How many New Testament manuscripts are there?


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

My friend Dr. Sean McDowell has provided an informative post at his website with the latest, most researched update available on how many New Testament manuscripts we have available:

Since we do not have the original New Testament writings (the autographa), textual critics aim to determine the reliability of existing copies. For any particular work or collection of works, the greater the number and the earlier the dating of the manuscripts, the easier it is to reconstruct a text closer to the original and identify errors or discrepancies.

Greek Manuscript total: 5,856

*Earliest manuscript: AD 130 (John Rylands Papyrus: P52)

Non-Greek Manuscripts (Armenian, Latin, etc.): 18,130+

Total Manuscripts: 23,986

How do the New Testament documents compare with other ancient books? A stack of existing manuscripts from the average classical writer would measure about four feet high. Yet the New Testament manuscripts would stack to more than one-mile high.

(Jolene Laughlin) #2

This is awesome. The whole concept of textual criticism is one that I find a lot of Christians are really fuzzy on. I had a long discussion with my dad - whose church is a King James Only congregation - about the concept of the original manuscripts and translations and how it all works. Thanks for sharing, Carson. These are things that help us interact with the broader world in a more knowledgeable and prepared way.