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The Early Text of the New Testament 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0199566365
ISBN-10: 0199566364
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Editorial Reviews


"[A]n invaluable resource for documenting the state of research about the text of the NT before the major fourth-century codices... The volume should be mandatory reading for anyone doing postgraduate study on the Greek NT." --Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

A great addition to the Christian apologist s library and will be monumental to anyone who is seeking to understand textual criticism." --Deeper Waters

"With the ever-growing corpus of scholarship on the text of the New Testament, every so often it is necessary to step back and take an account of what's out there. The Early Text of the New Testament does just that. Editors Charles Hill and Michael Kruger have assembled a fine team of scholars to produce an excellent snapshot of the 'state of the New Testament union.'...a very concise summary of the constantly growing body of New Testament scholarship and points the interested reader toward current conclusions in an enlightening, albeit quite scholarly, manner." --Association for Mormon Letters

"This volume is undoubtedly going to be a key reference work on the text of the NT in early Christianity for some time." --Diglotting

"The Early Text of the New Testament is an important and unique contribution to these current debates. The individual NT books are examined separately to prevent homogenizing and blurring textual issues in unfortunate and misleading kinds of ways. The second century sources are also examined individually to see the evidence they are able to present collectively. While some of the material in the essays has been discussed elsewhere by these and other scholars, still much of the analysis has been approached in a new and fresh manner. Crucial data regarding textual reliability in the second century is especially to be noted in both essays by the two editors (Hill and Kruger). The twenty-one essays in The Early Text are not the final word about the NT text in the first three centuries, but nonetheless it is an important word that must be considered. Those wishing to engage in this debate must examine closely the detailed data provided in this volume." --FIDES et HUMILITAS

About the Author

Charles E. Hill (Ph.D. Cambridge University) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. His other books include Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity and The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church, both published by Oxford University Press, and From the Lost Teaching of Polycarp: Identifying Irenaeus' Apostolic Presbyter and the Author of ad Diognetum published by J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D. University of Edinburgh) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC and is the author of the Gospel of the Savior: An Analysis of P.Oxy. 840 and its Place in the Gospel Traditions of Early Christianity (Brill, 2005) and co-author of Gospel Fragments (Oxford, 2009).


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199566364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199566365
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.3 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,835,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By ApologiaPhoenix on January 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I want to thank Oxford Press first off for sending a review copy of this book. This is an extremely scholarly work that is a great edition to the Christian apologist's library and will be monumental to anyone who is seeking to understand textual criticism.

A word of caution however. This work is extremely scholarly and without having a great knowledge of the field, the layman will get lost in many areas. Part II will be exceptionally difficult as it deals with the early text of each of the Gospels, then Acts, then the Pauline Epistles, then the general epistles, and finally Revelation. The information here will be highly helpful, but those without familiarity will be easily lost.

Part 1 is a great benefit as the reader will learn much about the way books and the text were seen in the times of the NT. Most of us don't think about questions of who will buy books and how the early texts would have been seen by the first Christians, but these scholarly articles will give an excellent look into that world.

Part II as I've said goes into the details of the condition of the early manuscripts and how well they're established. It's noteworthy to consider that you would not have such a book like this for a work such as Tacitus. Probably the only other work from the ancient world that you could talk much about the copies of the manuscripts that we have to such an extent would be the works of Homer. This should tell us enough in itself about the manuscripts that we have of the New Testament.

It's important to note in all of this that nowhere in the book do you notice an attitude of hopelessness. There is no great fear I find that maybe we don't really have an accurate representation of what the NT authors originally wrote.
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Format: Paperback
One especially knockout essay was by Charlesworth. As everyone knows, Christians preferred the codex. But how did this standardization come about? Can any conclusions be drawn from it?

Charlesworth believes that when you take into consideration that "standard-sized gospel codices and standardization in the use of nomina sacra - the notion of 'catholic' consensus among early Christians becomes more plausible" (p 38). . So much so that he concludes "there was consensus and collaboration between early Christian groups" (p 39). He argues there must have been an "interconnected 'catholic' church in the second half of the second century" ( 41).

Hurtado (of 'Lord Jesus Christ' fame) points out that the Qumran texts had "word separation and space to indicate sense-units" (p 50). But the Romans preferred scriptio continua.

The cultured elite who purchased pagan works demanded a high craftsmanship. "Christian manuscripts...typically seem to reflect a very different social setting" (p 59). Their manuscripts reveal an effort to produce texts that were easy to read and more utilitarian.

Wasserman finds evidence that "some scribes evidently copied the with great care...One reason that the 'strict' text in spite of a free attitude to copying on the part of some scribes may be that good, standard copies of a 'strict' text were widely available too the scribes. That would also explain other standardized were widely available to phenomena" (p104).

Hill's essay is powerful and persuasive. The use of citation of scripture by early Christians is an area of great debate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Guo on July 24, 2015
Format: Paperback
In response to the recent burgeoning of new textual materials and renewed scholarly interest in NT textual criticism, editors Charles Hill and Michael Kruger felt that it was time for a radical and thorough review in light of the major text types. The Early Text of the New Testament brings together some of the best scholars of the early NT texts to present an impressively comprehensive set of essays that “provide an inventory and some analysis of the evidence available for understanding the pre-fourth-century period of the transmission of the NT materials” (2).

In Part I, four essays cover the textual and scribal culture of early Christianity. First, Harry Gamble discusses the book trade in the Roman empire, addressing the commercial book trade, the non-commercial book trade, and finally the publication and dissemination of early Christian books. Early Christian texts “were produced and disseminated in much the same way as other literature in the larger socio-cultural environment,” (31) and hence susceptible to the same hazards. Next, Scott Charlesworth examines indicators of “catholicity” in early Gospel manuscripts. He notes that the use of standard-sized codices and standardized nomina sacra in the early manuscripts of the canonical gospels prove the notion of “catholic” consensus and collaboration among early Christians. This catholicity, Charlesworth points out, does not indicate uniformity. The upshot of all this is that “[t]he evidence for later second- and second/third-century “catholicity” presents real problems for the Bauer thesis” (46).
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