Edward D. Andrews

If we are to be able to evaluate the readings of the manuscripts that we have, we must be familiar with the manuscripts themselves. Moreover, we must understand how they are connected by their likenesses and differences. Westcott and Hort wrote in relation to internal manuscript evidence, “The first step toward obtaining a sure foundation is a consistent application of the principle that KNOWLEDGE OF DOCUMENTS SHOULD PRECEDE FINAL JUDGMENT UPON READINGS.”[1]

NOTE: This CPH Blog article is 100 pages long (Moreover, it adds links to blog articles that cover the different versions at the end. Do not be discouraged by the length because it is written so that it is easy to understand. When you come across long charts of manuscripts in this CPH article, please keep scrolling because there is more material about other sources after that.

The textual scholar has three sources which enable him to carry out his work of establishing which reading of any given text is the original:

  • the Greek manuscripts, which include the papyri, the uncial manuscripts, the minuscule manuscripts, and the lectionaries;
  • the versions or the translations into other languages, and
  • the quotations of the New Testament by the apostolic fathers (e.g., Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, Hermas and Papias), the apologists (e.g., Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.), and later church fathers.

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COPYISTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Making and Copying of the New Testament Books by Edward D. Andrews

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Before delving into the sources of the New Testament, we must again make mention of Kurt and Barbara Aland. New Testament manuscripts in Greek can be categorized into five categories, according to their assessment in The Text of the New Testament.[2] Kurt Aland (1915 – 1994) was a German theologian and Biblical scholar who specialized in New Testament textual criticism. He founded the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research) in Münster, where he served as its first director for many years (1959–83). In 1983, Barbara Aland became the director. The Alands were two of the principal editors of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (Greek New Testament) for the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft and The Greek New Testament for the United Bible Societies. Their five categories of manuscripts follow.

Description of Categories

Category I – Alexandrian Text-type

Manuscripts of a very special quality which should always be considered in establishing the original text. The papyri and uncials through the third/fourth century also belong here automatically; one may say because they represent the text of the early period (if they offer no significant evidence they are bracketed).

Category II – Egyptian Texts

Manuscripts of a special quality but distinguished from manuscripts of category I by the presence of alien influences (particularly of the Byzantine text), and yet of importance for establishing the original text.

Category III – Mixed Texts

These manuscripts are of a distinctive character with an independent text, usually important for establishing the original text, but particularly important for the history of the text (e.g., f1f13).

Category IV – Western Text-type

These are manuscripts of the D (Codex Bezae) text.

Category V – Byzantine Text-type

Manuscripts with a purely predominately Byzantine text.

After a detailed comparison of the papyri, the Alands concluded that these manuscripts from the second to the fourth centuries are of three kinds (Normal, Free, and Strict). “It is their collations which have changed the picture so completely.” (p. 93)

  1. Normal Texts: The normal text is a relatively faithful tradition (e.g., P52), which departs from its exemplar only occasionally, as do New Testament manuscripts of every century. It is further represented in P4, P5, P12(?), P16, P18, P20, P28, P47, P72 (1, 2 Peter) and P87.[3]
  2. Free Texts: This is a text dealing with the original text in a relatively free manner with no suggestion of a program of standardization (e.g., p45, p46 and p66), exhibiting the most diverse variants. It is further represented in P9(?), P13(?), P29, P37, P40, P69, P72 (Jude) and P78.[4]
  3. Strict Texts: These manuscripts transmit the text of the exemplar with meticulous care (e.g., P75) and depart from it only rarely. It is further represented in P1, P23, P27, P35, P39, P64+67, P65(?), and P70.[5]

Bruce M. Metzger (1914 – 2007) was an editor with Kurt and Barbara Aland of the United Bible Societies’ standard Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. We will also borrow a few paragraphs from one of his publications, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (1971, 1994), so we have additional understanding of these text-types.

THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Science and Art of Textual Criticism by Don Wilkins and Edward D. Andrews

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The Alexandrian text, which Westcott and Hort called the Neutral text (a question-begging title), is usually considered to be the best text and the most faithful in preserving the original. Characteristics of the Alexandrian text are brevity and austerity. That is, it is generally shorter than the text of other forms, and it does not exhibit the degree of grammatical and stylistic polishing that is characteristic of the Byzantine type of text. Until recently the two chief witnesses to the Alexandrian text were codex Vaticanus (B) and codex Sinaiticus (א), parchment manuscripts dating from about the middle of the fourth century. With the acquisition, however, of the Bodmer Papyri, particularly P66 and P75, both copied about the end of the second or the beginning of the third century, evidence is now available that the Alexandrian type of text goes back to an archetype that must be dated early in the second century. The Sahidic and Bohairic versions frequently contain typically Alexandrian readings.

The so-called Western text, which was widely current in Italy and Gaul as well as in North Africa and elsewhere (including Egypt), can also be traced back to the second century. It was used by Marcion, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian. Its presence in Egypt is shown by the testimony of P38 (about a.d. 300) and P48 (about the end of the third century). The most important Greek manuscripts that present a Western type of text are codex Bezae (D) of the fifth century (containing the Gospels and Acts), codex Claromontanus (D) of the sixth century (containing the Pauline epistles), and, for Mark 1:1 to 5:30, codex Washingtonianus (W) of the fifth century. Likewise the Old Latin versions are noteworthy witnesses to a Western type of text; these fall into three main groups, the African, Italian, and Hispanic forms of Old Latin texts.

MISREPRESENTING JESUS: Debunking Bart D. Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” {Third Edition] by Edward D. Andrews

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The chief characteristic of Western readings is fondness for paraphrase. Words, clauses, and even whole sentences are freely changed, omitted, or inserted. Sometimes the motive appears to have been harmonization, while at other times it was the enrichment of the narrative by the inclusion of traditional or apocryphal material. Some readings involve quite trivial alterations for which no special reason can be assigned. One of the puzzling features of the Western text (which generally is longer than the other forms of text) is that at the end of Luke and in a few other places in the New Testament certain Western witnesses omit words and passages that are present in other forms of text, including the Alexandrian. Although at the close of the last century certain scholars were disposed to regard these shorter readings as original (Westcott and Hort called them “Western non-interpolations”), since the acquisition of the Bodmer Papyri many scholars today are inclined to regard them as aberrant readings (see the Note on Western Non-Interpolations, pp. 164–166).

In the book of Acts the problems raised by the Western text become most acute, for the Western text of Acts is nearly ten percent longer than the form that is commonly regarded to be the original text of that book. For this reason, the present volume devotes proportionately more space to variant readings in Acts than to those in any other New Testament book, and a special Introduction to the textual phenomena in Acts is provided (see pp. 222–236).

An Eastern form of text, which was formerly called the Caesarean text,[6] is preserved, to a greater or lesser extent, in several Greek manuscripts (including Θ, 565,700) and in the Armenian and Georgian versions. The text of these witnesses is characterized by a mixture of Western and Alexandrian readings. Although recent research has tended to question the existence of a specifically Caesarean text-type,7 the individual manuscripts formerly considered to be members of the group remain important witnesses in their own right.

Another Eastern type of text, current in and near Antioch, is preserved today chiefly in Old Syriac witnesses, namely the Sinaitic and the Curetonian manuscripts of the Gospels and in the quotations of Scripture contained in the works of Aphraates and Ephraem.

P52 Tecto
John Rylands Library Papyrus P52, recto

The Byzantine text, otherwise called the Syrian text (so Westcott and Hort), the Koine text (so von Soden), the Ecclesiastical text (so Lake), and the Antiochian text(so Ropes), is, on the whole, the latest of the several distinctive types of text of the New Testament. It is characterized chiefly by lucidity and completeness. The framers of this text sought to smooth away any harshness of language, to combine two or more divergent readings into one expanded reading (called conflation), and to harmonize divergent parallel passages. This conflated text, produced perhaps at Antioch in Syria, was taken to Constantinople, whence it was distributed widely throughout the Byzantine Empire. It is best represented today by codex Alexandrinus (in the Gospels; not in Acts, the Epistles, or Revelation), the later uncial manuscripts, and the great mass of minuscule manuscripts. Thus, except for an occasional manuscript that happened to preserve an earlier form of text, during the period from about the sixth or seventh century down to the invention of printing with moveable type (a.d.1450–56), the Byzantine form of text was generally regarded as the authoritative form of text and was the one most widely circulated and accepted.

The Importance of the Papyrus Manuscripts

The earliest sources for the Greek New Testament are the papyri in codex (book-like) form. Of course, this designation came from the medium on which they were inscribed. At present, there have been over one hundred of these discovered, with sixty-two of these manuscripts dating between 100 – 300 C.E. These biblical papyri range from a very small fragment to codices, which may be incomplete, but still contain large portions of several New Testament books. They are noted in literature with the Black letter character also known as Gothic script 𝔓, or by an upper- or lowercase “P” followed by a superscript Arabic number. (e.g., 𝔓52𝔓66, and 𝔓75).

Image of the front (recto) of Papyrus 1
Image of the front (recto) of Papyrus 1

P1 (Papyrus 1 – P. Oxy. 2)

Contents: Matt. 1:1–9, 12, 14–20

Date: 250 C.E.

Discovered: Oxyrhynchus, Egypt

Housing Location: University of Pennsylvania Museum (E 2746)

Physical Features: The manuscript is a fragment of one leaf, one column per page; 12 cm x 25 cm; 37–38 lines per page; reformed documentary hand. The words are written continuously without separation. There are no accents or breathings marks. The nomina sacra are written in abbreviated forms:


Luke 6.4-16
Luke 6:4-16

Textual Character: The copyist of P1 stayed faith to the very reliable exemplar that he was using. P1 has a close agreement with the Alexandrian family where there are major variants, particularly Codex Vaticanus, from which it scarcely differs.[8]

P4/64/67 (Papyrus 4/64/67 – Suppl. Gr. 1120/Gr. 17/P. Barcelona 1)


Contents: 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

Date: 150–175 C.E.

Discovered: Coptos, Egypt in 1889

Housing Location: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Suppl. Gr. 1120

Physical Features: P4 is one the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke and contains extensive sections of the first six chapters: 1:58-59; 1:62-2:1; 2:6-7; 3:8-4:2; 4:29-32, 34-35; 5:3-8; 5:30-6:16

Textual Character: P4 is of the Alexandrian text-type and agrees with P75 and B 93 percent of the time. The copyist of P4 was likely a professional scribe. “P4 and P75 are identical in forty complete verses, with only five significant exceptions (Luke 3:22, 36; 5:39; 6:11, 14).”[9] Comfort and Barret in their book Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts inform us that P4 came from the same codex as P64/67.

Papyrus 64 Magdalen
Papyrus 64 “Magdalen”


Contents: Matthew 3; 5; 26

Date: 150–175 C.E.

Discovered: Coptos, Egypt

Housing Location: Barcelona, Fundación Sant Lluc Evangelista, Inv. Nr. 1; Oxford, Magdalen College, Gr. 18

Physical Features: The fragments have writing on both sides, which indicates that they came from a codex as opposed to a scroll.

Textual Character: P64 is of the Alexandrian text-type, evidencing a strong affinity with Alexandrian features, “agreeing slightly more with א than with B.”[10]


Contents: Matt. 3:9, 15; 5:20–22, 25–28

Date: 150–175 C.E.

Discovered: Coptos, Egypt

Housing Location: Barcelona, Fundación Sant Lluc Evangelista, Inv. Nr. 1; Oxford, Magdalen College, Gr. 18

Physical Features: The fragments have writing on both sides, codex style.

Textual Character: P67 is of the Alexandrian text-type, evidencing a strong affinity with Alexandrian features, determined by Roca-Puig to have a close affinity to א.[11] Comfort and Barret show that this P4/64/67 has affinities with a number of the late 2nd century papyri.[12] Comfort says, “T. C. Skeat[13] makes a convincing case for the claim that P4/P64/P67 once belonged to a four-Gospel codex. This would make P4/P64/P67 the earliest extant four-Gospel codex.” In reference to their common identity, Roberts wrote of P4, P64, and P67:

There can, in my opinion, be no doubt that all these fragments come from the same codex which was reused as packing for the binding of the late third-century codex of Philo (= H. 695). An apparent discrepancy was that ʼΙησοῦς appeared as  ,] in the Paris fragments and as ι̅η̣̅ in the Oxford fragments; the correct reading in the latter, however, is, as can be checked in the photograph.[14]

Roberts made the above statement at a lecture to the British Academy in 1977. In 1987, he reaffirmed that this was still his position in his publication, The Birth of the Codex. There is nothing on record that suggests Roberts ever changed his position that P4, P64, and P67 are parts of the same Gospel codex.

Folios 13-14 with part of the Gospel of Luke
Folios 13-14 with part of the Gospel of Luke

P45 (P. Chester Beatty I)

Contents: It contains sections within Matthew 20-21 and 25-26; Mark 4-9 and 11-12; Luke 6-7 and 9-14; John 4-5 and 10-11; and Acts 4-17.

Date: 200 – 225 C.E.

Discovered: Its origin is possibly the Fayum or ancient Aphroditopolis (modern Atfih) in Egypt (see Comfort, 157-9).

Housing Location: It is currently housed at the Chester Beatty Library, except for one leaf containing Matt. 25:41-26:39, which is at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (Pap. Vindob. G. 31974). It was purchased by Chester Beatty of Dublin, Ireland, in 1931.

Physical Features: It has portions of thirty pages, but it is estimated that the original codex had 224 pages. Comfort tells us, “The first and last pages are blank and unnumbered, but pagination numbers are extant for 193 and 199. Approximately 20 cm broad x 25 cm high (5–6 cm thick, without binding); an average of 36–37 lines per page.” (Comfort and Barrett, 155)

Textual Character: P45 is an eclectic text-type and a Category I. In the Gospel of Mark, it reflects the Caesarean family, while the other Gospels reflect a mixture of Western and Alexandrian. In the book of Acts, it largely reflects the Alexandrian family, with some minor variants from the Western family.

A folio from P46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9. As with other folios of the manuscript, text is lacunose at the bottom.


Contents: P46 contains most of the Pauline epistles, though with some folios missing. It contains (in order) “the last eight chapters of Romans; all of Hebrews; virtually all of 1–2 Corinthians; all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians; and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. All of the leaves have lost some lines at the bottom through deterioration.”[15]

Date: 150 C.E.[16]

Discovered: Comfort says, “the Fayum, Egypt, or perhaps in the ruins of a church or monastery near Atfih (ancient Aphroditopolis).” (p. 203)

Housing Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.: the University of Michigan, Special Collections Library (P. Mich. inv. 6238).

Physical Features: In the original form, it would have had 52 folios,[17] which equals 104 leaves, 208 pages. However, in its current condition, 9 folios are missing. It is 15 cm x 27 cm, with 25–31 lines per page, a single column of 26 – 32 lines of text per page. Its pagination is 1 – 199.[18] P46 was written by a professional scribe.

Textual Character: P46 is an Alexandrian text-type / Category I. It is similar to Minuscule 1739.

Papyrus 47: Rev. 13:16-14:4


Contents: Rev. 9:10–11:3; 11:5–16:15; 16:17–17:2.

Date: 250 – 300 C.E.

Discovered: P47 (along with P45 and P46) it was discovered in the Fayum of Egypt or perhaps in the ruins of a church or monastery near Atfih, ancient Aphroditopolis.[19]

Housing Location: Dublin, Ireland: Chester Beatty Library.[20]

Physical Features: P47 has thirty leaves (60 pages); 14 cm x 24 cm; 26–28 lines per page. It was written in a documentary hand.[21] Comfort states, “The consistent abbreviation of numerals shows that the scribe was practiced at making documents. A second corrector (c2) made some additional corrections and darkened many letters.”[22

Textual Character: P47 is an Alexandrian text-type Category I. It most closely resembles Sinaiticus but is similar to two other manuscripts of Revelation: P18 (250-300) and P24 (c. 300). Kenyon was first to examine the manuscript, saying, “It is on the whole closest to א and C, with P next, and A rather further away.”[23] However, after further investigation of P47, it has been shown that it “is allied to א, but not to A or to C, which are of a different text type.”[24] Comfort says, “We know that A, C, and P115 … form one early group for Revelation, while P47 and א form another.”[25]

P52 – John 18:31–33, 37–38


Contents: John 18:31–33, 37–38.

Date: 100 – 125 C.E.[26]

Discovered: Fayum or Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, believed to have been circulated in both areas.

Housing Location: John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.

Physical Features: One leaf; 18 cm x 22 cm; 18 lines per page; written in a reformed documentary hand.

Textual Character: P52 is hardly enough to suggest which text type it belongs to. The Alands list it as Category I, or what they call “normal.”[27]

P52 is the oldest manuscript of the New Testament known today. It measures 21/2 by 31/2 inches and contains only a few verses of the fourth gospel, John 18:31-33 (recto, the front), 37, and 38 (verso, the back). Bernard P. Grenfell acquired it around 1920, yet it went unnoticed until 1934 when paleographer C. E. Roberts took notice of the fact that it contained the Gospel of John. Roberts had evaluated the fragment, dating it to the beginning of the second century C.E. While other paleographers disagreed, other renowned scholars reached the same conclusion, including Frederic Kenyon, W. Schubart, Harold I. Bell, Adolf Deissmann, Ulrich Wilcken, and W. H. P. Hatch. P52 is very important because It establishes that the Gospel of John was written in the first century.[28]

First page, showing John 1:1-13 and the opening words of v.14


Contents: John 1:1–6:11; 6:35–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17. Does not include the pericope of the adulteress (7:53–8:11), earliest witness not to include this spurious passage.

Date:  150 C.E.

Discovered: Jabal Abu Mana.

Housing Location: Bodmer Library, Geneva.

Physical Features: 39 folios, equaling 78 leaves, 156 pages; 14.2 × 16.2 cm; 15-25 lines per page; pagination numbers from 1 to 156. The handwriting suggests that it was the work of a professional scribe.

Textual Character: P66 is a free text, with both Alexandrian and Western elements. In recent studies, Berner[29] and Comfort[30] maintain that P66 has preserved the work of three individuals: the original scribe (professional), a thoroughgoing corrector (diorthōtēs), and a minor corrector. However, in studies that are more recent James Royse argues that, aside from the possible exception of John 13:19, the corrections are all by the hand of the original professional scribe.[31]

The manuscript also contains, consistently, the use of Nomina Sacra. For example, in at least ten places one finds “[t]he common symbol …, the staurogram, which is made up of the superimposed letters tau (T) and rho (P) as an abbreviation for stauros / stauroō.”[32] The Staurogram was initially used as an abbreviation for the Greek words (σταύρος) stauros and (σταυρόω) stauroō in very early NT MSS, such as P45, P66 and P75, somewhat like a nomen sacrum.[33]

Two sides of the Papyrus Bodmer VIII


Contents: 1 Peter 1:1–5:14; 2 Peter 1:1–3:18; Jude 1–25.

Date: c. 300 C.E.

Discovered: uncertain.

Housing Location: Cologny / Geneva, Switzerland; Vatican City, Bibl. Bodmeriana; Bibl. Vaticana.

Physical Features: P72 is “three parts of a 72-page codex; 14.5 cm x 16 cm; 16–20 lines per page. 1 and 2 Peter are paginated 1–36; Jude is paginated 62–68.”[34] It is in the documentary hand, meaning a person who was trained in preparing documents copied it. The manuscript contains “several marginal topical descriptors, each beginning with περι.” (Ibid.) The nomina sacra are used. This document also contains the Nativity of Mary, the apocryphal correspondence of Paul to the Corinthians, the eleventh Ode of Solomon, Melito’s Homily on the Passover, a fragment of a hymn, the Apology of Phileas, and Psalms 33 and 34.

Textual Character: P72 is of the Alexandrian text-type and the Alands have it as Category        I. It is a free text, with certain uniqueness, often lacking careful attention in the transcription of a moderately reliable exemplar. P72 resembles P50.




Contents: Luke 3:18–22; 3:33–4:2; 4:34–5:10; 5:37–6:4; 6:10–7:32, 35–39, 41–43; 7:46–9:2; 9:4–17:15; 17:19–18:18; 22:4–24:53; John 1:1–11:45, 48–57; 12:3–13:1, 8–10; 14:8–29; 15:7–8. It does not contain the adulterous story found at John 7:53–8:11.[35]

Date: 175 – 225 C.E.

Discovered: Pabau, Egypt.

Housing Location: Cologne-Geneva, Switzerland: Bibliotheca Bodmeriana.

Physical Features:

Textual Character: P75 is Alexandrian text-type and the Alands have it as Category      I, strict text. The text is closer to Codex Vaticanus than to Codex Sinaiticus. It agrees with P111 (200-250).

It bears repeating what we discussed on pages 53 and 74 ff. P75 (c.175–225) contains most of Luke and John and has vindicated Westcott and Hort for their choice of Vaticanus as the premium manuscript for establishing the original text. After careful study of P75 against Vaticanus, scholars found that they are just short of being identical. In his introduction to the Greek text, Hort argued that Vaticanus is a “very pure line of very ancient text.”[36] Of course, Westcott and Hort were not aware of P75 that would be published in 1961, about 80 years later.

The discovery of P75 proved to be the catalyst for correcting the misconception that early copyists were predominately unskilled. As we established earlier, either literate or semi-professional copyist produced the vast majority of the early papyri, and some copied by professionals. The few poorly copied manuscripts simply became known first, giving an impression that was difficult for some to discard when the enormous amount of evidence surfaced that showed just the opposite. Of course, the discovery of P75 has also had a profound effect on New Testament textual criticism because of its striking agreement with Codex Vaticanus.

REASONABLE FAITH: Saving Those Who Doubt by Edward D. Andrews

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Papyri 100 – 300[37]

Papyri Content Date Text-Type
Papyrus 1

(P. Oxy. 2)

Matt. 1:1–9, 12, 14–20 250 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / reliable

Papyrus 4/64/67


P4 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

P64 Matt. 3; 5; 26

P67 Matt. 3:9, 15; 5:20–22, 25–28

P4 150–175

P64 150–175

P67 150–175


Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable


Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable


Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 5

(P. Oxy. 208, 1781)

John 1:23–31, 33–40; 16:14–30; 20:11–17, 19–20, 22–25 225-250 Western / Category I

Normal Text / Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 9

(P. Oxy. 402)

1 John 4:11–12, 14–17 3rd Century Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text[38] / Unreliable

Papyrus 12 Heb. 1:1 285–300 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text

Papyrus 13

(P. Oxy. 657)

Heb. 2:14–5:5; 10:8–22; 10:29–11:13; 11:28–12:17 225-250 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text / Reliable

Papyrus 15/16

(P. Oxy. 1008, 1009)

P15 1 Cor. 7:18–8:4 P16 Phil. 3:10–17; 4:2–8 275-300 P15/16

Alexandrian/ Category I

Normal Text/ Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 17

(P. Oxy. 1078)

Heb. 9:12–19 275-300 Alexandrian / Category II
Papyrus 18

(P. Oxy. 1079)

Rev. 1:4–7 250-300 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 20

(P. Oxy. 1171)

James 2:19–3:9 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable

Papyrus 22

(P. Oxy. 1228)

John 15:25–16:2, 21–32 Middle 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 23

(P. Oxy. 1229)

James 1:10–12, 15–18 c. 200 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / fairly reliable

Papyrus 24

(P. Oxy. 1230)

Rev. 5:5–8; 6:5–8 c. 300 Alexandrian /Category I
Papyrus 27

(P. Oxy. 1355)

Rom. 8:12–22, 24–27; 8:33–9:3, 5–9 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 28

(P. Oxy. 1596)

John 6:8–12, 17–22 275-300 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable

Papyrus 29

(P. Oxy. 1597)

Acts 26:7–8, 20 200-225 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text

Papyrus 30

(P. Oxy. 1598)

1 Thess. 4:12–13, 16–17; 5:3, 8–10, 12–18, 25–28; 2 Thess. 1:1–2; 2:1, 9–11 200-225 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable

Papyrus 32 Titus 1:11–15; 2:3–8 150-200 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable

Papyrus 35 Matt. 25:12–15, 20–23 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 37 Matt. 26:19–52 225-275 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text[39] / fairly Reliable

Papyrus 38 Acts 18:27–19:6, 12–16 200-225 Alexandrian / Category IV

Free Text[40]

Papyrus 39

(P. Oxy. 1780)

John 8:14–22 200-250 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 40 Rom. 1:24–27; 1:31–2:3; 3:21–4:8; 6:2–5, 15–16; 9:17, 27 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text[41] / fairly Reliable

Papyrus 45 Gospels, Acts 200-225 Midway between Alexandrian and Western in Luke and John[42] / Category I

Free Text / Unreliable

Papyrus 46 Most of Paul’s epistles, excluding the Pastorals 150 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text / reliable – Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 47 Rev. 9:10–11:3; 11:5–16:15; 16:17–17:2 250-300 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 48 Acts 23:11–17, 25–29 3rd century Alexandrian /Category IV

Free Text[43]

Papyrus 49/65 P49 Eph. 4:16–29; 4:31–5:13 P65 1 Thess. 1:3–2:1, 6–13 250 Alexandrian / Category I

P49 Normal Text

P65 Strict Text[44] / Reliable

Papyrus 50 Acts 8:26–32; 10:26–31 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category III
Papyrus 52 John 18:31–33, 37–38 110 – 125 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text[45]

Papyrus 53 Matt. 26:29–40; Acts 9:33–10:1 250 In Matt independent, in Acts Alexandrian / Category I

At Least Normal Text / Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 66 John 1:1–6:11; 6:35–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17. Does not include the pericope of the adulteress (7:53–8:11), Earliest witness not to include this spurious passage 150 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text / reliable

Papyrus 69

(P. Oxy. 2383)

Luke 22:40, 45–48, 58–61 250 Alexandrian / Category IV

Very Free Text[46] / Unreliable

Papyrus 70

(P. Oxy. 2384)

Matt. 2:13–16; 2:22–3:1; 11:26–27; 12:4–5; 24:3–6, 12–15 275-300 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text/ fairly Reliable

Papyrus 72 1 Peter 1:1–5:14; 2 Peter 1:1–3:18; Jude 1–25 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text[47] Reliable 1 Peter / Unreliable 2 Peter and Jude

Papyrus 75 Luke 3:18–22; 3:33–4:2; 4:34–5:10; 5:37–6:4; 6:10–7:32, 35–39, 41–43; 7:46–9:2; 9:4–17:15; 17:19–18:18; 22:4–24:53; John 1:1–11:45, 48–57; 12:3–13:1, 8–10; 14:8–29; 15:7–8. Does not include 7:53–8:11, making it the second earliest witness (next to P66) not to include this spurious passage. 175 – 225 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 77/103

(P. Oxy. 2683 + 4405)

Matt. 23:30–39 (P. Oxy. 2683 + 4405); Matt. 13:55–57; 14:3–5 (P. Oxy. 4403) 150-200 Alexandrian / Category I

P77 Strict[48] / Reliable

Papyrus 78

(P. Oxy. 2684)

Jude 4–5, 7–8 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category I

Free Text / Unreliable

Papyrus 80 John 3:34 250 Alexandrian / Category I[49]
Papyrus 86 Matt. 5:13–16, 22–25 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category II


Papyrus 87 Philem. 13–15, 24–25 150 Alexandrian / Category I

Normal Text / Reliable

Papyrus 90

(P. Oxy. 3523)

John 18:36–19:7 150-200 Alexandrian / Category I

fairly Reliable

Papyrus 91 Acts 2:30–37; 2:46–3:2 250 Alexandrian / Category I


Papyrus 92 Eph. 1:11–13, 19–21; 2 Thess. 1:4–5, 11–12 300 Alexandrian / Reliable
Papyrus 95 John 5:26–29, 36–38 3rd century Alexandrian / Category I
Papyrus 98 Rev. 1:13–2:1 2nd century The fragment is a badly damaged text

Fairly Reliable

Papyrus 100

(P. Oxy. 4449)

James 3:13–4:4; 4:9–5:1 275-325 Alexandrian / Reliable
Papyrus 101

(P. Oxy. 4401)

Matt. 3:10–12; 3:16–4:3 3rd century Alexandrian / Normal Text / Reliable
Papyrus 102

(P. Oxy. 4402)

Matt. 4:11–12, 22–23 c. 300-325 Alexandrian / Strict Text
Papyrus 104

(P. Oxy. 4404)

Matt. 21:34–37, 43, 45(?) 125 Category I


Papyrus 106

(P. Oxy. 4445)

John 1:29–35, 40–46 200-250 Alexandrian / Category I

Strict Text / Reliable

Papyrus 107

(P. Oxy. 4446)

John 17:1–2, 11 200-250 Normal Text / Reliable?
Papyrus 108

(P. Oxy. 4447)

John 17:23–24; 18:1–5 c. 200 Alexandrian / Fairly Reliable
Papyrus 109

(P. Oxy. 4448)

John 21:18–20, 23–25 150-200 Strict Text
Papyrus 110

(P. Oxy. 4494)

Matt. 10:13–15, 25–27 250-300 Alexandrian / Free Text


Papyrus 111

(P. Oxy. 4495)

Luke 17:11–13, 22–23 200-250 Alexandrian / reliable
Papyrus 113

(P. Oxy. 4497)

Rom. 2:12–13, 19 3rd century Alexandrian / Strict Text
Papyrus 114

(P. Oxy. 4498)

Heb. 1:7–12 3rd century Strict Text / Reliable
Papyrus 115

(P. Oxy. 4499)

Rev. 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, 8–11; 11:1–5, 8–15, 18–19; 12:1–5, 8–10, 12–17; 13:1–3, 6–16, 18; 14:1–3, 5–7, 10–11, 14–15, 18–20; 15:1, 4–7 250-300 Alexandrian / Category I


Papyrus 118 Romans 15:26-27,32-33; 16:1,4-7,11-12 3rd century Uncertain
Papyrus 119 John 1:21-28,38-44 3rd century Alexandrian
Papyrus 121 John 19:17-18,25-26 3rd century Uncertain
Papyrus Antinoopolis 2.54 Matt. 6:10–12 3rd century uncertain
Early Uncials Content Date Text-Type
0162 (P. Oxy. 847) John 2:11–22 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category I

Agrees with P66 and P75, and B

0171 (PSI 2.124) Matt. 10:17–23, 25–32; Luke 22:44–50, 52–56, 61, 63–64 c. 300 Western / Category IV

Reformed Documentary Hand

0189 (P. Berlin 11765) Acts 5:3–21 175-252 Alexandrian / Normal Text

Reformed Documentary Hand

0220 Rom. 4:23–5:3, 8–13 c. 300 Alexandrian / Category I

Reformed Documentary Hand

Papyri 300 – 600

Papyri Content Date Text-Type
Papyrus 105 Matthew 27:62-64; 28:2-5 5th/6th century Strict Text
Papyrus 112 Acts 26:31-32; 27:5-7 5th century Free Text
Papyrus 116 Hebrews 2:9-11; 3:3-6 6th century Uncertain
Papyrus 117 2 Corinthians 7:6-8,9-11 4th / 5th-century Uncertain
Papyrus 120 John 1:25-28,38-44 4th century Alexandrian
Papyrus 122 John 21:11-14,22-24 4th / 5th century Alexandria
Papyrus 123 1 Corinthians 14:31-34; 15:3-6 4th century Alexandrian
Papyrus 124 2 Corinthians 11:1-4; 6-9 6th century Alexandrian
Papyrus 125 1 Peter 1:23-2:5; 7-12 3rd / 4th century Alexandrian
Papyrus 126 Hebrews 13:12-13.19-20 4th century Uncertain
Papyrus 127 Acts 10-12, 15-17 5th century Uncertain
Papyrus 128 John 9:3–4, 12:16–18 6th / 7th century Uncertain

Greek Uncial Manuscripts of the New Testament

This category can be somewhat confusing because the papyrus manuscripts were written in uncial letters.[50] However, “uncial” is a term used to designate only the parchment manuscripts, written in uncial letters. For a very long time papyrus was used for penning literary works, while parchment was used for business papers, notebooks, and the first drafts of an author’s works. Some very significant Bible manuscripts extant today were originally penned on parchment.

Parchment began to displace papyrus in writing manuscripts from about the fourth century to the fifteenth century C.E. Even though papyrus was used by secular literature up to the seventh century, Christians started using parchment as early as the second century, with continued growth into the third, and almost completely by the fourth century. Constantine the Great ordered 50 copies of the Bible, commissioned in 331, which were produced in the Greek language and on parchment. Constantin von Tischendorf, the discoverer of Codex Sinaiticus, believed that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were among these fifty Bibles prepared by Eusebius in Caesarea. However, Metzger writes, “there are, however, one or two indications which point to Egypt as the place of origin of Codex Vaticanus, and the type of text found in both codices is unlike that by Eusebius.”[51] The Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF)[52] reports 322 uncial manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, dating from the fourth century C.E. to the tenth-century C.E.

In 325 C.E., Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity, giving it equal status to the pagan religions. It was then much easier to have manuscripts copied. Christianity had been treated like a dissident, rebellious, seditious and destabilizing movement up until this time. Christians were persecuted and martyred on the grounds that their beliefs destabilized the pagan religions of the Roman government, thus calling the empire itself into question. Constantine’s actions made it possible for Christians to worship and to copy their manuscripts freely.

The Greek uncial manuscripts of the New Testament are different from other ancient New Testament texts for the following reasons:

  • The New Testament papyri were written on papyrus and are generally earlier (1st – 4th centuries C.E.)
  • The New Testament minuscule, as the name indicates, were written in minuscule letters and generally later (9th – 15th centuries C.E.)
  • Lectionaries were usually written in minuscule (but some in uncial) letters and generally later, on parchment, papyrus, or paper (from the 6th century)
  • The uncials were written in majuscule letters on parchment (1st – 10th centuries)

In 1751, textual scholar Johann Jakob Wettstein (1693-1754) was aware of only twenty-three uncial codices of the Greek New Testament. A little over 100 years later, in 1859, renowned textual scholar Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874) had brought the number of uncial codices to sixty-four. Some sixty years later, in 1909, Caspar René Gregory (1846-1917) identified 161 uncial codices. Some 210 years from Wettstein, in 1963, Kurt Aland (1915-1994) increased the count to 250 uncial codices. In the 1989, second edition of Kurt and Barbara Alands publication The Text of the New Testament, the authors listed 299 uncial codices.

Wettstein gave us one of the modern methods of classifying these uncial codices. He used the Latin capital letters to identify the uncials. For example, Codex Alexandrinus was given the letter “A,” Codex Vaticanus was designated “B,” with Codex Ephraemi being given the designation “C,” and Codex Bezae was classified with “D.” The last letter to be used by Wettstein in the classification uncial codices was “O.” As time passed, the number of uncial manuscripts became larger than the Latin alphabet, so future textual scholars exhausted the Greek and Hebrew alphabets. It was Caspar René Gregory who moved on to assign manuscripts numerals that began with an initial 0. Codex Sinaiticus received the number 01, Alexandrinus received 02; Vaticanus was given 03, Ephraemi was designated with 04, and Bezae received the number 05, to mention just a few. By the time of Gregory’s death in 1917, the number had reached 0161, with Ernst von Dobschütz increasing the number of uncials codices to 0208 by 1993. As of June 1, 2010, the number of codices had reached 0323 in the Gregory-Aland system, a forgotten 4th– or 5th-century Greek fragment of the Gospel of John in the Syrus Sinaiticus,[53] dating paleographically to 300-499 C.E., cataloged by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) in Münster, Germany.[54]

Important Uncial Manuscripts

Luke 11:2

Codex Sinaiticus (01, א) alone has a complete text of the New Testament. It is dated to c. 330–360 C.E.

The Codex Sinaiticus Project has described the Sinaiticus as “one of the most important books in the world.”[55] F. J. A. Hort felt that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (as well as a few other early manuscripts) represented a text that reflected the original writing. Textual scholars have repeatedly told the story of how Constantin von Tischendorf rediscovered codex Sinaiticus. We might begin with a short biography. Tischendorf was born in Lengenfeld, Saxony, near Plauen, in the year 1815. In 1834, he was educated in Greek at the University of Leipzig, and largely influenced by Georg Benedikt Winer. He soon took a special interest in New Testament criticism. However, Tischendorf became troubled by higher criticism of the Bible, which was at the root of German theologians’ efforts to undermine the Greek New Testament as not authentic. To the contrary, Tischendorf was certain that a study of early manuscripts would enable textual scholars to restore the originals. Accordingly, he went on a quest to research all known manuscripts himself, believing that he would find others throughout his travels.

Tischendorf spent four years searching through some of the finest libraries in Europe. It was in May of 1844 that he reached the Monastery of St. Catherine, located 4,500 feet above the Red Sea in Sinai. Gaining access to this impregnable fortress sanctuary was by way of a basket being lowered by a rope through a small opening in the wall.

Tischendorf in 1841
Tischendorf in 1841

Tischendorf was given permission to search their three libraries, which produced nothing noteworthy for some days. Then, as he was about to give up and continue his journey, he caught sight of exactly what he was looking for, ancient parchments, which filled a large basket in the hall of the main library. Likely shocking him to his very core, he listened as the librarian told him that they were going to be burned as two full baskets had already met the same fate. He spent hours on the manuscript, poring over the details and Tischendorf was shocked to find 129 leaves from the oldest manuscript that he had ever seen. It was a Greek translation of parts of the Hebrew Scriptures. The librarian gave him 43 sheets but denied him the rest.

Tischendorf came back in 1853 when he found a mere fragment of the same manuscript that we now know dates to c. 330–360 C.E. He “deposited in the library of the University of Leipzig, in the shape of a collection which bears his name, fifty manuscripts, some of which convinced him that the manuscript originally contained the entire Old Testament, but that the greater part had been long since destroyed.”[56] Codex Sinaiticus most likely consisted of 730 leaves. It was written in Greek uncial. Some six years later, Tischendorf returned to visit the monks at Mount Sinai for a third time. Just before he was scheduled to leave, he was shown the leaves that he had saved from the fire some fifteen years earlier, but also many others as well. They consisted of the entire Greek New Testament, as well as part of a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Eventually, Tischendorf was given permission to take the manuscript to Cairo, Egypt, to make a copy, and ultimately, he carried the manuscript to the czar of Russia, to whom it was presented as a gift from the monks. Today, it can be found in the British Museum alongside codex Alexandrinus. Modern textual scholars have identified at least three scribes (A, B, and C) who worked on codex Sinaiticus, with at least seven correctors (a, b, c, ca, cb, cc, e).[57] James H. Ropes describes the quality of Codex Sinaiticus:

National Library of Russia

A two-thirds portion of the codex was held in the National Library of Russia from 1859 until 1933 / Public Domain,

Codex Sinaiticus is carelessly written, with many lapses of spelling due to the influence of dialectal and vulgar speech, and many plain errors and crude vagaries. Omissions by homeoteleuton abound, and there are many other careless omissions. All these gave a large field for the work of correctors, and the manuscript does not stand by any means on the same level of workmanship as B.[58]

It can still be said that Codex Sinaiticus is considered fairly reliable as a witness to the New Testament text. However, it is true that the scribe of Sinaiticus was not as careful as the scribe of the Vaticanus. Not only was he more inclined to errors, but to creative corrections as well. F. J. A. Hort offered a comparison between the scribe of Vaticanus (B) and the scribe of the Sinaiticus (א): “Turning from B to א, we find ourselves dealing with the handiwork of a scribe of a different character. The omissions and repetitions of small groups of letters are rarely to be seen; but on the other hand, all the ordinary lapses due to rapid and careless transcription are more numerous, including substitutions of one word for another.… The singular readings are very numerous, especially in the Apocalypse, and scarcely ever commend themselves on internal grounds. It can hardly be doubted that many of them are individualisms of the scribe himself.”[59]

2 Epistle of Peter and the beginning of the 1 Epistle of John in the same column

Codex Alexandrinus (02, A) contains a complete text of the New Testament, minus Matthew 1:1-25:6; John 6:50 -8:52; and 2 Corinthians 4:13-12:6.


Alexandrinus is one of the four Great uncial codices. It is one of the earliest and most complete uncial manuscripts, along with Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

Codex Alexandrinus resided in Alexandria for a number of years, the city from which iit received its name. Thereafter, in 1621, Patriarch Cyril Lucar took it to Constantinople.[60] It would later be given to Charles I of England in 1627, which was too late for it to be used in the 1611 King James Version. In 1757, George II presented it to the National Library of the British Museum. Alexandrinus was the best manuscript in Britain until 1933,[61] when the British government purchased א for the British Museum for £100,000.

Of possibly 820 original leaves of Alexandrinus, 773 have been preserved, 639 of the Old Testament and 134 of the New. The physical features are as follows:

  • Dimensions: 320 x 280 mm (text space: 240 x 205 mm). Two columns, generally of 50 or 51 lines; each line usually contains from 20 to 25 letters, but more are often inserted by compression at the end of the line.
  • Foliation: ff. 144 (+ two unfoliated modern parchment flyleaves: one at the beginning and one at the end; f. 1 is a parchment flyleaf).
  • Collation: Gatherings originally of eight leaves, numbered at the top of the first page; rebound in modern times in gatherings of six leaves.
  • Script: Uncial. Written probably by three different hands (III, IV and V in Milne and Skeat 1938); punctuation by the original scribes.
  • Binding: Post-1600; gold-tooled leather with the royal arms of England and initials ‘CR’.[62]

The beginning lines of each book are written in red ink, and a larger letter set into the margin marks sections within the book. There are no accents or breathing marks by the original hand. However, there are a few by a later hand. The first hand wrote the punctuation.[63] The letters in codex Alexandrinus are larger than those in the Vaticanus. While there are no spaces between the words, there are some pauses by way of a dot between the words. The swapping of vowels of similar sounds is quite frequent in codex Alexandrinus. There is an affinity to increase the size of the first letter of each sentence. The letters Ν and Μ are sometimes confused. The letter combination ΓΓ is exchanged for ΝΓ. Codex Alexandrinus has capital letters to indicate new sections and is the oldest manuscript to do so. Alexandrinus has many iotacisms and other cases of the confusion of vowel sounds, e.g. αι in place of ε, ει for ι and η for ι. However, the number of iotacisms is no greater than other manuscripts from that period. There are many corrections that have been made in Alexandrinus, some of which come from the original scribe. However, most by far come from later hands. The corrected portions of the text agree with codices D, N, X, Y, Γ, Θ, Π, Σ, Φ and the vast majority of the minuscule manuscripts.[64]

The Greek text of the codex is of mixed text-types. On this Metzger writes, “In the Gospels, it is the oldest example of the Byzantine type of text, which is generally regarded as an inferior form of text. In the rest of the New Testament (which may have been copied by the scribe from a different exemplar from that which he employed for the text of the Gospels), it ranks along with B and א as representative of the Alexandrian type of text.”[65]

Second Epistle of John

Codex Vaticanus (03, B) contains the Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews (up to Hebrews 9:14, καθα[ριει); it lacks 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation. It is written on 759 leaves of vellum and is dated to c. 300–325 C.E.

Arguably, one could say that codex Vaticanus is the most valuable witness that we have for the Greek New Testament.[66] It is of course named Vaticanus because it has been stored in the Vatican library from a time prior to 1475.[67] For centuries, the Vatican authorities kept the B (03) a private treasure and discouraged work on it by outside scholars. Paul D. Wegner writes, “At the beginning of the nineteenth century Napoleon carried off this codex to Paris with other manuscripts as a war prize, but on his death in 1815 it was returned to the Vatican library. Constantine von Tischendorf applied for and finally obtained permission to see the manuscript in order to collate difficult passages. He copied out or remembered enough of the text to be able to publish an edition of Vaticanus in 1867. Later that century (1868–1881) the Vatican published a better copy of the codex, but in 1889–1890 a complete photographic facsimile of this manuscript superseded all earlier attempts.”[68]

The writing in codex Vaticanus is “small and delicate majuscules, perfectly simple and unadorned”[69] as Metzger put it. The Greek runs continuously, with no separation between the words, and all letters are an equal distance from one another so that to the modern eye, each line looks like one long word. Some scholars feel that Vaticanus is a little earlier than Sinaiticus because of its having no ornamentation at all, while others feel that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were among the fifty manuscripts ordered by Constantine the Great. Skeat, however, goes a step further, arguing that Vaticanus was to be a part of the fifty manuscripts but was a reject, “for it is deficient in the Eusebian canon tables, has many corrections by different scribes.[70] Whether Skeat is correct or not, codex Vaticanus is one of the most important manuscripts for the text of the Septuagint and especially the Greek New Testament.

Tischendorf claimed that codex Vaticanus was copied by three scribes (A, B, C), suggesting that two worked on the Old Testament while the third copied the entire New Testament.[71]  Kenyon accepted Tischendorf’s view, while T. C. Skeat, who had an opportunity to do a more extensive examination of the codex, contested the position of a third scribe (C) and argued that there were only two scribes, both working on the Old Testament (A and B), and one of them copying the entire New Testament (B).[72] Other paleographers agree with Skeat. Scribe (A) wrote Genesis through 1 Kings (pp 41–334) and Psalms through Tobias (pages 625–944). Scribe (B) wrote 1 Kings through 2 Esdra (pp 335–624), Hosea throug Daniel (pp 945–1234), and the entire New Testament.[73] One corrector worked on Vaticanus soon after its writing, and another corrector from the 10th or 11th century worked on the manuscript. The latter corrector traced over the faded letters with fresh ink. However, he also omitted words and letters he judged to be wrong, as well as adding accent and breathing marks. Vaticanus is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type, the Alands placing it in Category I, “manuscripts of a very special quality which should always be considered in establishing the original text …. B is by far the most significant of the uncials.” (Aland and Aland, The Text of the New Testament 1995, 109, 109)

Matthew 20:16-23

Codex Ephraemi (04, C) dates to the fifth century C.E., with 209 leaves surviving, of which 145 contain material from every New Testament book except Second Thessalonians and Second John. It is a noted palimpsest, i.e. a manuscript written over a partly erased older manuscript in such a way that the old words can be read beneath the new. Codex Ephraemi is about 12 inches by 9 inches (31 cm by 23 cm), and it is the earliest example of a manuscript containing just one column of writing on each page.

The Scriptural text that had appeared on this fifth-century codex was removed in the twelfth century, being written over with a Greek translation of thirty-eight sermons of the Syrian scholar Ephraem. It was not until the end of the seventeenth century that textual scholars noticed the Bible text beneath. While there was some progress made over the years in trying to decipher the text that lay beneath, it was difficult because of the faint and unclear condition of the ink that had been erased, not to mention the ragged state of many of the leaves, and the other text that overlapped with the original text. In an effort to read the text, some chemicals were applied to the manuscript. Eventually, most textual scholars of the time felt that the erased text was beyond recovery.

However, a name that we have heard before, Konstantin von Tischendorf, went to work on Codex Ephraemi in the early 1840’s. It took Tischendorf two years, but he eventual deciphered the manuscript. How was he able to succeed where others had failed? Tischendorf had a good eye for the Greek uncial script and was blessed with excellent eyesight. Moreover, he discovered that if he held the parchment up to the light, the erased text was legible enough for him to make it out. Today scholars would use infrared, ultraviolet, and polarized light to illuminate the ancient text.

Metzger says that even “though the document dates from the fifth century, its text is of less importance than one might assume from its age. It seems to be compounded from all major text types, frequently agreeing with secondary Alexandrian witnesses but also with those of the later Koine or Byzantine type, which most scholars regard as the least valuable. Two correctors referred to as C2 or Cb and C3 or Cc, have made corrections in the manuscript. The former probably lived in Palestine in the sixth century, and the latter seems to have done his work in Constantinople in the ninth century.”[74] Today, Codex Ephraemi is kept in the National Library in Paris, France.

John 3:26-4:1

Codex Bezae (05, Dea) dates to about 400 C.E., consisting of 406 leaves. It contains most of the four Gospels and Acts, with a small fragment of Third John. The codex is about ten by eight inches (25 by 20 cm), and it is an early example of a bilingual text, with Greek on the left page and Latin on the right. Theodore Bezae presented it to the University of Cambridge in 1581.

Paul D. Wegner observes that Bezae “is written in ‘sense lines’ so that some sentences are short and others long depending on the thought in the line. There is one column per page. The codex includes the Gospels (in Western order; i.e., Mt, Jn, Lk, Mk), Acts and a short fragment of 3 John. It was found in 1562 at Lyons, France, by Theodore Beza, the successor of John Calvin at Geneva, who presented it to Cambridge University in 1581 (thus it is sometimes called ‘Codex Cantabrigiensis’).”

Codex Bezae is most likely a copy of a papyrus manuscript with an early text. It is similar to P29 (Alexandrian, Western, Category I), P38 (Western text-type, Category IV), and P48, (Western text-type, Category IV), papyri dating to the third or fourth centuries. The first three lines of each book are in red letters, and black and red ink alternate the title of books. Between the sixth and twelfth centuries, some eleven people have corrected the manuscript (G, A, C, B, D, E, H, F, J1, L, K).[75] Of this manuscript, Metzger writes, “No known manuscript has so many and such remarkable variations from what is usually taken to be the normal New Testament text. Codex Bezae’s special characteristic is the free addition (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and even incidents.”[76] For example, Luke 23:53 reads in the NASB (NA text), “And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain.” Bezae adds the words, “And after he [Jesus] was laid [in the tomb], he [Joseph of Arimathea] put before the tomb a [great] stone which twenty men could scarcely roll.” Acts 19:9 reads in the NASB (NA text), “But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he [Paul] withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.” To this Bezae adds “from eleven o’clock to four,” which is doubtful because of the heat at that time of day. Codex Bezae is the principal representative of the Western text.

Greek Uncial Manuscripts

# Sign Name Date Content
01 א Sinaiticus 4th A complete text of the New Testament
02 A Alexandrinus 5th It contains a complete text of the New Testament, minus Matthew 1:1-25:6; John 6:50 -8:52; 2 Corinthians 4:13-12:6
03 B Vaticanus 4th Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, the Pauline Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews (up to Hebrews 9:14, καθα[ριει); it is lacking 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation
04 C Ephraemi 5th Every New Testament book except Second Thessalonians and Second John
05 Dea Bezae 5th In both Greek and Latin, most of the four Gospels and Acts, with a small fragment of 3 John
06 Dp Claromontanus 6th Pauline epistles
07 Ee Basilensis 8th Gospels
08 Ea Laudianus 6th Acts of the Apostles
09 Fe Boreelianus 9th Gospels
010 Fp Augiensis 9th Pauline epistles
011 Ge Seidelianus I 9th Gospels
012 Gp Boernerianus 9th Pauline epistles
013 He Seidelianus II 9th Gospels
014 Ha Mutinensis 9th Acts of the Apostles
015 Hp Coislinianus 6th Pauline Epistles
016 I Freerianus 5th Pauline epistles
017 Ke Cyprius 9th Gospels
018 Kap Mosquensis 9th Acts, Paul, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
019 Le Regius 8th Gospels
020 Lap Angelicus 9th Acts, Paul
021 M Campianus 9th Gospels
022 N Petropolitanus Purp. 6th Gospels
023 O Sinopensis 6th Gospel of Matthew
024 Pe Guelferbytanus A 6th Gospels
025 Papr Porphyrianus 9th Acts, Paul, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Rev
026 Q Guelferbytanus B 5th Luke 4,6,12,15,17–23; John 12,14
027 R Nitriensis 6th Gospel of Luke
028 S Vaticanus 354 949 Gospels
029 =
T Borgianus 5th Luke — John
030 U Nanianus 9th Gospels
031 V Mosquensis II 9th Gospels
032 W Washingtonianus 5th Gospels
033 X Monacensis 10th Gospels
034 Y Macedoniensis 9th Gospels
035 Z Dublinensis 6th Matt 1–2,4–8,10–15,17–26
036 Γ Tischendorfianus IV 10th Gospels
037 Δ Sangallensis 9th Gospels
038 Θ Coridethianus 9th Gospels
039 Λ Tischendorfianus III 9th Luke, John
040 Ξ Zacynthius 6th Gospel of Luke †[77]
041 Π Petropolitanus 9th Gospels
042 Σ Rossanensis 6th Matthew, Mark
043 Φ Beratinus 6th Matthew,  Mark
044 Ψ Athous Lavrensis 9th/10th Gospels, Acts, Paul
045 Ω Athous Dionysiou 9th Gospels

Uncials 046-0323

# Name Date Content
046 Vaticanus 2066 10th Book of Revelation
047 8th Gospels
048 Vaticanus 2061 5th Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Paul
049 9th Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Pauline epistles
050 9th Gospel of John
051 Ath. Pantokratoros 10th Book of Revelation
052 Ath. Panteleimonos 10th Book of Revelation
053 9th Gospel of Luke
054 Codex Barberini 8th Gospel of John
055 11th Gospels
056 10th Acts, Pauline epistles
057 4th/5th Acts of the Apostles
058 4th Gospel of Matthew 18
059=0215 4th/5th Gospel of Mark
060 6th Gospel of John 14
061 5th 1 Timothy
062 5th Epistle to the Galatians
063=0117 9th Luke, John
6th Matthew 27,
065 6th Gospel of John
066 6th Acts of the Apostles
067 6th Matthew, and Mark
068 5th Gospel of John 16
069 5th Gospel of Mark 10–11
070 =0110
6th Luke, and John
071 5th/6th Gospel of Matthew 1, 25
072 5th/6th Gospel of Mark 2–3
073=084 6th Gospel of Matthew 14–15 †
074 6th Matt. 25, 26, 28, Mark 1, 2, 5 †
075 10th Pauline epistles
076 5th/6th Acts of the Apostles 2
077 5th Acts of the Apostles 13
078 6th Matt, Luke, John
079 6th Gospel of Luke
080 6th Gospel of Mark 9–10
081 Tischendorfianus II 6th 2 Corinthians 1–2
082 6th Epistle to the Ephesians 4
5th/6th John 1–4,
Mark 14–16
Mark 13
084 6th Gospel of Matthew 15 †
085 6th Gospel of Matthew 20, 22
086 6th Gospel of John 1, 3–4
087=092b 6th Matt 1–2, 19, 21; John 18; Mark 12
088 5th/6th 1 Cor. 15:53–16:9, Tit 1:1–13
089=092a 6th Gospel of Matthew 26:2–19
090 6th Matt 26, 27; Mark 1–2 †
091 6th John 6
092a092b 6th Matt 26:4–7.10-12
093 6th Acts 24–25, 1 Pet 2–3
094 6th Gospel of Matthew 24:9–21
095=0123 8th Acts of the Apostles 2–3 †
096 7th Acts of the Apostles 2, 26
097 7th Acts of the Apostles 13
098 7th 2 Corinthians 11
099 7th Gospel of Mark 16
0100=0195 7th Gospel of John 20
0101 8th Gospel of John 1
0102=0138 7th Gospel of Luke 3–4
0103 7th Gospel of Mark 13–14
0104 6th Matthew 23 †; Mark 13–14 †
0105 10th Gospel of John 6–7
0106=0119 Tischendorfianus I 7th Matthew 12–15 †
0107 7th Matt 22–23; Mark 4–5
0108 7th Gospel of Luke 11
0109 7th Gospel of John 16–18
0110 6th Gospel of John
0111 7th 2 Thess. 1:1–2:2
0112 5th/6th Gospel of Mark 14–16
0113=029 5th Gospel of Luke 21 Gospel of John 1
0114 8th Gospel of John 20 †
0115 9th/10th Gospel of Luke 9–10 †
0116 8th Matt 19–27; Mark 13–14;Luke 3–4 †
0117  — 9th Gospel of Luke †
0118  — 8th Gospel of Matthew 11 †
0119  — 7th Gospel of Matthew 13–15 †
0120  — 8th Acts of the Apostles
0121a  — 10th 1 Corinthians †
0121b Codex Ruber 10th Epistle to the Hebrews †
0122  — 10th Galatians †; Hebrews †
0123  — 8th Acts of the Apostles 2–3 †
0124 See 070 6th  —
0125 See 029 5th  —
0126  — 8th Gospel of Mark 5–6
0127  — 8th Gospel of John 2:2–11
0128  — 9th Gospel of Matthew 25:32–45
0129=0203  —  ? 1 Peter †
0130 Sangallensis 18 9th Mark 1–2, Luke 1–2 †
0131  — 9th Gospel of Mark 7–9 †
0132  — 9th Gospel of Mark 5 †
0133 Blenheimius 9th Matthew †; Mark †
0134 8th Gospel of Mark 3 †; 5 †
0135 9th Matthew, Mark, Luke
0136=0137 9th Gospel of Matthew 14; 25–26 †
0137 9th Gospel of Matthew 13 †
0138 7th Gospel of Matthew 21:24–24:15
0139 See 029 5th  —
0140 10th Acts of the Apostles 5
0141 10th Gospel of John †
0142 10th Acts, Paul, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
0143 6th Gospel of Mark 8 †
0144 7th Gospel of Mark 6 †
0145 7th Gospel of John 6:26–31
0146 8th Gospel of Mark 10:37–45
0147 6th Gospel of Luke 6:23–35
0148 8th Gospel of Matthew 28:5–19
0149 = 0187 6th Gospel of Mark 6 †
0150 9th Pauline epistles
0151 9th Pauline epistles
0152 Talisman  —
0153 Ostracon 2 Cor. 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:20
0154 9th Gospel of Mark 10, 11
0155 9th Gospel of Luke 3, 6
0156 6th 2 Peter 3
0157 7th/8th 1 John 2
0158 5th/6th Epistle to the Galatians 1
0159 6th Epistle to the Ephesians 4–5
0160 4th/5th Gospel of Matthew 26
0161 8th Gospel of Matthew 22
0162 3rd/4th Gospel of John 2:11–22
0163 5th Book of Revelation 16
0164 6th/7th Gospel of Matthew 13
0165 5th Acts of the Apostles 3–4
0166 5th Acts 28 James 1:11
0167 7th Gospel of Mark
0168 8th Gospels †
0169 4th Book of Revelation 3–4
0170 5th/6th Gospel of Matthew 6 †
0171 3rd/4th Matthew 10; Luke 22
0172 5th Epistle to the Romans 1–2 †
0173 5th Epistle of James 1 †
0174 5th Epistle to the Galatians 2:5–6
0175 5th Acts of the Apostles 6 †
0176 4th/5th Epistle to the Galatians 3 †
0177 10th Gospel of Luke 1–2 †
0178 = 070 6th Gospel of Luke 16:4-12
0179 = 070 6th Gospel of Luke 21:30-22:2
0180 = 070 6th Gospel of John 7:3-12
0181 4th/5th Gospel of Luke 9–10
0182 5th Gospel of Luke 19
0183 7th Gospel of Luke 9–10
0184 6th Gospel of Mark 15
0185 4th 1 Corinthians 2, 3
0186 5th/6th 2 Corinthians 4 †
0187 6th Gospel of Mark 6
0188 4th Gospel of Mark 11
0189 2nd/3rd Acts of the Apostles 5:3–21
0190 = 070 6th Gospel of Luke 10:30-39
0191 = 070 6th Gospel of Luke 12:5-14
0192 =  1604  —
0193 = 070 6th Gospel of John 3:23-32
0194 = 070 6th  —
0195 7th Gospel of John 20 †
0196 9th Matthew 5, Luke 24
0197 9th Gospel of Matthew 20; 22
0198 6th Epistle to the Colossians 3
0199 6th/7th 1 Corinthians 11
0200 7th Gospel of Matthew 11
0201 5th 1 Corinthians 12; 14
0202 6th Gospel of Luke 8–9 †
0203 9th  —
0204 7th Gospel of Matthew 24
0205 8th Epistle to Titus
0206 4th 1 Peter 5
0207 4th Book of Revelation 9:2–15
0208 6th Col 1–2, 1 Thess. 2
0209 7th Rom. 14:9-23; 16:25-27; 15:1-2; 2 Cor. 1:1-15; 4:4-13; 6:11-7, 2; 9:2-10:17; 2 Pet 1:1-2, 3
0210 7th John 5:44; 6:1-2, 41-42
0211 7th Gospels
0212 Dura Parchment 24 3rd Diatessaron
0213 5th/6th Gospel of Mark 3
0214 4th/5th Gospel of Mark 8
0215 5th/6th Gospel of Mark 15:20–21,26-27
0216 5th Gospel of John 8–9
0217 5th Gospel of John 11–12
0218 5th Gospel of John 12
0219 4th/5th Epistle to the Romans 2–9
0220 3rd/4th Epistle to the Romans 4:23–5:3; 5:8–13
0221 4th Epistle to the Romans 5–6
0222 4th 1 Corinthians 9
0223 6th 2 Corinthians 1–2
0224 5th/6th 2 Corinthians 4 †
0225 6th 2 Corinthians 5–6, 8
0226 5th 1 Thessalonians 4:16–5:5
0227 5th Epistle to the Hebrews 11
0228 4th Epistle to the Hebrews 12
0229 8th Book of Revelation 18, 19
0230 4th Epistle to the Ephesians 6
0231 4th Gospel of Matthew 26–27
0232 5th/6th 2 John 1–5, 6–9
0233 8th Gospels
0234 8th Matthew 28; John 1
0235 5th/6th Gospel of Mark 13
0236 5th Acts of the Apostles 3
0237 6th Gospel of Matthew 15
0238 8th Gospel of John 7
0239 7th Gospel of Luke 2
024 5th Epistle to Titus 1
0241 6th 1 Timothy 3–4
0242 4th Gospel of Matthew 8–9; 13
0243 10th 1 Cor 13-2 Cor 13
0244 5th Acts of the Apostles 11–12
0245 6th 1 John 3–4
0246 6th Epistle of James 1
0247 5th/6th 1 Peter 5; 2 Peter 1
0248 9th Gospel of Matthew
0249 10th Gospel of Matthew 25
0250 Climaci Rescriptus 8th Gospels †
0251 6th 3 John 12–15; Jude 3–5
0252 Barcilonensis 6 5th Epistle to the Hebrews 6 †
0253 6th Gospel of Luke 10:19–22
0254 5th Galatians 5:13–17
0255 9th Gospel of Matthew 26; 27
0256 8th Gospel of John 6
0257 9th Matthew 5–26; Mark 6–16
0258 ? Gospel of John 10
0259 7th 1 Timothy 1
0260 6th Gospel of John 1
0261 5th Galatians 1; 4
0262 7th 1 Timothy 1
0263 6th Gospel of Mark 5
0264 5th Gospel of John 8
0265 6th Gospel of Luke 7
0266 6th Gospel of Luke 20
0267 Barcelonensis 16 5th Gospel of Luke 8
0268 7th Gospel of John 1
0269 9th Gospel of Mark 6
0270 5th/6th 1 Corinthians 15
0271 9th Gospel of Matthew 12
0272 9th Gospel of Luke 16–17; 19
0273 9th Gospel of John 2–3†; 4†; 5–6†
0274 5th Gospel of Mark 6–10†
0275 7th Gospel of Matthew 5
0276 8th Gospel of Mark 14–15
0277 7th/8th Gospel of Matthew 14
0278 9th Pauline epistles
0279 8th/9th Gospel of Luke 8; 2
0280 8th Pauline epistles
0281 7th/8th Gospel of Matthew 6–27 †
0282 6th Epistle to Philemon 2; 3 †
0283 9th Gospel of Mark †
0284 8th Matthew 26; 27; 28 †
0285 6th Pauline epistles †
0286 6th Matt. 16:13–19; John 10:12–16
0287 9th Gospels †
0288 6th Gospel of Luke †
0289 7th/8th Romans — 1 Corinthians
0290 9th Gospel of John 18:4–20:2
0291 7th/8th Gospel of Luke 8–9
0292 6th Gospel of Mark 6–7
0293 7th/8th Gospel of Matthew 21; 26
0294 7th/8th Acts of the Apostles 14–15
0295 9th 2 Corinthians 12:14–13:1
0296 6th 2 Cor. 7; 1 John 5
0297 9th Gospel of Matthew 1; 5
0298 8th/9th Gospel of Matthew 26
0299 10th/11th Gospel of John 20:1–7
0300 6th/7th Gospel of Matthew 20:2–17
0301 5th Gospel of John 17:1–4
0302 6th Gospel of John 10:29–30
0303 7th Gospel of Luke 13:17–29
0304  — 9th Acts of the Apostles 6:5–7:13
0305  — ? Gospel of Matthew 20
0306  — 9th Gospel of John 9
0307  — 7th Matt 11–12; Mark 11–12; Luke 9–10,22
0308  — 4th Book of Revelation 11
0309  — 6th Gospel of John 20
0310  — 10th Epistle to Titus 2:15–3:7
0311  — 8th/9th Epistle to the Romans 8:1–13
0312  — 3rd/4th Gospel of Luke 5; 7
0313  — 5th Gospel of Mark 4:9.15
0314  — 6th Gospel of John 5:43
# Name Date Content
0315  — 4th/5th Mark 2:9.21.25; 3:1–2
0316  — 7th Epistle of Jude 18–25
0317  — 7th? Gospel of Mark 14
0318  — 7th Gospel of Mark 9–14
0319 (Dabs1) Sangermanensis 9th/10th Pauline epistles
0320 (Dabs2) Waldeccensis 10th Ephesians 1:3–9; 2:11–18
0321 5th Matt 24:37-25; 1:32-45; 26:31-45
0322 8th/9th Gospel of Mark 3; 6
0323 Syrus Sinaiticus 4th/5th Gospel of John 7:6–15 ; 9:17–23

Minuscule Manuscripts


By Unknown - Codex Harleianus 5776, Public Domain
By Unknown – Codex Harleianus 5776, Public Domain

The minuscule script was a style of Greek writing used as a book hand during the ninth and tenth centuries in Byzantine manuscripts. The minuscule took the place of the Greek uncial, third and ninth centuries C.E. that resembles a modern capital letter but is more rounded. The minuscule differed from the uncial in that it used smaller letters, which were more round and more connected letters, as well as a large number of ligatures. Most of the minuscules were written on parchment. It was not until the twelfth century that paper began to be used. These forms came about through earlier informal cursive writing. There are at present 2,882 minuscule texts, made in a running style of writing. These were written during the period from the ninth-century C.E. to the inception of the printing press in 1455. The following is a chart showing the differences between the letter formats.

Chart 01

Important Minuscule Manuscripts

Family 1

Kirsopp Lake c. 1914
Kirsopp Lake c. 1914

Family 1 was discovered in 1902 when Kirsopp Lake (1872–1946) identified this text family, which included 1, 118, 131, 209. Family 1 is a group of Greek manuscripts of the gospels, dating from the 12th to the 15th century. It is symbolized as f1; however, it is also known as “the Lake Group.” Textual scholars now consider 205, 205abs, 872 (Mark only), 884 (in part), 1582, 2193, and 2542 (in part) to be members of Family 1. Metzger says that after analyzing the Gospel of Mark, indications are that this family often agrees with Codex Koridethi, also named Codex Coridethianus, designated by Θ, 038, or Theta (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), going back to the type of text in Caesarea in the third and fourth centuries.[78] Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus used manuscript 1 along with a handful of others to produce the first Greek New Testament.


Family 1 or the Lake Group of manuscripts placed the interpolation story of the Adulteress, also known as the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11), after John 21:25. It is a later addition to the Gospel John and not a part of the original. Family 1 also includes the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20), which is also a second-century addition. Additional evidence against the long conclusion of Mark’s Gospel is the fact that manuscripts 1 and 1582 contain a scholion (scribal note) that brings into question its authenticity: Εν τισι μεν των αντιγραφων εως ωδε πληρουται ο ευαγγελιστης εως ου και Ευσεβιος ο Παμφιλου εκανονισεν εν πολλοις δε και ταυτα φερεται. (“In some of the copies, the evangelist is fulfilled until here, until which point also Eusebius Pamphili made his canons. But in many these [following] things also are extant.”)[79]


Family 13

Minuscule 13 Ending of Mark
Minuscule 13 Ending of Mark

In 1868, William Ferrar of Dublin University discovered four manuscripts belonging to the same text type or family, which include 13, 69, 124, and 346. Because 13 was the first manuscript, the group became known as family 13 (f13); however, it is also known as the Ferrar Group, which now include 13, 69, 124, 230, 346, 543, 788, 826, 828, 983, 1689, and 1709, dating between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries.[80] This family exhibits unique variant readings, such as placing the story of the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:11) after Luke 21:38, or elsewhere in Luke’s Gospel rather than in the Gospel of John. The text of Luke 22:43-44 is placed after Matthew 26:39. The text of Matthew 16:2b–3 is absent. Barbara Aland, Klaus Wachtel and others at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung, INTF) suggest that some of these manuscripts from family 13 (Ferrar Group) are more comparable to the majority Byzantine Text, and, therefore, should not be included in this family at all.

Abbot's facsimile with the text of Luke 7.35-40
Abbot’s facsimile with the text of Luke 7:35-40

Minuscule 16

This is a Diglot of Greek-Latin in the minuscule script of the New Testament on 361 parchment leaves, dated paleographically to the 14th century.[81] The minuscule is about 12.4 by 9.9 inches (31.6 cm by 25.2 cm). It has full notes written in the margin (i.e., marginalia) and was arranged for liturgical use. Minuscule 16 was “written in four different colors: the narrative in vermilion, the words of Jesus and angels in crimson, Old Testament quotes and the words of the disciples in blue, and the words of the Pharisees, the centurion, Judas Iscariot, and Satan in black. Presently the manuscript is housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.”[82] The four gospels are almost complete within the text. However, it has lacunae (gaps in the text) in Mark 16:14-20. Minuscule 16 is written in two columns per page, 26 lines per page.[83] The Greek portion of the text is mixed, but it is largely the Byzantine text-type.

Minuscule 28

The manuscript contains the text of the four Gospels on 292 parchment leaves. It is about 9.09 by 7.4 inches (31.6 cm by 25.2 cm), dated by paleographers to the eleventh century C.E., with numerous lacunae. The text is written in one column per page, 19 lines per page.[84] The words are continuous without any separation. Metzger would agree that the letters were “written carelessly by an ignorant scribe;”[85] however, he goes on to say that it “contains many noteworthy readings, especially in Mark, where its text is akin to the Caesarean type,”[86] and the Byzantine text-type in the rest of the Gospels. The initial letters of minuscule 28 are in color. The Alands placed it in Category V.[87]

Minuscule 33


Minuscule 33
Minuscule 33 from the end of Romans. – (Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History Methods & Results 2006, 265)

Wegner says, the “text of this manuscript (33) is very similar to that of Codex Vaticanus, and since the time of Johann G. Eichhorn in the early nineteenth century, it has been nicknamed ‘the Queen of the Cursives.’”[88] Minuscule 33 contains some of the Prophets of the Old Testament, as well as the entire New Testament minus the book of Revelation by John. It contains 143 parchment leaves. It is about 14.8 by 9.8 inches (31.6 cm by 25.2 cm), having one column per page with lines ranging from 48-52. It is dated by paleographers to the nine century C.E., with three lacunae in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke (Mark 9:31-11:11; 13:11-14:60; Luke 21:38-23:26).[89] Metzger says that 33 is an excellent representative of the Alexandrian type of text, but it also shows the influence of the Koine or Byzantine type, particularly in Acts and the Pauline epistles.”[90] The text is divided into chapters, with the numbers given in the margins, as well as chapter titles at the top of the pages. The order of books is as follows: the Gospels, Acts, James, First and Second Peter, First, Second, and Third John, Jude, Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, Hebrews, First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, but the book of Revelation missing. The book of Romans ends as follows, 16:23; 16:25-27; 16:24, similar to Codex Porphyrianus and minuscules 104, 256, 263, 365, 436, 459, 1319, 1573, and 1852.

Minuscule 61

Codex Montfortianus, also known as minuscule 61, is a minuscule Greek manuscript of the New Testament on paper. It is dated to about 1520 and is now at the Trinity College, Dublin. Minuscule 61 contains the entire New Testament. It has one column per page, 21 lines per page, on 455 paper leaves. It is about 6.2 by 4.7 inches (15.8 cm by 12 cm). The Gospels and Acts are of the Byzantine text-type, which the Alands place in Category V. It is a mixed text in the Pauline epistles and General epistles, placed in Category III.

Minuscule 69 (GA) 14b
Minuscule 69 (GA) 14b

Minuscule 69

Codex Leicester or Codex Leicestrensis, also known as minuscule 69, is a minuscule Greek manuscript of the New Testament on paper and parchment leaves (91 parchments and 122 paper). It is dated to the 15th century and is now at Leicester, in the East Midlands of England. Minuscule 69 contains the entire New Testament with four lacunae (Matthew 1:1-18:15; Acts 10:45-14:17; Jude 7-25; Revelation 19:10-22:21), on 213 leaves, about 14.9 by 10.6 inches (37.8 cm by 27 cm). The Gospels are of the Caesarean text-type (Category III), the rest of the books being of a Byzantine text-type (Category V).

Minuscule 81

Minuscule 81 is a minuscule Greek manuscript of the New Testament on parchment. It is dated to 1044 and is now at the British Library in Alexandria. It is about 7.09 by 5.0 inches (18 cm by 12.6 cm). Minuscule 81 contains almost a complete text of the book of Acts and the Epistles on 282 parchment leaves, with some lacunae (Acts 4:8-7:17; 17:28-23:9), having one column per page, 23 lines per page, in small letters. The Alands place it in Category II, of the Alexandrian text-type, with some Byzantine readings. Metzger says, “It is one of the most important of all minuscule manuscripts.”[91]

Minuscule 157
Minuscule 157

Minuscule 157

Minuscule 157 is a minuscule Greek manuscript of the New Testament on vellum. According to the colophon (i.e. details in books), it is dated to the year 1122, and it is now at the Vatican Library. It contains a complete text of the four Gospels on 325 parchment leaves, having one column per page, 22 lines per page, about 7.3 by 5.4 inches (18.6 cm by 13.6 cm). Its readings often agree with Codex Bezae. However, it is a mixture of text-types with a strong Alexandrian element. The Alands placed it in Category III. At the end of each Gospel, it is stated that it was written in 1122. It was penned “for the Emperor John II Comnenus (1118-43).”[92]

Ancient Versions

A version is a translation of the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into another language. Actually, the entire Bible has been translated into over 450 languages, although sections of the Bible have been translated into more than 2,000 languages.

Bible translation in part or whole from the original languages into another language has been going on for some 2,200 years, and has allowed literally millions of people, who might otherwise have been deprived of God’s Word, to have access to it. The early versions of the Bible were no different from the original language copies in their production; they too had to be written by hand on papyrus or animal skin. However, since the invention of the printing press in 1455, the number of versions has grown astronomically, in much greater quantities in comparison to their ancient counterparts. Not all versions have been prepared directly from the Hebrew or Greek Bible texts; some are based on earlier translations.

The Septuagint

The Septuagint is the customary term for the Old Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. I mention it here in a book about NT textual criticism because it was usually the source of quotations found in the New Testament. The word “Septuagint” means “seventy” and is frequently shortened by using the Roman numeral LXX, which is a reference to the tradition that 72 Jewish translators (rounded off to 70) produced the version in the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.E.). The first five books of Moses were done around 280 B.C.E., with the rest being completed by 150 B.C.E.  As a result, the name Septuagint came to denote the complete Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek.

In Acts 8:26-38 (NASB) we read,

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

   “He was led as a sheep to slaughter;

And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

So He does not open His mouth.

33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away;

Who will relate His generation?

For His life is removed from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

The Eunuch court official to whom Philip preached was an influential man in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia. He was a proselyte (convert) to the Jewish religion who had come to Jerusalem to worship God. He had been reading aloud from the scroll of Isaiah (53:7-8 as our English Bible has it sectioned), and was puzzled as to whom it was referring; however, Philip explained the text, and the official was moved to the point of being baptized. The Eunuch was not reading from the Hebrew Old Testament; he was reading from the Greek translation, i.e. the Greek Septuagint. This work was very instrumental to both Jews and Christians in the Greek-speaking world in which they lived.

John 21.1b-25 from Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century) – British Library

John 21:1b-25 from Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century) – British Library

What contributed to the Hebrew Old Testament’s being translated into Greek, and when and how did it occur? What was the need that brought about the Septuagint? How has it affected the Bible throughout these last 2,200 years? What impact does the Septuagint still have on the translator today?

The Greek-Speaking Jews and the Septuagint

In 332 B.C.E., Alexander the Great had just finished destroying the Phoenician city of Tyre, and was then entering Egypt, but was received as a great deliverer, not as a conqueror. It was here that he would found the city of Alexandria, bringing humankind one of the great learning centers of all time in the ancient world. The result of Alexander’s conquering much of the then-known world was the spread of Greek culture and the Greek language. Alexander himself spoke Attic Greek, which was the dialect that spread throughout the territories that he conquered. As the Attic dialect spread, it interacted with other Greek dialects, as well as the local languages, resulting in what we call Koine Greek or common Greek spreading throughout this vast realm.

By the time of the third century B.C.E., Alexandria had a large population of Jews. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and exiled its people to Babylon centuries before. Many Jews had fled to Egypt at the time of the destruction. The returning Jews in 537 were scattered throughout southern Palestine, migrating to Alexandria after it was founded. The need for a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures arose among the Jews in their worship services and education within the Jewish community of Alexandria.

Many of the Jews in Alexandria could no longer understand the Hebrew language, with others simply letting it g0 out of use. Most could only speak the common Greek of the Mediterranean world. However, they remained Jews in custom and culture and wanted to be able to understand the Scriptures that affected their everyday lives and worship. Therefore, the time was right for the production of the first translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Aristobulus of Paneas (c. 160 B.C.E.) wrote that the Hebrew law was translated into Greek, being completed during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.E.). We cannot be certain as to what Aristobulus meant by the term “Hebrew law.” Some have suggested that it encompassed only the Mosaic Law, the first five books of the Bible, while others suggested that it was the entire Hebrew Scriptures.

Useful in the First Century

The Septuagint was put to use at great length by Greek-speaking Jews both prior to and throughout first century Christianity. Just after Jesus ascension, at Pentecost 33 C.E., countless numbers of Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover and Festival of Weeks, coming from such places as the districts of Asia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, and Crete, places where Greek was spoken. There is little doubt that they were using the Septuagint in their services. (Acts 2:9-11) As a result, the Septuagint played a major role in spreading the Gospel message in the Jewish and proselyte communities. To see an example, we can look at the account of Stephen.

Acts 6:8-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

In his defense, Stephen gave a long history of the Israelite people, and at one point he said,

Acts 7:12-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13 On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.

This account comes from Genesis 46:27, which reads, “All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.” The Hebrew Old Testament reads seventy, but it is the Septuagint that reads seventy-five. Therefore, Stephen was referencing the Septuagint in his defense before the synagogue of the Freedmen.

The Apostle Paul traveled more than 20,000 miles on his missionary tours, which brought him into contact with devout Greeks (Gentiles) who worshiped God. (Acts 13:16, 26; 17:4). They became worshipers of God because they had access to the Septuagint. The Apostle Paul used the Septuagint quite often in his ministry and his letters.―Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:8.

The Greek New Testament contains about 320 direct quotations, as well as a combined 890 quotations and paraphrases from the Hebrew Old Testament. Most of these are from the Septuagint. Therefore, those Septuagint quotations and paraphrases became a part of the inspired Greek New Testament. Jesus had said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He had also foretold, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.” (Matt 24:14) In order for this to take place, it had to be translated into other languages.

Still Beneficial Today

The Septuagint’s great purpose today is the light that it sheds on textual variants that crept into the Hebrew Old Testament text, as it was being copied throughout the centuries. An example of this can be found at Genesis 4:8, which reads:

Genesis 4:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 8 Cain told Abel his brother. [Let us go out to the field][93] And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

The portion in the brackets “let us go out to the field” is not in the tenth century C.E. Hebrew manuscripts. However, it is found in the earlier Septuagint manuscripts (4th cent C.E.), as well as the Samaritan Pentateuch,[94] the Peshitta,[95] and the Vulgate.[96] First, the Hebrew that is used to introduce speech [wayyomer, “and he said”] is in the Hebrew text, “Cain Spoke.” However, there is no speech that follows in the Hebrew text. Many scholars argue that these words were in the original Hebrew text, but were omitted accidently very early. Second, a few others, on the other hand, argue that the Hebrew construction found here is used in three other passages with nothing being said, so the more difficult and shorter reading is original, which would mean that the Greek translators added the words to complete the meaning. This author prefers the first textual argument, along with the majority of scholars.[97] Herein, we see how the Septuagint can help in identifying textual errors that may have crept into the Hebrew text over centuries of copying.

However, the Hebrew text is the foundation and most trustworthy text. Thus, it is used to correct the Septuagint text as well. It is by the comparison of the Hebrew manuscripts, and the many early versions, that we discover textual errors and establish the original reading. This can give us confidence that we are reading the Word of God. As Paul D. Wegner writes,

The job of the textual critic is very similar to that of a detective searching for clues as to the original reading of the text. It is reminiscent of the master detective Sherlock Holmes who could determine a number of characteristics of the suspect from the slightest of clues left at the crime scene. In our case, the “crime scene” is the biblical text, and often we have far fewer clues to work from than we would like. Yet the job of the textual critic is extremely important, for we are trying to determine the exact reading of a text in order to know what God has said and expects from us.[98]

Patristic Quotations from New Testament Authors

Another primary source for recovery the original text of the New Testament is the enormous number of quotations from the early Christian writers (apologetic works, epistles, commentaries, sermons, and the like). “Apostolic Fathers” is the descriptive term used for churchmen who wrote about Christianity in the late first and early second centuries. Some of them were Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, and Papias. From near the middle of the second century to its end, churchmen became prominent who are now called “Apologists.”. They wrote in defense of Christianity against hostile philosophies prevalent in the Roman world of that time, as well as apostate forms of Christianity that were beginning to develop. Among the best known were Marcion, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria. Tertullian was an Apologist who wrote in Latin.  Then, we have the “Church Fathers,” prominent theologians and Christian philosophers who lived between the second and fifth centuries. We have writings from Hippolytus of Rome, Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea, Eusebius of Caesarea, Hilary of Poitiers, Lucifer of Cagliari, Athanasius of Alexandria, Ephrem the Syrian, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose of Milan, and many others.

It is commonly said that these quotations are so extensive that the entire New Testament could be reconstructed without the use of the manuscripts.[99] While this is basically true, the statement is not meant to suggest that a critical text based on these early patristic quotations would be reflective of the original to the extent of what we have today by way of the Greek manuscripts. It is meant to convey the enormous amount of quotations that are available to textual scholarship.

Patristic quotations require more analysis than the manuscripts, bearing in mind several questions. Was the quotation a direct quote of a Greek manuscript? Alternatively, was it a paraphrase, even an allusion to the Greek text? On the other hand, was it a quote, paraphrase, or an allusion from a version, i.e., a secondary source? At the time, the writer may have had several different sources lying before him, so these possibilities must be considered. Patristic quotations are also to be investigated under the same principles and rules that are applied to the primary sources. Regardless of how difficult the task, however, patristic quotations play an important role in determining an original reading and in weighing the importance of the primary texts. On this, the Alands write,

Establishing the New Testament text of the Church Fathers has a strategic importance for textual history and criticism. It shows us how the text appeared at particular times and in particular places: this is information we can find nowhere else. With a Greek manuscript there is no way of knowing the age of the exemplar it was copied from, nor when we know the provenance of a manuscript (as we do in exceptional instances) is there any way of knowing the provenance of its exemplar, which is even more important. Only the papyri from the early period before A.D. 300 may be relied on for such information, but these are relevant only to developments in Egypt when it was hardly a leading province of the Church. For an appreciation of the development of the text in the major church centers of the period they are useless. Many important tasks challenge us here. With more adequate information about the Church Fathers’ text of the New Testament we would have firmer guidelines for a history of the text.[100]

Just as we do not have the autographs of the New Testament authors themselves, we do not have the autographs of the early Christian writers either. Therefore, we must broach the same question: has the coping of the early Christian writer, who quoted the New Testament author, been altered in any way? For that reason, here too, we must establish through the manuscripts whether the copyist has altered his work either intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, these manuscripts also must undergo the rigors of textual criticism, to determine as much as possible the original wording of the early Christian’s quotation of the New Testament author.

After we have established the above, believing that we do have the original words of the early Christian writer, we must ask, did the writer intend to quote the New Testament author verbatim or was he simply paraphrasing? Thus, we would need to have the original words of the New Testament author. In addition, we would need a list of all New Testament variants. We would have to have a good knowledge of the early Christian’s tendencies, as well as the context in which he wrote. For example, if the quote is quite lengthy, it is more likely that the early Christian writer was copying from his text verbatim. However, even if we discover that the writer was merely paraphrasing or loosely quoting the NT author, it is still beneficial on many levels. Maybe a reference to a word, phrase, sentence, or verse has little or no manuscript support from the early papyri. Maybe the quote is verbatim enough to establish that later copyists took liberties with the New Testament author’s writing by adding or deleting something.

Apostolic Fathers

Clement of RomeClement of Rome: (d. 100 C.E.) Bishop or overseer of Rome, one of the earliest sources of writings on Christianity. Of his epistle, Michael W. Holmes writes, “1 Clement is one of the earliest—if not the earliest—extant Christian documents outside the New Testament. Written in Rome around the time that John was composing the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos, it reveals something of both the circumstances and the attitudes of the Roman Christians, circumstances, and attitudes that differ dramatically from those of their Christian sisters and brothers in Asia Minor to whom Revelation was addressed.”[101] Few details are known about Clement’s life, and most information comes from tradition.

There is a second letter of Clement, actually a sermon, that was once attributed to Clement of Rome but no longer. First Clement is a letter written to the Corinthian congregation, the same one to whom Paul wrote two letters in 55 C.E., some forty years earlier. Paul, in his first letter, had dealt with factions in the congregation, a serious case of immorality, and the congregation was seeking answers to questions like religiously divided households, conduct at meetings, the eating of meat from the marketplace, etc. In his second letter, Paul had to address the so-called “super-apostles,” i.e. “false apostles, deceitful workers.” He needed to deal with the young congregation’s spiritual wellbeing, as well as his authority being undermined.

In fact, First Corinthians is alluded to and quoted some six times in First Clement,[102] which is dated about 95 C.E. Having First Corinthians in mind, Clement of Rome urged the recipients of this letter to “take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle.”[103] (I Clem. 47.1) Clement went on to say of the Corinthian congregation,

(2) What did he first write to you in the beginning of the gospel? (3) Truly he wrote to you in the Spirit about himself and Cephas and Apollos, because even then you had split into factions. (4) Yet that splitting into factions brought less sin upon you, for you were partisans of highly reputed apostles and of a man approved by them. (5) In contrast, now think about those who have perverted you and diminished the respect due your renowned love for [the brotherhood].[104] (6) It is disgraceful, dear friends, yes, utterly disgraceful and unworthy of your conduct in Christ, that it should be reported that the well-established and ancient church of the Corinthians, because of one or two persons, is rebelling against its presbyters. (7) And this report has reached not only us, but also those who differ from us, with the result that you heap blasphemies upon the name of the Lord because of your stupidity, and create danger for yourselves as well.[105]

Clement was trying once again to reconcile the Corinthians, to renew their faith. On this Holmes comments, “The same kind of factiousness that Paul had earlier encountered in Corinth apparently flared up once again in that congregation near the end of the first century. Though (due to restrictions imposed by the genre) details regarding the exact cause or motivation are not clear, it appears that some of the younger men in the congregation had provoked a revolt (this is the Roman point of view; the younger men no doubt defended their action in more positive terms) and succeeded in deposing the established leadership of the church (3.3; 44.6; 47.6). When news of this reached Rome (47.7), the leaders of the congregation there were sufficiently distressed by this breach of proper conduct and order and the damage it inflicted upon the good name of the Corinthian congregation (1.1; cf. 39.1), that they wrote this long letter and even dispatched mediators (63.3; 65.1) in an effort to restore peace and order to the Corinthian congregation.”[106]

As an overseer in the congregation at Rome, Clement was the first Apostolic Father of the Church. It is clear that he worked hard for the faith and demonstrated an intense appreciation for the Scriptures.

Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius of Antioch: (c. 35 – 108 C.E.) He was a student of the Apostle John and the third bishop [overseer] of Antioch. Ignatius wrote seven letters as he was taken to Rome with a detachment of ten soldiers, where he was to be martyred by being fed to wild animals. Holmes writes, “At a fork in the road at some point along the way through Asia Minor, probably Laodicea, the decision was made to take the northern route through Philadelphia to Smyrna, thus bypassing the churches that lay along the southern route (Tralles, Magnesia, and Ephesus). It is probable that when the northern road was chosen, messengers were sent to these churches informing them of Ignatius’s itinerary, and they evidently dispatched delegations to meet him in Smyrna. Ignatius responded to this show of support by sending a letter to each of the three churches, and he also sent one ahead to the church in Rome, alerting them to his impending arrival there. The guards and their prisoners next stopped at Troas, where Ignatius received the news that “peace” had been restored to the church at Antioch (Phld. 10.1; Smyrn 11.2; Pol. 7.1), about which he apparently had been quite worried, and sent letters back to the two churches he had visited, Philadelphia and Smyrna, and to his friend Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. But before he could write any more letters the group hurried on to Neapolis and then Philippi, where he was warmly received by the church (Pol. Phil. 1.1; 9.1). There he disappears from view. Presumably, he was taken on to Rome and thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. While it is not absolutely certain that he died a martyr’s death, there is no reason to think otherwise.”[107]

Seven Authentic Letters:

  • The Letter to the Ephesians,
  • The Letter to the Magnesians,
  • The Letter to the Trallians,
  • The Letter to the Romans,
  • The Letter to the Philadelphians,
  • The Letter to the Smyrnaeans,
  • The Letter to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.

Kirsopp Lake notes, “The immediate purpose of each of the letters, except that to the Romans, is to thank the recipients for the kindness which they had shown to Ignatius. The ‘Romans’ has the object of preventing the Christians at Rome from making any efforts to save Ignatius from the beasts in the arena, and so robbing him of the crown of martyrdom. But besides this immediate purpose, the writer is influenced by three other motives, all or some of which can be traced in each letter.

(1) Ignatius is exceedingly anxious in each community to strengthen respect for the bishop and presbyters. He ascribes the fullest kind of divine authority to their organization, and recognizes as valid no church, institution, or worship without their sanction.

(2) He protests against the form of heresy called docetism (δοκεῖυ), which regarded the sufferings, and in some cases the life, of Jesus as merely an appearance. He also protests against any tendency to Judaistic practices, but it is disputed whether he means that this was an evil found in docetic circles, or that it was a danger threatening the church from other directions.

(3) He is also anxious to secure the future of his own church in Antioch by persuading other communities to send helpers.”[108]

In regard to Ignatius’ use of the New Testament, Holmes adds, “Ignatius may have known a wide range of early Christian literature, but his use of only a few [books] can be demonstrated with any certainty. He probably worked with the Gospel of Matthew (e.g., Smyrn 1.1.); there is no evidence of Mark and only minimal (and not conclusive) evidence of Luke (Smyrn 3.2). Use of John (cf. Rom. 7.3; Phld. 7.1) is unlikely. He has read 1 Corinthians, and probably Ephesians. There are numerous echoes of other Pauline documents (his collection may have included 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians), but it is difficult to determine whether they reflect the use of traditional elements or literary dependence. The parallel between 1 John and Eph. 14.2 is notable, as are parallels between Ignatius and 1 Clement, 2 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas, but again these are insufficient to demonstrate knowledge of written documents.”[109] In a footnote Holmes goes on to say, “The limits of this assessment of documents whose use can be demonstrated must be respected (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence). That the use of a particular document cannot be demonstrated does not mean that Ignatius did not know it; it only means that knowledge of it cannot be demonstrated on the basis of a limited number of documents written under very stressful conditions (i.e., traveling as a prisoner).” (p. 175)

Ignatius styled his letters after Paul, Peter, and John, and would quote or paraphrase their books. He quoted the Gospel according to Matthew, e.g. “The tree is known by its fruit” (Matt. 12:33; Eph. 14:2); “The one who accepts this, let him accept it.” (Matt. 19:12; Smyr. 6:1); “Be as shrewd as snakes” in all circumstances, yet always “innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16; Poly. 2:2). He quoted many other New Testament authors as well.

Christian_Persecution Polycarp
Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp of Smyrna: Polycarp was born to Christian parents about 69 C.E. in Asia Minor, in Smyrna. As he grew into manhood, he was known for his kindness, self-discipline, compassionate treatment of others, and thorough study of God’s Word. Soon enough he became an elder in the Christian congregation at Smyrna. Polycarp was very fortunate to live in a time when he was able to learn from the apostles themselves. In fact, the apostle John was one of his teachers. Irenaeus[110] says the following about Polycarp:

Polycarp was not only instructed by apostles and conversant with many who had seen the Lord, but was appointed by apostles to serve in Asia as Bishop of Smyrna. I myself saw him in my early years, for he lived a long time and was very old indeed when he laid down his life by a glorious and most splendid martyrdom. At all times he taught the things which he had learnt from the apostles, which the Church transmits, which alone are true.[111]

Polycarp quoted abundantly from the Scriptures. In his letter to the Philippians, he referred to Matthew, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, and 1 Peter, to mention a few. This establishes the use of the Scriptures by an early apologist to defend the truth as he understood it.

We can attribute this spiritual maturity among the Christians in Smyrna to the hard work of the elders, like Polycarp. Throughout the time of Polycarp’s serving as an overseer in the congregation, these leaders lived through one difficult religious struggle after another. There was the pressure from the Roman government and non-Christian Jews, as well as conflicting creeds and cults. The community that they had to enter in order to spread the gospel was pagan, and the atmosphere was one of godlessness. The martyrdom of Polycarp took place on February 23, 155 C.E., and extremist Jews apparently helped with the gathering of firewood. They did this even though the execution took place on a special Sabbath day.

After withdrawing from the city, Polycarp is hunted by a police captain named Herod and betrayed by young slaves who belong to his own house (6:2). He is arrested late in the evening in an “upper room” by police armed as if advancing against a robber (7:1; cf. Mt. 26:55). He refuses to flee, but like Jesus in Gethsemane says “the will of God be done.” After a long prayer (7:3) he is taken back to the city riding on an ass on a “great Sabbath day” (8:1).[112]

In the arena, Polycarp was standing before the governor and an enormous crowd looking for blood. The governor continued to push him to profess worshipful honor to Caesar:

But as he continued to insist, saying, “Swear by the Genius of Caesar,” he answered: “If you vainly suppose that I will swear by the Genius of Caesar, as you request, and pretend not to know who I am, listen carefully: I am a Christian. Now if you want to learn the doctrine of Christianity, name a day and give me a hearing.” (2) The proconsul said, “Persuade the people.” But Polycarp said, “You I might have considered worthy of a reply, for we have been taught to pay proper respect to rulers and authorities appointed by God, as long as it does us no harm; but as for these, I do not think they are worthy, that I should have to defend myself before them.”[113]

Just moments later Polycarp was burned to death because he would not deny Christ.

Hermas, the Shepherd of Hermas
Hermas, the Shepherd of Hermas

Hermas, the Shepherd of Hermas, wrote in the first part of the second century. He was the brother of Pius, bishop of Rome (c. 140 – 154 C.E.), according to the Muratorian Fragment, the oldest existing canon or authoritative list of books of the Christian Greek Scriptures (c. 170 C.E.). Holmes is correct when he writes, “The Hermas, who wrote the Shepherd is certainly not Paul (a suggestion made on the basis of Acts 14:12) or the Hermas mentioned in Romans 16:14 (Origen’s suggestion).”[114] In his work the Shepherd, or Pastor, we have a Christian literary work, considered valuable by many Christians as well as canonical Scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. The manuscript Codex Sinaiticus includes after the book of Revelation the epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.

The work comprises five visions, twelve mandates, and ten parables. It depends on allegory and pays special attention to the Christian congregation, calling on the faithful to repent of their sins that have harmed it. Unfortunately, the Shepherd of Hermas is of no real help in establishing the original text of the New Testament.

Papias of Hierapolis
Papias of Hierapolis

Papias of Hierapolis: Papias (70 – 163 C.E.) was a bishop of the early Church. Eusebius of Caesarea calls him “Bishop of Hierapolis,” a city in the region of Asia, which is 6.2 miles (10 km) north of Laodicea and near Colossae (Col. 4:12-13), in the northern edge of the Lycus Valley of Asia Minor; it should not be confused with the Hierapolis of Syria. Christianity came to Hierapolis through the “efforts” of Epaphras. Papias wrote a five-volume work entitled, An Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord.

Papias describes his way of gathering information:

I will not hesitate to set down for you, along with my interpretations, everything I carefully learned then from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For unlike most people I did not enjoy those who have a great deal to say, but those who teach the truth. Nor did I enjoy those who recall someone else’s commandments, but those who remember the commandments given by the Lord to the faith and proceeding from the truth itself. And if by chance someone who had been a follower of the elders should come my way, I inquired about the words of the elders–what Andrew and Peter said, or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, were saying. For I did not think that information from books would profit me as much as information from a living and abiding voice.[115]

Papias would have been about 28 years old when John penned First, Second and Third John in 98 C.E. from Ephesus. We know that Papias was a friend and associate of Polycarp (69 – 155 C.E.), who was one year younger than he. As we learned from the above, Polycarp was a student of the apostle John. When we consider the years in which Papias lived, whom he likely studied under, his associates, his positions as an overseer in the congregation of Hierapolis, his way of taking in knowledge, it is likely that he was very knowledgeable about the Christianity of his era.

According to Irenaeus (130 – 202 C.E.), Papias was an exceptionally learned man, who was held in high esteem and respected as a reliable source for the apostolic teachings. Eusebius (260/265–339/340 C.E.), an early church historian, on the other hand, offers us contradictory information regarding Papias. “Eusebius (‘Hist. Eccl.,’ iii. 36) says, ‘While Polycarp was in Asia, and was Bishop of Smyrna, Papias was well known as Bishop of the Church in Hierapolis, a man well skilled in all manner of learning, and well acquainted with ‘the Scriptures.’ In 3.39 Eusebius again speaks of him as σφόδρα σμικρὸς ὣν τὸν νοῦν, as being intellectually small or weak. These apparently contradictory passages are not difficult to reconcile.”[116] The reason Eusebius took issue with Papias was apparently because Papias believed in a literal millennium, a thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. However, this was actually the prevalent view of Christians in the second century, while Eusebius was a determined anti-millenarian.[117]

Papias was writing at a time when Gnosticism was widespread. Gnosticism was an early apostate Christian movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world, intertwining philosophy, speculation, and pagan mysticism. It would seem that Papias’ writings of Jesus’ sayings were an attempt to slow the rampant growth of Gnosticism. Afterward came Irenaeus, an apologist specifically fighting the Gnostics’ false and exaggerated spirituality. The Gnostic literature may have sparked Papias’ sarcastic reference to “those who have so very much to say, but in those who teach the truth; nor in those who relate foreign commandments, but in those (who record) such as were given from the Lord to the Faith, and are derived from the Truth itself.”[118] It appears that Papias’ objective was to shine the light of truth on the false teachings. – 1 Timothy 6:4; Philippians 4:5.

About 150 C.E., Papias says of Mark’s Gospel, “‘Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately everything that he remembered.’[119] Irenaeus, writing about A.D. 185, stated: “Now after their decease [Peter and Paul] Mark, the disciple, and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what Peter had preached.”[120] (Irenaeus, “Against Heresies,” 370) Further confirming this Gospel’s accuracy, Papias continues, “So then Mark made no mistake when he wrote down thus some things as he remembered them; for he concentrated on this alone—not to omit anything that he had heard, nor to include any false statement among them.”[121] Papias also states that Matthew initially penned his Gospel in Hebrew. Papias says, “Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.”[122] It is likely that Papias referred to the Gospels of Luke and John, as well as to other writings of the Christian Greek New Testament books. If true, he would undoubtedly be one of the earliest witnesses establishing their authority, authenticity, and divine inspiration. Sadly, though, only scant fragments of the writings of Papias have survived. Papias probably suffered martyrdom at Pergamum in 161 or 165 C.E.

Richard Heard observes, “Papias is primarily of interest to us as the last link in a chain of oral tradition going back to the Apostles, and for the information—difficult as it sometimes is to interpret—which he preserved about Peter and Mark, Matthew, Philip, and the Elder John. We are profoundly thankful for his curiosity and for his belief ‘that things out of the books did not profit me so much as the utterances of a voice which liveth and abideth’, even if some of the oral traditions which he wrote down appear to us legendary, e.g. the report attributed to John, the disciple of the Lord, of the Lord’s teaching on the material delights of Paradise, and the account which Papias gives of the death of Judas.”[123]

Agnostic Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman has quite a different opinion about Papias: “There’s an even bigger problem with taking Papias at his word when he indicates that Mark’s Gospel is based on an eyewitness report of Peter: virtually everything else that Papias says is widely, and rightly, discounted by scholars as pious imagination rather than historical fact.”[124] An apologetic Bible scholar, Timothy Paul Jones, offers the following response:

In fairness to Ehrman’s position, some early Christian theologians did engage in pious-as well as, in the descriptions of the heretical Carpocratians in the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Epiphanius of Salamis, quite impious–imaginings.

Still, Ehrman’s own declaration at this point is, I think, a bit of an overstatement. The fragments of Papias’s writings include stories about a man named justus Barsabas who was poisoned but didn’t die and about a dead man who was raised to life. Papias also described traditions, allegedly from john the author of Revelation, about a future epoch of earthly bliss and material blessings following the return of Jesus to earth (“the millennium”). Such ideas may strike some persons as odd, but they do not differ significantly from notions that were already present in the New Testament.

Papias did record at least one tradition that could qualify as ‘pious imagination.’ Recounting the death of Judas Iscariot, Papias recorded a story in which the betrayer–apparently having survived the suicide attempt described in Matthew 27:5–swelled until his eyes could not be seen and his genitals oozed putrid pus. In the end, Judas died on his own land in such a way that the entire property stank; this account seems to expand on the tradition found in Acts 1:18. Although scholars in previous generations were hesitant to ascribe this story to Papias, it appears–based on the report recorded in the writings of Apollinarius of Laodicea–that Papias may actually have preserved this tale about Judas. Responding to the tale of Judas’s death, Ehrman comments that ‘Papias was obviously given to flights of fancy.’

So what effect do these stories have on the tradition that Papias preserved regarding the Gospels According to Matthew and Mark? Very little, really.

The importance of Papias’s testimony is that it verifies that the type of authorial traditions cited by Irenaeus of Lyons–traditions that connected the four New Testament Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and john–existed long before the mid to late second century. Through what remains of Papias’s writings, it is clear that these traditions were at least as ancient as the late first or early second century.

Papias faithfully recorded stories that he heard, and it is possible that some of these stories were exaggerated. But the fact that Papias may have recorded some exaggerated stories does not negate the crucial fact that he recorded oral traditions about the Gospels that were in circulation fewer than twenty years after the last of the four New Testament Gospels was written. This fact is already suggested by the consistency with which the various manuscripts connect the four Gospels to the same authors; the testimony of Papias simply confirms this suggestion. (Jones 2007, 148-7)


Marcion of Sinope
Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century

Marcion of Sinope: He was a rich young man who was also a significant leader in early Christianity (c. 85 – c. 160 C.E.). He publicly stated that Christians should reject the Old Testament. The other Church leaders would eventually reject him, and he chose to set himself apart from the orthodox Christianity of the day. According to English historian Robin Lane Fox, “The creator, [Marcion] argued, was an incompetent being: why else had he afflicted women with the agonies of childbirth? ‘God’ in the Old Testament was a ‘committed barbarian’ who favoured bandits and such terrorists as Israel’s King David. Christ, by contrast, was the new and separate revelation of an altogether higher God, a God of love revealed in the New Testament; or, rather, in the parts that Marcion accepted (some of Paul’s writings and an edited Luke).

It was not until Marcion that there became a need to create an official canon of Scripture. Marcion built his canon around his doctrinal positions, from a select few of Paul’s writings and an abridged form of the Gospel of Luke. This, combined with the ever-growing list of apocryphal literature, moved other church leaders to make a distinction between what was Scripture and what was not.

Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr: The Christian apologetic writer Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165 C.E.) was a philosopher and theologian who wanted to resolve Christian doctrine and pagan culture. He was born in Flavia Neapolis, a Roman city built on the site of the ancient Shechem, in Samaria. His parents were pagans. In his youth, Justin was zealous in his studies of Greek philosophy, particularly the writings of Plato and the Stoic philosophers. It was in Ephesus that he first encountered Christianity. Justin happened upon an old man, an unnamed Christian, who entered into a dialogue about God and spoke of the witness of the prophets as being more trustworthy than the reasoning of philosophers.

“‘There existed, long before this time, certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who spoke by the Divine Spirit, and foretold events which would take place, and which are now taking place. They are called prophets. These alone both saw and announced the truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man, not influenced by a desire for glory, but speaking those things alone which they saw and which they heard, being filled with the Holy Spirit. Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things, and of those matters which the philosopher ought to know, provided he has believed them. For they did not use demonstration in their treatises, seeing that they were witnesses to the truth above all demonstration, and worthy of belief; and those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them, although, indeed, they were entitled to credit on account of the miracles which they performed, since they both glorified the Creator, the God and Father of all things, and proclaimed His Son, the Christ [sent] by Him: which, indeed, the false prophets, who are filled with the lying unclean spirit, neither have done nor do, but venture to work certain wonderful deeds for the purpose of astonishing men, and glorify the spirits and demons of error. But pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom.’”[125]

As the kindhearted man admonished, Justin thoroughly and carefully examined the Scriptures and seemed to have gained a degree of appreciation for them as well as Bible prophecy, as seen in his writings. The books that are credited to Justin are

  • The First Apology of Justin addressed to Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Roman Senate
  • The Second Apology of Justin addressed to the Roman Senate
  • Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew
  • Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks
  • Justin on the Sole Government of God
  • Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection
  • Other Fragments from the Lost Writings of Justin
  • The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs

Justin was fascinated and awestruck with the courage and fearlessness of Christians in the face of death. He also valued and respected the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures. In making his arguments in his Dialogue with Trypho, Justin quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi, as well as the Gospels. His gratefulness for these Bible books is demonstrated in the dialogue with Trypho, as Justin dealt with Messianic Judaism.

Second-century Christians refused to worship pagan gods, so they were labeled atheists. Justin argued, “What sober-minded man, then, will not acknowledge that we are not atheists, worshipping as we do the Maker of this universe …. Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ … He is the Son of the true God.”[126] In dealing with the folly of idol worship, Justin wrote, “And often out of vessels of dishonour, by merely changing the form, and making an image of the requisite shape, they make what they call a god; which we consider not only senseless, but to be even insulting to God, who, having ineffable glory and form, thus gets His name attached to things that are corruptible, and require constant service …. What infatuation! that dissolute men should be said to fashion and make gods for your worship, and that you should appoint such men the guardians of the temples where they are enshrined; not recognising that it is unlawful even to think or say that men are the guardians of gods.”[127]

Justin offers numerous references to the Greek New Testament as he states his belief in the resurrection of Christ, Christian morals, baptism, Bible prophecy (particularly regarding Christ), as well as Jesus’ teachings. On the subject of Jesus, Justin quotes Isaiah 9:6, stating, “Unto us a child is born, and unto us a young man is given, and the government shall be upon His [Christ’s] shoulders.”[128] Justin also says, “For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ.”[129] He goes on to discuss the trials of Christians as well as their obligations, stating numerous times that true worship belongs to those doing the will of God; all others “are sons and angels of the devil, because they do the works of the devil.”[130] As for evangelism, Justin writes, “In these books, then, of the prophets we found Jesus our Christ foretold as coming, born of a virgin, growing up to man’s estate, and healing every disease and every sickness, and raising the dead, and being hated, and unrecognised, and crucified, and dying, and rising again, and ascending into heaven, and being, and being called, the Son of God. We find it also predicted that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things.”[131]

The Second Apology of Justin is directed at the Roman Senate. Justin takes his case before the Romans, sharing how Christians were being persecuted after they had become followers of Christ. Their Christlike moral values set these Christians apart within the Roman Empire, where even acknowledging that one was a Christian could have meant certain death. Urbicus, the prefect, began to persecute Christians severely. Justin quotes Lucius, a former Christian teacher, who upon “seeing the unreasonable judgment that had thus been given, said to Urbicus: ‘What is the ground of this judgment? Why have you punished this man, not as an adulterer, nor fornicator, nor murderer, nor thief, nor robber, nor convicted of any crime at all, but who has only confessed that he is called by the name of Christian?’”[132]

The magnitude of hostility against anyone claiming to be a Christian at that time is supported by Justin’s statement, “I too, therefore, expect to be plotted against and fixed to the stake, by some of those I have named, or perhaps by Crescens, that lover of bravado and boasting; for the man is not worthy of the name of philosopher who publicly bears witness against us in matters which he does not understand, saying that the Christians are atheists and impious, and doing so to win favour with the deluded mob, and to please them. For if he assails us without having read the teachings of Christ, he is thoroughly depraved and far worse than the illiterate, who often refrain from discussing or bearing false witness about matters they do not understand.”[133]

Justin was condemned by the Roman prefecture as one who undermined the Roman government and was sentenced to die. In about 165 C.E. he was beheaded in Rome. His zeal for truth and righteousness was clearly sincere. The writings of Justin are valuable for their historical content, as well as his many references to Scripture. Moreover, they offer the reader insight into the life experiences of Christians of the second century. Justin rejected pagan religion and any hollow, empty, and deceptive philosophy in favor of God’s Word. As an apologist, Justin defended the Christian faith and the Word of God, and as a Christian, he suffered martyrdom. He is known for his love for the truth and his courageous witnessing in the face of persecution.

Tatian the Assyrian
Tatian the Assyrian

Tatian the Assyrian: An apologetic writer and theologian, who was a native of Syria and traveled extensively. He read prolifically, which made him well-informed in the Greco-Roman culture of the second century (c. 120 – c. 180 C.E.). In the first century, about 56 C.E., the apostle Paul was at the end of his third missionary journey, warning the older men in Ephesus. He cautioned, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” – Ac 20:29-30.

This dire warning proved true soon after the death of the apostle John in 100 C.E. The second century proved to be a time filled with apostates and apostasy. Gnosticism became a major threat to the church, an early pseudo-Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world. This movement caused much spiritual shipwreck among the believers, as it appeared to offer explanations for the suffering of the righteous and the problem of sin.

While Tatian was in Rome, he was introduced to Christianity. He began to associate with Justin Martyr, perhaps becoming his student. In an enlightening account of his conversion to Christianity, Tatian asserts: “I sought how I might be able to discover the truth. And, while I was giving my most earnest attention to the matter, I happened to meet with certain barbaric writings, too old to be compared with the opinions of the Greeks, and too divine to be compared with their errors; and I was led to put faith in these by the unpretending cast of the language, the inartificial character of the writers, the foreknowledge displayed of future events, the excellent quality of the precepts, and the declaration of the government of the universe as centred in one Being.”[134] Tatian was eager to invite his contemporaries to investigate Christianity and to witness its simplicity and clearness as opposed to the darkness of heathenism.

The writings of Tatian reveal him as an apologist, one who defended the truth. He had a harsh and aggressive attitude toward pagan philosophy. In his work Address of Tatian to the Greeks, he emphasizes the insignificance and irrelevance of paganism and the reasonableness of Christianity. In reference to the philosopher Heraclitus, he states, “Death, however, demonstrated the stupidity of this man; for, being attacked by dropsy, as he had studied the art of medicine as well as philosophy, he plastered himself with cow-dung, which, as it hardened, contracted the flesh of his whole body, so that he was pulled in pieces, and thus died.[135]

Tatian held it in high regard that there was but one God to whom Christians owe their worship, “the builder [Creator] of all things” (Heb. 3:4). In his Address of Tatian to the Greeks, he refers to God as “a Spirit” and says, “He alone is without beginning, and He Himself is the beginning of all things. God is a Spirit”[136] (John 4:24). He rejected the use of images in worship, writing, “How can I speak of stocks and stones as gods?”[137] (1 Cor. 10:14). On the resurrection, he writes, “we believe that there will be a resurrection of bodies after the consummation of all things.”[138] As to why we grow old and die, he says, “We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.”[139]

As we examine the writings of Tatian, it becomes clear how familiar he was with the Scriptures, using them in his apologetic work. On the impact they had on him, he writes, “I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea … I am free from a mad thirst for fame … I see that the same sun is for all, and one death for all, whether they live in pleasure or destitution.” Tatian reproves, “Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature”[140] – Matthew 5:45; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Timothy 6:10.

Tatian’s other major work was the Diatessaron, a harmony of the four New Testament Gospels in a combined narrative of the life of Jesus. I do not want to leave the reader with the impression that Tatian was biblically correct on every count, however. In a lost writing entitled On Perfection according to the Doctrine of the Savior, for example, Tatian attributes matrimony to the Devil. He states that those who marry would be tying the flesh to the perishable world through marriage, which he strongly condemned.

It appears that there are mixed views as to what happened to Tatian after the death of Justin Martyr. Irenaeus says he was expelled from the church for his ascetic views. Eusebius says that Tatian founded or associated with an ascetic sect called the Encratites, who emphasized the importance of strict self-control over one’s body. They were required to abstain from wine, marriage, and possessions.

Athenagoras of Athens
Athenagoras of Athens

Athenagoras of Athens: He was the most accomplished philosopher and Christian apologist of the second century, having come from Platonism (c. 133 – c. 190 C.E.). Norman L. Geisler writes, “His famous Apology (ca. 177), which he called ‘Embassy,’ petitioned Marcus Aurelius on behalf of Christians. He later wrote a strong defense of the physical resurrection … On the Resurrection of the Dead. Two later writers mention Athenagoras. Methodius of Olympus (d. 311) was influenced by him in his On the Resurrection of the Body. Philip Sidetes (early sixth century) stated that Athenagoras had been won to Christianity while reading the Scriptures ‘in order to controvert them’ (Pratten, 127). His English translator noted, ‘Both his Apology and his treatise on the Resurrection display a practiced pen and a richly cultured mind. He is by far the most elegant, and certainly at the same time one of the ablest, of the early Christian Apologists’ (ibid.). The silence about Athenagoras by the fourth-century Church historian Eusebius is strange in view of his work.”[141]

Gerald Bray comments, “The only way that we can date his works is by internal evidence. The first of his two extant treatises is called An Embassy on Behalf of the Christians. It was addressed to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius (161 – 80 C.E.) and his son Commodus (176–92C.E.) so that it has to be placed at some point during the four-year period when they were co-emperors. In this work, Athenagoras presents a calm and elegant refutation of the standard charges made against Christians—that they were atheists, cannibals and incestuous. Like other Christian writers of his time, Athenagoras asks the pagan rulers to judge Christians on their merits and not according to the rumours which circulated about them. He was sure that, if they did so, the Christians would be exonerated and allowed to practise their religion freely.”[142]

Theophilus of Antioch
Theophilus of Antioch

Theophilus of Antioch: He was a late second-century bishop of Antioch and an apologist (d. c. 182 C.E.). As was true of many early Christian writers, he was born a pagan and was led to accept Christianity as the truth by studying the Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. Theophilus writes, “…you call me a Christian, as if this were a damning name to bear, I, for my part, avow that I am a Christian,[143] and bear this name beloved of God, hoping to be serviceable[144] to God.”[145] Hans Svebakken tells us that Theophilus

…intends to discredit the myths and philosophical claims of the Greeks and demonstrate the truth of his religion through various ‘proofs’ from Nature, the consistent, inspired witness of the Hebrew prophets and the antiquity of his tradition. Theophilus seems to have a special affinity for Jewish modes of thought. His most succinct confession is limited to a single, providential Creator, who has revealed his Law for the moral betterment of humanity (3.9). The righteous, through obedience to that Law, will be rewarded with immortality, while the wicked will be punished (2.27). He defines a Christian as one who is anointed with the oil of God (1.12), but he makes no explicit reference to Jesus Christ either in this definition or elsewhere. Such an omission, however, is not unique among second-century apologists. Theophilus is the first Christian to produce an extant commentary on the so-called Hexaemeron, or the first ‘six days’ of the creation account (2.12–19). Here his reliance on the exegetical methods of Hellenistic Judaism is clear; some have suggested that he also makes use of rabbinical interpretations. His continuity, though, with the theological vision of a variety of New Testament texts is indicated by his many clear allusions to them … Perhaps Theophilus’s most formative contribution is to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. All things were created out of what did not exist (1.4; 2:10, 13), thus matter itself had a definitive point of origin. For Theophilus, the sovereignty and transcendence of God are here at stake. If matter is uncreated, it is immutable and thus equal to God. God demonstrates his omnipotence and superiority to mortal craftsmen by not being limited merely to the formation of available, pre-existent material (2.4). Irenaeus, writing at roughly the same time, expresses the same thought (Heresies, 2.10.4).[146]

Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria:[147] Titus Flavius Clemens (c. 150 – 215 C.E.) was born to non-Christian parents. Clement was highly educated and cultured before his conversion to Christianity. Like Just Martyr, he traveled, seeking the truth wherever it might be found. He happened upon a Christian teacher, who was able to defend and share the Christian message from a philosopher’s mindset. The teacher was Pantaenus, referred to as “the Sicilian bee” by Clement. After studying under the Christian philosopher Pantaenus, Clement became head of the catechetical school in Alexandria in about 190 C.E., which became famous under his leadership. Thereafter Clement penned three great works: the Protrepticus (Exhortation to the Greeks) – written c. 195, the Paedagogus (Instructor, on ethics) – written c. 198, and the Stromata (Miscellanies) – written c. 198 – c. 203. In 203, Clement left Alexandria during the persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and went to Caesarea (Mazaca) in Cappadocia. He died about 215 C.E. Origen, who later attained distinction as a prolific writer, teacher, and theologian, was one of Clement’s pupils, and it was he who replaced him in Alexandria. Clement wrote, “But those who are ready to toil in the most excellent pursuits, will not desist from the search after truth, till they get the demonstration from the Scriptures themselves” (Miscellanies 7.16).


Tertullian: Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, known as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 240 C.E.), was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. Tertullian was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, who produced an extensive amount of Christian literature in Latin. His work is noteworthy for its blunt sarcasm, and concise, witty, and often paradoxical statements. Almost no facet of religious life escaped his pen. Tertullian asked, “So, then, where is there any likeness between the Christian and the philosopher? Between the disciple of Greece and of heaven? Between the man whose object is fame, and whose object is life? Between the talker and the doer? Between the man who builds up and the man who pulls down? Between the friend and the foe of error? Between one who corrupts the truth, and one who restores and teaches it? Between its chief and its custodier?”[148]

Tertullian was best known for witty, and often paradoxical statements, such as, “God is then especially great when He is small.”[149] “The Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain because it is impossible.”[150] It would seem that it was the faith of those who suffered horrible martyrdom for Christ, that drew him to Christianity. With reference to Christian martyrdom, he asked, “For who that contemplates it, is not excited to inquire what is at the bottom of it? Who, after inquiry, does not embrace our doctrines?”[151]

Church Fathers

The Church Fathers were prominent theologians and Christian philosophers who lived between the second and fifth centuries C.E. More broadly speaking, Robert M. Grant writes, “In Christian thought since the eighth century, a church father (pater ecclesiae) is a teacher living within the first seven centuries (eight among the Greeks) whose teaching the church has recognized as orthodox. The four basic requirements have been orthodox doctrine, sanctity of life, agreement with the church, and antiquity. (For someone to be named a doctor of the church, outstanding learning is further required.)”[152]

Hippolytus of Rome
Hippolytus of Rome

Hippolytus of Rome: He is considered the most important third-century theologian in the Christian Church in Rome (170 – 236 C.E.). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states, “Of his early life, nothing is known. The assertion of Photius that he was a disciple of St Irenaeus is doubtful. During the first decades of the 3rd century he must have been an important personality among the Roman presbyters; when Origen came to Rome (c. 212), he attended one of his sermons. Soon afterward Hippolytus took an active part in attacking the doctrines of Sabellius. He refused to accept the teaching of Pope Zephyrinus (198–217), and under his successor, Callistus (217–22), whom he rejected as a heretic, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bp. of Rome. He continued to attack Callistus’ successors, Urban (222–30) and Pontianus (230–5). In the persecution of the Emp. Maximin (235–8), however, he and Pontianus were exiled together to Sardinia, and it is very probable that before his death he was reconciled to the other party at Rome; for under Pope Fabian (236–50) his body with that of Pontianus was brought to Rome (236).”[153]

The Oxford Dictionary continues, “A list of several of Hippolytus’ writings as well as his Easter tables were discovered on a statue, long thought to portray him, but now recognized as originally a female figure, perhaps personifying one of the sciences; it was found in Rome and heavily restored in 1551; it is now kept in the Vatican Library. Many other works are listed by Eusebius of Caesarea and St Jerome. Hippolytus’ principal work is his ‘Refutation of all Heresies’ (not listed on the statue). Books 4–10 of this were found in an MS on Mount Athos and published (together with the already known Book 1) under the title ‘Philosophumena’ in 1851 at Oxford by E. Miller, who attributed it to *Origin; but J. J. I. von Döllinger argued that its author was Hippolytus. Books 2–3 are lost. Its main aim is to show that the philosophical systems and mystery religions described in Books 1–4 are responsible for the heresies dealt with in the later Books.”[154]

Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea
Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea

Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea: He was a scholar and early Christian theologian who spent the first half of his life and career in Alexandria. Origen was a prolific writer in such areas as theology, apologetics, textual criticism, biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, philosophical theology, preaching, and spirituality (184/185 – 253/254 C.E.). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states,

He was born in Egypt, prob[ably] at Alexandria, where he received a thoroughly Christian education in the house of his parents. During the persecution in Alexandria in 202 when his father, Leonidas, was killed, he was prevented from seeking martyrdom only by a ruse of his mother, who hid his clothes. He taught in Alexandria and, when peace was restored, was recognized by Demetrius as head of the Catechetical School (q.v.), in place of Clement, who had fled the city. He now began to lead a strictly ascetical life of fastings, vigils, and voluntary poverty, and even, acc[ording] to Eusebius, mutilated himself, misinterpreting Mt. 19:12 in a literal sense. He was well versed in the works of the Middle Platonists and studied pagan philosophy and literature under Ammonius Saccas. He undertook several journeys, one to Rome, where he heard a sermon of St Hippolytus, and one to Arabia. When, in 215, troubles broke out in Alexandria in connection with a visit of the Emp. Caracalla, he went to Palestine, where he was asked to preach by the Bps. of Caesarea and Aelia. As he was only a layman, this was regarded as a breach of the Alexandrian ecclesiastical discipline, in consequence of which he was recalled by his bishop, Demetrius. From c. 218 to 230, he devoted himself almost without interruption to literary activities. In 230, he went again to Palestine, where he was ordained priest by the same bishops who had invited him to preach on his previous visit. As a consequence Bp. Demetrius deprived him of his chair and deposed him from the priesthood, more because of the irregularity of his ordination than, as later opponents asserted, for doctrinal reasons. Origen left Alexandria and found a refuge at Caesarea (231), where he established a school, which soon became famous, and where he continued his literary work and devoted himself to preaching. In 250, in the persecution of Decius, he was imprisoned and subjected to prolonged torture, which he survived only a few years.[155]

Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea

Eusebius of Caesarea:[156] He was likely born in Palestine about 260 C.E. and died about 340 C.E. When he was quite young, Eusebius befriended Pamphilus, an overseer of the church in Caesarea. He would join the theological school of Pamphilus, becoming an exceptional student. He is regarded as an exceptionally well learned Christian of his time, making a meticulous use of Pamphilus’ magnificent library. He would later refer to himself as “Eusebius of Pamphilus.”

Concerning his ambitions, Eusebius stated, “It is my purpose to write an account of the successions of the holy apostles, as well as of the times which have elapsed from the days of our Saviour to our own; and to relate the many important events which are said to have occurred in the history of the Church; and to mention those who have governed and presided over the Church in the most prominent parishes, and those who in each generation have proclaimed the divine word either orally or in writing.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.1.1)

Eusebius is known for his highly regarded work entitled History of the Christian Church. Ten volumes were published about 324 C.E., and the work has long been considered the most important ecclesiastical history from that era. Because of this achievement, Eusebius is known as the father of church history.

Aside from Church History, Eusebius penned The Chronicle, which was divided into two parts. The first volume, the Chronography, was an epitome of universal history from the sources, arranged according to nations. In the fourth century, it became the standard text for referencing world chronology. The second volume, the Canons, showed dates of historical events. Using parallel columns, Eusebius displayed the successive royalty of different nations.

Eusebius went on to write two other historical works, Martyrs of Palestine and Life of Constantine. The Martyrs of Palestine covers the years 303-310 C.E. and discusses martyrs of that period. Eusebius would have lived through these events. The Life of Constantine was published in four books after Emperor Constantine had died in 337 C.E. These volumes contained important historical details. Instead of being a history, it is principally a eulogy.

Eusebius read and referred to an enormous number of books in his eighty years. Without Eusebius’ work, we would have little or no knowledge of many prominent persons of the first three centuries after Christ. He has given us accounts that have shed light on important movements. These are from sources to which we have no access. He was hard working, meticulous, and thorough in his gathering of material. Eusebius seems to have cautiously made an effort to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy reports. However, we would be mistaken if we thought his work without error. On occasion, he misjudges and even misunderstands men and their actions. His chronology is sometimes inaccurate. Eusebius let his biases show at times as well. Regardless of obvious imperfections, however, his many works are viewed as a priceless treasure.

Other Church Fathers Honorably Mentioned

Hilary of Poitiers: (c. 310 – c. 367 C.E.) Overseer of Poitiers and a Doctor of the Church.

Lucifer of Cagliari: (d. c. 371) Overseer of Cagliari in Sardinia.

Athanasius of Alexandria: (c. 296–298 – 373) The twentieth Overseer of Alexandria.

Ephrem the Syrian: (c. 306 – 373 C.E.) He served as the Syriac Overseer and was a prolific writer.

Gregory of Nazianzus: (c. 329 –390 C.E.) Fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and theologian.

Gregory of Nyssa: (c. 335 – c. 395) Overseer of Nyssa.

Ambrose of Milan: (c. 340 – 4 397 C.E.) Overseer of Milan.

Ancient Versions of the New Testament

[1] B.F. Westcott and F.J.A Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. II, (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1882), 31.

[2] Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Publishing, 1987), 121.

[3] Ibid., 95

[4] Ibid., 59, 64, 93

[5] Ibid., 64, 95

[6] For a summary of the chief research on the so-called Caesarean text, see Metzger, “The Caesarean Text of the Gospels,” Journal of Biblical Literature, lxiv (1945), pp. 457–489, reprinted with additions in Metzger’s Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism (Leiden and Grand Rapids, 1963), pp. 42–72.

[7] B. P. Grenfell & A. S. Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyri I (London, 1898), p. 4.

[8] Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, 2001, p. 39

[9] Ibid. p. 43

[10] Ibid., pp. 50–53

[11] Ibid., pp. 50–53

[12] P. Oxy. 224, 661, 2334, 2404 2750, P. Ryl. 16, 547, and P. Vindob G 29784

[13] Colin H. Roberts and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex(London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1987), 40–41, 65.

[14] Colin H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, Schweich Lectures 1977 (London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1979), 13.

[15] Michael Marlowe, Papyrus 46;

[16] Thus, it is my opinion that P46 belongs to an era after a.d.81–96 (the era posited by Kim)—perhaps the middle of the second century.

Dating P46 to this era allows time for the formation of the Pauline corpus to have occurred and for an archetypal collection to have been produced and to circulate in Egypt. Zuntz figured that an archetypal Pauline corpus was formed by A.D. 100 in Alexandria.6 Thus, an Alexandrian copy such as P46 could have been produced shortly thereafter and been used by Egyptian Christians in Alexandria and other nearby towns such as Aphroditopolis …. (Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts 2001)

[17] A folio is sheet of papyrus, parchment, or paper folded once to give two leaves or four pages.

[18] Pagination is page numbers, i.e., the sequential numbers given to pages in a book or document, and is one of the signs of a professional scribe.

[19] Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest NT MS, 335.

[20] “Liste Handschriften”. Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 26 August 2011.

[21] A documentary hand is the work of one, who has the basic understanding and skills in preparing documents.

[22] Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest NT MS, 335.

[23] Frederic G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, fasc. 3.1,Pauline Epistles and Revelation, Text (London: Emery Walker, 1934), xiii.

[24] Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, 59.

[25] Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest NT MS, 335.

[26] “This dating is derived from comparing P52 to manuscripts such as P. Fayum 110 (A.D. 94), the Egerton Gospel (A.D. 130–150), P. Oslo 22 (a.d.127), P. London 2078 (reign of Domitian, A.D. 81–96), and P. Berolinenses 6845 (ca. A.D. 100). Though each of these manuscripts bears significant resemblance to P52, P. Berolinenses 6845 is the closest parallel, in Roberts’s opinion. Another manuscript shares many similarities with P52, P. Oxy. 2533. The editors of P. Oxy. 2533 said that its handwriting could be paralleled with first-century documents, but since it had the appearance of being second century, they assigned it a second-century date. Thus, both P. Oxy. 2533 and P52 can safely be dated to A.D. 100–125. However, its comparability to manuscripts of an even earlier period (especially P. Berol. 6845), pushes the date closer to a.d. 100, plus or minus a few years. This is extremely remarkable, especially if we accept the consensus dating for the composition of the Fourth Gospel: A.D. 80–85. This would mean that P52 may be only twenty years removed from the original.” – (Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts 2001)

[27] Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, 99.

[28] Professor Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792 – 1860) argued that the apostle John did not write the Gospel of John in the last days of the first-century, but rather about 160 C.E. P52 was found in Egypt, far from Ephesus, the home congregation of John. The fact that it is dated to about 110-125 C.E., and had circulated as far down as Egypt, establishes that it was written in the first century.

[29] Karyn Berner, “Papyrus Bodmer II, P66: A Reevaluation of the Correctors and Corrections,” (master’s thesis, Wheaton College, 1993).

[30] Philip W. Comfort, “The Scribe as Interpreter: A New Look at New Testament Textual Criticism according to Reader-Reception Theory” (D.Litt. et Phil. diss., University of South Africa, 1996).

[31] James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008), 409-21.

[32] Eerdmans and Brill The Encyclopedia of Christianity (2005) Volume 3, Page 637

[33] Hutado, Larry (2006). “The staurogram in early Christian manuscripts: the earliest visual reference to the crucified Jesus?” In Kraus, Thomas. New Testament Manuscripts. Leiden: Brill. pp. 207–26

[34] (Comfort and Barret, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts 2001, 479)

[35] The manuscripts Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and P66 support this omission.

[36] B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction [and] Appendix, Vol. 2 of New Testament in the Original Greek (London: Macmillan and Company, 1881), 251.

[37] Information within the chart comes from Philip Comfort’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (2001), Kurt and Barbara Aland’s The Text of the New Testament (1987) Categories, at least normal, strict, and free belong to the Alands, while  reliable, fairly reliable, and unreliable belong to comfort. Cf. chart above, p. 76.

[38] Somewhat carelessly written.

[39] P37 frequently agrees with P45. In a dissertation study under Barbara Aland, Kyoung Shik Min developed a category called “Transmission Quality,” which sorts out the errors attributed to the individual scribe. In this study, Min concludes that P37 produced a “free” text, but that the scribe’s exemplar was a “normal” text. – Kyoung Shik Min, Die früheste Überlieferung des Matthäusevangeliums (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005).

[40] Related to D.

[41] Carelessly written, category I because of date.

[42] It is not possible to assign any text-type to Matthew in P45. (Hill and Kruger 2012, 91)

[43] Related to D.

[44] Too brief for certainty.

[45] Category I because of age.

[46] Characteristic of precursors of the D-text; therefore, Category IV.

[47] 1, 2 Peter normal text, Jude free text, both with certain peculiarities

[48] In 1988, in The Text of the New Testament, P77 was said by the Alands to be “at least normal” by a “careless scribe” (p. 101). However, in 2002 Barbara Aland classified P77 as strict, which would agree with Comfort, who says that it was produced by a trained scribe. It is believed that P103 belongs to the same codex as P77, which is why Comfort came to a different conclusion. Comfort says that the additional fragments affirm the proto-Alexandrian character of the manuscript, showing more agreement with א than with B. Both papyrus fragments also confirm that the manuscript was produced by a trained scribe. (p. 610) According to Roberts, P77 was written “in an elegant hand [and] has what was or became a standard system of chapter division, as well as punctuation and breathing marks.”

[49] Category I because of date.

[50] Uncial is a letter of the kind used in Greek and Latin manuscripts written between the 3rd and 10th centuries that is similar to a modern capital letter, but more rounded. I use “uncial” because it has been the common term, and out of personal habit; “majuscule” is preferred by many textual critics.

[51] Metzger, Bruce M. (1992). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (in English) (3rd ed.). New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 7-8.


[53] “That the famous Syrus Sinaiticus contains not only the Old Syriac Gospels, but also other palimpsest leaves, among them four leaves of a Greek codex of John’s Gospel, is not a secret. Nevertheless, for 120 years, this Greek fragment, though probably contemporary with the great uncials, was not registered in any list of NT manuscripts and, as a result, completely neglected.” –



[56] When Were our Gospels Written? – Christian Classics .., (accessed March 28, 2016).

[57] Aland, Kurt; Barbara Aland (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 107.

[58]  James H. Ropes, “Vol. III: The Text of Acts,” The Beginnings of Christianity, Part I: Acts of the Apostles, ed. F. J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake (London: Macmillan, 1926), p. xlviii.

[59] Westcott and Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek, 246–47.

[60] Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux (1856). An Introduction to the Critical study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. London. p. 152.

[61] In 1875 Scrivener called it, “[t]his celebrated manuscript, by far the best deposited in England”. Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose (1875). Six Lectures on the Text of the New Testament and the Ancient Manuscripts which contain it. London: Deighton, Bell & Co. p. 51.

[62] Digitized Manuscripts — British Library … –, (accessed April 11, 2016).

[63] Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991), 86.

[64] Ibid., 86.

[65] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (3rd ed.) (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), 47.

[66] Kurt Aland; Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 109.

[67] Ibid. 47

[68] Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History Methods & Results (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 260.

[69] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.) (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), 67.

[70] Ibid. 48.

[71] Constantin von Tischendorf, Editio octava critica maior, ed. C. R. Gregory (Lipsiae 1884), 360.

[72] Kurt Aland; Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 109.

[73] H.J.M. Milne & T.C. Skeat, “Scribes and Correctors” (British Museum: London 1938).

[74] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.) (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), 68.

[75] David C. Parker, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript and its Text, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ss. 35-43, 123-163.

[76] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th ed.) (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), 68.

[77] In textual criticism and in some editions of works written before the invention of printing, daggers are used to enclose text that is believed not to be original. – Paul D. Wegner (2006). A student’s guide to textual criticism of the Bible. InterVarsity Press. p. 194

[78] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament:  Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (fourth Ed.), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 87.

[79] Kirsopp Lake, Codex 1 of the Gospels and its Allies, Texts and Studies 1902, s. 92.

[80] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament:  Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (fourth Ed.), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 87.

[81] Aland, K.; M. Welte; B. Köster; K. Junack (1994). Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neues Testaments (2 ed.). Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 47.

[82] Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods and Results, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 266.

[83] Liste; Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 05-09-2016.

[84] Ibid.

[85] Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (4 ed.). London: George Bell & Sons. p. 194.

[86] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament:  Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (fourth Ed.), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 87.

[87] Kurt Aland; Barbara Aland (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 129.

[88] Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods and Results, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 266.

[89] Caspar René Gregory, (1900). Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs. p. 136.

[90] Bruce M. Metzger; Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament:  Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (fourth Ed.), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 88.

[91] Ibid. 86

[92] Ibid. 86

[93] This phrase is not present in the Hebrew, nor is it in the NASB; it is supplied in other versions Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, and the Vulgate

[94] This version only encompasses the first five books, and is really a transliteration of the Hebrew text into Samaritan script, developed from the ancient Hebrew script.

[95] The Syriac version of the Bible, written around the 4th century.

[96] A Latin version of the Bible, produced by Saint Jerome in the 4th century.

[97] (Wilkins) I must disagree with my coauthor in that I do not consider the evidence sufficient to include the statement from the versions. I do not rule out the possibility, and in fact I agree with Mr. Edwards that the Septuagint can be helpful in identifying textual errors in the Hebrew. I also appreciate his going on to say that the reverse is also true, as is indeed the case. We both regret that we are unable to cover OT textual criticism in this book, but it is a topic deserving of its own separate treatment, and it displays significant differences from NT criticism. My coauthor has already alluded to one of these differences, i.e. that the earliest copy of the Hebrew Masoretic text of the OT is quite late in comparison to what we have of the LXX. Yet, it was the product of more meticulous copying processes than were the NT manuscripts, and internal evidence tends to favor its readings.

[98] Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible : Its History, Methods & Results (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 22-23.

[99] (Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism 1995, 46) (Metzger and Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition) 2005, 124) (Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History Methods & Results 2006, 237)

[100] Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, pp. 172–73.

[101] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 33.

[102] Clement draws upon the Septuagint), words of Jesus, the early Christian writings, as well as traditions as sources of authority.

[103] Ibid., 109

[104] Second edition, as it seems the third edition has gone over into the politically correct gender neutral translation philosophy.

[105] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 109.

[106] Ibid., 33-34

[107] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 167.

[108] Pope Clement I et al., The Apostolic Fathers, ed. Pope Clement I et al., vol. 1, The Loeb Classical Library (London; New York: Heinemann; Macmillan, 1912–1913), 166–167.

[109] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 174-175.

[110] Irenaeus was born between 120 C.E. and 140 C.E. in or near the city of Smyrna, and died about 200 C.E. He served as an elder in Gaul. He was an early apologist; his principal writing was The Refutation and Overthrow of the Knowledge Falsely So Called,” which was commonly referred to as “Against Heresies.”

[111] Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.3.4; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.14.3–8. This translation from the edition cited above.

[112] Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988; 2002), 211.

[113] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 315, 317.

[114] Ibid., 446

[115] Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007), 735.

[116] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. John, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), xxxii.

[117] Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 696.

[118] Joseph Barber Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), 528.

[119] “The Fragments of Papias,” p. 265.

[120] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 84.

[121] R. A. Cole, “Mark, Gospel Of,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 727–728.

[122] Papias, “Fragments of Papias,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 155.

[123] Richard Heard (1954). (B) Papias’ Quotations from the New Testament. New Testament Studies, 1, pp 130-134. doi:10.1017/S0028688500003647.

[124] Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), 95.

[125] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 198.

[126] Ibid., 166-7.

[127] Ibid., 165.

[128] Ibid., 174.

[129] Ibid., 166.

[130] Ibid., 525.

[131] Ibid., 173

[132] Ibid., 188.

[133] Ibid., 189

[134] Tatian, “Address of Tatian to the Greeks,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. J. E. Ryland, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 77.

[135] Ibid., 66.

[136] Ibid., 66.

[137] Ibid., 66. [Over again Tatian asserts spirits to be material, though not fleshly; and I think with reference to 1 Cor. 15:44.] – Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885).

[138] Ibid., 67.

[139] Ibid., 69-70.

[140] Ibid., 69.

[141] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 59.

[142] Gerald Bray, “Athenagoras of Athens (c. 177–80),” ed. Trevor A. Hart, The Dictionary of Historical Theology (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster Press, 2000), 42.

[143] [Acts 11:26. Note this as from an Antiochian, glorying in the name of Christian.]

[144] Εὔχρηστος, punning on the name Christian. [Comp cap xii., infra. So Justin, p. 164, vol. i., this series. But he also puns on his own name, “beloved of God,” in the text φορῶ τὸ Θεοφιλὲς ὄνομα τοῦτο, κ.τ.λ.]

[145] Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 89.

[146] Hans Svebakken, “Theophilus of Antioch,” ed. Trevor A. Hart, The Dictionary of Historical Theology (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster Press, 2000), 542–543.

[147] IMAGE: By André Thévet – Internet Archive scan of Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres grecz, latins et payens, Public Domain,

[148] Tertullian, “The Apology,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. S. Thelwall, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 51.

[149] Ibid., Tert., Adv. Marc. 2.2

[150] Ibid., Tert., De carn. Chr. 5

[151] Ibid., Tert., Apol. 50

[152] Robert M. Grant, “Church Fathers,” The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999–2003), 521.

[153] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 778.

[154] Ibid., 778

[155] Ibid., 1200

[156] IMAGE is from Public Domain,