Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Distribution of New Testament Manuscripts by Century

The Alands have a nice chart showing the distribution of Greek New Testament manuscripts by century in their textual criticism handbook, but the data are almost 30 years old now. Thankfully, it’s possible to update their chart with data from the online Kurzgefasste Liste.

Here is the absolute distribution:

Absolute Distribution of New Testament Manuscripts by Century

And here is a distribution as a percentage of all the manuscripts for each century:

Percent Distribution of New Testament Manuscripts by Century

Of course there are caveats. These are simply based on the Gregory-Aland categories with the problems that attend them. Second, I followed the Alands in listing a manuscript with its upper date range so that a 2nd/3rd century manuscript is listed in the 3rd here. There were just over 300 manuscripts that fall into that category. Lastly, I made sure my own data was clean before I produced my charts, but I don’t make any claims that the numbers are 100% accurate.

Feel free to correct these, use them in your lectures, or frame them for your children’s wall.


  1. I think it's important to mention the size of the MSS. Many of the early MSS are tiny and incomplete.

  2. Thanks Pete, I can well imagine using them in lectures.

  3. I have already pasted them into a powerpoint (substituing an older chart).

  4. I had no idea the INTF site was such a shambles. Here is a list of what is wrong for just p39. Wikipedia does better in several repsects.
    1. Institute: Ambrose Swasey Library, not the Green Collection, Oklahoma City. (so does the IGNTP for that matter, although it mispells the name “Swabey”).
    The Bibliography takes note of the sales catalogue, although lsiting it three times is a bit excessive: Anonymus. “Sotheby’s Auktionskatalog ‘Fine Books & Manuscripts’, Auction in New York, 13-18 June,” n.d.
    2. The is not referred to (P.Oxy. XV 1780).
    3. There is no link to the LDAB link,
    4. and none to Clarysse-Orsini’s redating, in Eph. Theol. Lov. 88 (2012), p. 462 and 470 [AD 275-300])
    5. The transcription introduces new editorial signs without explanation (at least I could not find a list of conventions). [ερχομαι] η̣*n που υπα-

    1. Sorry, there is a link to the LDAB page; the n* notations a version of the DDBDP *, which alerts the reader to a variant reading. I could only read the n*(ote) on the INTF page by looking at the source code, however. Must be using a wrong browser or something.

    2. I think the bibliography section is a new addition. I don't remember seeing bibliographies until a week or two ago. (I may be wrong though). I suspect teething problems rather than a general shambles.

  5. It will be interesting to compare your chart with my one of the Apocalypse manuscripts that I showed last year in San Diego. Thank you for your work on the manuscript list.

  6. This is really useful. I appreciate you sharing this!


  8. These are great. I'm putting them into an overview presentation on TC.

  9. This is very helpful. Thank you.

  10. I wonder what comparable graphs would look like for the versions e.g. the Latin.