GreekNewTestament.Net (Internet Edition With Extensive & Exhaustive Critical Apparatus) intends to collate and transcribe all extant manuscripts of the New Testament. Unlike printed critical editions of the Greek New Testament, Internet Greek New Testament Project aims to present the readings of the manuscripts of the New Testament and quotations from the Early Church Fathers in parallel. Anyone who wishes to examine the textual witnesses for any particular text of the New Testament finds it difficult to gather relevant data from the many manuscripts themselves, since the manuscripts are scattered in numerous libraries all over the world. Furthermore, not everyone is proficient in all the languages of the ancient versions, nor does everyone have sufficient knowledge to be able to evaluate the data. Here, our goal is to present all the textual witnesses in one place and help you to evaluate the evidence.
The Original Manuscripts of the New Testament
We do not have the original manuscripts of the New Testament. What we have today are copies of the copies of the copies of the autographs that were hand-copied for over a thousand years. Why? One of the worst incidents in the repeated persecutions that the early Christians had to undergo was the wholesale destruction of the New Testament books by imperial command, and by the rage of the pagans. Multitudes of the manuscript of the New Testament written in the first three centuries were destroyed at the beginning of the fourth, and there can be no doubt that multitudes of those written in the fourth and two following centuries met a similar fate in the various invasions of East and West. Copies of the Bible had been extensively destroyed during the long and terrible period of persecution that preceded 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. Six hundred monasteries are reported to have been destroyed. Later, during the Arab conquests of Syria and Egypt, many churches and libraries were destroyed by the Saracens (e.g. the great theological Library of Caesarea Maritima was destroyed 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, others burned, others lost, and still others suffered the vicissitudes to which all books, even sacred books, are subject. Therefore, it is understandable that over the centuries many manuscripts were lost. At the distance of two centuries after the autograph, of which, owing to the results of persecution, we have no complete manuscript remains. 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, that is about three decades after the autograph. Currently, 5,839 Greek manuscripts (fragments or complete) of the New Testament have been catalogued, of which 128 are papyri, 322 are majuscules, 2,926 are minuscules and 2,462 are lectionary manuscripts, i.e., manuscripts in which the text of the New Testament books is divided into separate pericopes. The immense amount of the manuscripts exceeds all other ancient documents by hundreds of times. In addition, there are over 15,000 manuscripts in Latin, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Georgian, and Ethiopic versions. The earliest church fathers show themselves in some sense guardians of the text, and ready to distinguish between the common and the best and oldest copies. There are more than one million quotations of the New Testament by the church fathers. Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone in reconstructing the entire 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 for the history of the text. Therefore, a printed edition is of limited usefulness for specialized studies of the history of the text or of individual manuscripts.
The first duty of the student who is seeking the true text of the New Testament is obviously to collect and examine the witnesses to that text. The first duty of the text critic is, therefore, to collect 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. By doing this, we will not only acquire knowledge of the variations that actually exist, but also bring together, by noting the manuscripts that support each reading, the testimony for each, and put text critics in a better position to arrive at an intelligent conclusion as to the best attested text. Currently, we are transcribing and collating 28 uncials (majuscule script), 72 minuscules and 8 ancient versions. More will be added later.
NT Greek Manuscripts 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
- 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 date 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, 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 Greek New Testament Dot Net’s textual research is the recovery of the original text of the New Testament. It is the purpose of this project 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. Our purpose is 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 Greek New Testament Dot Net
GreekNewTestament.Net 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