GreekNewTestament.Net (Internet Edition With Extensive & Exhaustive Critical Apparatus) intends to collate and transcribe all extant New Testament manuscripts. Unlike printed critical editions of the Greek New Testament, the Internet Greek New Testament Project aims to present the readings of the New Testament manuscripts and quotations from the Early Church Fathers in parallel. Anyone wishing to examine the textual witnesses for a specific New Testament text finds it difficult to gather relevant data from the scattered manuscripts in numerous libraries worldwide. Furthermore, not everyone is proficient in all the languages of the ancient versions, nor does everyone have sufficient knowledge to evaluate the data. Our goal is to consolidate all the textual witnesses in one place and assist you in evaluating the evidence.
No other Greek book has anything like the amount of testimony to its text that the books of the New Testament have. The only difficulty is that there are not workers and there is not enough money at command to secure the collation of these hundreds of manuscripts in all parts of Europe and of the East. The greater part of them have only been touched in select passages. Now that is far better than nothing, and we may be very thankful for what has been done in that respect. Yet that is not the clear-cut whole work. For the text of the New Testament, the right thing, the whole thing, the very best thing that can be done is just good enough. There should be a carefully drawn up plan and a systematic inspection of the whole field, and then the work should be divided up among collators and finished piece by piece, library after library, and sent in copy to four or five of the great libraries of the world, so as to be at service of every Christian scholar who is prepared to work upon the subject. Christianity could well spare the men and the money for this purpose. Every manuscript should also be photographed, and its ornaments and large section letters should be copied, so that even externally the comparison of the way in which the books have been prepared and written may lend its aid to the grouping of kindred manuscripts and to the determination of the time and place of origin of the manuscripts. Such a systematic endeavour to work over the field should receive not merely the interested attention but also the most active help of all classical philologians who busy themselves with Greek texts. For every advance, every new determination in reference to the Greek manuscript of the New Testament, is of peculiar moment for Greek palæography. No classical books, and not the whole of the Greek classics combined, offer such an opportunity as the manuscripts of the New Testament offer, for the decision of palæographical problems from the fourth century down to the sixteenth. (Caspar René Gregory)
The Original Manuscripts of the New Testament
We do not possess the original manuscripts of the New Testament. What we have today are copies of the autographs that were hand-copied for over a thousand years. Why? One of the most severe incidents during the repeated persecutions that early Christians endured was the wholesale destruction of New Testament books by imperial command and the fury of pagans. Numerous manuscripts of the New Testament, written in the first three centuries, were obliterated at the start of the fourth century. There is no doubt that countless manuscripts from the fourth and the subsequent two centuries suffered a similar fate during the various invasions of the East and the West. Copies of the Bible were extensively destroyed throughout the lengthy and dreadful persecution period preceding the Edict of Milan in 313.
Συντετέλεσται δῆτα καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς ἅπαντα, ὁπηνίκα τῶν μὲν προσευκτηρίων τοὺς οἴκους ἐξ ὕψους εἰς ἔδαφος αὐτοῖς θεμελίοις καταρριπτουμένους, τὰς δ᾿ ἐνθέους καὶ ἱερὰς γραφὰς κατὰ μέσας ἀγορὰς πυρὶ παραδιδομένας αὐτοῖς ἐπείδομεν ὀφθαλμοῖς τούς τε τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν ποιμένας αἰσχρῶς ὧδε κἀκεῖσε κρυπταζομένους, τοὺς δὲ ἀσχημόνως ἁλισκομένους καὶ πρὸς τῶν ἐχθρῶν καταπαιζομένους, All these things were fulfilled in us, when we saw with our own eyes the houses of prayer thrown down to the very foundations, and the Divine and Sacred Scriptures committed to the flames in the midst of the market-places, and the shepherds of the churches basely hidden here and there, and some of them captured ignominiously, and mocked by their enemies. (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 8, Chapter 2)
In other instances stiffer resistance is offered when believers were asked to give up their Christian books. In the account of the martyrdom of Agape, Irene, and Chione, at successive hearings the three women were interrogated by the prefect Dulcitius of Thessalonica, who inquired, ‘Do you have in your possession any writings, parchments, or books (ὑπομνήματα ἢ διφθέραι ἢ βιβλία) of the impious Christians?’ Chione replied, ‘We do not, Sir. Our present emperors have taken these from us’. On the next day Irene was once again brought before the court, the prefect asked, ‘Who was it that advised you to retain these parchments and writings (τὰς διφθέρας ταύτας καὶ τὰς γραφάς) up to the present time?’ ‘It was almighty God’, Irene replied, ‘who bade us love him unto death. For this reason we did not dare to be traitors, but we chose to be burned alive or suffer anything else that might happen to us rather than betray them’ (προδοῦναι αὐτάς, i.e. the writings). After sentencing the young woman to be placed naked in the public brothel, the prefect gave orders that the writings (τὰ γραμματεῖα) in the cabinets and chests belonging to her were to be burned publicly. The account concludes by describing how, in March and April of the year 304, the three became martyrs for their faith by being burned at the stake. (The Canon of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger, page 108)
In 619, the invading Persians burned down Enaton and killed its inhabitants, resulting in the destruction of six hundred monasteries. Subsequently, during the Arab conquests of Syria and Egypt, the Saracens destroyed numerous churches and libraries. For example, the great theological Library of Caesarea Maritima was obliterated when the Saracen army devastated Caesarea in 640 A.D.
And they collected its riches, and they tortured the nobles so that they might show [them] all the goods that were hidden, and they carried off all the people, men and women and children, into slavery. And they defiled the churches wickedly. (The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus)
Many medieval manuscripts were destroyed by pagan authorities, some were burned, some were lost, and still, others suffered the vicissitudes to which all books, even sacred ones, are subject. Therefore, it’s understandable that over the centuries, many manuscripts were lost. At the distance of two centuries after the autograph, of which we have no complete manuscript remains due to persecution, we have as many as eighteen second-century manuscripts of the New Testament, sixty-four from the third, and forty-eight from the fourth. Papyrus Ƿ52, the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text, is dated somewhere between 117 AD and 138 AD, which is about three decades after the autograph.
Currently, 5,839 Greek manuscripts (fragments or complete) of the New Testament have been cataloged, including 128 papyri, 322 majuscules, 2,926 minuscules, and 2,462 lectionary (i.e. the New Testament text is divided into separate pericopes) manuscripts. The number of manuscripts surpasses that of all other ancient documents by hundreds of times. Additionally, there are over 15,000 manuscripts in versions like Latin, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Georgian, and Ethiopic.
The earliest church fathers acted as guardians of the text, distinguishing between common and the best and oldest copies. They left more than one million quotations of the New Testament. No classical writings of the ancients have as much testimony as the New Testament.
But, as I have said elsewhere, no amount of learning, skill, and conscientious care, can quite replace a study of the manuscript itself. (Agnes Smith Lewis)
Complete Examination of Documentary Evidence
“Finally, the fact should be noted (on which there is general agreement) that neither Westcott nor Hort ever actually collated a single manuscript but worked completely from published material, i.e., critical editions (viz., Tischendorf). This makes the claim in the first sentence of their appendix a trifle puzzling, that “the text of this edition of the New Testament has been formed exclusively on documentary evidence, no account being taken of any printed edition.” (Kurt and Barbara Aland)
The wealth of material available for determining the exact wording of the original New Testament is overwhelming. No printed edition of the Greek New Testament can offer the full spectrum of textual variants or cite all the witnesses significant to the history of the text. Therefore, a printed edition has limited usefulness for specialized studies of the text’s history or individual manuscripts.
The first duty of a student seeking the true text of the New Testament is to collect and examine the witnesses to that text. Similarly, the text critic’s initial duty is to gather all copies of the Greek New Testament and its versions,and comparing them together, cull from them all their various readings. Thus, our goal is to transcribe and collate all extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, and publish them at this website. Through this process, we will not only gain knowledge of existing variations but also assemble the testimony for each reading by noting the supporting manuscripts. This effort will aid text critics in forming intelligent conclusions about the best attested text. Currently, we are transcribing and collating 28 uncials (majuscule script), 72 minuscules, and 8 ancient versions, with more to be added later.
NT Greek Manuscripts that are being collated
To collate means to compare the text of the manuscript with another text, chosen as a standard (Elzevir Textus Receptus 1624), and to report each and every difference from the basic text.
The real text of the sacred writers does not now, since the originals have been so long lost, lie in any MS. or edition, but is dispersed in them all. (Richard Bentley)
- Codex Sinaiticus (א) – British Library/Leipzig University/St. Catherine, Sinai
- Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 (B) – Vatican Library
- Codex Alexandrinus (A) – British Library
- Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C) – Bibliothèque nationale de France
- Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D) – University of Cambridge
- Codex Basilensis (E) – Basel University Library
- Codex Boreelianus (F) – Utrecht University
- Codex Seidelianus I / Codex Harleianus (Harley MS 5684) (G) – British Library
- Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus (N) – National Library of Russia
- Codex Washingtonensis (W) – Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- Codex Monacensis (X) – Munich University Library
- Codex Dublinensis (Z) – Trinity College Library, Dublin
- Codex Sangallensis 48 / Codex Delta (Δ) – Abbey Library of Saint Gallen
- Codex Purpureus Rossanensis (Σ) – Diocesan Museum, Rossano Cathedral
- Codex Purpureus Beratinus (Φ) – Tirana, National Archives of Albania
Early Versions of the New Testament
- Syriac (Peshitta, Codex Curetonianus Syriacus, Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus, Philoxenian)
- Latin (a, f, q, ff2, Vulgate)
- Coptic (Sahidic and Bohairic)
Early Church Fathers
It is to be hoped that some scholars possessed of competent leisure will carry out an intention which they have expressed, to make a combined examination of the early Fathers on an extensive scale. Such a work would thoroughly supersede the partial examinations, and limited investigations, which have been just mentioned ; and they would thus become part of the permanent materials to be used by all connected with critical studies. Those who have been hitherto engaged in an investigation of the kind (and they have been but few) can rightly apprehend the benefit to criticism likely to arise from such a combined effort to collect thoroughly all the patristic testimonies. (S. P. Tregelles)
- Irenaeus (c. 202 AD) – see Matt 5:18
- Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – 215 AD) – see Matt 5:8
- Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235 AD) – see Matt 12:42
- Origen (c. 184 – 253 AD) – see Matt 5:4
- Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 – 339 AD) – see Matt 3:16
- Athanasius (c. 296 – 373 AD) – see Matt 5:8
- Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – 395 AD) – see Matt 11:10
- John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407 AD) – see Matt 10:28
- Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376 – 444 AD) – see Matt 10:8
The Original Text of the New Testament
The dates of the originals of the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, vary from A.D. 50 to A.D. 80. The Greek New Testament was first printed in 1514 by Francisco Ximenes. But as its issue was delayed and not issued to the public till 1522, the first published Greek Testament (for sale) was Desiderius Erasmus’ first edition of “Novum Instrumentum omne,” printed by Johann Froben (Johannes Frobenius), at Basel, in 1516.
Before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, books had to be copied by hand. As careful as copyists may be, when a book is copied by hand over a thousand years, mistakes are bound to happen. The New Testament is no exception to this rule. For that reason, the primary goal of our textual research is the recovery of the original text of the New Testament. This project aims to collate as many manuscripts as possible and to ascertain from the divergent copies which form of the text should be regarded as the original. We intend to mark every variation found in all manuscripts, whether large or small, and to that purpose we will faithfully adhere.
I am confronted with a sacred task, the struggle to regain the original form of the New Testament. (Lobegott Friedrich Constantin von Tischendorf, 1815-1874)
The collection for the evidence of the text of the New Testament includes:
(1) the gathering together of (i) all manuscripts of the Greek New Testament; (ii) all ancient versions, i.e. early immediate translations made from the Greek text; (iii) all quotations made by early Church writers;
(2) the comparing of all these (i), (ii), & (iii) together and noting of their divergences and various readings;
(3) attaching to each various reading the list of witnesses that support it.
It is also immediately apparent, however, that no one man and no one generation could hope to bring to completion the task of collecting the various readings of the New Testament with the full evidence for each, As a matter of fact, this work has been performing now, by a succession of dilligent and self-denying scholars, since the undertaking of Walton’s Polyglot in 1657. (Benjamin B. Warfield)
The ready application of the genealogical method to practical use in criticism will depend on our ability to read the digests of readings, where the evidence is expressed in terms of individual manuscripts, in terms of the classes of manuscripts, or, in other words, to translate testimony expressed in terms of individual manuscripts into testimony expressed in terms of classes of manuscripts. The work of the text critic may not be done when he has not passed on all the readings which have been transmitted to us in our extant witnesses. However, no one can keep dozens let alone hundreds of manuscript relations in their head and then apply them to specific variations. Hence, we hope to reduce the problem faced by text critics by presenting all the text-types in parallel.
Introduction To The Greek New Testament With Critical Apparatus
This project aims to offer in its apparatus the entire range of variant readings of the New Testament text found in extant Greek manuscripts. An introduction and guide to this online edition of Greek New Testament will be provided once this project is completed. PDF and XML versions of the text will also be made available for download. To receive latest update on this ongoing project, please follow us on Twitter.
We have spent a lot of time collating the New Testament manuscripts and making them available online for free. We hope that our work will contribute to the discipline of New Testament textual criticism. If you derive some benefits from this website, please consider supporting us in a more tangible way.
Sample Pages From The Gospel of Matthew