Article: P. Orsini - W. Clarysse, Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates
Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates A Critique of Theological Palaeography
Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88/4 (2012) 443-474.
The date of the earliest New Testament papyri is nearly always based on palaeographical criteria. A consensus among papyrologists, palaeographers and New Testament scholars is presented in the edition of Nestle-Aland, 1994. In the last twenty years several New Testament scholars (Thiede, Comfort-Barrett, 1999, 2001 and Jaroš, 2006) have argued for an earlier date of most of these texts. The present article analyzes the date of the earliest New Testament papyri on the basis of comparative palaeography and a clear distinction between different types of literary scripts. There are no first-century New Testament papyri and only very few papyri can be attributed to the (second half of the) second century. It is only in the third and fourth centuries that New Testament manuscripts become more common, but here too the dates proposed by Comfort-Barrett, 1999, 2001, and Jaroš, 2006 are often too early.