How Were the Scriptures Impacted By the Persecution of Early Christianity?

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All

$5.00

Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 100 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Jesus had told his followers, “‘a slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.’” (John 15:20) Certainly, the growth of Christianity from 120 disciples on Pentecost 33 C.E. to over one million by the middle of the second century was a frightening thought to the pagan mind as well as Judaism. Thus, shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the pagan population, Judaism, and the Roman government began the very persecution of which Jesus had warned. However, it was in the fourth century, under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, that a program of persecution began with the intent of wiping out Christianity. In 303 C.E., Diocletian spread a series of progressively harsh edicts against Christians. This brought about what some historians have called “The Great Persecution.”

Diocletian’s first edict ordered the burning of copies of the Scriptures and the destruction of Christian houses of worship. Harry Y. Gamble writes, “Diocletian’s edict of 303 ordering the confiscation and burning of Christian books is itself important evidence, in both its assumptions and results. At the start of the fourth century, Diocletian took it for granted that every Christian community, wherever it might be, had a collection of books and knew that those books were essential to its viability.” (Gamble 1995, 150) Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, reported, “all things in truth were fulfilled in our day, when we saw with our very eyes the houses of prayer cast down to their foundations from top to bottom, and the inspired and sacred Scriptures committed to the flames in the midst of the market-places.” (Cruse 1998, VIII, 1. 9-11.1) The Christians who were most affected by the persecution lived in Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa. In fact, just three months after Diocletian’s edict, the mayor of the North African city of Cirta, which was destroyed in the beginning of the 4th century and was rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, is said to have ordered the Christians to give up all of their “writings of the law” and “copies of scripture.” It is quite clear that the intent of Diocletian and local leaders was to wipe out the Word of God.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

The authorities had many Christians who obeyed the decrees by handing over their copies of the Scriptures. Nevertheless, some refused to give up their copies of God’s Word. Bishop Felix of Thibiuca (d. 303 C.E.) in Africa was martyred during the Great Persecution alongside Audactus, Fortunatus, Januarius, and Septimus.[1] Felix resisted the command of the local magistrate Magnillian (Lat. Magnillianus) to surrender his congregation’s copies of the Christian Scriptures. One account had Felix and the others being taken to Carthage and decapitated on July 15, 303 C.E. Other Christian leaders deceived the leaders by handing in their pagan writings, safeguarding their Scriptures.

The Diocletian persecution was, in the end, unsuccessful. Many Christian libraries escaped the persecution of Diocletian. Two of the best collections today, the Beatty and Bodmer papyri, survived the fires. Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), at the age of 32, had amassed a fortune. As a collector of books, he had over 50 papyrus codices, both religious and secular, which are dated earlier than the fourth century C.E. There are seven consisting of portions of Old Testament books, and three consisting of portions of the New Testament (P45 c. 250, P46 c. 175–225, and P47 c. 250-300). Martin Bodmer (1899-1971) was also a wealthy collector, who discovered twenty-two papyri in Egypt in 1952 which contained parts of the Old and New Testaments, as well as other early Christian literature. Particularly noteworthy are the New Testament Bodmer papyri, which consist of P66 dating to c. 200 C.E. and P75 dating to c. 175 C.E. Many in rural Egypt would have heard of the persecution in Alexandria, likely making great efforts to remove their manuscripts from their congregations, hiding them until the persecution was lifted.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

The men who were known as the readers in the early Christian congregations, who read from the Scriptures during the meeting, carried the burden of preserving the Word of God beyond preserving accurate copies.[2] They also would have guarded them during times of persecution. Because of the mass persecution against Alexandria, Egypt,[3] we owe the primary preservation of our New Testament manuscripts to those congregations within rural Egypt. During times of persecution, manuscripts would not have been housed in the facilities of the congregation but rather would have been hidden in homes. Because of the dry sands of Egypt, the professional scribal practices, and the courage of the Christians, we not only owe the Egyptian Christians for the preservation of the New Testament but also for the original words that made up the New Testament. If we look at the manuscripts copied right after the Diocletian persecution (Codex Vaticanus and Sinaitic c. 350 C.E.), they are reflective of the manuscripts from rural Egypt that survived, such as P4, 64, 67 from Coptos, P13 from Oxyrhynchus, and P46 from Fayum, and P75 from Abu Mana. (P. W. Comfort 1992, 16-17)

The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

What we do know is that by the time we get to the era of the Diocletian persecution (February 23, 303 – July 25, 306.), the authorities were well aware that there were still many copies of the New Testament throughout the Roman Empire. Otherwise, there would have been no need on February 24, 303 for Diocletian’s first “Edict against the Christians” to be published. Diocletian thought he could eradicate Christianity by destroying its sacred writings. After the persecution of Diocletian and Constantine succeeding his father on July 25, 306, Constantine immediately ended any persecutions that were ongoing at that time and offered Christians complete restitution of what they had lost under the persecution. When Constantine issued the Edict of Milan of 313 C.E., Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire, at which point, the church would have seen the need to dramatically increase the number of copies of the Scriptures. Now that Christianity was no longer being persecuted, Christian scribes could openly make copies of the New Testament manuscripts.

In 331 C.E., Constantine had ordered Eusebius to prepare fifty copies of entire Bible to be written on prepared parchment for distribution to the churches he intended to build in Constantinople. (Eus., Vit. Const. 4.36.2) From this small order placed by Constantine, we can only imagine how many copies had been made in the churches throughout the entire Roman Empire. It has been estimated that there were some fifteen hundred to two thousand manuscripts of the Greek New Testament copied in the fourth century C.E. (J. Duplacy) While we certainly took a loss in the number of copies that may have come down to us today as a result of ongoing sporadic persecution of Christianity in those first two and a half centuries after the death of the apostle Paul at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero in about 65 C.E. up unto Diocletian (303-306 C.E.), there is little doubt that the storehouse of Greek original language manuscripts (5830+) that we do possess are an envy of the secular historians, who have next to nothing in comparison.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

How Did the Spread of Early Christianity Impact the Text of the New Testament?

Is It the Original or the Earliest Text of the New Testament?

What Are Textual Variants [Errors] and How Many Are There?

[1] These men may have been deacons but, apart from their joint martyrdom with Felix, more about their identities are unknown at the time of this writing.

[2] Some may have been scribes as well but not all. Retaining accurate, fresh copies for the congregation entailed reaching out to scribes or scriptoriums, to acquire copies for their congregation.

[3] This is not to say that no manuscripts survived the persecution in Alexandria; it is possible that some came through the flames.

Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All

$5.00

SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW

BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2
The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS I AM John 8.58
English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II
9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION

CALVINISM VS. ARMINIANISM THE NEW TESTAMENT how-to-study-your-bible1
How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1
israel against all odds ISRAEL AGAINST ALL ODDS - Vol. II AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

EARLY CHRISTIANITY

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1
The Epistle to the Hebrews EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES
THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS BIBLE DIFFICULTIES
The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES APOLOGETICS CONVERSATION EVANGELISM
Young Christians AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01 EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1
INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES REASONING WITH OTHER RELIGIONS APOLOGETICS
REASONABLE FAITH Why Me_ FEARLESS-1
Satan BLESSED IN SATAN'S WORLD_02 HEROES OF FAITH - ABEL
is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png
DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM
Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE
The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

TECHNOLOGY

9798623463753 Machinehead KILLER COMPUTERS
INTO THE VOID

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

The Holy Spirit_02 Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Understaning Creation Account
Homosexuality and the Christian second coming Cover Where Are the Dead
The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. II CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. III
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. IV CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. V MIRACLES
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DIE Human Imperfection HUMILITY

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME

PRAYER

Powerful Weapon of Prayer Power Through Prayer How to Pray_Torrey_Half Cover-1

TEENS-YOUTH-ADOLESCENCE-JUVENILE

THERE IS A REBEL IN THE HOUSE thirteen-reasons-to-keep-living_021 Waging War - Heather Freeman
Young Christians DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)
Homosexuality and the Christian THE OUTSIDER RENEW YOUR MIND

CHRISTIAN LIVING

GODLY WISDOM SPEAKS Wives_02 HUSBANDS - Love Your Wives
ADULTERY 9781949586053
WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND (1)-1 WAITING ON GOD
ADULTERY 9781949586053 PROMISES OF GODS GUIDANCE
APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person
Abortion Booklet Dying to Kill The Pilgrim’s Progress
WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE WAITING ON GOD WORKING FOR GOD
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Let God Use You to Solve Your PROBLEMS THE POWER OF GOD
HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR BAD HABITS-1 GOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS A Dangerous Journey
ARTS, MEDIA, AND CULTURE Christians and Government Christians and Economics

CHRISTIAN COMMENTARIES

Book of Philippians Book of James Book of Proverbs Book of Esther
CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONALS
40 day devotional (1) Daily Devotional_NT_TM Daily_OT
DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS DEVOTIONAL FOR TRAGEDY
DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1) daily-devotional_darker

CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY

LEARN TO DISCERN Deception In the Church FLEECING THE FLOCK_03
The Church Community_02 THE CHURCH CURE Developing Healthy Churches
FIRST TIMOTHY 2.12 THE NEW TESTAMENT EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1

Apocalyptic-Eschatology [End Times]

Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Identifying the AntiChrist second coming Cover
ANGELS AMERICA IN BIBLE PROPHECY_ ezekiel, daniel, & revelation

CHRISTIAN FICTION

Oren Natas_JPEG Sentient-Front Seekers and Deceivers
Judas Diary 02 Journey PNG The Rapture

2 thoughts on “How Were the Scriptures Impacted By the Persecution of Early Christianity?

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: