Oldest known snippet from the New Testament
This photo shows a papyrus fragment from the Gospel of John, discovered in Egypt, the oldest known fragment from any part of the New Testament, dated from the first half of the 2nd century AD
Script appears on both sides, the front contains verses 31-33 and the back, verses 37-38.
The fragment resides in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.
You can learn more about human nature by reading the Bible than by living in New York.
William Loyn Phelps
When I was a child I believed that the Bible that I carried to Sunday School with me every week was an exact text….a book whose existence equaled the same number of years as had time itself. Romantic notions of early stories of biblical heroes and heroines served to carry me through my childhood years even as I was searching for the meaning of the person that was me! However, today I know a little different tale. I know the tale of God’s darker time and of both the mysteries and millenia that served to add the subtle shadings of light to those dark tales. And suddenly, life burst through, and a compilation was created which contained, within the very pages of THE book, a perfect and true revelation to man of the plans the Master holds for our very existence!
There are no original writings that exist from the Old Testament, which contains tales from approximately 1450 BC to about 200 BC. The Old Testament comes from fragments of Cuneiform tablets, papyrus, etchings in leather and, of course, The Dead Sea Scrolls. All are written in both Aramaic as well as traditional Hebrew. However, scholars and Hebrew scribes painstakingly joined thousands upon thousands of these fragmented pieces of history, further refined by Rabbis who added vowels and thus translated the words from manuscripts dating from 9 to 11 AD, that had survived the destruction of Jerusalem (circa 70 AD) into a language that could be understood by the faithful living at the time. Suddenly, the tales were given life. And, for the few artifacts that gave rise to the pages of the Old Testament, there are fewer yet for the New Testament. While some religious scholars firmly adhere to the belief that the Gospels are a true accounting of Jesus life by those who witnessed it, the Apostles, others disagree! The oldest fragment found that comes from the New Testament, is a tiny piece of parchment, dated 200 AD, that appears to be from the Gospel of John. Despite this controversy, the oldest Christian texts were, in fact, written by Paul, who did not see the living Son of God during his lifetime!
What we can say with certainty today is that over a hundred different historical versions of the Bible have been located, written in most of the languages that existed at the time they were penned, including Greek, Hebrew and Latin. And as I spoke of previously, the authenticity of some of the texts remained in dispute and were thusly relegated to the Apocrypha (see Thought For The Day 07/26/12). However, it seems that the completed versions of both the Old and New Testaments most likely were finalized somewhere around 200 to 300 AD. To this day, dozens of translations of the Bible exist and scholars continue to debate the true meaning, as well as specific translations, of the words contained within. However, despite a fragmentation within the essential tenets of the world’s faiths, The Bible continues to remain the most sacred moral compass for believers in this, the 21st Century!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13 ESV
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