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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

What is the oldest known manuscript of the Bible that has been found to date?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Question: What is the oldest known manuscript of the Bible that has been found to date? Any new recent discoveries that I might not know about?

The oldest known manuscripts of the entire Christian Bible are the Codex Sinaiticus, so named because it was found at a monastery on Mt. Sinai, and the Codex Vaticanus, which takes its name from the Vatican library where it now resides. Both are dated to approximately 350 A.D.
Biblical scholars have discovered older fragments of the Bible of varying size and condition. The oldest known fragment we have from the New Testament is a tiny section of John’s gospel that contains part of only seven lines in Greek. This fragment is dated to about 125 AD.

Probably the most exciting and well-known find in recent history was the accidental discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. The cache includes 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible (i.e. not the New Testament) plus hundreds of extra biblical fragments. Most are dated between 150 BC and 70 AD.
Occasionally, small fragments of ancient manuscripts or archeological findings of interest still turn up in the Middle East. Among biblical scholars and archeologists, hope springs eternal that some great new treasure trove will be discovered that will give us further glimpses of the early life of the Bible.

 
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The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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