How Old Are the Most Ancient New Testament Manuscripts Known Today?

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There is a world - I do not say a world in which all scholars live but one at any rate into which all of them sometimes straw, and which some of them seem permanently to inhabit - which is not the world in which I live... In my world, almost every book, except some of those produced by government departments, is written by one author. In that world almost every book is written by a committee, and some of them by a whole series of committees. In my world, if I read that Mr. Churchill, in 1935, said that Europe was headed for a disastrous war, I applaud his foresight. In that world no prophecy, no matter how vaguely worded, is ever made except after the event. In my world we say "The first world-war took place in 1914-18." In that world they say, "The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century." -A.H.N. Green-Armytage, "John Who Saw" (1952) How much time elapsed between the writing of the manuscripts of the New Testament (1) and the events they record is not an idle matter. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries many people have assumed a large gap of time passed between the time of Christ and the writing of the NT Canon. This belief was an presumption, rather than an empirically driven hypothesis. John Robinson, the liberal NT scholar, discovered this to his chagrin. "We may start with the fact, which I confess I did not appreciate before the beginning of the investigation, of how little evidence there is for the dating of any of the New Testament writings." (Redating the New Testament, 1976) (Thiede comments, "who could have expected the archliberal author [John Robinson] ...to propose dates prior to A.D. 70 for all New Testament writings?", p. 19) By assuming large gaps of time one could freely speculate that the NT is not what it claims to be, that it does not really hold the key to eternal salvation - and thus reject the claims of Christ. If large gaps of time

50" Before 68 A. 5:36 Paul's Epistles (??) "not much later" than 66 A.D. 28 Paris Papyrus (P4) Pauline Codex (P46) Luke 3:23.D. Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew. The idea of late authorship for the NT had become entrenched over time and intolerance. (Johannine Codex P66) complete" . but "scholars" in recent years have had a field day. up-to-date information on this subject. 15. 22-23 and 31. and others. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke. Thiede. American scholar Dr.D. 14-15. Eyewitness page ref. Before 66 A. and the implications of recent work in his field.D. with everyone from homosexuals to feminists to marxists rewriting the NT to suit them and make Jesus one of their own. 10. Paul actually wrote the Pauline epistles. "near 125 A. "could be as early 46 as A. Phillip Comfort. who knows what the truth could be about the actual origins of Christianity? (2) Cults have long twisted Scripture to suit them. has become widespread even at nominally Christian seminaries and universities. even arrogant dismissal. However.Before 66 A. Bodmer Papyrus (II) Gospel of John. Carsten Thiede provides a detailed and authoritative look into the world of dating of ancient MSS. and St. 25. for more than a century archaeologists and papyrologists have been recovering ancient manuscripts of the NT that contradict the assumptions of mainstream academia. such that they were in circulation by the dates mentioned. The belief that large gaps of time passed between the time of Christ and the writing of the NT is no longer tenable. 85 A. and all conclusions based on such speculation (no matter how dogmatic or clever) must now be rejected.D. Keep in mind this is the age of MSS we have on hand. In his recent book Eyewitness to Jesus. the originals would have to have been written earlier. Dr. of the straightforward belief that St.D.could be established to have passed. based on information and analysis provided by Dr. I recommend it for anyone seeking further. Manuscript (MS) Contains: Date Notes Magdalen Papyrus (P64) Dead Sea Scroll MSS 7Q5 Dead Sea Scroll MSS 7Q4 Matthew 26:7-8.D. Barcelona Papyrus (P67) Matthew 5:20-22. 140 68-71 70 70-71 71 Matthew 3:9. The following is a list of manuscripts and their dates. Mark 6:52-53 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3 125 3 4 5 6 7 Before 68 A.D.

D.D. 150 A. 14-20 John 18:36-19:7 150 A. 138 8 126 126 9 John Rylands Greek 457 John 18:31-33. Oxyrhynchus 3523 (P90) Matthew 23:30-39 Matthew 1:1-9. 126. pp.D.D.D. 100 A. . 37-38 100-125 A.D. as opposed to a papyrus scroll. (P52) Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2683 (P77) P. Notes Much but not all of NT on papyrus. 46-48) Manuscript (MS) Chester Beatty Papyri Codex Vaticanus Codex Sinaiticus Date 200 A.D. "not much later" than P4 (ca. 71 71 71 71 71 115.D.D. 350 A. 325-350 A. 150 A. 125-150 A.P32 P45 P77 P87 P90 ? ? ? ? ? 175 A.? 127 What about complete or nearly complete copies of the New Testament? (From McDowell. A codex is a book. Oxyrhynchus 2 (P1) P. 12.D. 150 A.?) ca. 125 A.D.D.

D. Mark..D.D. could it have been collected together again from the writing of the Fathers of the second and third centuries?" His answer? ". I Peter. . 51-52). Acts.." (McDowell. John. (McDowell. 52). Ignatius (70-110 A. we have the writings of the Church Fathers. I commenced to search. two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.+ 500's A. p. early Christian writers who quoted from the NT. James. Phillipians. and both Pauline and the other epistles. pp. the distinguished archaeologist.T.D. quoted from the Gospels. I Corinthians.D. Clement of Alexandria. the long-lived disciple of St. 62-63). and up to this time I have found the entire New Testament. 400 A. Acts. Sir David Dalrymple once asked himself the question. (McDowell.D. Bishop of Lyons.D. I Corinthians.as I possessed all the existing works of the Fathers of the second and third centuries.) quoted from Matthew. Codex Washingtonensis ca.000 quotes are known from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 A. Acts. New Testament is referred to as NT.. I and II Timothy.Codex Alexandrinus Codex Ephraemi Codex Bezae Codex Claromontanus 400 A. pp.D. around 70 A. Hermas 95 A. Colossians. Ephesians. quoted from all but three books of the NT. "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A. 450 A. in 133 A. What other evidence exists that supports the belief that the NT was written sooner rather than later? In addition to the NT MSS themselves. Extant quotes of Irenaeus' writings include quotes from Matthew.D. except eleven verses.D." -Dr. and I Peter.. 1955 (McDowell. and every copy of it lost by the end of the 3rd century. John himself. 50-51) Irenaeus. To quote extensively from books and epistles (letters) of the NT those books and letters must already have been written and be in circulation. 80.D.D. pp. 450 A. I and II Thessalonians. Barnabas quoted from the N.D. The number of such quotations of the Bible known from early Christian literature is vast over 36. was martyred around 180 A..D. William Foxwell Albright. and Tatian 170 A. Justin Martyr.. Hebrews and Titus (10). Footnotes 1. He was a student of Polycarp. Manuscripts are referred to as MS (singular) or MSS (plural). Revelation. Romans. Galatians. who lived 150-212 A. Luke. "Suppose that the New Testament had been destroyed.

but not for later. This is the manuscript that precipitated the writing of Thiede's book. This fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls has been highly controversial. the usual paleographic "margin of error" would allow for earlier. An article from the Pointcast News Service this morning (4/3/97) gives an example of what can happen over several centuries without careful transmission of information." (p. "The ongoing debate about the contents of Cave 7 and the Markan papyrus 7Q5 tends to overshadow the fact that there is a papyrus scroll fragment from this cave (7Q4) which was identified by Jose O'Callaghan as 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3. 5. and Christ was put to death by two men.D.) Thiede explains that this is untenable. with a distinct tendency toward an even slightly earlier date. 125) 4.. Interestingly.D. Thiede spends much time on this MSS and forcefully answered all the objections I had seen raised against it's identification as a Christian NT fragment. This claim has proved resilient in the face of skepticism muted as that has been. Conversely. with a canoe rather than an ark. Thiede notes P52 "has been dated to the first quarter of the second century but could be still older. Thus. According to an article originating with the New York Times ("Lack of Oppression Hurts Christianity in Japan" by Nicholas Kristof). 126). A. Many stories became muddled or mixed with native folklore. objections that had previously caused me to reject the claim.. since the Scrolls must date from before 68 A. Mary visited Japan. when the Roman X Legion "Fretensis" overran the area during the Jewish rebellion. dates:". Noah survives a tsunami rather than a Cataclysm. has reached a conclusive result. 31) mentions an Austrian scholar who did accept the fragments as being from the NT.. (p. 66. Comfort had assigned it an "early 2nd century" date (100-125 A. It appears from the article that their knowledge of Scripture underwent significant decay during this time. which is probably now too late.D. our tour of indirectly dated. and is held to be the same age. Prior to current discoveries. The comparable material yields a date of c. Indeed.2. 8. "In a nutshell. comparable material from later periods. where a favorable climate has preserved many ancient manuscripts." (p. "hidden Christians" survived several centuries in Japan during which Christianity was officially repressed and forbidden. 7.D. Also related to the Barcelona/Magdalen papyrii but not held to be the same date. The Barcelona papyrus is recognized as a "twin" of the Magdalen papyrus. trying to reconcile this with conventional academic thinking by proposing that the fragments were deposited at a later date during the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135 A. datable and precisely date papyri. 140) 6. For example. Ponsha and Piloto. . some scholars wondered if similar confusion could have occured in the early Christian era. Before the new dating of the Magdalen papyrus. there is no equally conclusive. was recovered from the same site. 3. It was found in Egypt. then. even scholars who remained skeptical as to the identification of 7Q5 were convinced by the identification of 7Q4 as verses from 1 Timothy. Thiede (p.?).

pp. 386 pp. and all four were well known and recognized among Christians. Thiede. but it is not much later.the third-century date commonly ascribed to it is definitely much too late. and four universal winds [these two comments refer to N. 1996) 206 pp." Thiede also comments on other papyrii. I (San Bernardino." P69: "who could now conceivably date it as late as the third century .9. Additional Quotes . McDowell is a former atheist and popular campus apologist. Vol. 1972). and Matthew D'Ancona. EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT." (McDowell. and as the Church is dispersed over all the earth. "For as there are four quarters of the world in which we live. By the time of Irenaeus the Gospels had clearly been around a good while. [God] has given us the gospel in fourfold form. W]. Sources: McDowell. Dr. this upsets the whole theological establishment. so it is natural that it should have four pillars. an authority on ancient manuscripts.as it is at the moment?" P70: "Third century? Only if tradition holds sway over new thinking.. "The problem is. E." 10. Dr. EYEWITNESS TO JESUS: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origins of the Gospels (New York: Doubleday.. One could not place it in the same early period as the Magdalen and Barcelona fragments. ". but held together by one Spirit.. CA: Here's Life. referring to Thiede's work. Carsten P.. S. P5's date of "third century" "is as widely accepted as it is deceptive and late. Regarding P1. or even the Paris St. and the gospel is the pillar and base of the Church and breath of life. Josh." -Ulrich Victor. Thiede is the director of the Institute for Basic Epistemological Research (IBER) and a leading papyrologist. Luke. 63-64).

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