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Translation process is ongoing.
For current status see details
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many New Testament Manuscripts are there?
There are currently estimated to be over 5800 New Testament manuscripts, which is a far greater number than any other work of antiquity. This web site only addresses the very early New Testament manuscripts, manuscripts written around 300 A.D. or earlier. At the moment, there are 83 such manuscripts listed on this site.
2. What were they written on?
Most early New Testament manuscripts were written on papyrus. A few were written on parchment. This represents a break from the earlier practice of writing on scrolls made from animal skins. Papyrus was much cheaper than scrolls, and so some of the papyri show evidence of writing by a non-professional. Papyri could be written on both sides and collected into a codex (a book).
3. Are all papyri New Testament passages? No, papyri exist with all types of writing. Some of the New Testament papyri translated on this web site were actually part of a larger text with other writings, such as Old Testament passages or other literature.
4. How is a manuscript dated? The primary method for dating ancient writing is by paleography, the study of handwriting. Although this is subjective, experts can usually tell with a good degree of accuracy when a text was written using paleography. As an example, even an individual who knows nothing about the subject can look at a copy of the 1776 U.S. Declaration of Independence and tell by the writing style that it was not written recently.
5. Where were the manuscripts found? Most manuscripts were found in various locations in Egypt. The largest collection was discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.
6. When were the manuscripts found? Most papyri were found in the late 19th or 20th century, though some were discovered before and after that. It can be expected that the discovery process will continue and more will be found.
7. Who wrote the manuscripts? In theory, anyone could write on a papyrus, and the papyri on this web site indicate different types of authors, from amateurs who were messy to professional scribes who appeared to write in large clear letters so that the text could be read in a church. Most of the scribes show evidence that they were Christians.
8. In what language are the manuscripts? The manuscripts translated on this web site were all written in Greek, which is the language of the New Testament. The New Testament was translated into Aramaic, Latin and other languages at an early stage, so manuscripts are also available in those languages. They are not addressed on this web site.
9. What are the manuscripts that have names beginning with an “O” rather than a “P”? Manuscripts beginning with an “O” are called uncials, and reflect a different and usually later style of writing from the other papyri. The uncials were written in all capital letters, along with other distinguishing features. The earliest nearly complete Bibles (Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus) were all uncials.
10. Why do you use the World English Bible as a basis for translation?
I used the World English Bible (WEB) because it is in the public domain; there is no copyright for it. Almost all modern English language Bibles are copyrighted, but the WEB is not. I needed a translation that was in the public domain, since this project involves reprinting thousands of verses, and sometimes adding to or striking out parts of those verses. In a copyrighted version, that would not be appropriate. The only other choice available at the time I began this project was the King James Version (KJV), since copyrights usually expire after 100 years. I didn’t choose the KJV because it is difficult to read for most modern English speakers, and because I did not feel I could recreate the beauty, accuracy, or style of the KJV in those manuscript passages that I needed to translate myself.
11. What is the longest manuscript?
Papyrus 46, containing most of the writings of Paul, is the longest. Papyrus 75, containing most of Luke and John, and Papyrus 66, containing all of John, are also very long.
12. The changes in red look like they are corrections in the Bible. Is that right?
No. The changes in red represent places where a manuscript reads differently from the Majority Text of the New Testament. It makes no judgment on what is the “better” text. The World English Bible was translated from the Majority Text, which is very similar to the Textus Receptus, a Greek text from which the King James and New King James versions of the Bible were translated. Most modern translations of the New Testament are based on some version of the “Critical Text,” a text that relies more heavily on some earlier manuscripts. In some cases on this web site, the manuscript matches the Critical Text rather than the Majority Text, and I have tried to footnote those occurrences.
13. Are there books that translate the papyri?
I am not aware of a book that provides English translations for these manuscripts. There are several that provide transcriptions of the Greek texts.
14. Can this web site be used for textual criticism?
It can, but only a little. This web site shows where a manuscript diverges from the Majority Text and has some footnotes relevant to textual criticism. However, to handle the subject well, one needs to work with the original languages, and this web site deals almost entirely with translations. The most frequent footnote on this web site is the repeated “The manuscript agrees with the critical text,” but this can be misleading since I did not provide a similar footnote for when the manuscript agrees with the Majority Text against the critical text.
15. Are translations of the papyri available elsewhere online?
The only web site that I know provides English language translations is thewaytoyahuweh.com, which also has transcriptions. Translations on that site are literal word translations rather than literary.
16. Can I see the manuscripts online?
I’ve provided some images on this site. A web search will show a lot of them.
17. Where are the manuscripts today?
At various libraries and museums around the world. For each manuscript translated on this site, I attempted to list its current location.