Dating the New Testament

All of the books of the New Testament were written within a lifetime of the death of Jesus of Nazareth. To date we have over Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, with an astounding 2. No other ancient text can compare with the New Testament when it comes to the sheer volume of manuscripts, nor when we consider how close the earliest manuscripts are to the originals. This means that these two manuscripts date to within years of the original autographs. Papyrus P98 P. IFAO inv. It was copied circa A. In about A.

Rylands Library Papyrus P52

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Neil Godfrey recently posted on the dating of the famous Rylands fragment “P52” here. In that posting, he comments: “Larry Hurtado does not.

Back in , I wrote an article on P. As a result of this, I argued that P. At a conference in Manchester in I gave a paper that collected some new archival evidence on both the acquisition of this papyrus and the establishing of its date. Roberts in The Journal of Religion 16 , I thought I would highlight some of its salient lines:. But it is exactly in regard to date that a study of literary papyrus hands encounters difficulties.

The scarcity of dated material for comparison and the stereotyped nature of the script make anything more than approximate dating very difficult. The wise reader will, therefore, hesitate to base any important argument on the exact decade in which this papyrus was written; he will even hesitate to close the door on the possibility that it may be later than A. I had mixed feelings when I found this review. On the one hand it was a bit disturbing that I had missed the opinion of a prominent scholar I had tried to be pretty exhaustive in reviewing the bibliography.

On the other hand, it was encouraging to find that Colwell had reached conclusions similar to those I reached 70 years later. In any event, Colwell seems to me ahead of his time in his cautious assessment of historical conclusions that rest only upon the palaeography of literary Greek writing of the Roman era. Given the contemporary scholars who agree with that dating, one has to question his caution for other reasons.

I state the obvious.

Rylands Library Papyrus P52

The following note was written in usenet in response to the following demand:. That is, we know ‘latest dates’, earlier dates have to be substantiated. I reproduce it here, because I feel it summarises my view on this better than I have otherwise been able to achieve. This is very much the thrust of late 19th-early 20th century scholarship; that the new testament documents must not be dated any earlier than can be conclusively shown from other documents themselves not subjected to this approach, fortunately.

I rather think the logical fallacy with this has been mentioned; but it’s really rather theoretical these days.

P Classification: Papyrus. Date: 2nd Century. Location: Manchester, John Rylands University Library. Shelf Number: Gr. P. Content: Gospels.

The object of the recent article is a critique of the tendencies of a few scholars in NT studies to push for early datings of NT manuscripts, sometimes highly improbably early datings. Of course the one manscript that is of most popular and controversial interest is P52, that small scrap of text from the Gospel of John. The main point of interest of this fragment is that it is generally dated to around CE, and that since it was found in Egypt, this date accordingly is evidence that the Gospel of John, generally thought to have been composed in Asia Minor, must have been some time earlier than CE.

And since the Gospel of John is widely considered the latest of the canonical gospels, this fragment can serve as evidence for the traditional dating of the Gospels — the last decades of the first century. Larry Hurtado does not appear to be particularly interested in P52 since he makes no mention of it in his post, though he does mention around 15 other manuscripts. Thiede has argued for a first century date for P Two forms of writing originated in bureaucratic and chancery practices.

The first type comprising a large number of New Testament manuscripts was used in the main central and peripheral offices in the second and third centuries. The manuscripts P46, P52 , P87, P belong to a specific type of bureaucratic and chancery script. P52 may be compared with P. LXII P. LXII, pl. I; LDAB as parallels.

The Bible and Modern Discoveries (3): the “P52” Papyrus

The designation P52 refers to a small papyrus scrap P. Rylands 3. As time went on, however, there has been a increasing tendency to stress the lower part of the range. Nevertheless, this trend has begun to reverse itself inthe late s, especially among German paleographers, in which the later part of the range is being extended to around the end of the second century.

Now Nongbri is making a similar case in an English-language article.

The discovery of P52, a papyrus fragment with the New Testament text, has had a tremendous effect on the dating of the Gospel of John. Dr. Daniel B. Wallace.

The front recto contains lines from the Gospel of John , in Greek , and the back verso contains lines from verses Although Rylands P52 is generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text [ See 7Q5 for an alternate candidate. The style of the script is strongly Hadrian ic, which would suggest a date somewhere between and CE. But the difficulty of fixing the date of a fragment based solely on paleographic evidence allows for a range of dates that extends from before CE past CE.

Greek text The papyrus is written on both sides. The characters in bold style are the ones that can be seen in Papyrus P He entered again into the Praetorium Pilate and called Jesus and said to him"Are you king of the Jews?

On Dating NT Manuscripts and the Codex

John’s fragment , is a fragment from a papyrus codex , measuring only 3. The front recto contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John — 33 , in Greek , and the back verso contains parts of seven lines from verses 37— Although Rylands 52 is generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text, [2] the dating of the papyrus is by no means the subject of consensus among scholars. The style of the script is strongly Hadrianic , which would suggest a most probable date somewhere between CE and CE.

But the difficulty of fixing the date of a fragment based solely on paleographic evidence allows a much wider range, potentially extending from before CE past CE.

Is P52 Really the Earliest Greek New Testament Manuscript? which is contemporaneous with P. Oxyrhynchus ) for dating P52 to the early second century.

It is axiomatic that a book cannot be written later than its earliest copy, so identification of the oldest biblical manuscripts is an initial step in dating the books of the Old Testament. Sinaiticus is so named because it was discovered at the Monastery of Saint Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai. This manuscript is now kept at the British library in London. A slightly older manuscript is Codex Vaticanus.

This manuscript has been housed in the Vatican library for as long as it has been known. Vaticanus was written by about A. Somewhat older manuscripts exist for small portions of the New Testament, usually in the form of papyrus fragments from Egypt. The oldest undisputed fragment is known as P52, which contains part of John This fragment is dated without significant dispute to the second century A.

The fact that the passage comes from John is ironic, since most not all scholars believe John was the last of the four gospels to be written.

The Earliest New Testament Manuscripts

All that happens depends on divine Providence. The discoveries we are talking about are part of it: they are providential because they illustrate the faith and help unbelievers to have faith in the Bible and the Church. But some of them are obviously desired by God to encourage His faithful servants and to confuse His enemies: this is the case with the P52 papyrus. In fact, before the use of parchment, which is much stronger and practical, antiquity used papyrus, a reed that grew abundantly in Egypt on the banks of the Nile.

The manufacturing principle consists in superimposing thin slices cut from the pith from the stem of the plant, which are crisscrossed and pressed together during the drying process. But this material is fragile and does not age well.

The Paleography (study of ancient writing styles) dated the fragment to the time of Hadrian ( – CE) within 20 years of the composition of the Greek “First.

T he Egypt Exploration Society has recently published a Greek papyrus that is likely the earliest fragment of the Gospel of Mark, dating it from between A. One might expect happiness at such a publication, but this important fragment actually disappointed many observers. The reason stems from the unusual way that this manuscript became famous before it became available. In late , manuscript scholar Scott Carroll—then working for what would become the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.

In early , Daniel B. In a debate with Bart D. As unlikely as a first-century Gospel manuscript is, the fragment was allegedly dated by a world-class specialist.

Brent Nongbri on P52

The Rylands Library Papyrus P52 , also known as the St John’s fragment and with an accession reference of Papyrus Rylands Greek , is a fragment from a papyrus codex , measuring only 3. The front recto contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John —33, in Greek , and the back verso contains parts of seven lines from verses 37— The fragment of papyrus was among a group acquired on the Egyptian market in by Bernard Grenfell.

He had no apologetic motive for assigning the early date. the same with or without our current earliest New Testament manuscript, P

P 52 is the oldest known manuscript fragment of the New Testament. This photo is of the recto front side. Therefore Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law. Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the king of the Judeans? Therefore Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king? For this I was born, and for this I have come into society: to witness to the truth.

Everyone who belongs to the truth hears my voice. How does the discovery of this fragment of John affect the dating of the gospel?

“New” Date for that St John’s Fragment, Rylands Library Papyrus P52

A world-champion under threat? If you come to Manchester, do visit the John Rylands Library and go to the permanent display room. This tiny scrap of papyrus, which B. Grenfell brought back, among other purchases, from his last trip to Egypt in , was recognised as belonging to a codex with at least some passages from the Gospel of John only later on, by C. Roberts published the fragment in and dated it on a palaeographical basis, assigning the handwriting to the first half of the second century AD.

Key Words Dating; New Testament papyri; P4 ; P46 ; P52 ; P64 Introduction We do not know: how writing was taught in detail, how the ancients.

In , Bernard Greenfell acquired some papyri in Egypt. Among them were some small fragments. Many libraries around the world that concern thelselves with ancient writings have large collections of these small shards of papyrus. This 2. John’s College at Oxford, C. Roberts, began sorting through them. Roberts picked up the fragment and immediately recognized the few Greek lines on the recto front and verso back as being parts of the Gospel of John and respectively.

Dating the Good News

Some comments I posted to textualcriticism when the article first appeared: There are some excellent things in this article. It is very powerful on the emergence of a spurious ‘consensus’ for an early 2nd cent date for P52 without any supporting evidence or argumentation. This sort of ‘groupthink’ slippage is well documented and shows that even senior NT text critics don’t always appeal to relevant evidence see note 22 on pp : ‘This so-called “consensus” in “recent opinion,” as it rests on assertions with no evidence, is highly dubious.

Since this seems to be an endemic problem for NT studies generally, it is helpful to have such a good case study.

However, palaeography is not an exact science – none of the comparable Biblical manuscripts are dated and most papyri bearing a secure date are administrative​.

The easy way We’ll get to a roundup of the content of Chrisitan origins scholarhsip in a minute, but first let’s talk about can we maybe bypass reading the ancient texts ourselves, and just accept the stuff we get from smart scholar people. Believing what we’re told sounds like a good idea. It’s what we do for physics and chemistry.

And like those sciences, Christian origins is a complicated subject. Lots of people way smarter than me have spent years learning facts about Schrodinger’s equation, and stochastic equilibrium, and Jesus. They know buckets of stuff you and I will never know. For quantum mechanics and polymer chemistry the easiest, quickest thing for us to do is find out what the smart fellows say. If we do the same for Christian origins, then the answers we learn will be just as good as science’s, right?

Choosing to believe what we’re told, rather than thinking for ourselves, is servile and immoral.

The earliest handwritten copy of a Gospel