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« Did Paul Know about Homosexuality? | Main | Is Friendship with Unbelievers Being Unequally Yoked? »

May 30, 2015


I always imagine any kind of document that's 200 years old as being extremely fragile, like the original Declaration of Independence. If they were handled a lot, they would wear out even quicker. I used to have an NIV Bible that I read some much it just fell apart. Of course it wasn't made of papyrus. Maybe papyri is more durable.

Doesn't it sort of make sense that Papyrus can last a long time? The Codex Sinaiticus is about 1700 years old. Right? Not all of that time was spent being handled with tweezers in clean rooms.

With that said, I think also makes sense that in the days before the printing press, people would have been far more careful in the handling of their books than we are today. I've heard people speculate that part of the scandal Jesus created when he read in the temple wasn't just what he said. It's that he had the gall to change the page that was being read...because a single person has to kind of manhandle the scroll in order to pull that off.

Doesn't it sort of make sense that Papyrus can last a long time? The Codex Sinaiticus is about 1700 years old. Right?
The Codex Sinaiticus is vellum, right?


The Codex Sinaiticus is vellum, right?

Right you are, and in the codex form that was developed in Asia Minor at the coming of the second century.

Thus, a more durable format for preservation of the original's papyrus (easy to make, needs care to preserve; which is why it functioned well in the arid regions of the eastern Mediterranean) beginnings.

We sometime talk of God's timing. The papyri to vellum transition of the early copies is a good example of this.

You got me. It's vellum.

Still, we do have papyrus manuscripts that date back over 1500 years.

Granted, they're in bad shape, but it still seems like the autographs might have lasted until some of the earliest of these copies were made.

And until the CS was made.

If they keep finding manuscripts from those Egyptian masks, then we will likely find a copy copied straight from the autographs. It would be very difficult to do that thought.

If he's basing his conclusion on evidence for how long papyri actually lasted in the ancient world, then regardless of how fragile they seem to us today, it seems reasonable to conclude the NT papyri lasted for a similar amount of time.

I tried to find the paper online to read more, but didn't have any luck. Apparently, some of the church fathers said they knew of churches that still had some of Paul's original letters, so there's that evidence, as well.

I imagine that most of the copies that were made earlier on were made from originals rather than first or second generation copies of the originals. If so, then the originals were probably handled a lot more than copies, and if so, they probably wore out faster.

Also, consider that while there are thousands of copies out there (and many thousands more if you count all the ones that have not survived), there were only 27 originals--one for each book in the NT. It seems like just the odds alone would be against them lasting very long into the second century. That seems especially true since there was a time in the last second century when the Romans actively tried to destroy them.

It is interesting to think about, though, and I do think it would be uber cool if an original was ever found.

This is really a good new!

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