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The Number of Variants

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Lesson

Compared to other ancient literature, the field of Biblical textual criticism possesses β€œan embarrassment of riches.” New Testament TC absolutely dwarfs the resources of other ancient literature, not only in number of manuscripts and the recent time in which they were produced, but also confirming quotations by extra-biblical writings.

Outline

I. PROCESS OF COPYING THE MANUSCRIPTS

A. Existence of mistakes

B. No two manuscripts are identical

II. GREEK NT

A. 140,000 words

B. 400,000 variants

III. WE HAVE MANY VARIANTS BECAUSE WE HAVE MANY MANUSCRIPTS

A. If had only one manuscript, there would be no variants (Richard Bentley)

B. An embarrassment of riches

1. 5,824 Greek manuscripts

2. 10,000+ Latin manuscripts (average size is 450 pages)

3. 5,000 – 10,000 ancient versions (e.g., Coptic, Syriac)

4. Over 1 million quotations from the Church Fathers

C. The NT compared to the average classical work

1. Number of manuscripts

2. Four feet vs one mile

D. Centuries between the event and the date of the manuscript

1. Greco-Roman

2. NT manuscripts

IV. CONCLUSION

A. P52 is early second century

B. Within 125 years, we have over 43% of all the verses

C. Within 100 years, we have 12 mss

D. Within 2.5 centuries, we have the entire NT in a single manuscript

E. In 1611, we had 7 mss, the earliest from the 11th century. In 2013 we have 5,800+ mss, the earliest from the 2nd century