Friday, June 14, 2019

Codex and canon

i) On occasion I've discussed how ancient Greek MSS are a neglected evidence for the NT canon. Here's some documentation in that regard:

ii) Catholic apologists try to dilute this evidence by pointing out that a few MSS contain non-canonical books. But Dormandy explains how that's a misleading comparison. To begin with, it's a rare phenomenon. In addition, the noncanonical books are appended at the end, which differentiates them from the canonical books.

iii) Finally, the basic job of a scribe is to copy preexisting material. So these MSS provide evidence that books of the NT were already circulating in collections. It wasn't the scribe who combined these writings; rather, he copied multiple works onto the same MS because they were already grouped that way in the exemplar he transcribed. 


  1. I am a lay person with no seminary education. I have defended the faith concerning the reliability of modern translations. What concerns me is how causally so many verses are removed from them. Even our interlinear bibles gleefully cast off a great deal of scripture.
    The words that bother me the most are, "older more reliable manuscripts". That assumption cannot be 100% true in every case. Many of theses alleged more reliable manuscripts come from Alexandria. This alone gives me pause. This seems to have been a hotbed of Gnostic and Platonist influence. Is it mere coincidence that many missing scriptures are in conflict with these heretical sects. Here is an even crazier thought. I think that the motivational roots behind the RCC amillinial teaching come from adherents of these two sects. Thus they use a different hermenutical standard for end time prophetic books than is used for the rest of the scriptures.
    My theory on reliability is that manuscripts written by the disciples of the Apostles are the least likely to be corrupt. Who better to understand Johns writings than his students whom he trained? There is a case for giving more credence to the Didache than we do. The other side of the coin is the modern acceptance of the admittedly new age so called bible, the Message.

    1. I don't know what the "many" verses are that you allude to. The major passages under dispute are the Long Ending of Mark, the Johannine Comma, and the pericope adulterae. There are many minor textual variants involving spelling or word order.

    2. I can recommend the works of James White, specifically any of his lectures or debates on King James Only adherence. Comprehensible to the non-scholar:

      Or get his book for the layperson:

      Much of what you mention overlaps with KJV Onlyism, such as the charge of Alexandria being a center of heresies such as Arianism (he notes that Rome was similarly the base of various other heretics).

      The general rule regarding 'older is better' is NOT to always take it as a hard rule, rather ABSENT other factors, older is to be considered closer to the original.