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Second/Third-Century Christian Manuscripts

January 18, 2018

Relating to my recent posting about the questions Brent Nongbri has raised about some widely-accepted datings of some early Christian manuscripts, I’ve uploaded to my list of various items (under the tab “selected published essays” on this blog site) the most recent updated and corrected version of the table of early Christian manuscripts dated to the second or third century CE here.  The original version of the list appeared as an appendix to my book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts:  Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Eerdmans, 2006).

In the list, I’ve simply shown the date(s) of manuscripts assigned by their editors (or in subsequent academic discussion), such as reflected in the Leuven Database of Ancient Books (online here).  The list is intended to show all manuscripts of literary texts that are identified as Christian manuscripts.  Nongbri has raised questions about a few NT papyri, but (as he would readily agree) we really have to consider all texts in making palaeographical judgments.

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  1. Ron Minton permalink

    I spent a few hours looking through the lists in the blog. It is very helpful indeed. Can someone point me to a list, full or partial, of known manuscripts that are listed by the names of ancient Greek and Latin literary authors such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Suetonius, Tacitus, etc.?

  2. Barry Jones permalink


    Was wondering what you think about the uniform witness of the early church on the original language of Matthew’s gospel. Whenever they mention it, they specify it was Hebrew, and say exactly zero about Matthew creating a Greek version. If Matthew really did himself write a Greek version, it is unlikely this historical fact would be left unmentioned by so many church fathers, who are otherwise willing to tell the reader which language Matthew wrote in.

    • Barry: I presume that by “the uniform witness of the early church” you mean the second-hand report of the statement by Papias (in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16). But scholars differ over whether in fact “the oracles” collected by Matthew in the statement refers to the canonical Gospel or some other text. In any case, our text of the Gospel of Matthew was fairly clearly composed in Greek and doesn’t appear to be a translation.
      But this isn’t the point of my posting.

  3. Hi Larry,
    Thanks for making this list widely available. It’s a lot of work to build and keep up to date something like that. I’ve made a few comments about the list over on my blog:

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