Since Richard has, responsibly, moved this thread back into the public
discussion, let me try to clarify a couple of points here:

The reference to "technology" possibilities below concerns the development
of the "mega codex," capable of holding virtually unlimited content. This
seems to be attested first in the 4th century, and indeed, may coincide
with Constantine's request to Eusebius for codices of "holy scriptures"
for use in the churches of Constantinople. In any event, prior to the 4th
century we have small-scale codices that hold a few writings (e.g. one or
more gospels, the Pauline letters), and we have scrolls, with even less
capacity than the evolving codex technology provides. Prior to the 4th
century, discussions of "canon" must deal with lists, discussions, etc.,
rather than with actual manuscript anthologies. Presumably there were also
shelves and cabinets, but no full bibles (or NTs) under one set of covers.

More below, seriatim.

> Bob sent me the following privately, which was kind of him.  I post it
> since the record should be set as straight as we can in our current state
> of ignorance, and not get skewed by over-interpretations of insufficient
> evidence.
Kraft to Landes:
> >You wrote, among other things, regarding the book of Revelation:
> > >
> > > there was an extensive effort to exclude it, esp after the montanists in
> > > the mid 2nd cn.  it is actually excluded from most surviving copies of the
> > > NT in greek from the 4th to the 12th cns. and has virtually no role in the
> > > greek orthodox liturgy, as opposed to a more prominent one in the latin.
> >
> >This is a very deceptive claim, at best, and probably flat out incorrect.
> >Very few manuscripts containing more than a section of NT books have
> >survived; indeed, the heyday for mega-codices of "the bible" was the 4th
> >and 5th centuries, which produced Vaticanus (B), Sinaiticus (Aleph),
> >Alexandrinus (A), and Ephraimi rescriptus (C). All of these include
> >Revelation, except B, which is mutilated at the end. The only other Greek
> >manuscript of which I am aware that includes the remainder of the NT but
> >not Revelation is Psi from the 8th-9th century (Athos).
> i acknowledge my largely second-hand knowledge in this matter, and those
> statements wd footnote to secondary sources.  if any one has more
> information, or further reflections both on the mss. issue, and on the
> liturgical one, i'd greatly appreciate hearing about it.
> >There are some manuscripts that contain Acts and the letters but not
> >Revelation or the Gospels, mostly from the 8th-9th century. One of these
> >also includes Revelation (but not the Gospels), namely "P" = Porfirianus.
> >Someone might argue that Revelation has been excluded from the others, but
> >then so have the Gospels!
> or: revelation falls thru the cracks btwn collections of the gospels and
> collections of the letters. Has anyone looked closely at the codicological
> dossier on revelation? i know that in medieval (esp early medieval codices,
> revelation does not consistently appear at the end of the text, but in
> about 25% of the cases, is sprinkled thruout the NT canon.

I suspect that there are such studies, but I don't have any references to
hand. Of course, Bruce Metzger would know, or Eldon Epp. The classical
study listed by the Alands in their book on the Text of the NT (1981; ET
1987) is by Josef Schmid, Studien zur Geschichte des griechischen
Apokalypse-Textes (3 vols, Munich 1955-56).

> >Of course, there were debates over Revelation, as Eusebius clearly attests
> >(among others). Before the 4th century, there was no developed technology
> >for collecting all "NT" writings under one cover,
> not clear what you mean.
> >so our evidence for the
> >earlier period comes from lists, discussions, etc., not from actual
> >manuscript anthologies.
> what's the relationship btwn the two?  how close or far from the ms record
> does the theological and liturgical evidence bring us?

See above.

> >After the 5th century, few manuscripts have
> >survived that contain more than a portion of the NT. Perhaps I'm missing
> >something, but I don't see how your statement (above) can be supported
> >from the manuscript evidence.
> agreed.  i return to agnosticism on the subject.  what about a symposium on
> the codicology of early xn and jewish millennial texts -- Revelation,
> Baruch, Irenaeus, Barnabas, some of the Qumran.

An interesting idea, which could draw in interested parties in NT text
criticism and in early Jewish Pseudepigrapha, among others.

Richard Landes also asked me privately why there were so few large-scale
biblical codices after the 4th/5th century? I suppose that economics of
both time and expense was a major factor (people have estimated how long
it would have taken for even a skilled scribe to produce a mega codex for
the bible; I don't recall the details, but it was a major operation --
also how many sheep/goats does it take for such a codex? herds!). And
perhaps once you had the image of a complete bible manuscript in mind (or
in the main cathedral?), there was no need to emulate it? In any event,
here are some details from the standard study by Kurt and Barbara Aland,
mentined above (I've rescued it from the grad office where it was "on

Out of a total of around 5,000 Greek manuscripts (see further below),
"only 3 uncials ... and 56 minuscules ... contain the whole of the NT. In
2 uncials and 147 minuscules only Revelation is lacking because of its
canonical history [so there is something to explore there!]. Otherwise the
groups of NT writings are generally found in a variety of combinations.
One uncial and 75 minuscules contain the NT without the Gospels
[presumably including Revelation?]; 11 minuscules have the Gospels
together with Revelation; 2 papyri, 1 uncial, and 8 minuscules have the
Gospels with Acts and the Catholic letters, while 2 more minuscules
include Revelation as well. The Pauline letters are found with Revelation
in 6 minuscules; Acts and the Catholic letters are with Revelation in 3
more minuscules. The Gospels are found with the Pauline letters in 5
minuscules. A particularly large group of manuscripts contains Acts
together with the Catholic and Pauline letters: 8 uncials and 263
minuscules -- this is more than any group containing a single group of
writings. ...[group by group statistics] For Revelation the numbers are
understandably lower: 5 papyri (4 fragmentary), 7 uncials (3 fragmentary),
and 118 minuscules (1 fragmentary). ...These figures produce the following
totals for each group of writings: the Gospels are preserved in 2,328
manuscripts, the Apostolos [Acts and Catholic Epistles] in 655, the
Pauline letters in 779, and Revelation in 287 Greek manuscripts" (78-79).

There is a nice chart of the mess on p.83, which shows a total of about
3,574 MSS and fragments, in which Revelation is represented 287 times (the
Gospels 2328, Acts & Cath Lets 655, Paulines 779). The problem area that
interests us here is the 149 MSS in which all but Revelation appear,
compared with 59 in which Revelation also appears with everything else.

On the question of early and later manuscripts, it is worth noting that
about 2,500 of the 2,800 minuscules are dated 11th century or later (and
nearly all of the 2200 lectionaries; but that is another matter). But
numbers are a moving target (do lectionaries count?). The Alands estimate
the total of Greek MSS containing one or more NT writing to be about 5,000
(p.74). In any event, only a small percentage of them contain the entire
NT as we know it (59 MSS would be less than 2% !!). And of the 208 MSS
that contain all or most of the NT, less than 30% include Revelation (for
purposes of this discussion, the relative dates of this corpus would
probably be significant -- mostly "late" minuscule manuscripts are at
issue, I think, which doesn't make them irrelevant for Richard's
interests). Finally, the Alands claim that when Revelation does appear in
a collection, it is always at the end of the NT materials (p.79), and the
Gospels are always at the start, but there can be lots of variation
inbetween. And, I think, occasionally there are additional texts after

Enough. Must go. Why do I let meyself get involved in such things?!
Enjoy the new millennium/century/year!


Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
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