New Testament Text in History and on the Internet
Jerome used some Greek and some Latin manuscripts for his translation.
Our oldest manuscript of the Vulgate that we know is the Codex Sangallensis, written in Verona, probably in the fifth century; it survives only in part.
The oldest complete Latin Bible is the Codex Amiatinus, ca. 700.
Gallica, the digital database of the French National Library, offers more than 40 digitized medieval manuscripts of the Vulgate. There are about ten full Bibles, but most of the manuscripts include only the Gospels.
Biblia sacra vulgatae editionis 1592.
Modern critical edition of the Vulgate.
Nova Vulgata used by the Catholic Church (1979).
Furthermore, there is an excellent French website on glosses and commentaries of the Bible in the middle ages.
Erasmus of Rotterdam used seven Medieval Greek minuscule manuscripts to prepare his critical edition of the New Testament. The basic text of this edition was later called textus receptus, the received text.
In his 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament, the French publisher Robertus Stephanus introduced a critical apparatus and some new manuscripts.In particular, he used a 5th century majuscule which would be called Codex Bezae (D) (Gospels and Acts, Epistles). Later Stephanus also divided the chapters of the Bible into verses – a division which we still use.
Richard Simon, A Critic of Textus receptus
Richard Simon (1638-1712) argued that the original text can be reconstructed neither on the basis of the Greek minuscules nor the Western readings preserved by the old Latin translations and Codex Bezae nor on the basis on agreements between them. The original text is simply beyond our reach.
Histoire critique du texte du Nouveau Testament (1689).
Nouvelles observations sur le texte et les versions du Nouveau Testament (1695).
It is characteristic that Simon translated the New Testament from Old Latin manuscripts (1702):
Matthew to Acts
Romans to Revelation
Lachmann and the Agreement between best Alexandrian and Western Witnesses
Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) was the first scholar to publish a New Testament edition (1831) that broke away from the textus receptus. He looked for the original text by comparing various manuscripts. He also was the first scholar who used critically two great Alexandrian manuscripts:
Codex Alexandrinus (A; 5th century; British Museum)
Codex Vaticanus (B; 4th century; Vatican Library)
As the result, Lachmann relied on the agreement of these manuscripts of Alexandrinian type with Codex Bezae and the old Latin manuscripts against textus receptus and the late Byzantinian textual tradition.
Testamentum Novum Græce et Latine Carolus Lachmannus recensuit. Philippus Butmannus, Ph. F. Græcæ Lectionis Auctoritatis, apposuit. Berolini, 2 vols: 1842, 1850.
From Tischendorf to Westcott-Hort: The Rule of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus
Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874) found a part of this codex in the St. Catherine’s monastery and recovered it later from there. After adventurous events, it is now preserved in the British Museum and British Library. There is a great Internet site dedicated to Codex Sinaiticus.
In his own critical edition of the Greek New Testament (1869 & 1872), he relied especially on Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
In 1881, Westcott and Hort published their own edition, which quickly became popular among Anglo-Saxon scholars. It was another strong move away from textus receptus the Byzantine text, an edition which relied heavily on Vaticanus and Sinaiticus as key witnesses to the original text.
Eberhard and Erwin Nestle: Towards a Standard Edition
The modern standard edition of the Greek New Testament started as a basic text (1898), for which Eberhard Nestle combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort (1881), and Weymouth (1886). The second edition was published in 1899. For the third edition (1901), Nestle replaced the edition of Weymouth with that of Bernhard Weiss.
After the death of Eberhard Nestle in 1913, his son Erwin Nestle took over the work of his father. To his editions, he enriched the apparatus with references to most important manuscripts, including a growing number papyrus fragments.
In 1963, Nestle published with Kurt Aland a notably renewed edition.
The Papyri Revolution
In 1897, several papyri were discovered in Oxyrhynchus, south of Cairo. Among some 5000 papyri published over the following century, 47 are from the New Testament. The site dedicated to these manuscripts is POxy: Oxyrhynchus Online.
Up till now, 128 New Testament papyri have been published. Since most of the papyri are of Egyptian origin from late 2nd century, they very often offer standard and variant readings of the Alexandrian text.
Nestle-Aland: The Union of the Great Alexandrian Manuscripts and the Papyri
It was only the 26th edition of Nestle-Aland from 1979 in which a great number of papyri was evaluated and introduced, influencing both the text and the apparatus. The latest, 28th edition from 2012, improved the readability of the signs and the apparatus. Furthermore, it included readings from Editio Critica Maior of the Greek New Testament that includes and examines critically most known New Testament manuscripts.
The latest edition of Nestle-Aland is available here.
Open Access to the Greek New Testament Manuscripts
Open Access to Ancient Translations and Quotations of the Church Fathers
Listings for the Biblical quotations of the church fathers can be found here.
To directly retrieve the quotations, two toll access sites are available:
To search the texts of the Greek fathers, use TLG.
To search the texts of the Latin fathers, use Library of Latin Texts.
Working with the Greek Manuscripts
The best place to work with the manuscripts is this.