Monday, May 30, 2016

New Journal Article Published

I have had the honor of having an article published in the latest issue of Bibliotheca Sacra. The article contrasts the ways in which early Christians manufactured their books that contained New Testament writings with the way Romans manufactured their books.

"Christian Papyri and the Ancient Church." Bibliotheca Sacra 173 (April-June 2016): 182-202.

The abstract of the article is as follows:

Modern scholarship and popular media outlets often depict the earliest Christians as holding wildly divergent beliefs about Jesus and as reading and writing secret gospels that never made it into the New Testament. This view fails to consider the material re-mains of early Christian manuscripts from the second and third centuries that have been discovered in Egypt. These manuscripts mainly consist of New Testament writings and contain certain paralinguistic and formatting features that highlight unique socio-cultural aspects of the early Christians that stand in stark contrast to these modern theories of Christian origins.


  1. Hi Timothy,

    Thanks for sharing your article. I wonder how you view the argument that Christian papyri have tended to be dated on the early side.

    Good luck with your Ph.D. studies. I look forward to reading your blog!


    1. Thank you for your kind message Peter Lorenz. And thank you for reading and following the blog.
      It is true that some Christians have argued some pretty early dates for a few of the papyri. I think that Philip W. Comfort has been the target of most of these criticisms; see especially Orsini and Clarysse's excellent article. I think that the reason Comfort's dates tend to be propagated more widely are because his "The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts" is often included in base packages of Logos' Bible study program. Also, the Kindle version of his "Encountering the Manuscripts" is often on sale for less than $3.00! Though these are great resources, most pastors and Christian apologists are unfamiliar with the technicality of palaeography and tend to use these early dates in the preaching and argumentation in an uncritical way. I for one think that Comfort's resources are very useful for seeing a transcribed text of the papyri or for learning their contents. It is unfortunate that he is a bit of a renegade when it comes to palaeography. However, if you compare the dates in the table on pages 469-472, one can see that the differences between Comfort and Barrett and Orsini and Clarysse are really not that great, usually within 25-50 years. So there is probably not too much harm done.
      Thank you again for your message Peter, and good luck to you as well in your PhD studies!

      Pasquale Orsini & Willy Clarysse, “Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates: A Critique of Theological Palaeography,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88 (2012): 443-74.

      Brent Nongbri. “The Limits of Palaeographic Dating of Literary Papyri: Some Observations on the Date and Provenance of P. Bodmer II (P66),” Museum Helveticum 71 (2014): 1-35.

    2. Timothy,
      I agree with Pete, thanks for sharing the article.
      While admitting that Comfort comes out on the early side of dating, we should equally realize Nongbri's penchant for coming out on the late side. We should expect a variance in dating of undated writings. Often, much ado about nothing since we are talking about a timeframe difference of 50 to 75 years! I would agree with the premise and conclusion of the article even with the later dates.

      Thanks again,


    3. Thank you Tim for reading the article and for your kind comments!