The December cover story for National Geographics is on biblical manuscripts and features comments from Dr. Wallace, the director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM). CSNTM, founded in 2002 by Dr. Wallace, utilize emerging technologies to preserve and study Greek New Testament manuscripts by digitally photographing existing manuscripts.
National Geographics article “Inside the Cloak-and-Dagger Search for Sacred Texts” provides an insider view of the discovery and study of biblical manuscripts. It has some wonderful pictures and a lengthy article on the archaeology, collectors, scholars, and schemers in the world of biblical manuscripts along with the history of bible hunting. It is well worth the time to read this article. It even discusses the early fragment of Mark that I have previously posted about (and here).
Some other institutions, individuals, and items mentioned in the piece include: Liberty University, Randall Price (archaeologist from Liberty), the Dead Sea Scrolls, Mark Lanier (Houston lawyer and avid collector), Museum of the Bible (the new D. C. museum opened by the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby), Konstantin von Tischendorf (famous 19th century scholar who discovered Codex Sinaiticus), the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, The Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster (which keeps the official count of New Testament fragments), Bart Ehrman, the Oxyrhynchus papyrus collection, amongst others.
Some notable quotes from the article:
“And while it’s true that more than 5,500 Greek New Testament manuscripts have been found, close to 95 percent of those copies come from the ninth to the 16th centuries. Only about 125 date back to the second or third centuries, and none to the first.”
“In the case of the New Testament, whose authors wrote in Greek, more than 5,500 Greek manuscripts and fragments have been found—more than any other ancient text. They total as many as 2.6 million pages, Wallace estimates, and like the Oxyrhynchus papyri, most of them have yet to receive scholarly attention.”
“Scholars were thrilled to learn that among them [i.e., the Dead Sea Scrolls] was a nearly complete copy of the Book of Isaiah from the Hebrew Bible. Its content was virtually identical to another copy of Isaiah dated almost a thousand years later.”
” ‘Evangelicals have had a tremendous impact on the market,’ says Jerusalem antiquities seller Lenny Wolfe. ‘The price of anything connected to the lifetime of Christ goes way up.’ “