Early Christian Writings: New Testament, Apocrypha, Gnostics, Church Fathers

New Testament

early dating of the new testament

In the 4th century, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo supported Paul's authorship. The supposed Q document is a hypothetical sayings gospel that would account for the striking similarities between the three synoptic gospels: Table I is a chronological overview. Codex Washingtonianus is a 4th—5th-century manuscript probably copied from several different manuscripts or textual families. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. The Pauline epistles are the thirteen New Testament books that present Paul the Apostle as their author. You have successfully emailed this.

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The contrast in literary form between the direct address of the letters and the symbolic drama of the remainder of the book is startling, but no more so than the fact that an apocalyptic writer identifies himself and calls his work a prophecy. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail. Thus canon and authoritative revelation are not yet the same thing. Our confessions do teach biblical infallibility. Scholars hold a wide spectrum of views on exactly when the books of the new testament were written, with non-fundamentalist scholars tending to argue for later dates, and more conservative scholars arguing for an earlier one. In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as additions of material, centuries after the gospel was written. Kummel goes on to propose an interpretation of

But they say that he ventured to paraphrase certain words of the apostle Paul, in order to improve their style. In his Easter letter of , Athanasius , Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of the books that would become the twenty-seven-book NT canon, [] and he used the word "canonized" kanonizomena in regards to them.

A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Council of Carthage and the Council of Carthage Augustine , who regarded the canon as already closed. Pope Damasus I 's Council of Rome in , if the Decretum Gelasianum is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical to that mentioned above, [] or, if not, the list is at least a 6th-century compilation. Christian scholars assert that, when these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church.

The New Testament canon as it is now was first listed by St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria , in , in a letter written to his churches in Egypt, Festal Letter Also cited is the Council of Rome , but not without controversy. That canon gained wider and wider recognition until it was accepted at the Third Council of Carthage in and Even this council did not settle the matter, however.

Certain books, referred to as Antilegomena , continued to be questioned, especially James and Revelation. Even as late as the 16th century, the Reformer Martin Luther questioned but in the end did not reject the Epistle of James , the Epistle of Jude , the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation. To this day, German-language Luther Bibles are printed with these four books at the end of the canon, rather than in their traditional order as in other editions of the Bible.

In light of this questioning of the canon of Scripture by Protestants in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent reaffirmed the traditional western canon i.

Thus, some claim that, from the 4th century , there existed unanimity in the West concerning the New Testament canon as it is today , [] and that, by the 5th century , the Eastern Church , with a few exceptions, had come to accept the Book of Revelation and thus had come into harmony on the matter of the canon.

Although a number of Christians have thought that church councils determined what books were to be included in the biblical canons, a more accurate reflection of the matter is that the councils recognized or acknowledged those books that had already obtained prominence from usage among the various early Christian communities.

Christian scholars assert that when these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, they were not defining something new, but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church".

Some synods of the 4th century published lists of canonical books e. Although these councils did include statements about the canon, when it came to the New Testament they were only reaffirming the existing canon, including the Antilegomena. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council.

Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus may be examples of these Bibles. Like other literature from antiquity , the text of the New Testament was prior to the advent of the printing press preserved and transmitted in manuscripts.

Manuscripts containing at least a part of the New Testament number in the thousands. The earliest of these like manuscripts containing other literature are often very fragmentarily preserved. Some of these fragments have even been thought to date as early as the 2nd century i.

For each subsequent century, more and more manuscripts survive that contain a portion or all of the books that were held to be part of the New Testament at that time for example, the New Testament of the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus , once a complete Bible, contains the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas , though occasionally these manuscripts contain other works as well e.

The date when a manuscript was written, however, does not necessarily reflect the date of the form of text it contains. That is, later manuscripts can, and occasionally do, contain older forms of text or older readings. Some of the more important manuscripts containing an early text of books of the New Testament are:. Textual criticism deals with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts.

Ancient scribes made errors or alterations such as including non-authentic additions. Even if the original Greek versions were lost, the entire New Testament could still be assembled from the translations. In addition, there are so many quotes from the New Testament in early church documents and commentaries that the entire New Testament could also be assembled from these alone.

For example, the Gnostic writings of Valentinus come from the 2nd century AD, and these Christians were regarded as heretics by the mainstream church. On noting the large number of surviving ancient manuscripts, Bruce Metzger sums up the view on the issue by saying "The more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross-check them to figure out what the original document was like.

The only way they'd agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts. In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as additions of material, centuries after the gospel was written. These are called interpolations. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses, words and phrases being left out or marked as not original.

According to Bart D. Ehrman , "These scribal additions are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries. Most modern Bibles have footnotes to indicate passages that have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail. While many variations have been discovered between early copies of biblical texts, almost all have no importance, as they are variations in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

Also, many of these variants are so particular to the Greek language that they would not appear in translations into other languages. For example, order of words i. Outside of these unimportant variants, there are a couple variants of some importance. The two most commonly cited examples are the last verses of the Gospel of Mark [] [] [] and the story of the adulterous woman in the Gospel of John. The often referred to Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, a book written to prove the validity of the New Testament, says: It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the [manuscript] is wholly uniform.

By the 4th century, textual "families" or types of text become discernible among New Testament manuscripts. A "text-type" is the name given to a family of texts with similar readings due to common ancestors and mutual correction. Many early manuscripts, however, contain individual readings from several different earlier forms of text.

Modern texual critics have identified the following text-types among textual witnesses to the New Testament: The Alexandrian text-type is usually considered to generally preserve many early readings. It is represented, e.

The Western text-type is generally longer and can be paraphrastic, but can also preserve early readings. The Western version of the Acts of the Apostles is, notably, 8. A text-type referred to as the " Caesarean text-type " and thought to have included witnesses such as Codex Koridethi and minuscule , can today be described neither as "Caesarean" nor as a text-type as was previously thought.

However, the Gospel of Mark in Papyrus 45 , Codex Washingtonianus and in Family 13 does indeed reflect a distinct type of text. Increasing standardization of distinct and once local text-types eventually gave rise to the Byzantine text-type. Since most manuscripts of the New Testament do not derive from the first several centuries, that is, they were copied after the rise of the Byzantine text-type, this form of text is found the majority of extant manuscripts and is therefore often called the "Majority Text.

Biblical criticism is the scholarly "study and investigation of biblical writings that seeks to make discerning judgments about these writings. It will vary slightly depending on whether the focus is on the Old Testament , the letters of the New Testament, or the Canonical Gospels.

It also plays an important role in the quest for the historical Jesus. It also addresses the physical text, including the meaning of the words and the way in which they are used, its preservation, history, and integrity.

Biblical criticism draws upon a wide range of scholarly disciplines including archaeology , anthropology , folklore , linguistics , Oral Tradition studies , history, and religious studies. The textual variation among manuscript copies of books in the New Testament prompted attempts to discern the earliest form of text already in antiquity e.

The efforts began in earnest again during the Renaissance , which saw a revival of the study of ancient Greek texts. During this period, modern textual criticism was born. This was the beginning of modern New Testament textual criticism , which over subsequent centuries would increasingly incorporate more and more manuscripts, in more languages i. Books that later formed the New Testament, like other Christian literature of the period, originated in a literary context that reveals relationships not only to other Christian writings, but also to Graeco-Roman and Jewish works.

Of singular importance is the extensive use of and interaction with the Jewish Bible and what would become the Christian Old Testament. Both implicit and explicit citations, as well as countless allusions, appear throughout the books of the New Testament, from the Gospels and Acts, to the Epistles, to the Apocalypse. The first translations usually called "versions" of the New Testament were made beginning already at the end of 2nd century.

The earliest versions of the New Testament are the translations into the Syriac , Latin , and Coptic languages. Several Syriac translations were made and have come to us. Most of the Old Syriac, however, as well as the Philoxonian version have been lost. Tatian , the Assyrian, created the Diatessaron , a gospel harmony written in Syriac around AD and the earliest form of the gospel not only in Syriac but probably also in Armenian.

In the 19th century, manuscript evidence was discovered for an "Old Syriac" version of the four distinct i. The Old Syriac gospels are fragmentarily preserved in two manuscripts: The Old Syriac version is a representative of the Western text-type. The Peshitta version was prepared in the beginning of the 5th century. It contains only 22 books neither the Minor Catholic Epistles of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, nor the Book of Revelation were part of this translation. The Philoxenian probably was produced in for Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabung.

The Gospels were likely translated into Latin as early as the last quarter of the 2nd century in North Africa Afra. Not much later, there were also European Latin translations Itala. There are about 80 Old Latin mansucripts. For the avoidance of confusion, these texts were written in Late Latin , not the early version of the Latin language known as Old Latin , pre 75 BC. In many respects it was merely a revision of the Old Latin.

There are currently around 8, manuscripts of the Vulgate. There are several dialects of the Coptic language: Bohairic northern dialect , Fayyumic , Sahidic southern dialect , Akhmimic , and others.

The first translation was made by at least the 3rd century into the Sahidic dialect cop sa. This translation represents a mixed text, mostly Alexandrian , though also with Western readings. A Bohairic translation was made later, but existed already in the 4th century.

Though the translation makes less use of Greek words than the Sahidic, it does employ some Greek grammar e. For this reason, the Bohairic translation can be helpful in the reconstruction of the early Greek text of the New Testament. The continued spread of Christianity, and the foundation of national churches, led to the translation of the Bible—often beginning with books from the New Testament—into a variety of other languages at a relatively early date: Modern Literal Version is the most recent literal translation of the books of the new testament, with the largest number of translation experts being involved in the final translation.

Historically, throughout the Christian world and in the context of Christian missionary activity , the New Testament or portions thereof has been that part of the Christian Bible first translated into the vernacular. The production of such translations grew out of the insertion of vernacular glosses in biblical texts, as well as out of the production of biblical paraphrases and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ e.

The 16th century saw the rise of Protestantism and an explosion of translations of the New and Old Testament into the vernacular. Most of these translations relied though not always exclusively upon one of the printed editions of the Greek New Testament edited by Erasmus , a form of this Greek text emerged as the standard and is known as the Textus Receptus.

This text, based on the majority of manuscripts is also used in the majority of translations that were made in the years to AD. Translations of the New Testament made since the appearance of critical editions of the Greek text notably those of Tischendorf , Westcott and Hort , and von Soden have largely used them as their base text.

Unlike the Textus Receptus , these have a pronounced Alexandrian character. Though all Christian churches accept the New Testament as Scripture, they differ in their understanding of the nature, extent, and relevance of its authority. Views of the authoritativeness of the New Testament often depend on the concept of inspiration , which relates to the role of God in the formation of the New Testament.

One possible source of confusion is that these terms are difficult to define, because many people use them interchangeably or with very different meanings.

This article will use the terms in the following manner:. The self-witness of the Bible to its inspiration demands a commitment to its unity. The term "inspiration" renders the Greek word theopneustos. All of these concepts depend for their meaning on the supposition that the text of Bible has been properly interpreted, with consideration for the intention of the text, whether literal history, allegory or poetry, etc.

Especially the doctrine of inerrancy is variously understood according to the weight given by the interpreter to scientific investigations of the world. The notion of unity in diversity of Scripture claims that the Bible presents a noncontradictory and consistent message concerning God and redemptive history.

The fact of diversity is observed in comparing the diversity of time, culture, authors' perspectives, literary genre, and the theological themes. Studies from many theologians considering the "unity in diversity" to be found in the New Testament and the Bible as a whole have been collected and summarized by New Testament theologian Frank Stagg. He describes them as some basic presuppositions, tenets, and concerns common among the New Testament writers, giving to the New Testament its "unity in diversity":.

For the Roman Catholic Church , there are two modes of Revelation: Both of them are interpreted by the teachings of the Church. As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence. The inspired books teach the truth. Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.

In Catholic terminology the teaching office is called the Magisterium. The Catholic view should not be confused with the two-source theory. While many Eastern Orthodox writers distinguish between Scripture and Tradition, Bishop Kallistos Ware says that for the Orthodox there is only one source of the Christian faith, Holy Tradition, within which Scripture exists. Following the doctrine of sola scriptura , Protestants believe that their traditions of faith, practice and interpretations carry forward what the scriptures teach, and so tradition is not a source of authority in itself.

This openness to doctrinal revision has extended in Liberal Protestant traditions even to the reevaluation of the doctrine of Scripture upon which the Reformation was founded, and members of these traditions may even question whether the Bible is infallible in doctrine, inerrant in historical and other factual statements, and whether it has uniquely divine authority.

However, the adjustments made by modern Protestants to their doctrine of scripture vary widely. Within the US, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a statement, articulating evangelical views on this issue. Paragraph four of its summary states: All of these churches have more ancient doctrinal statements asserting the authority of scripture, but may interpret these statements in such a way as to allow for a very broad range of teaching—from evangelicalism to skepticism.

It is not an impediment to ordination in these denominations to teach that the scriptures contain errors, or that the authors follow a more or less unenlightened ethics that, however appropriate it may have seemed in the authors' time, moderns would be very wrong to follow blindly. For example, ordination of women is universally accepted in the mainline churches, abortion is condemned as a grievous social tragedy but not always a personal sin or a crime against an unborn person, and homosexuality is sometimes recognized as a genetic propensity or morally neutral preference that should be neither encouraged nor condemned.

In North America, the most contentious of these issues among these churches at the present time is how far the ordination of gay men and lesbians should be accepted. Presbyterians do not insist that every detail of chronology or sequence or prescientific description in scripture be true in literal form. Our confessions do teach biblical infallibility.

Infallibility affirms the entire truthfulness of scripture without depending on every exact detail. Those who hold a more liberal view of the Bible as a human witness to the glory of God, the work of fallible humans who wrote from a limited experience unusual only for the insight they have gained through their inspired struggle to know God in the midst of a troubled world. Therefore, they tend not to accept such doctrines as inerrancy. These churches also tend to retain the social activism of their evangelical forebears of the 19th century, placing particular emphasis on those teachings of scripture that teach compassion for the poor and concern for social justice.

The message of personal salvation is, generally speaking, of the good that comes to oneself and the world through following the New Testament's Golden Rule admonition to love others without hypocrisy or prejudice.

Toward these ends, the "spirit" of the New Testament, more than the letter, is infallible and authoritative. There are some movements that believe the Bible contains the teachings of Jesus but who reject the churches that were formed following its publication.

These people believe all individuals can communicate directly with God and therefore do not need guidance or doctrines from a church. These people are known as Christian anarchists.

Messianic Judaism generally holds the same view of New Testament authority as evangelical Protestants. The Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses accepts the New Testament as divinely inspired Scripture, and as infallible in every detail, with equal authority as the Hebrew Scriptures. They view it as the written revelation and good news of the Messiah , the ransom sacrifice of Jesus , and the Kingdom of God , explaining and expounding the Hebrew Bible, not replacing but vitally supplementing it.

They also view the New Testament as the primary instruction guide for Christian living, and church discipline. They generally call the New Testament the "Christian Greek Scriptures", and see only the "covenants" as "old" or "new", but not any part of the actual Scriptures themselves. Oneness Pentecostalism subscribes to the common Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura. They view the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and as absolutely inerrant in its contents though not necessarily in every translation.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds the New Testament as the inspired Word of God, with God influencing the "thoughts" of the Apostles in the writing, not necessarily every word though. The first fundamental belief of the Seventh-Day Adventist church stated that "The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of [God's] will.

They believe instead that God inspired the thoughts of the biblical authors and apostles, and that the writers then expressed these thoughts in their own words. Regarding the teachings of the New Testament compared to the Old, and the application in the New Covenant, Adventists have traditionally taught that the Decalogue is part of the moral law of God, which was not abrogated by the ministry and death of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath is as applicable to Christian believers as the other nine. Adventists have often taught a distinction between "moral law" and "ceremonial law". According to Adventist beliefs, the moral law continues into the "New Testament era", but the ceremonial law was done away with by Jesus.

How the Mosaic law should be applied came up at Adventist conferences in the past, and Adventist theologians such as A. Waggoner looked at the problem addressed by Paul in Galatians as not the ceremonial law, but rather the wrong use of the law legalism. Smith in particular thought the Galatians issue had been settled by Ellen White already, yet in she claimed justification by faith is "the third angel's message in verity.

Ellen White interpreted Colossians 2: Despite the wide variety among Christian liturgies , texts from the New Testament play a role in almost all forms of Christian worship. In addition to some language derived from the New Testament in the liturgy itself e. These readings are most often part of an established lectionary i.

No readings from the Book of Revelation , however, are included in the standard lectionary of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Central to the Christian liturgy is the celebration of the Eucharist or "Holy Communion". The Words of Institution that begin this rite are drawn directly from 1 Corinthians In addition, the communal recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the form found in the Gospel of Matthew 6: Most of the influence of the New Testament upon the arts has come from the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.

The earliest Christian art would often depict scenes from the New Testament such as the raising of Lazarus , the baptism of Jesus or the motif of the Good Shepherd. Biblical paraphrases and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ e.

Indeed, the Passion became a central theme in Christian art and music. The ministry and Passion of Jesus, as portrayed in one or more of the New Testament Gospels , has also been a theme in film, almost since the inception of the medium e.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the theological concept, see New Covenant. This article cites its sources but does not provide page references. You can help to improve it by introducing citations that are more precise. February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Matthew Mark Luke John. This section has multiple issues.

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This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Books of the New Testament. Authorship of the Johannine works. Canon of the New Testament. A possible exception here to canonical exclusivity is the Second Apostolic Canons, which share a common source—the Apostolic Constitutions —with certain parts of the Orthodox Tewahedo New Testament broader canon.

The Prayer of Euthalius and the Repose of St. John the Evangelist appear in the appendix of the Armenian Zohrab Bible; [ citation needed ] however, some of the aforementioned books, though they are found within canon lists, have nonetheless never been discovered to be part of any Armenian Biblical manuscript.

To varying degrees, arguments for the authenticity of these passages—especially for the one from the Gospel of John—have occasionally been made. The epistle is nonetheless widely rejected by the vast majority of Protestants. Authorship of the Bible.

Authorship of the Pauline epistles. Language of the New Testament. Development of the New Testament canon. Non-canonical books referenced in the Bible. Syriac versions of the Bible. Vetus Latina and Vulgate. Coptic versions of the Bible. Nativity of Jesus in art and Passion play. The text of the famous "Hallelujah" chorus in G.

From the time when letters began to be forged in his name 2 Thess. In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences.

He writes it, too, in large, bold characters Gr. Brown agrees that the references to the Jerusalem temple's destruction are seen as evidence of a post date. The New Testament contains twenty-seven books, written in Greek, by fifteen or sixteen different authors, who were addressing other Christian individuals or communities between the years 50 and C. As we will see, it is difficult to know whether any of these books was written by Jesus' own disciples.

Check date values in: Robinson of Trinity College, Cambridge. Redating the New Testament. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Retrieved 17 February The Book of Revelation revised ed. A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul: Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series, The Broadman Bible Commentary: Volume 8, General Articles, Matthew-Mark.

Tertullian was apparently the first to use the term New Testament in the sense of a collection of books Against Praxeas XV. Against Marcion, Book IV. Concordia Theological Monthly 26 Retrieved 10 May The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

The Gospel according to Luke, Vol. Anchor Bible Commentary series. St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 2nd ed. In Aune, David E. The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament. The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context 5th ed. Word Biblical Commentary series, Vol. Church History, Book VI. They looked to see whether the ideas and writing style of a piece conformed with those used by the author in other writings, and they examined the text for any blatant anachronisms, that is, statements about things that could not have existed at the time the alleged author was writing like the letter reputedly from an early seventeenth-century American colonist that mentions "the United States" - Arguments of this kind were used by some Christian scholars of the third century to show that Hebrews was not written by Paul or the Book of Revelation by John the son of Zebedee.

Modern scholars, as we will see, concur with these judgments. To be sure, neither of these books can be considered a forgery. Hebrews does not claim to be written by Paul it is anonymous , and the John who wrote Revelation does not claim to be the son of Zebedee it is therefore homonymous.

Are there other books in the New Testament, though, that can be considered forgeries? Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey. An Early Church in a Pluralistic Society: A Study of 2 Peter. Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 9. Revelation , 3 volumes. Word Biblical Commentary series. Journal of Syriac Studies 5 2: A Pauline Tradition Linked to Women". Conflict and Community in the Corinthian Church.

Archived from the original on 28 November Robert Carter and Brothers. The Authority of the Author of the Third Gospel. Westminster John Knox Press. The Controversy Stories in the Gospel of Matthew. The four Gospels that eventually made it into the New Testament, for example, are all anonymous, written in the third person about Jesus and his companions. None of them contains a first-person narrative 'One day, when Jesus and I went into Capernaum Most scholars today have abandoned these identifications, and recognize that the books were written by otherwise unknown but relatively well-educated Greek-speaking and writing Christians during the second half of the first century.

In fact, contrary to what you might think, these Gospels don't even claim to be written by eyewitnesses. The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed.

The Gospels of the New Testament are therefore our earliest accounts. These do not claim to be written by eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, and historians have long recognized that they were produced by second- or third-generation Christians living in different countries than Jesus and Judas did, speaking a different language Greek instead of Aramaic , experiencing different situations, and addressing different audiences.

Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. The Historical Figure of Jesus. The Gospels in Context. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament. The Hermeneutic of Continuity: Christ, Kingdom, and Creation.

Retrieved 15 January The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Who Wrote the Gospels? Marshall, Acts , pp. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles , pp. Michaelis, Einleitung , pp. Filson, Three Crucial Decades , p. Dibelius, Studies in the Acts of the Apostles ; [ full citation needed ] R. Knox, Sources of the Synoptic Gospels ; [ full citation needed ] R. In the same collection is the Gospel of Thomas in Coptic, actually a collection of sayings purporting to be the words of the risen Christ, the living Lord.

In a general prophetic apocalyptic mood, another heresy, Montanism , arose. This break with the apostolic time caused vigorous response. The single most decisive factor in the process of canonization was the influence of Marcion flourished c.

This restrictive canon acted as a catalyst to the formation of a canon more in line with the thought of the church catholic universal. Justin Martyr died c. This indicates both that Tatian was aware of four gospel traditions and that their canonicity was not fixed in final form at his time in Syria. Although Tatian was later declared a heretic, the Diatessaron was used until the 5th century and influenced the Western Church even after four separated gospels were established.

The first clear witness to a catalog of authoritative New Testament writings is found in the so-called Muratorian Canon , a crude and uncultured Latin 8th-century manuscript translated from a Greek list written in Rome c. Concerning the Apocalypse of Peter, it notes that it may be read, although some persons object; it rejects the Shepherd of Hermas as having been written only recently in Rome and lacking connection with the apostolic age.

Some principles for determining the criteria of canonicity begin to be apparent: Thus, the catholic status of the Pauline letters to seven churches is vindicated on the basis of the revelation of Jesus Christ to John, the seer and writer of Revelation. The criterion of accordance with received teaching is plain in the rejection of heretical writings.

The criteria of true doctrine, usage, and apostolicity all taken together must be satisfied, then, in order that a book be judged canonical. During the time of the definitive formation of the canon in the 2nd century, apparent differences existed in the Western churches centred in or in close contact with Rome and those of the East as in Alexandria and Asia Minor.

It is not surprising that the Roman Muratorian Canon omitted Hebrews and accepted and held Revelation in high esteem, for Hebrews allows for no repentance for the baptized Christian who commits apostasy rejection of faith , a problem in the Western Church when it was subjected to persecution. In the East, on the other hand, there was a dogmatic resistance to the teaching of a 1,year reign of the Messiah before the end time— i. There was also a difference in the acceptance of Acts and the Catholic Letters.

With the continued expansion of the church, particularly in the 2nd century, consolidation was necessary. Clement of Alexandria , a theologian who flourished in the late 2nd century, seemed to be practically unconcerned about canonicity. Eusebius shows the situation in the early 4th century. The disputed writings are of two kinds: It is important that Eusebius feels free to make authoritative use of the disputed writings. Thus canon and authoritative revelation are not yet the same thing. Athanasius , a 4th-century bishop of Alexandria and a significant theologian, delimited the canon and settled the strife between East and West.

On a principle of inclusiveness, both Revelation and Hebrews as part of the Pauline corpus were accepted. The 27 books of the New Testament—and they only—were declared canonical. It is notable, however, that, in a mid-4th-century manuscript called Codex Sinaiticus, the Letter of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas are included at the end but with no indication of secondary status, and that, in the 5th-century Codex Alexandrinus , there is no demarcation between Revelation and I and II Clement.

Because Tatian had been declared a heretic, there was a clear episcopal order to have the four separated Gospels when, according to tradition, Rabbula , bishop of Edessa, introduced the Syriac version known as the Peshitta —also adding Acts, James, I Peter, and I John—making a book canon. Only much later, perhaps in the 7th century, did the Syriac canon come into agreement with the Greek 27 books.

With the advent of printing and differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the canon and its relationship to tradition finally became fixed.

This latter criterion he did not find in, for example, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation; even so, he bowed to tradition, and placed these books last in the New Testament. To establish the reliability of the text of ancient manuscripts in order to reach the text that the author originally wrote or, rather, dictated involves the physical aspects of the texts: Textual criticism starts thus with the manuscripts themselves.

Families of manuscripts may be recognized by noting similarities and differences, degrees of dependence, or stages of their transmission leading back to the earliest text, or autograph. The techniques used in textual studies of ancient manuscripts are the same whether they deal with secular , philosophical, or religious texts. New Testament textual criticism, however, operates under unique conditions because of an abundance of manuscripts and the rather short gap between the time of original writing and the extant manuscripts, shorter than that of the Old Testament.

Compared with other ancient manuscripts, the text of the New Testament is dependable and consistent, but on an absolute scale there are far more variant readings as compared with those of, for example, classical Greek authors.

This is the result, on the one hand, of a great number of surviving manuscripts and extant manuscript fragments and, on the other, of the fact that the time gap between an oral phase of transmission and the written stage was far shorter than that of many other ancient Greek manuscripts.

The missionary message—the kerygma proclamation —with reports of the Passion, death, Resurrection , and Ascension of Jesus Christ and collections of his deeds and sayings was, at first, oral tradition. Later it was written down in Gospel form. The letters of Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles who founded or corresponded with churches, were also collected and distributed as he had dictated them.

All autographs of New Testament books have disappeared. In sharp contrast to the fact that the oldest extant full manuscript of a work by the Greek philosopher Plato died bc is a copy written in —a gap of more than 1, years bridged by only a few papyrus texts—there was a time gap of less than or years between the original accounts of the New Testament events and extant manuscripts. In fact, a small about 2. Excluding papyri found preserved in the dry sands, as in Egypt where the Gospel According to John was evidently popular judging from the large number of fragments found there , the approximate number of New Testament manuscripts dating from the 3rd to 18th centuries are: Quotations from the Church Fathers—some of which are so extensive as to include almost the whole New Testament—account for more than , textual variants.

Of the quotations in the Fathers, however, it is difficult to make judgments because the quotations may have been intended to be exact from some particular text traditions, but others may have been from memory, conflations, harmonizations, or allusions.

Of the many New Testament manuscripts to date, however, only about 50 contain the entire 27 books of the New Testament. The majority have the four Gospels, and Revelation is the least well attested. Prior to the printing press 15th century , all copies of Bibles show textual variations. In Hellenistic times c. Literary works and detailed letters were written on parchment or papyrus , though short or temporary records were written or scratched on potsherds ostraca or wax tablets.

Scrolls were made by gluing together papyrus sheets made from the pith of the papyrus reed or by sewing together parchment leaves made from treated and scraped animal skins ; they were written in columns and read by shifting the roll backward and forward from some wooden support on one or both ends. Such scrolls were used for literary or religious works and seldom exceeded 30 feet nine metres in length because of their weight and awkwardness in handling.

In contrast, the church used not scrolls but the codex book form for its literature. A codex was formed by sewing pages of papyrus or parchment of equal size one upon another and vertically down the middle, forming a quire; both sides of the pages thus formed could be written upon.

In antiquity, the codex was the less honourable form of writing material, used for notes and casual records. Not until the time of the Roman emperor Constantine in the 4th century, when Christianity became a state religion , were there parchment codices containing the whole New Testament. Some very early New Testament manuscripts and fragments thereof are papyrus , but parchment, when available, became the best writing material until the advent of printing.

The majority of New Testament manuscripts from the 4th to 15th centuries are parchment codices. When parchment codices occasionally were deemed no longer of use, the writing was scraped off and a new text written upon it. Often the original text of a palimpsest can be discerned by photographic process. In New Testament times there were two main types of Greek writing: Minuscules are lowercase manuscripts.

Both uncials and minuscules might have ligatures making them into semi-connected cursives. In Greco-Roman times minuscules were used for the usual daily writing.

In parchments from the 4th to the 9th centuries, both majuscules and minuscules were used for New Testament manuscripts, but by the 11th century all the manuscripts were minuscules. There was only a continuous flow of letters. In addition, there were numerous and sometimes variable abbreviations marked only by a line above e.

Not until the 8th—9th century was there any indication of accents or breathing marks both of which may make a difference in the meaning of some words ; punctuation occurred sporadically at this period; but not until the Middle Ages were the texts supplied with such helps as chapters c.

Occasionally, the parchment was stained e. Since scribes either copied manuscripts or wrote from dictation, manuscript variants could be of several types: Errors in copying were common, particularly with uncial letters that looked alike. Dittography the picking up of a word or group of words and repeating it and haplography the omission of syllables, words, or lines are errors most apt to occur where there are similar words or syllables involved.

In chapter 17, verse 15, of John, in one manuscript the following error occurs: Especially in uncial manuscripts with continuous writing, there is a problem of word division. An English example may serve to illustrate: Corrections of a manuscript either above the line of writing or in the margin and also marginal comments may be read and copied into the text and become part of it as a gloss.

Errors of hearing are particularly common when words have the same pronunciation as others but differ in spelling as in English: This kind of error increased in frequency in the early Christian Era because some vowels and diphthongs lost their distinctive sound and came to be pronounced alike. Remarkable mistranslations can occur as, for example, in I Corinthians, chapter 15, verse Such errors can cause interpretative difficulties. A different category of error occurs in dictation or copying, when sequences of words, syllables, or letters in a word are mixed up, synonyms substituted in familiar passages, words read across a two- or more column manuscript instead of down, or assimilated to a parallel.

Intentional changes might involve corrections of spelling or grammar, harmonizations, or even doctrinal emendations, and might be passed on from manuscript to manuscript. Paleography , a science of dating manuscripts by typological analysis of their scripts, is the most precise and objective means known for determining the age of a manuscript. Script groups belong typologically to their generation; and changes can be noted with great accuracy over relatively short periods of time.

Dating of manuscript material by a radioactive-carbon test requires that a small part of the material be destroyed in the process; it is less accurate than dating from paleography. Textual criticism of the Greek New Testament attempts to come as near as possible to the original manuscripts which did not survive , based on reconstructions from extant manuscripts of various ages and locales.

Assessment of the individual manuscripts and their relationships to each other can produce a fairly reliable text from various readings that may have been the result of copying and recopying of manuscripts. It is not always age that matters.

Older manuscripts may be corrupt, and a reading in a later manuscript may in reality be ancient. No single witness or group of witnesses is reliable in all its readings. The Greek New Testament was volume 5 of this work, and the text tradition behind it cannot be determined with any accuracy. This edition became influential as a chief witness for the Textus Receptus the received standard text that came to dominate New Testament studies for more than years.

This Textus Receptus is the basis for all the translations in the churches of the Reformation , including the King James Version.

Large extensive New Testament critical editions prepared by the German scholars C. The current system, a revision by an American scholar, C. Gregory adopted in , though not uncomplicated has made uniform practice possible. A more pragmatic method of designation and rough classification was that of the Swiss scholar J.

His textual apparatus was relatively uncomplicated. He introduced the use of capital Roman, Greek, or Hebrew letters for uncials and Arabic numbers for minuscules. Later, a Gothic P with exponents came into use for papyri and, in the few cases needed, Gothic or Old English O and T with exponents for ostraca and talismans engraved amulets.

Lectionaries are usually designated by an italicized lowercase l with exponents in Arabic numbers. About nine talismans date from the 4th to 12th centuries; they are good-luck charms with a few verses on parchment, wood, or papyrus. These short portions of writing, however, are hardly of significance for a study of the New Testament textual tradition.

In referring to manuscript text types by their place of origin, one posits the idea that the major centers of Christendom established more or less standard texts: While such a geographical scheme has become less accurate or helpful, it still serves as a rough classification of text types. The main uncials known in the 17th and 18th centuries were: In the Gospels, the text is of the Byzantine type, but, in the rest of the New Testament, it is Alexandrian.

In Luke, and especially in Acts, D ea has a text that is very different from other witnesses. Codex Bezae has many distinctive longer and shorter readings and seems almost to be a separate edition. Its Acts, for example, is one-tenth longer than usual. D represents the Western text tradition. D ea was acquired by Theodore Beza , a Reformed theologian and classical scholar, in from a monastery in Lyon in France.

D p , Codex Claromontanus, of the same Western text type although not remarkably dissimilar from other known texts, contains the Pauline Letters including Hebrews. D p p, for Pauline epistles is sometimes referred to as D 2. Beza acquired this 6th-century manuscript at about the same time as D ea , but D p was from the Monastery of Clermont at Beauvais hence, Claramontanus.

It is a late-6th- or early-7th-century manuscript often agreeing with D ea and its Western readings but also having a mixture of text types, often the Byzantine. C, Codex Ephraemi Syri rescriptus, is a palimpsest. Originally written as a biblical manuscript in the 5th century, it was erased in the 12th century, and the treatises or sermons of Ephraem Syrus , a 4th-century Syrian Church Father , were written over the scraped text.

The manuscript was found c. The text had two correctors after the 5th century but is, on the whole, Byzantine and reflects the not too useful common text of the 9th century. Although there are numerous minuscules and lectionaries , their significance in having readings going back to the first six centuries ad was not noted until textual criticism had become more refined in later centuries.

The main uncials and some significant minuscules that were discovered and investigated in the 19th century changed the course of the textual criticism and led the way to better manuscript evidence and methods of dealing with it. This has continued into the 20th century.

Catherine at the foot of Mt. Sinai hence, Sinaiticus after a partial discovery of 43 leaves of a 4th-century biblical codex there in Though some of the Old Testament is missing, a whole 4th-century New Testament is preserved, with the Letter of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas at the end. There were probably three hands and several later correctors. Tischendorf convinced the monks that giving the precious manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia would grant them needed protection of their abbey and the Greek Church.

The manuscript remained in Leningrad until , during which time the Oxford University Press in published a facsimile of the New Testament from photographs of the manuscript taken by Kirsopp Lake, an English biblical scholar.

Later corrections representing attempts to alter the text to a different standard probably were made about the 6th or 7th century at Caesarea.

B, Codex Vaticanus, a biblical manuscript of the mid-4th century in the Vatican Library since before , appeared in photographic facsimile in —90 and As an early representation of the Alexandrian text, B is invaluable as a most trustworthy ancient Greek text. It was acquired in Egypt by C. Codex Washingtonianus is a 4th—5th-century manuscript probably copied from several different manuscripts or textual families.

The Byzantine, Western similar to Old Latin , Caesarean, and Alexandrian text types are all represented at one point or another. One of the most interesting variant readings is a long ending to the Gospel According to Mark following a reference to the risen Christ not found in most manuscript traditions.

The manuscript is now in Tbilisi, capital city of the Republic of Georgia.

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early dating of the new testament

While many scholars uphold the traditional view, some question whether the first three, called the "Deutero-Pauline Epistles", are authentic letters of Paul. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul.

early dating of the new testament

Yet, Streeter grouped texts in five families:

early dating of the new testament

The descent of the Spirit on the early dating of the new testament of the Messiah i. Though all Christian churches accept the New Testament as Scripture, they differ in their understanding of the nature, extent, and relevance of its authority. This section needs additional citations for verification. Wikisource has original text related to this article: Justin Martyr, in the mid 2nd centurymentions "memoirs of the apostles" as being read on Sunday alongside the new reality dating show 2013 of the prophets". Opinion is off divided on the other two disputed letters 2 Thessalonians and Colossians.