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Old 05-01-2001, 11:22 AM   #1
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Post Why are early NT MSS so late?

I personally believe that the majority of New Testament manuscripts were burned during the Diocletian persecution of Christians.

This, along with environmental issues, perfectly explains why we have so few early New Testment manuscripts.

Ish
 
Old 05-01-2001, 12:12 PM   #2
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How early is "early"? Why do you believe this?
 
Old 05-01-2001, 01:18 PM   #3
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Many on this forum have complained about the gap between Jesus' life and the earliest surviving MSS of the New Testament. This is the issue that I'm addressing.

I believe the earliest fragment we have is p52 which dates c. 100-115 (Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the NT, Philip W. Comfort). Most of the NT papyri fragments (if not all) are from Egypt where the climate is just right to protect them. The earliest MSS from other areas have not survived mainly due to a climate that is more hostile to ancient writing materials.

Finally, we might have many more early (from Jesus' time to the late 1st century) New Testament MSS than we do today if it had not been for a certain Pagan emperor by the name of Diocletian.

Diolcletian chose the feast of Terminalia, February 23rd, of 303 A.D. to execute his first edict against the Christians. This first edict ordered "that throughout the empire churches were to be destroyed, and the sacred books of the Christians handed over to be burned." (The Rise of Christianity, W.H.C. Frend) Eventually, Diocletian abdicated and Galerius took his place. Galerius instituted more harsh edicts against the Christians that led many to their deaths for their stubborn "atheism".

I believe this first edict by Diocletian, which was enforced throughout the empire, led to the burning of significant numbers of early Christian MSS. These events are well-attested in history, being mentioned by Eusebius among others.

It is truly amazing that we have any early MSS of the New Testament at all considering the thoroughness with which this edict seems to have been carried out. Thanks to committed and faithful Christians who must have hidden their copies, we do at least have pretty early witnesses to the autographs. Maybe one day we'll find something very early.

Just imagine if this edict had never been inforced. We might possibly have MSS of the gospels that date right back to shortly after Jesus' time or at least the mid to late 1st century!

Ish
 
Old 05-02-2001, 08:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
Many on this forum have complained about the gap between Jesus' life and the earliest surviving MSS of the New Testament. This is the issue that I'm addressing.

I believe the earliest fragment we have is p52 which dates c. 100-115 (Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the NT, Philip W. Comfort). Most of the NT papyri fragments (if not all) are from Egypt where the climate is just right to protect them. The earliest MSS from other areas have not survived mainly due to a climate that is more hostile to ancient writing materials.

Finally, we might have many more early (from Jesus' time to the late 1st century) New Testament MSS than we do today if it had not been for a certain Pagan emperor by the name of Diocletian.

Diolcletian chose the feast of Terminalia, February 23rd, of 303 A.D. to execute his first edict against the Christians. This first edict ordered "that throughout the empire churches were to be destroyed, and the sacred books of the Christians handed over to be burned." (The Rise of Christianity, W.H.C. Frend) Eventually, Diocletian abdicated and Galerius took his place. Galerius instituted more harsh edicts against the Christians that led many to their deaths for their stubborn "atheism".

I believe this first edict by Diocletian, which was enforced throughout the empire, led to the burning of significant numbers of early Christian MSS. These events are well-attested in history, being mentioned by Eusebius among others.

It is truly amazing that we have any early MSS of the New Testament at all considering the thoroughness with which this edict seems to have been carried out. Thanks to committed and faithful Christians who must have hidden their copies, we do at least have pretty early witnesses to the autographs. Maybe one day we'll find something very early.

Just imagine if this edict had never been inforced. We might possibly have MSS of the gospels that date right back to shortly after Jesus' time or at least the mid to late 1st century!

Ish
</font>
Nothing wrong with imagining things. Its cool with me.
 
 

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