re: Classical Greek mss & NT & OT mss

From: Davis Phillips (
Date: Thu Mar 12 1998 - 10:07:23 EST

  The study of early manuscripts is interesting -- and also complex. And I
believe that the New Testament documents are definitely among of the
best-attested documents of pre-printing press times. (But I will not put
my trust in quantity alone; in China about 1900, the "Cave[s] of a Thousand
Buddhas" was found to have 500 cubic feet of documents! -- many quite long,
some 60,000 manuscripts, dating from 500 to 1200 AD. (See p 413 ff of
Diringer, The Book Before Printing.) I prefer the books of the NT, even if
we only have about 5,500 mss from 150 AD to 1600 AD).

  I have seen a similar list of classical ms dates, attributed to a book
published in 1913. (Josh McDowell references F.W. HALL, "MS AUTHORITIES FOR
(OXFORD, CLARENDON PRESS, 1913) At that date, papyri were beginning to be
uncovered in rather large numbers.

Thus, the statements about "earliest manuscripts", such as Plato 900 AD are
not accurate now. Montevechhi, below, lists 47 payri found for Plato
dating from 300 AD and earlier, including 3 from the III century BC. Most
of these are almost certainly small fragments, but I have seen photos of a
Plato Oxyrhinchus papyrus of the Symposium, which includes, as I recall,
more than half of the total text.

Item (1) below lists tables of mss of classics found thru 1973 or so, as
well as summaries of papyri found, by Book of the Bible and by Classical
author. (much of this info is comprehensible with no italian, although a
little Romance language and an Italian dictionary will make it more
accessible. :) or :(

The best sources I have found at my local university library, for info
about papyri are:
(1) AUTHOR: Montevecchi, Orsolina.
TITLE: La papirologia.
PUBLISHED: (Torino) Societa editrice internazionale, (1973)
DESCRIPTION: xvi, 544, 184 p. illus., plate 25 cm.
SERIES: Manuali universitari. 1, Per lo studio delle scienze
NOTES: Includes bibliographical references.

(2) AUTHOR: Pack, Roger Ambrose, 1907-
TITLE: The Greek and Latin literary texts from Greco-Roman Egypt (by)
                  Roger A. Pack.
EDITION: 2d rev. and enl. ed.
PUBLISHED: Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press (1965)
DESCRIPTION: x, 165 p. 29 cm.
NOTES: Bibliography: p. 3-11.

3 good lists of info on NT mss are
  Aland, Kurt (most complete info on each ms)

(4) The text of the New Testament : an introduction to the critical editions
  and to the theory and practice of modern textual ... / Aland, Kurt / Grand
  Rapids, # 1987 and in 199x a 2nd ed. (good summary stats as well as much
detail, with tables and graphs to give an overview). Probably this book
would acquaint you with the overall picture of NT manuscripts more quickly
than any other book. (Note: A similar boo is: Metzger, Bruce Manning. /

(5) The Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. (good list of contents of
papyri, uncials, and a small percentage of minuscules.)

(good list and info on non-papyrus greek old testament mss)

A companion to classical texts. / Hall, F. W. (Frederick William),
   1868-1933 / Oxford 1913

Davis Phillips, Austin, TX

p.s., I have not found a good list of non-papyri classical texts. Though I
just found that A companion to classical texts. / Hall, F. W. (Frederick
   1868-1933 / Oxford 1913 is in my local library. -- I'll take a look at
it. If any knows of another good source please let me know (off-list).
Thanks. dp

p.p.s., I have been collecting information for a few years, as a sort of
hobby, pertinent to obtaining an overview of early manuscripts of bible, as
compared with other kinds of manuscripts. I hope to prepare a paper, in
the next 6 months, presenting some of my findings. If anyone is also
interested in this area, and especially if you have suggestions of other
information sources, that you have found or believe to be particularly
useful, please send me a note off-list. Thank you. Davis Phillips.

**----------------------- Ron Rhoades wrote: ----------------
From: Ron Rhoades <>
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 16:03:11 -0800
Subject: Classical Greek

Every one,

Is the following quote concerning the extent MSS of Greek writers
still up to date? I have a feeling there must have been more finds of
source material for some of these writers. Any body have an updated

"Many people say that because we have no original manuscripts of the
Old and New Testament Scriptures, we have no means of proving the
genuineness and authenticity of our Bible. But there are no original
manuscripts of the classical Greek and Latin writers, yet no one seems
to be disturbed about it. Twenty or even ten or less, manuscript
copies are considered sufficient to establish a genuine text. Some have
only 1 to 3 manuscripts. And these copies were made from 200 to 1600
years after the author's death. The 2 works of Tacitus (55-117 C.E.) are
represented by 1 manuscript each, written in the 11 century. The Greek
Anthology exists in but 1 manuscript. the work of Aeschylus (525-456
B.C.E.) and of Lysias (450-380 B.C.E.) have a few manuscripts written
1400 years after their death. There are but 3 independent manuscripts
of Catullus (84-54 B.C.E.), and they date from the 14th century, 1400
years after his death. There are about 100 manuscripts of Sophocles
(946-406 B.C.E.) dating from the 11th century, 1400 years after his
death, but only 7 are of any value. The Greek historian Herodotus
(480-425 B.C.E.) is represented by 15 manuscripts, none of which are
older than the 10th century. There are still fewer manuscripts of Plato
(427-347 B.C.E.), dating from the 9th century, and so on down. Virgil
(70-19 B.C.E.) has 1 manuscript of the 4th century and 2 of the 5th,
besides some fragments."=97H.S. Miller, "General Biblical Introduction";


Ron Rhoades


 Davis Phillips, Senior Systems Analyst, College of Liberal Arts
 University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712 USA
 phone 512-232-2135 FAX 512-471-4518

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