What Happened to the Original Books of the Bible?
William Arnold III
Do the original Gospels and Epistles written by the original authors still exist today? If so where are they, and can I go see them, (as in an address)? If not, could you tell me what happened to them? I am doing a report on the history of the Bible, and would like to know this info. Any information you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
We do not have the originals of any of the books in the Bible. Before the invention of the printing press, books (originally scrolls) were copied by hand. Many copies were made of the biblical books for use in the early churches. What we have today are actually copies of copies. As far as what happened to the actual originals, we don't know but they probably deteriorated from use. The Greek manuscripts which we do possess today are kept in various museums and institutions, mostly located in Europe but there are a few in the United States. Scholars now must compare the various Greek manuscripts we have to try and determine what the original said. This process is known as textual criticism. The standard Greek texts of the New Testament are the Nestle-Aland 27th edition and the United Bibles Societies' 4th edition. They both contain footnotes throughtout the text indicating where there are major differences between Greek manuscripts.
An excellent book on this issue is The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, by Bruce Metzger. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). See also our article, "How We Get Our Bible."
I know of the translations after with, but concerning between 40 - 90 AD, then these copies of the originals, of the actual 27 New Testament books, are they exact copies of the originals in Hebrew and Greek ? I'm speaking on how they were written, like, the copies themselves of the originals, were they passed down word for word in the same lettering as they had originally been written ?
Yes, they are exact copies as far as is humanly possible to copy by hand. There are places where mistakes where made and the copies have differences. This is why we must compare them to determine what the original reading was when they differ.
If one would want to get a copy made, or whatever, could they ? Who would they contact ?
No one copies the Greek scrolls by hand anymore since the invention of the printing press. However, some Jews still copy the Old Testament scrolls by hand for tradition sake. The printed versions we have of the Greek and Hebrew texts are more reliable than copies that are continued to be made by hand.
Do you know, or know of someone, who could tell me the exact addresses to where the oldest writtings of these might be ?
One of the Chester Beatty Papyri, which is one of the oldest fragments containing parts of the New Testament is kept at the University of Michigan.
Where would I find the Nestle-Aland 27th edition and the United Bibles Societies' 4th edition, at my local library, or book store, or do I have to contact someone special ?
They are available through major bookstores, both Christian and secular. I also forgot to mention that the standard Hebrew text is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Also, the Nestle-Aland goes under its Latin name, Novum Testamentum Graece. Make sure you get the edition which has English as well. I think the best prices you will find on these books will be from CBD. They may also be available at a public library.
Email IBS |
Statement of Faith | Home |
Browse by Author | Q & A
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search