New Testament?
A: Before comparing numbers, it is important to notice that different numbers report different things.
My 97% is for all manuscript variations that have any reasonable probability of being the correct reading. This is regardless of how insignificant the spelling or other change in meaning would be.
The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and A General Introduction to the Bible p.474 says that Westcott and Hort's figures would make 98.33%.
Bruce Metzger estimated 99.5% for all manuscript variations that have any change of meaning.
Keith Elliot and Ian Moir in Manuscripts and the Text of the New Testament p.8 says, "Most modern textual critics can agree on the bulk of the text (some 95 per cent of it, perhaps). It is the remaining 5 per cent or so where disputes occur and differing conclusions may be found."
According to A General Introduction to the Bible p.474 Ezra Abbot estimated about 95% / 99.75%. The variant and rival readings give the 95% figure. Removing the variations that make no appreciable difference in the sense of the text gives the 99.75% figure.
For all variations in all manuscripts, A General Introduction to the Bible p.468 says those occur in 10,000 places in the New Testament. Now one variant was in 20 manuscripts so you multiplied that one variant by 20, and if you did similarly for all variants, A General Introduction to the Bible p.468 says counting that way gives 200,000 manuscript-places. It is interesting that both in talking with Mormon missionaries and reading footnotes by Muslim authors, the only number I have seen for Bible manuscript variations is 200,000, with no explanation that that is not 200,000 variations by variations times the number of manuscript with the variations. When someone repeats that number without knowing what it means, ask them how they think that could be true, since there are less than 134,000 words in the entire New Testament.
Q: In the NT, what is the degree of uncertainty in the variant readings?
A: Aland et al. (3rd edition), Aland et al. (4th revised edition), and Green have different opinions on some words. Aland et al. (3rd edition) shows manuscript variations in 1,333 places, puts the variations in 4 categories. "A" means "virtually certain", "B" means "some degree of doubt", "C" means "considerable degree of doubt", and "D" means a "very high degree of doubt". "The apparently large number of C decisions is due to the circumstances that many readings in the A and B classes have had no variants included in the apparatus, because they were not important for the purposes of this edition. By far the greatest proportion of the text represents what may be called an A degree of certainty." (p.xiii) Assuming I counted correctly, in the third edition there are 121 (9%) A, 468 (35%) B, 603 (45%) C, and 141 (11%) D in the entire New Testament. The probability of a variation being a particular letter seems fairly uniform among the books, except that Revelation has 71 of the 92 listed variations as C.
Q: Which manuscripts are in general the most reliable?
A: All of the manuscripts have basically the same words, with a difference of only 3% (about 3,912 words). However, some Christian scholars energetically debate the differences in this 3%, with primarily three different views.
The Alexandrian manuscripts are the earliest and some think the most reliable (except for John 6:53-8:11). Aland et al. the NIV translators, and a majority of scholars today hold to this view. A church writer named Origen (225-254 A.D.) extensively studied many Bible texts we do not have available today, and his work undoubtedly influenced the Alexandrian manuscript family. Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) was an even earlier writer who extensively quoted from the Alexandrian family of manuscripts.
Early Alexandrian family manuscripts are p45 in Acts, p46, p66, p75, part of Sahidic, and two early manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, written on expensive vellum (deer hide). These two might have been the "official copies", Constantine ordered to be written just after Christianity was legalized, or they might be rejects. These go back to about 325-350 A.D. Two authors are Clement of Alexandrian and some of Origen. According to The Text of the New Testament p.216, "most scholars have abandoned Hort's optimistic view that codex Vaticanus (B) contains the original text almost unchanged except for slips of the pen".
Later Alexandrian manuscripts are Ephraemi Rescriptus, L, T, the Freer Gospels in Luke 1:1-8:12 and John), X, Z, Delta in Mark, Xi, Psi, 33, 81, 104, 326, 579, 892, 1241, and Bohairic Coptic. Alexandrinus and Ephraemi Rescriptus are Alexandrian in everything but the gospels. For the book of Acts in Later Alexandrian we have p50 (284-305 A.D.).
For Paul's letters we have H, I, 1739
For the other letters we have p20, p23, 1739.
For Revelation we have 1006, 1611, 1854, 2053, 2344.
This list is according to The Text of the New Testament p.216.
The Byzantine manuscripts are the most numerous and some think are most reliable. In the east, manuscripts being written gradually "standardized", and there from 1,761 to 2,209 separate manuscripts of the Byzantine Lectionary. These are from about 850 A.D. to 1576 A.D. This viewpoint is growing among scholars, as the manuscripts typically agree with quotes from John Chrysostom, which takes this tradition back to 392-407 A.D.. Comparisons: For large changes there are least 54 word modifications between the Alexandrian and Byzantine manuscript families and 577 words absent in the Alexandrian and present in the Byzantine. This about 0.5% (631 words). In other words, 20% of all text variations are due to Alexandrian vs. Byzantine issues.
The Textus Receptus (TR), also called the Received Text, some think is the most reliable. It is the primary basis for the Catholic and KJV Bibles. In the west, manuscripts being written became more and more standardized. This Latin standard is called "the Textus Receptus". The King James Version follows the Textus Receptus, except that it adds 1 John 5:7-8. Jay P. Green, Sr. primarily uses the Textus Receptus in his Greek/Hebrew to English parallel Bible.
One can find merit for each of the three views on different passages. It would be nice to find "the one family" that has all the correct readings, but perhaps the truth is that all families have a few incorrect readings.
A crazy view that some people have today is that "God's inspired word" is not the meaning the words convey, nor is it the Greek and Hebrew, but it is the English words in the King James Version. All other versions are labeled as "New Age Versions". Some call this the "King James Only" view, and these people "onlyites". However, be aware that not every scholar who believes the King James is the most accurate English translation necessarily holds to this crazy view.
1 John 5:7-8 was added to the King James Version because it was in the third edition of the Greek New Testament by Erasmus. It was not in his second version as the Catholic Church wanted, because Erasmus would not put it in unless they could show him a single Greek manuscript that had it. He put it in the third edition because they showed him a Greek manuscript. Unknown to him, that manuscript had just been written the year before. Erasmus must have learned of this, because he did not put it in his fourth edition either.
However, before deciding to devote your entire life to studying these 3% variations, remember 2 Timothy 2:14 and 1 Timothy 6:4, where Paul commands Timothy to avoid quarreling about words.
Why are there these differences? A key reason is that the Greek copyists probably believed that precisely copying each word was not their primary intent. Their main intent was to communicate God's meaning as accurately and precisely as possible. Some did that by having a literal copy, others by correcting spelling, grammar, improving the phrasing, and making the meaning more precise, and some by paraphrasing.
Q: What are the some of the oldest Bible texts in the Alexandrian manuscript family?
A: The oldest Alexandrian manuscripts are Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.), p20 (3rd century), p23 Urbana (3rd century), p45 + p46 (= Chester Beatty I and II), p47, p50 (284-305 A.D.), p52, p66 (125-175 A.D.) (= Bodmer II), Ephraemi Rescriptus (400-500 A.D.). It is debatable whether p4, p8, and p13 are a part of this family. P75 (early 3rd century is called proto-Alexandrian). P.Antinoopolis 2.54 has Matthew 6:10-12 and p104 contains Mathew 21:34-37, 43, 45?.. There also are a number of Coptic and Ethiopian manuscripts translated from Alexandrian manuscripts. The Coptic manuscripts themselves are subdivided into Bohairic, Sahidic, Fayyumic, Middle Egyptian, and others. Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the New Testament p.15 says that Sahidic Coptic is only Alexandrian text in part. The Origin of the Bible p.302 says that Sahidic was probably first written about 200 A.D. Note that the manuscript Alexandrinus, which sounds like it should be Alexandrian, is actually considered a Byzantine text.
Among the early church writers, Clement of Alexandria and Origen (in part) quote from Alexandrian texts.
Q: What are the major Byzantine texts?
A: These include the manuscript Alexandrinus in the gospels, the Freer Gospels (Matthew and Luke 8:13-24:53) and the Byzantine Lectionary. The Gothic translation is Byzantine. The primary earliest source of Byzantine text is the sermons of John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.), who extensively quoted scripture.
Q: What are some of the differences between the Alexandrian manuscript family versus the Byzantine?
A: In the Old Testament, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus do not have Exodus 28:23-28. We do not have Exodus preserved in Sinaiticus. These verse are present in the Complutensian Septuagint as well as the Hebrew Masoretic text. Dead Sea scroll 4Q22 (=4QPaleoExodusm) contains fragments of 28:22-24,26-28,30-43. See The Septuagint Version : Greek and English by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. p.1131-1132 for more info.
For the New Testament, the Alexandrian manuscripts have at least 33 verses less than the Byzantine family, which works out to 577 words less. There also are at least 54 word modifications. If someone felt certain the earliest Alexandrian manuscripts were totally correct, then the following verses would not be in the Bible: Mt 12:47; 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mk 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20; Lk 23:24; Jn 5:4; John 7:53-8:11. The manuscripts Bodmer 14, 15, and Sinaiticus do not have Luke 23:17 while Vaticanus has it.
Modern times did not produce the first people to study Bible manuscript variations. An unusual Christian from Alexandria named Origen apparently was the first to very systematically look at various manuscripts and decide which most likely was the original reading. Origen had a large number of manuscripts available to him that are lost to us today, and Alexandrian manuscripts are all assumed to be influenced by his work. (Christians today debate over whether his influence is a good or bad thing.) Here is a small sampling of manuscript variations where the Alexandrian manuscripts generally say the same thing and Byzantine manuscripts say something different.
Mt 18:11 ("For the son of man is come to save that which has been lost.") is absent in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic, Origen (225-254 A.D.), Eusebius, and Jerome. These 9 words are included in the Byzantine Lectionary, Syriac, Armenian, Diatessaron (c.170 A.D.), and Chrysostom (392-407 A.D).
Mk 10:34 has "after three days" in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic. It says "On the third day" in Alexandrinus, Byzantine Lectionary, Gothic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian, Origen (225-254 A.D.).
Mk 11:26 "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins/transgressions." is missing in Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Bohairic Coptic, and Sahidic Coptic. (17 words)
Mk 16:9-20 The following sources do not have the longer ending.
c.360 A.D. Eusebius Questions to Marianus I
193-217/220 A.D. Clement of Alexandria
225-254 A.D. Origen
407 A.D. Jerome, Epistle 120
At least 6 other ancient manuscripts
900-1000 A.D. Armenian manuscript has it, but says it was added by Aristion, whom Papias mentions
325-350 A.D. Vaticanus: blank space there. Vaticanus only has blank spaces between a few books, such as Malachi and Matthew.
340-350 A.D. Sinaiticus: also has a blank space there, but it has a blank space between almost all books.
The following manuscripts do have the longer ending
182-188 A.D. Irenaeus Against Heresies 3:11
110-155 A.D. (disciple of Polycarp, disciple of John)
c.170 A.D. Tatian's Diatessaron
200 A.D. Tertullian Treatise on the Soul
At least 38 ancient Bible texts
120-150 A.D. Didache
~700 A.D. on Byzantine text family
5th century Freer Gospels
400-600 A.D. Codex Bezae manuscript
The later Alexandrian manuscripts have it also.
c.450 A.D. Alexandrinus
400-500 A.D. Ephraemi Rescriptus Manuscript
3rd-4th century Bohairic Coptic
3rd-4th century Sahidic Coptic
Jn 5:4 ("for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.") absent in p66 (150-200 A.D.), p75, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic, and the original copies of Ephraemi Rescriptus, Alexandrinus, and the Diatessaron. The church writer Nonnus (431 A.D.) does not have this. The earliest copies with these 29 words are the Armenian and Georgian versions (both 5th century), and later corrections to Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, and the Freer Gospels. However, the early church writers Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.), Didymus, John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.), and Cyril refer to this in their paraphrased renderings.
Jn 7:53-8:11 is called "the pericope of the adulteress". (pronounced per-I-co-pe) Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, p56, p75, the Sahidic Coptic, and the Gothic do not have it. The Diatessaron, Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.), Tertullian (192-220 A.D.), Origen (225-254 A.D.), and Chrysostom also do not have it. The rest of the major manuscripts have it. Aland et al. says, "Alexandrinus and Ephraemi Rescriptus apparently had it, though their state of preservation makes this not certain. This passage is interesting in that Aland et al. says this is "virtually certain" it was in the original manuscript, yet the Alexandrian family, with the exception of Bohairic Coptic, do not have it. Thus, if one relies on the Alexandrian family of manuscripts, one has to do so recognizing that this family left out this entire passage. Of course while the Byzantine family has this passage, John Chrysostom does not. (The pericope of the adulteress and the ending of Mark are the two largest non-trivial manuscript variations in the New Testament.)
Jn 10:34 "the law" is in Bodmer II 125-175 A.D. Bodmer 14,15 early 3rd century, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Byzantine Lectionary, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Athanasius (326-373 A.D.). It says, "the law of you" in Chester Beatty Papyrii 200 A.D., Sinaiticus (corrected), Cantabrigiensis, Tertullian (197-220 A.D.), Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.).
Eph 1:1 The words "in Ephesus" are absent from Chester Beatty II (200 A.D.), original Vaticanus, original Sinaiticus, and the early Christian writers Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) and Origen (225-254 A.D.). A corrector later added the words to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Alexandrinus also has these words, as do the Byzantine Lectionary and John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.)
1 Cor 11:24 "broken for you", vs. "broken" is absent in Chester Beatty II (200 A.D.), Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Ephraemi Rescriptus (original), Alexandrinus, Athanasius (326-373 A.D.). "Broken" is present as a later correction in Sinaiticus, Ephraemi Rescriptus (3rd corrector), the Gothic, Byzantine Lectionary, and John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.)
A split decision is Mk 1:2, where the Byzantine Lectionary and the Armenian says In the prophets, along with Alexandrinus, Syriac, Bohairic Coptic, Ethiopic, Irenaeus, and other manuscripts. Isaiah is mentioned in most other manuscripts including Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Sahidic Coptic, Gothic, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, etc..
Regardless, the Alexandrian and Byzantine manuscript families all do not have 1 John 5:7-8. The first preserved Greek manuscript that has this was not written until the 10th century, though the heretic Priscillian (380 A.D.) had heard of this.
Q: Why do people put less weight on the "Western texts"?
A: The Western texts is a phrase for manuscripts primarily in Europe that do not fit in the Alexandrian or Byzantine family. Some people question whether it is accurate to speak of a Western text, since the manuscripts do not have that much "affinity" with each other, except that when the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts differ, they tend to put in both readings. According to Bruce Metzger's A Textual commentary on the New Testament p.6 the problems with the Western text are most acute in Acts, where the Western text is 10% longer.
Q: What do we know about New Testament quotes of Clement of Alexandria?
A: Clement had a thorough mastery of scripture, which he used extensively. However, his largest work, Stromata, which according to the Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 p.168 was probably first published in 194 A.D. and completed before Clement left Alexandria in 202 A.D. The last date mentioned is 192 A.D. p.169 says, "Clement's quotations from Scripture are made from the Septuagint version, often inaccurately from memory, sometimes from a different text from what we posses, often with verbal adaptations; and not rarely different texts are blended together." Thus in evaluating New Testament manuscript variants, Clement's quotes should be counted of less weight than other manuscripts.
Q: What are some corrections in the p46 manuscript?
A: It was probably not copied by a professional scribe, and one or two people came along later and corrected it. Here are some examples from 1 Corinthians 13-16 for simple letter errors, that are not counted in the previous lists.
1 Cor 13:5 mu was added after to.
1 Cor 13:12 prosopon changed to prosupon by adding u (omega) above the line.
1 Cor 14:9 auloumenon to laloumenon by crossing out au and adding la above the line.
1 Cor 14:9 added genu after tuchoi.
1 Cor 14:20 changed tai to tais by added s above the line.
1 Cor 15:2 dots were put above katecheiv which means they corrector thought this should be deleted.
1 Cor 15:17 estai to easte
1 Cor 15:24 the corrector put a slash through "i" when he should have put a slash through "a"
1 Cor15:34 amartanute to amartanete
1 Cor 16:1 ei to eis
1 Cor 16:7 pardu to parodu
When comparing manuscripts for significant variants, I used the original reading (versus later corrections) in all the manuscripts.
Q: What do we know about the Vaticanus manuscript?
A: Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) is the oldest existing member of the Alexandrian manuscript family. It often is abbreviated as "B" or is called uncial 03. It is 325-350 A.D. according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.253 and c.325-350 A.D. according to A General Introduction to the Bible p.393.
What has been preserved: Vaticanus has preserved only verses 46:29-50:26 in Genesis, and the rest of the Old Testament except for 2 Kings 2:5-7 and 1-13, and Psalm 105:27-137:6. The missing section in Psalms was added in the 15th century. As in Vaticanus, Hebrews follows 2 Thessalonians.
Some apocryphal books are in Vaticanus, as are in most Greek Bibles. Vaticanus does not contain 1-4 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasseh.
The New Testament is all preserved up until Hebrews 9:15. After that some leaves were lost. Missing are 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation. Aland references Vaticanus in the book of James, and the New International Greek Testament Commentary on James p.60 says Vaticanus contains the complete book of James.
Physical Appearance: It was written with brown ink on expensive vellum, with each leaf being 27-28 centimeters square. There were three columns per page and 40-44 lines per column. Today it is in Vatican City in the middle of Rome
Order of Old Testament Books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras (=Ezra-Nehemiah)
Psalms (with Psalm 151), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =Wisdom of Sirach), Esther, Judith, Tobit, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel. Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (with Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susannah, and Bel and the Dragon]. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.50 for more info.
Order of New Testament Books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, (following are missing but the presumed order) 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Revelation. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.60 for more info.
Scribes and Correctors: One scribe wrote the Old Testament, and another wrote the New Testament. There were two correctors. One corrected the manuscript about 350 A.D. soon after it was written. The other corrector lived in the tenth or eleventh century. A humorous note is that one corrector made a change in Hebrews 1:3. A later corrector changed it back, and wrote in the margin "Fool and knave, can't you leave the old reading alone, and not alter it!" It turns out the original was not correct.
Distinctives of Vaticanus: It generally follows the other manuscripts in the Alexandrian family. It does not have John 7:53-8:11, Luke 22:43-44, and Luke 23:34. Like Sinaiticus, it has a blank space for the longer ending of Mark. Vaticanus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today. No ancient manuscript omitted 1 Peter 5:3 (9 words) except for Vaticanus.
Jn 16:28 "from/by the Father" is in Vaticanus. Many other manuscripts have "came forth from the Father", including p5 (200-250 A.D.), p22, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Byzantine Lectionary, Diatessaron (c.170 A.D).
As a side note there is a Codex Vaticanus 354 (S) manuscript of the gospel. However, it is a totally different manuscript, dated 949 A.D., that just happens to have the name Vaticanus in it also.
See The Origin of the Bible p.181, A General Introduction to the Bible p.391-392, and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.74-75 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Sinaiticus manuscript?
A: Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) is the second oldest existing member of the Alexandrian family of manuscripts. It often is abbreviated as "Aleph" or is called uncial 01. It is 340 A.D. according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.253 and c.340 A.D. according to A General Introduction to the Bible p.393. It is online at www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/
What has been preserved: It has preserved half of the Septuagint Old Testament. Specifically, it has Genesis 23:19-24:46 (with gaps); Numbers 5:26-7:20 (with gaps), 1 Chronicles 9:27-19:17, Ezra-Nehemiah as one book from Ezra 9:6 on, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentation to 2:22, Joel through Malachi, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Job.
The Apocrypha is in Sinaiticus: specifically Tobit, Judith, 1 and 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, and Sirach.
The New Testament is all preserved, except the scribes did not include John 7:53-8:11, and a blank space reserved for Mark 16:9-20. Sinaiticus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today. The order of New Testament books is the Four Gospels, Paul's Letters, Hebrews, Acts, the Catholic Letters, Revelation, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas, according to Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.76.
Two other books are in Sinaiticus: the Letter/Epistle of Barnabas and part of the Shepherd of Hermas.
Physical Appearance: It originally had at least 730 leaves. Today we have 390 leaves plus fragments of 3 more leaves. (a leaf is two pages.) There are four columns per page and 48 lines per column. It is written on expensive vellum. There were no spaces between words and almost no punctuation. Old Testament quotes are shown as quotes. Today it is in London, UK. For more info and a photograph, see Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, p.76-79.
Order of Old Testament Books: Genesis, (Exodus and Leviticus are lost), Numbers, (missing Deuteronomy through 2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras (=Esther-Nehemiah), Esther, Tobit, Judith, 1, 4 Maccabees, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, (Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, and Micah lost), Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Psalms (including 151), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =Wisdom of Sirach), Job. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.50 for more info.
Order of New Testament Books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation, Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.60 for more info.
Scribes and correctors: Three scribes copied Sinaiticus. Scribe A, who copied most of the historical and poetic books of the Old Testament, almost all the New Testament, and the Epistle of Barnabas, was a better speller than B, but not nearly as good as D. B copied the prophets and the Shepherd of Hermas, and was a bad speller. D had nearly perfect spelling. He copied Tobit and Judith, the first half of 4 Maccabees, and the first 2/3 of Psalms. He apparently copied 6 pages of the New Testament.
Distinctives of Sinaiticus: According to Herman Hoskier, there are the following number of places with differences between Sinaiticus and the Textus Receptus in the gospels: Matthew 656+, Mark 567+, Luke 791+, John 1022+, for a total of 3036+ places of differences in the gospels.
Sinaiticus is unusual for its endings of the gospels. Like Vaticanus, Sinaiticus has a blank space for the longer ending of Mark's gospel. Thus they were aware of a longer ending, but chose not to copy it.
In addition, ultraviolet lamps have shown that the scribe finished the Gospel of John ends at 21:24, put two decorative lines (called coronis), and wrote that it is finished. Then the vellum was washed to remove the lines and last statement, the same scribe wrote verse 25, added the coronis, and wrote it is finished. This is according to The Text of the New Testament p.45-46, written by Bruce Metzger in 1968. So we consider the Sinaiticus version of John ending in 21:25 because the same scribe wrote it.
According to D.A. Waite, 8972 words were affected in the Gospel versus the Textus Receptus. 3,455 words were omitted, 839 were added, 1114 were substituted, 2299 were transposed, and 1265 were modified. It has more changes than Vaticanus. Of course, Waite cannot prove any words were added or omitted, only that they were included or absent.
Lk 11:23 "scatters me" is in the original Sinaiticus Bohairic Coptic, and Ephraemi Rescriptus. All the other major manuscripts have "scatters"
Jn 1:34 The "chosen" is in p5 (198-220 A.D.), original Sinaiticus, Sahidic Coptic and few other manuscripts. The "son" is in corrected Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Cantabrigiensis, the Byzantine Lectionary, Bohairic Coptic, Armenian, Origen (225-254 A.D.), John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.)
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.392-394 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Alexandrinus manuscript?
A: Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) is a little later than Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. It is often abbreviated "A" or called Uncial 02. It is c.425 A.D. according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.253 and c.450 A.D. according to A General Introduction to the Bible p.393.
What has been preserved: It has preserved all of Genesis except for Genesis 14:14-17; 15:1-5, 16-19; 16:6-9, which are mutilated. The Twelve Minor Prophets are directly before Isaiah. It contains the rest of the Old Testament except for 1 Samuel 12:17-14:9 and Psalms 49:20-79:11.
In the New Testament Alexandrinus has preserved Matthew 25:7 to the end, Mark, Luke, John (except 6:50-8:52), Romans (minus 16:24), 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians (except 4:13-12:6), the rest of the New Testament, 1 Clement, and 2 Clement until 12:4. Psalms of Solomon is in the table of contents but it is lost.
Alexandrinus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the order of 1:1-14:23; 16:25-27; 15:1-16:23; 16:25-27 (The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary : Romans 1-8 p.6) It contains 16:25-27 twice. It contains all of James.
The Apocrypha is in Alexandrinus: additions to Daniel, Tobit, Judith, 1 Esdras, 1-4 Maccabees, Sirach.
Other books at the end of the manuscript were written the Psalms of Solomon, and 1 and 2 Clement, with some parts of 2 Clement missing.
Physical appearance: The leaves measure 32.1 cm by 26.4 cm. It was written on expensive vellum with brown ink. There are two columns per page, and 46-52 lines per column. There are no spaces between the words, and Old Testament quotes are indicated. It was written in large, square uncial writing with no punctuation. It currently is in London, UK.
Order of Old Testament Books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel (with Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon]
See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.50 for more info.
Order of New Testament Books: Matthew (some missing), Mark, Luke, John (some missing), Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians (some missing), Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Revelation, 1 Clement (some missing), 2 Clement (some missing), Psalms of Solomon (table of contents only). See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.60 for more info.
Scribes and correctors: Two to five scribes wrote this manuscript, and there were numerous corrections, by both the scribe who originally wrote the words and others hands. The corrected version is very similar to the Textus Receptus.
Distinctives of Alexandrinus: Some would say it appears as an Alexandrian Manuscript with Byzantine influence. Others would say it represents a third family, the Western family, which is a combination of the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts. It does not have Luke 22:43f, and is missing John 7:53-8:11.
2 Tim 2:22 Alexandrinus has "loving" while other manuscripts have "calling"
Phm 12, Alexandrinus and corrected Sinaiticus almost stand alone in saying "whom I sent back yours" vs. other manuscripts who say "whom I sent back to you" or similar.
Phm 25 Alexandrinus does not have "amen" at the end. Sinaiticus, the Byzantine Lectionary, and p87 c.125 A.D. have "amen" at the end.
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.394-395 and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.86 (photograph p.87) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] manuscript?
A: Ephraemi Rescriptus (400-500 A.D. or 400-450 A.D. or c.345 A.D.) is considered neither an early nor a late manuscript. It often is abbreviated as "C" or else is called uncial 04.
It was written 5th century (400-500 A.D.) according to Aland et al., or 400-450 A.D. on various web sites. It was written c.345 A.D. according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.253 and A General Introduction to the Bible p.393.
What is preserved: It has preserved James 1:1-4:2 and the Gospels, Acts, the letters and Revelation. Ephraemi Rescriptus contains all of Romans (minus 16:24) in the same order as Bibles today. It probably contained all of the New Testament, and at least part of every New Testament book is preserved except for 2 Thessalonians and 2 John. Much of the Old Testament is lost. It has only preserved all or parts of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles.
For apocryphal books it has preserved at least parts of Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom of Solomon.
Distinctives of Ephraemi Rescriptus: It has 616 instead of 666 in Revelation. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.253 says the manuscript is "a compound of all major types, but it agrees frequently with the Byzantine." A General Introduction to the Bible p.394 also says it is a compound of different types but agrees frequently with the Byzantine family.
Q: What do we know about the Cantabrigiensis Bezae (D) manuscript?
A: Unlike Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, the Latin Vulgate, and today's Bibles, Cantabrigiensis Bezae has the gospels in a different order.
Order of New Testament Books: Bezae has only preserved in order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, Acts, and 3 John. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.60 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Freer Gospels (W)?
A: The Freer Gospels are also called Codex Washingtonianus. They are from the fourth or early 5th century (300-450 A.D.) or fourth to 5th century (Aland et al.)
What is preserved: The Old Testament is lost except for parts of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Psalms. The New Testament has preserved the four gospels, 1, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1, 2 Thessalonians, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews. (Romans is the only one of Paul's letters that is not preserved here.)
Order of New Testament Books: The Gospels in order are Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark. Mark has the long ending.
Distinctives of the Freer Gospels: After Mark 16:14, has "And they excused themselves, saying, 'This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now' ' thus they spoke of Christ. And Christ replied to them, 'The term of years of Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven." (A General Introduction to the Bible p.400)
Q: What are the distinctives of the three Coptic families of translations of the New Testament?
A: The three main Coptic families are Sahidic, Bohairic, and Fayyumic, and they were almost certainly translated from manuscripts in the Alexandrian family. There are no peculiar renderings listed in Aland. The different Coptic families do not always agree among themselves. For example,
Mt 12:47 Include verse 47 "Then said one to him, Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak to you."
(Sinaiticus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bohairic Coptic) vs. verse 47 is absent (corrected Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Sahidic Coptic) (17 words)
A fourth, smaller family is the Akhminic. It has portions of Mt 9; Lk 12-13, 17-18, Gal 5-6; Jms 5. A similar family, called sub-Akhminic has portions of Jn 2:12-20:20.
Q: What do we know about the old Syriac manuscripts?
A: There are two old versions: Sinaitic Syriac (4th century) and Curetonian Syriac (5th century).
The Sinaitic Syriac (SyrS) manuscript was found in 1897. It is difficult to read, because it was overwritten in the 8th century. 142 of 166 leaves survive. The surviving leaves contain Mt 1:1-6:10, 7:3-12:4, 12:6-25, 12:29-16:15, 18:11-20:24, 21:20-25:15, 25:17-20, 25:25-26, 25:32-28:7, Mk 1:12-44, 2:21-4:17, 5:1-26, 6:5-16:8 (no ending), Lk 1:36-5:28, 6:12-24:52, Jn 1:25-47, 2:16-4:37, 5:6-25, 5:46-18:31, 19:40-end). It is considered a "western text" with fewer peculiarities than D.
The Curetonian Syriac (SyrC) was discovered in 1842. It has Mt 1:1-8:22; 10:32-23:25; Mk 16:17-20; Lk 2:48-3:16; 7:33-15:21; 17:24-24:44; Jn 1:1-42; 3:6-7:37; 14:10-29 (mutilated). It has some similarities to the Siniatic Syriac.
Q: What do we know about the Syriac Peshitta translation of the Bible?
A: Peshitta means "simple" and the Old Testament was translated before the end of the 2nd century A.D. The Peshitta does not contain 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, or Revelation. The New Testament was translation in the final decades of the 4th century (375-400 A.D.) according to the Eerdmans' Bible Dictionary p.817. Aland et al. give a date of 400-450 A.D., but Eerdmans' Bible Dictionary p.978 says, "Once thought to be the early fifth-century work of Bishop Rabbula of Edessa, the Peshitta now appears to have been completed by the late fourth century on the basis of earlier Syriac versions." So the more modern dating is 375-400 A.D.
Q: What do we know about the Armenian translation of the Bible?
A: Christianity came to Armenia under a former persecutor, King Tiridates III (c.287-314 A.D.). He was converted by Gregory the Illuminator at the end of the third century. Thaddaeus and Bartholomew might have gone to Armenia prior to then. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (died c.264 A.D.) wrote to those in Armenia. According to Bishop Korium (died c.450 A.D.), Mesrop Mashtotz (c.361-439 A.D.) was a former soldier and Christian missionary who created an Armenian alphabet in 406 A.D. and translated the Bible into Armenian. There are over 1,244 New Testament Armenian manuscripts. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.248-250 for more info. A picture of an Armenian manuscript of Matthew 1 is on p.248.
Other Books: In addition to the Biblical books, some Armenian manuscripts have History of Joseph and Asenath, 4 Ezra, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. In the New Testament are the Letter of the Corinthians to Paul and a Third Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
Order of Books: After Acts, are Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude.
Mt 1:7-8 spelling of "Asa" (Byzantine Lectionary, Syriac) vs. "Asaph" (p1, [apparently] Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Sahidic Coptic, Bohairic Coptic, Middle Egyptian Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Georgian) (1 letter difference)
In Matthew 26:28
"New" is present in Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), Ephraemi Rescriptus (5th century), Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Freer Gospels, Sahidic Coptic (3/4th century), Bohairic Coptic (3/4th century), the Byzantine Lectionary, f1 family, f13 family (11th century), Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.
"New" is absent in p37 (middle 3rd century), Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.), Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.), etc.
In Mark 14:24
"New" is present in Alexandrinus, Sahidic Coptic, Diatessaron, Byzantine Lectionary, f1 family, f13 family, Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.
"New" is absent in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Freer Gospels, Bohairic Coptic, etc.
Mk 7:25 "Had an unclean spirit" vs. "was pressed/squeezed by an unclean spirit" (Armenian only)
Jn 5:7 "while I am coming" vs. "while I drag myself" (Armenian only so not counted in the totals.
Revelation 21:12 "and the names" (Alexandrinus) vs. "and names" (Byzantine Lectionary) vs. "and" Sinaiticus, Armenian) (2 words)
Revelation 22:14 "those who wash their robes" (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vulgate, Sahidic Coptic, Ethiopic) vs. "those doing his commands" (Byzantine Lectionary, Italic, Philoxenian Syriac, Bohairic Coptic, Tertullian, Cyprian, Armenian)
Q: What do we know about the Georgian translation of the Bible?
A: The Bible was translated into Georgian in the Fifth century A.D. Christianity was introduced to Georgia by a slave woman name Nino, who was taken captive by Bakur, the King of Georgia during the time of the Emperor Constantine. According to Armenian tradition, the Georgian translated was taken from Mesrop, a Christian from Armenia. Others think it might have been translated from the Syriac instead. However, it is also believed that it was compared with Byzantine texts.
Georgian is the most significant Kartvelian language, unrelated to Armenian or any larger languages. A photograph of a page of the New Testament is in The Journey from Texts to Translations p.249. The oldest Georgian set of the four gospels (Geo1) is called the Adysh manuscript (897 A.D.). There is also geoA and geoB, which form the basis of geo2. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.250-251 for more info.
Mt 1:25 "a son" (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Syriac, Middle Egyptian Coptic, Georgian) vs. "a firstborn son" vs. "the only begotten son" (Ephraemi Rescriptus, Freer Gospels, Byzantine Lectionary, Armenian, Ethiopic, Diatessaron) (4 words) Note that this differs from the Armenian.
Q: What is the earliest Arabic translation of the Bible?
A: The Mt. Sinai Arabic Codex 151 was translated in 867 A.D. It has commentary by the translator and lectionary note. It was found at St. Catherine monastery in Mt. Sinai in the 1800's. Codex 151 uses the word "Allah" for God. For more info see http://www.arabicbible.com/bible/codex_151.htm.
Q: What do we know about the other papyrii manuscripts?
A: There are 88 of them, labeled as p1 to p88.
p20 + p27 (3rd century) p20 has James 2:19-3:2; 3:4-9 and other books. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.96 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the handwriting is very similar with p27, which might mean the same scribe wrote both.
p23 Urbana (3rd century) James 1:10-12, 15-18 and other non-Pauline letters
p45 + p46 + p47 likely are by the same scribe. Together they are called the Chester Beatty papyri I, II, and III respectively. See the following question for more on this papyrus.
p54 (5th-6th century) James 2:16-18, 21-26; 3:2-4 and other books
p52 is the oldest manuscript, called the John Rylands Papyrus, and is dated 117-138 A.D. It was found in Egypt. This shows that the Gospel of John was not only written by then, but distributed to Egypt by then. It has writing on both sides, and contains John 18:31-33, and 37-38. You can see a photograph of the John Rylands papyrus in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.937, the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.534, Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.62-63, and A General Introduction to the Bible p.388.
p66 probably was written about 125-175 A.D. (formerly thought to be 150-200 A.D.) It is called the Bodmer II papyrii. See the question on p66 for more info.
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.248-257 and A General Introduction to the Bible p.387-391 for more discussion on the earliest Old Testament and New Testament manuscripts.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2 (p1)?
A: This manuscript is dated from the middle of the third century, from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. It contains Matthew 1:1-9, 12, 14-20; and possibly 2:14. It is very fragmentary as the photograph shows in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.28. It has page numbers using Greek letters. There are many similarities between it and p69, as well as Vaticanus.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 657 + PSI 1292 (p13)?
A: This manuscript is dated from 225-250 A.D., from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. It contains Hebrews 2:14-5:5; 10:8-22; 10:29-11:13; 11:28-12:17. It has page numbers using Greek letters. It was found with a second century manuscript Papyri Oxyrhynchus 656, a copy of Genesis. This papyrus has page numbers, which show there were prior pages, probably containing earlier parts of the New Testament. There are many similarities between p13 and p.46. A picture of Hebrews 12:1-17 is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.74.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1229 (p23)?
A: This manuscript is dated approximately 200 A.D, from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. It contains James 1:10-12, 15-18. It has page numbers using Greek letters. The scribe apparently preferred to copy exactly (including grammatical errors), rather than correct the grammatical errors. A photograph of James 1:15-18 is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.102.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1598 (p30)?
A: It is dated from the early third century. Only three pages are preserved, of 1 Thessalonians 4:12-13, 16-17; 5:3, 8-10, 12-18, 25-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; 2:1, 9-11. Two of the pages have page numbers using Greek letters. Since the page numbers are 207 and 208, it apparently contained much more originally.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Michigan Inventory 1571 (p38)?
A: It is dated from the late second or early third century, and only one page is preserved, containing Acts 18:27-19:6, 12-16. It has a page number (59) using Greek letters ("nu" "theta") Thus Philip Comfort concludes it originally contained only the book of Acts. A picture of p38 is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.134.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1780 (p39)?
A: This fragmentary manuscript contains John 8:14-22, written in the first half of the third century. It has page numbers on the even numbered page (74), which Philip Comfort says indicates it originally only contained the Gospel of John. It was discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt and agrees 100% with Vaticanus, which makes it a part of the Alexandrian family of manuscripts.
Q: What do we know about the Chester Beatty Papyrii I, II, and III (p45 + p46 + p47)?
A: There are actually three Chester Beatty manuscripts: p45 containing the Gospels and Acts (third century), p46 containing Paul's letters (about 200 A.D.), and p47 containing Revelation (late third century). They might all be the same date. At least p45 and p46 have page numbers using Greek letters.
What has been preserved: In the surviving pages we have most of Paul's letters (but not 1, 2 Timothy or Titus), and other New Testament books. The first seven pages are lost, and the first surviving page starts with Romans 5:17. After that, the order of books is Hebrews, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians.
Physical appearance: Apparently the books were ordered by length. Papyrus p46 originally had 104 leaves, of which 56 survive today in a museum near Dublin, Ireland, and 30 pages are in Ann Arbor. We know about the missing pages, because the pages had page numbers. You can see a photograph of one leaf, Romans 16:23-Hebrews 1:1-7 in Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.64-65. A General Introduction to the Bible p.388-389 has a photograph of the first page of Ephesians and a page of Romans.
Scribes: There was only one scribe and no correctors.
Distinctives of the Chester Beatty papyrii: One of the peculiarities of the p46 is that Romans 16:5-27 is placed at the end of chapter 15.
For Revelation, p47 contains numerical values following a few of the words in Revelation (Theomatics II p.27-28.)
Bruce Metzger says on papyrus p47, "In general the text of P-47 agrees more often with that of codex Sinaiticus than with any other, though it often shows a remarkable independence." Del Washburn in Theomatics II p.632 says this shows p47 is very erroneous.
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.389-390 and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.64 (photograph p.65) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Bodmer II papyrii (p66)?
A: This is the third oldest set of preserved papyri. Martin originally dated in 200 A.D., Hunger said 100-150 A.D., The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.366 says mid 2nd century, and Aland et al.'s The Greek New Testament 4th revised edition says "about 200". Turner dated this 200-250 A.D., in part because of the wide delta's. However, wide delta's have since been found in 2nd century manuscripts too. Comfort gives a good rebuttal to Turner's reasons and says it is mid 2nd century (125-175 A.D.) Papyrus p66 was found in Egypt between Thebes and Panopolis close to Nag Hammadi. It is said to be either an Alexandrian manuscript, or else a mixture of a Alexandrian and Western types. However, it has some 20 differences from readings that are in all western types.
What is preserved: p66 contains John 1:1-6:11; 6:35b-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, 22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. The Archaeology of the New Testament (Finnegan) p.381 shows the page 137 is very fragmentary and contains part of John 19:16.
Physical appearance: p66 has 78 leaves, 14.2 centimeters by 16.2 centimeters. It has 15-25 lines per page, and it has page numbers using Greek letters. Typically where the words "cross" and "crucify" appear, the scribe abbreviated it by making a chi letter and a rho letter on top of each other. Today p66 is in Cologny-Geneva Switzerland. A photograph of the first page is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.368.
Distinctives of the Bodmer II papyrii: Some see a Docetic bias in p66.
Jn 1:18 says "only begotten God" not "only begotten son"
Jn 3:13 has absent "The son of man who is in heaven"
Jn 7:53-8:11, this is the oldest existing manuscript where the story of the adulteress is absent.
Jn 9:35 says "son of God" instead of "son of man"
Jn 19:5 has absent "And he said to them, 'Behold the man'"
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.390-391 and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.66 (photograph p.67) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Bodmer Papyrii p72?
A: p72 was written around 300 A.D. It was apparently a private copy somebody commissioned four scribes to write. It is similar to the Sahidic Alexandrian type and has page numbers using Greek letters.
What is preserved: The books in order are: Nativity of Mary, apocryphal Correspondence of Paul to the Corinthians, the Eleventh Ode of Solomon, Jude, Melito's Homily on the Passover, a Fragment of a Hymn, the Apology of Phileas, Psalm 33, Psalm 34, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter.
Physical appearance: It is 6 by 5 ' inches (15 ' by 14.5 cm)
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.390-391 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Bodmer Papyrii 14/15 p75?
A: p75 (Bodmer 14/15) was written between 175-225 A.D. Comfort and Barrett says ca. 175 A.D. Like p66, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, the Greek has no punctuation, according Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary of the New Testament p.167. However, punctuation was apparently added later in 975 and Sinaiticus.
What is contains: p75 contains most of Luke and John. Specifically, it contains Luke 3:18-22; 3:33-4:2; 4:34-5:10; 5:37-6:4; 6:10-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53. It also has John 1:1-11:45,28-57; 12:3-13:1; 13:8-9; 14:8-29; 15:7-8. (Luke 1:1-317 is missing because of the loss of eight leaves. John 7:53-8:11 was never present.
Physical appearance: p75 has 102 leaves preserved (out of an original 144) that are 10 ' by 5 1/3 inches (26 by 13.5 cm). In many, but not all, of the places cross and crucify were abbreviated with the letters chi and rho written over each other, according to The Archaeology of the New Testament (Finnegan) p.382,383.
Distinctives of Bodmer Papyrii 14/15: According to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.494-496, the scribe had a tendency to drop pronouns. It Greek you can still tell the subject by the verb endings. Other than that, the professional Christian scribe appeared to copy things fairly closely. He apparently used Acts 12:20 to make a change in Luke 14:32, as well as a few other harmonizations.
Statistics of the Bodmer 14/15 papyrii: According to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.496, it is 87% identical to Vaticanus (92% the same in John). Vaticanus and Bodmer papyrii 14/15 has 35 significant readings common only to these two manuscripts, including, as well as common misspellings.
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.390-391 and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.68 (photograph p.69) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Uncial 0189?
A: This is the oldest surviving parchment manuscript of the New Testament, dated to the late second or early third century. It is one fragmentary page, containing Acts 5:3-21. It has a page number (15) using Greek letters.
Q: What do we know about the Papyrus Antinoopolis 12 (Uncial 0232)?
A: is dated ca. 300 A.D. and contains 2 John 1-9. It was found in Antinoopolis, Egypt, and has page numbers (164 and 165) using Greek letters.
Q: What do we know about the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (also called Codex Bezae)?
A: This is the oldest known bilingual manuscript, with Greek on the left page, and Latin on the right. Bezae Cantabrigiensis was a western text copied c.450-550 A.D.. It often is abbreviated as "D" or called uncial 05.
What has been preserved: It has preserved most of the four Gospels, parts of Acts. 3 John 11-15 is preserved in Latin only. In Greek, it has lost Matthew 1:1-20; 6:20-9:2; 27:2-12; John 1:16-3:26; Acts 8:29-10:14; 21:2-10; 15-18; 22:10-20; 22:29-28:31. In Latin it has lost Matthew 1:1-11; 6:8-8:27; 26:65-27:1; 1 John 1:1-3:16; Acts 8:20-10:4; 20:31-21:2; 21:7-10; 22:2-10; 22:20-28:31
Physical appearance: There are 510 leaves, which measure 25.8 to 26.7 cm by 17 to 22.9 cm. (Most other major manuscripts are more uniform in dimensions.) It was written on expensive vellum with brown ink. There is one column per page, and 33 lines per column. There are no spaces between the words, and Old Testament quotes are not indicated. It currently is in London, UK.
Scribes and correctors: There are nine correctors, who lived from the sixth to twelfth centuries.
Distinctives of Bezae Cantabrigiensis: It has the longer ending of Mark. Metzger says, "Textually, no known New Testament manuscript contains so many distinctive readings, chiefly the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents." in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.89. Bruce Metzger in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament 2nd ed. (1971) p.356 says that Bezae Cantabrigiensis was very fond of the Greek word tote.
Omissions: 86 words shown below are absent primarily just in Bezae Cantabrigiensis.
Mt 5:32 "and whoever is divorced/put away shall marry commits adultery" is absent in it and many Italic manuscripts as well as Augustine. (6 words)
Mt 9:34 is absent in Bezae Cantabrigiensis and the Diatessaron (12 words)
Mk 3:18 "Lebbaeus" vs. "Thaddaeus" in most other manuscripts
Lk 12:21 absent it "this is he who treasures up for himself, is not rich toward God" (9 words)
Lk 22:17-20 lack parts of 19b-20 (approximately 38 words)
Lk 24:12 is absent. (21 words)
Acts 1:26 Instead of "twelve apostles" it and Eusebius have "eleven apostles" vs. "twelve apostles"
Acts 19:9 has "Tyrannus from 11:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon" instead of "Tyrannus" vs. "a certain Tyrannus" (6 words more)
Acts 12:27 "becoming eaten by worms" vs. an addition only in the Syriac vs. an addition only in Bezae Cantabrigiensis and Italic
Acts 13:43 Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Italic, and some Syriac add 11 words after "God". (Middle Egyptian Coptic adds 8 words after God.)
Acts 15:2 "they appeared to go up Paul and Barnabas and certain others from amongst them" vs. replacing a 10-word phrase with a 24-word phrase (6 words in common) (Also Italic, some Syriac, Middle Egyptian Coptic) (not counted in the totals)
Acts 15:12 Replaced a 10-word phrase with a 25-word phrase (2 words in common) (Only in Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Italic, some Syriac, Middle Egyptian Coptic)
Acts 15:41 added 5 words
Acts 16:39 replaced a 10-word phrase with a 36-word phrase (3 words in common)
Acts 16:35 (replaced a 3- word phrase with an 18-word phrase (2 words in common)
Acts 16:35 added 3 words.
Acts 19:1 substituted a 27 word phrase for a 17 word phrase. This is also in p38 (about 300 A.D.) as well as some Syriac.
Besides Bezae Cantabrigiensis, these are in some Syriac (5th century).
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.395-396 and Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.88-89 (photographs p.90-91) for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Codex Claromontanus?
A: This manuscript was written in the sixth century and is the complement of Bezae Cantabrigiensis.
What has been preserved: It contains much of what is missing in Bezae Cantabrigiensis. It contains all of Paul's letters and Hebrews, except for the following. Romans 1:1-7, 27-30 and 1 Corinthians 14:13-22 are lost in Greek, and 1 Corinthians 14:8-18 and Hebrews 13:21-23 are missing in Latin. The Greek is well-done, but the Latin translation is not very good.
Physical appearance: There are 533 pages, which measure 7 by 9 inches (18 by 23 cm). It is written single column on vellum.
See A General Introduction to the Bible p.396 for more info.
Q: What do we know about the Byzantine Lectionary?
A: The Byzantine Lectionary is about 1,761 to 2,209 Greek manuscripts that generally agree with each other. Lectionaries were collections of readings from the Gospels and Acts. The Byzantine Lectionary is not always uniform. In John 8:4 for example, some versions have "said to Him" and others have "said to tempt Him".
The first preserved Byzantine Lectionary was written prior to 400 A.D. There was a second prior to 500 A.D., with 3 more prior to 600 A.D., 5 more prior to 700 A.D., 22 prior to 800 A.D., and 123 prior to 900 A.D., and 147 prior to 1000 A.D. The others range up to 1800 A.D., with the bulk of them, about 1,496, being written between the 1000 A.D. and 1400 A.D. See The Text of the New Testament : An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism by Aland and Aland, p.82 for a chart of the Lectionaries written by century.
Q: Why are there so many small manuscript variations?
A: First some alternative hypothetical scenarios, and then a speculation on the answer.
1. IMAGINE: Manuscripts containing the entire New Testament have been found in a small cave in Israel. Radiocarbon dating says they are 90 A.D. +/= 100 years. At the end of each manuscript is a short note, saying this was the original manuscript by the original author.
God is Almighty, and He could have made things happen this way, if He had wanted to.
2. IMAGINE: Over the past few years hundreds of complete manuscripts of the book of Acts have been found, and dated between 100 and 300 A.D. No two of them are alike, and none of them have more than 20% in common with any other copy of Acts.
God could have had His word in the New Testament be effectively lost if He had so desired.
3. IMAGINE: It has been discovered that in 325 A.D., the Christian leaders collected every available copy of the New Testament, and burned most of them. Then they issued a "standardized" version. However, if a few early copies survived, and the testimony of religious leaders prior to this, about the length of various chapters, is proving embarrassing to those who believe the standardized version was the only one.
God could have had this happen if He had so desired. If the date were moved forward about 400 years, and you replaced the words "New Testament" with "Qur'an", this is what you would have to believe if you were a Muslim who studied the history of the Qur'an.
The actual situation is that we have so many copies of the New Testament that there is no doubt about what they say on any Christian doctrine. We have so many copies, not to mention all the quotes and paraphrases from the early church writers, that we know all the meaning of the Bible. However, many copies have textual copyist errors, and we are about 97% certain of every word of the New Testament. On one hand, this is a very high percentage. On the other hand, it could be higher. Perhaps a lesson to learn is that God was extremely concerned with preserving 100% of the meaning of the New Testament, but not as concerned with the individual words.
We do not have as many copies of the Old Testament, but Jesus authenticated the Old Testament of His time, and we have copies of the Old Testament of His time.
Q: What are the distinctives of the Armenian translation of the New Testament?
A: The first Armenian translation was made in the fifth century A.D.. It used to be thought that it was by bishop Mesrob/Mesrop (died 439 A.D.). however, we now believe it was by Sahak/Sahok the Great (390-439 A.D.) Some think it was translated from the Greek, but the nephew and disciple of Mesrob says that Sahak translated it from the Syriac. A General Introduction to the Bible p.519-520 points out that Armenian manuscripts were revised prior to the 8th century by Greek manuscripts brought from Constantinople after the Council of Ephesus. Today we only have the revised versions, and the oldest manuscripts are from the ninth century. There are about 100 Armenian manuscripts according to A Textual Commentary on the New Testament Second edition p.102.
The Armenian translation contains every book of the New Testament, and it follows both the Byzantine and Caesarean families of manuscripts. Here are some of the distinctive readings in the Armenian.
Jn 7:53-8:11 According to The Greek New Testament 4rth edition p.347, some early Armenian manuscripts have John 7:53-8:11 and other early ones do not. The standard Armenian has John 7:53-8:11 after John 21:25.
Jn 8:8 "wrote on the ground" (most other manuscripts) vs. "wrote on the ground the sins of each of them" (5 words). The manuscripts with the second reading are the Armenian and much later manuscripts, starting in the 9th century.
Jn 21:25 The Armenian translation (5th century) and the "f1" manuscript family add 7:53 to 8:11 here instead of after John 7:52. However, Aland says this is not Arm, but Armmss, meaning that it was an ancient version or early church writer that differed from the edited Armenian text.
Rom 8:1 end with "Jesus" vs. "Jesus, who walk not after the flesh" vs. "Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit"
Most manuscripts just have Jesus. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.18 says there is no dispute on this among textual critics, it should just be Jesus.
The second variation is in the Armenian, Gothic 493-555 A.D., and Alexandrinus c.450 A.D.
The third variation is in the Byzantine Lectionary,
Sinaiticus (corrected) after 340 A.D., and Claromontanus (corrected) 6th century
Usefulness: The Armenian translation supports the reliability of the Bible from about the fifth century on. However, the late date limits its usefulness to find the precise original Greek.
Q: What are the distinctives of the Gothic translation of the New Testament?
A: The Gothic Bible was translated by Ufilas (or else someone working with him) around 350 A.D.. The Goths were a powerful, warlike people. These particular Goths, called Moeso-Goths, had settled in Moesia since 250 A.D., and under their leader Fritigern defeated the Roman Emperor Valens near Adrianople in 378 A.D. A copy of the Gothic Bible is in Upsala, Sweden today, and more than half of the gospel have been preserved. Ufilas, a Greek-speaking Goth, was the second bishop of the Goths and an Arian. Despite that, it was well-done. Here is about the only peculiarity I have found is in Romans 8:1, where it is the same as the Armenian and Alexandrinus.
It is important to recognize that Ufilas was an Arian heretic. Here is someone whose theology was condemned at the Council of Nicea, and had no reason to elevate Christ or follow the Orthodox Christians. Furthermore, since it was Gothic, Greek and Latin-speaking Christians would not be copying it or revising it, as they did not know Gothic. Yet, his Gothic translation was so objective, it is impossible to tell from the translation that it was not made by an Orthodox Christian. As to those who would say the Bible was tampered with by Christians who had a theological axe to grind, this is answered with Ufilas and the objectivity of the Gothic translation.
Manuscripts: There are 5 Gothic manuscripts preserved. The Codex Argenteus is ca.520 A.D.
Precision: For textual variants, the Gothic has very few. A General Introduction to the Bible p.518-519 says, "The translation adheres closely, almost literally, to the Greek text of the Byzantine type, and tells little to the textual critic." Today we have five fragmentary copies of the Gothic translation, 493-555 A.D., including one Gothic-Latin version.
The Text of the Old Testament (by Ernst Wurthweir) p.206 says, "As a rule it [the Gothic version] is cited only casually, because the general character of its textual base is rather precisely known; for his translation Wulfilas [Ufilas] made use of a manuscript of the late Byzantine text differing little from what we find in the Greek manuscript."
Q: What do we know about the Diatessaron?
A: The Diatessaron (c.170 A.D.) in English means "through [the] four". It is a harmony of the gospels that Tatian wrote in either Syriac or Greek. Tatian lived from 110-172 A.D. He was an Assyrian Christian who studied under Justin Martyr (died 165 A.D.). Unfortunately Tatian later became a heretic, joining the Encratites.
The Encratites (meaning "masters of themselves") were an ascetic (and vegetarian) Gnostic cult that started about 166 A.D.. In his Diatessaron, Tatian did not include the verses showing that Jesus was a man. Thus, he left out the genealogies, and other verses. The Diatessaron quotes about 79% of the four gospels.
The earliest surviving fragment of the Diatessaron is the only surviving one in Greek. It was used in the city of Dura Europa on the Euphrates before the Persians destroyed the town in 256 A.D. We have a Syriac copy, and three Arabic copies, the earliest from the 6th century. In 1957 archaeologists discovered a commentary on the Diatessaron written by Ephraem Syrus (375 A.D.). Besides the Gnostics, only some in the Syrian church liked the Diatessaron. A Syrian bishop ordered hundreds of copies destroyed, and that is why only a few are preserved today.
Caution in referencing the Diatessaron: Because of the late date of the few preserved copies, the Diatessaron is not a very useful source for determining precise wording of the Gospels. Also, most of the text survives in Arabic, and Arabic tenses are less precise than Greek.
The great value of this heretical witness: However, even the Diatessaron is a very useful witness in another regard. On one hand, you have a Gnostic heretic who has no qualms about leaving out of his harmony entire passages that do not suit him, namely the passages that emphasize the humanity of Jesus. Perhaps this was thought more acceptable because he was not just copying one gospel, but making a harmony of all of them, and he did not add any material. On the other hand, the 79% of the gospels Tatian did quote have been preserved as an independent work. When we look at this work, we see a very close match to the Greek scriptures preserved today.
Tatian, the heretic who did not mind leaving out entire passages, could have had the motive to include any wide differences that allegedly existed in the stories of Jesus. Yet, what is written in the Diatessaron is simply the quotes from the four gospels, minus the 20% that emphasized Jesus' humanity.
The main differences are minor yet one can see how Tatian's ascetic views colored them. It says John the Baptist ate milk and honey instead of locusts and wild honey, and no mention is made of the marriage of Mary and Joseph. In John 2:10 the phrase "after the guests have had too much to drink" is absent. See The Journey from Texts to Translations p.245 for more info.
Details: Here are the verses absent from each chapter of the Diatessaron. These numbers were computed from Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 9 p.34-138 and some from Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.
|Chapter||Total verses||Verses in the Diatessaron||Missing Verses||Verses not in the Diatessaron|
|Gospels||3779||2993||786||79.2 % of the verses in the gospels are in the Diatessaron|
|Matthew||1071||819||252||76.5 % of the verses of Matthew are in the Diatessaron|
|Mark||678||402||276||59.3 % of the verses of Mark are in the Diatessaron|
|Luke||1151||919||232||79.8 % of the verses of Luke are in the Diatessaron|
|John||879||853||26||97.2 % of the verses of John are in the Diatessaron|
Q: What was the order of the New Testament Books in the manuscripts?
A: Manuscripts that have preserved the gospels generally have them first, in the order Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. An exception to this is the Curetonian Syriac, which switches Luke and John.
Here is the order of books in various manuscripts.
p30 has 1 and 2 Thessalonians in order.
p45 has Matthew, Mark, Luke, John in order.
p46 has in order Romans, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians.
p47 have 1 and 2 Peter as pages 1-46. Jude is on pages 62-68.
p75 has Luke and John.
Sinaiticus has the books in order of: The Four Gospels, Paul's Letters, Hebrews, Acts, the Catholic Epistles, Revelation, The Letter to Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas. Both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus have 2 Thessalonians right before Hebrews. Alexandrinus after the New Testament books had 1 and 2 Clement, though part of 2 Clement is now missing. The Table of Contents also says that the Psalms of Solomon followed after 2 Clement.
Q: Why do the vast majority of manuscripts not have punctuation?
A: Punctuation is useful to tell the reader when to pause and breathe because the part of the thought is completed. According to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.31-32, it is commonly believed that Aristophanes of Byzantium invented breathing and accent marks. He had a dot on the bottom (looking like a period), a dot in the middle, and a dot on the top. Someone else introduced the comma around the ninth century, and the interrogation mark (;) appeared around the eighth or ninth century.
Q: Since most Greek manuscripts wrote the words with no spaces in between, where does this cause ambiguities?
A: Because of the structure of the Greek language endings, this causes few ambiguities according to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.31. Ambiguous places are Romans 7:14; 1 Timothy 3:16, and the Greek translation (but not the original Hebrew) of Leviticus 5:4.
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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.