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Recent Studies on Early Christian Textual Transmission

September 22, 2017

In light of my recent postings about the textual transmission of early Christian texts (especially, but not exclusively, the Gospels), I note again two other recent volumes that are rich in data and intriguing in analysis.

Alan Mugridge, Copying Early Christian Texts: A Study of Scribal Practice, WUNT 2.362 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), which I posted on earlier here.

Scott Charlesworth, Early Christian Gospels: Their Production and Transmission (Papyrologica Florentina, 47; Firenze: Edizioni Gonnelli, 2016), which I posted on earlier this year here.

Along with other/earlier works such as James Royse’s massive study, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, NTTS 36 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), these two hefty volumes demonstrate the detailed and in-depth work on which any view of early textual transmission of Christian texts needs to rest.

And I ask that anyone who tries to engage the issues at least commit themselves to analysis of these works, and not shoot off opinions from the top of the head.  Queries and questions are always welcome, whatever the level of previous knowledge.  But it’s really very tiresome to have comments from people obviously uninformed about the evidence who, nevertheless, proffer opinions and objections with unmerited confidence, as if they are competent to challenge serious scholarship on the topic.


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  1. Dr. Hurtado, I also have read this series of blogs with interest, especially when you mentioned papyrus P46. About 3 months ago a man who has lived in Israel for about 35 years came through the city where I live to talk about the impact of this particular codex. I attended the presentation where he claimed there were several textual changes, apparently deliberately made, from the time of P46 to the Codex Sinaiticus. He said they were theologically motivated since they imply significant alterations in the status of the Messiah, particularly concerning his divinity. He also claimed this document, properly translated, removed much anti-Jewish and anti-Torah bias from Paul’s letters. And also overturned some important Christian doctrines. I assume it’s safe to say from what you have written there is no merit to his claims. I have been a student of the Scriptures for many years but am no scholar. That’s why I appreciate your reliable scholarship so much.

    • Hmm. There are certainly variants between P46 and Sinaiticus (all manuscripts exhibit some degree of variation), but I know of no evidence of any concerted effort to make doctrinal changes in P46 or Sinaiticus.

  2. I’ve appreciated this series of posts. Thanks for listing these additional resources.

  3. Timothy Joseph permalink

    Dr. H.,
    I for one, have enjoyed the opportunity to interact on your blog. The opportunity to ask questions and learn from the answers is both unique and valuable. Even on the occasions where I strayed into asserting something too strongly, the correction has been appreciated.


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