Saturday, October 05, 2013

How We Got the Bible: Other New Testament Manuscripts

After discussing the Vatican, Sinaitic, and Alexandrian manuscripts, chapter five identifies two important fifth-century uncials:

  • The Codex of Ephraem:  Because of the difficulty in obtaining writing materials at times, the ink would be washed or scraped off of old parchments and the parchment reused. This kind of a manuscript is known as a palimpsest; a Greek term that literally means "scraped-again". This codex is a palimpsest and the top layer of writings are sermons of Ephraem of Syria, thus how the manuscript got its name. Tischendorf was able to decipher the Biblical text underneath these sermons. The codex is missing much of the Old Testament, however it contains 145 leaves from every book of the New Testament except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John. 
  • The Codex Bezae:  Named after Theodore Beza who presented the codex to the Cambridge University Library  in 1581. It contains the Four Gospels (with gaps), Acts, and a fragment of 3 John in Latin. It is the earliest example of a bilingual manuscript being written in both Greek and Latin. It often departs from the established text, however it has far more agreements with the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts than disagreements.
The three types of manuscript text is also explained in this chapter. They are as follows:
  • Alexandrian:  Very early and regarded as the best form of the text. Connected with Alexandria in Egypt and represented astutely by the Vatican and the Sinaitic Manuscripts.
  • Byzantine:  Related to the Byzantine world of the Middle Ages and found in the vast majority of later manuscripts.
  • Western:  Characterized by fondness of paraphrase, textual expansions, and striking omissions.
The chapter ends with a brief discussion of lectionaries. These are manuscripts which contain selected passages of Scripture for the purpose of being read during public worship services. Typically of the Gospels, but some are of Acts and the Epistles. Because of their purpose, they were copied a little more carefully than ordinary manuscripts. These will be discussed in more detail later in the book.

Stand firm in Christ,

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