Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Do all our extant NT MSS go back to a single mid-2C exemplar?

I recently ran across this claim on Facebook:

It's pretty much accepted among mainstream scholarship that everything we have is derived from a single edition compiled around 150AD. Possibly by a single editor. I doubt that Ehrman contradicts that. Btw this scholarship is by David Trobisch. 

I own two of his monographs on the topic. But I decided to run the claim by Larry Hurtado. Here's how our exchange went:

I recall you saying that David Trobisch's theory about the formation of the NT canon hadn't caught on in mainstream scholarship because ancient NT MSS don't exhibit the uniformity in the order of books that he attributes to them. Is that correct?

Not entirely.  There are several reasons.  NT writings initially circulated physically as individual works. Even after the four gospels were considered by many a closed circle, they still were copied as individual codices.  No one thought of a NT in the second century except perhaps Marcion.

But, yes, we see different orders to NT writings once they began to be put together.  E.g., P45 has the gospels Matt, John, Luke, Mark.

1 comment:

  1. NT Canon lists were being put together by late 2nd Century. Muratori's discovery was probably from the 2nd century as it closely matched Irenaeus' Canon. Turtullian included the entire homologoumena as well as Revelation and Jude. Origen was interesting because he had all the NT books categorized as either homologoumena or antilogomena. The works included in the antilegomena took some time for various reasons:

    i. Hebrews and Revelation were used by the Montanists to support their teachings so it took a little time for orthodox Christians to trust that the works were fit if they were being misappropriated by there Phrygian heretics.
    ii. The shorter writings of 2 and 3 John as well as Jude were simply easily overlooked. It's interesting that Jude made it around pretty quickly.
    iii. James took some time because there was some question as to which James wrote it.
    iv. 2 Peter was late being accepted because of the widely known pseudoepigraphical material attributed to Peter. They just awaited evidence that Peter actually wrote it.

    Regarding iii. and iv., It's notable that Apostolic origin was a significant factor at that time. We may question Hebrew's authorship today, but it's notable that it's content was not questioned as being Pauline in the 2nd century, although Paul almost certainly didn't directly write it.