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-Some Important Facts About Early N.T. Manuscripts

by Dr. D ~ October 10th, 2011

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Anyone who has attempted to read some of the early New Testament Greek manuscripts can appreciate the difficulties inherent in the task.

Here’s a short but excellent article by Dr. Ben Witherington on 2 major problems presented by the early texts: 

Nomina Sacra in Early Christian Manuscripts

Here’s the two:

1) scriptum continuum is used, a continuous flow of Greek letters without separation of words, and

2) the use of abbreviations for nomina sacra,  abbreviations for sacred names and terms.

Also, while we are at it. There were no chapters or verses in the early texts. Plus, you will not find any punctuation.

Over the years I have had folks try and make some kind of point based upon punctuation and capitalization in the Bible. None of it was in the early texts except capitol letters –in the case of the earliest Greek manuscripts every single letter was capitalized.

Point is, none of that was part of the original inspired text. Dr. Witherington makes that point very well in his article:

If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it is that the sentence, paragraph, chapter and verse divisions in the New Testament, even in the modern Greek text are not originally parts of what the inspired writer wrote. There is nothing inspired at all about the modern chapter and verse divisions in the English Bible— they are all a result of the efforts of an English medieval archbishop named Langton.

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