The Early Textual Transmission of John

Stability and Fluidity in its Second and Third Century Greek Manuscripts


In The Early Textual Transmission of John Lonnie D. Bell utilizes a fresh approach for assessing the character of transmission reflected in the second and third century Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John. The textual transmission of New Testament writings in the period prior to the fourth century has been characterized by a number of scholars as error-prone, free, fluid, wild, and chaotic. This study is an inquiry into the validity of this general characterization. Since John is the most attested New Testament book among the early papyri, is the best attested in the second century, and has the highest number of papyri that share overlapping text, it serves well as a case study into the level of fluidity and stability of the New Testament text in the earliest period of transmission.

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Lonnie D. Bell, Ph.D. (2015), University of Edinburgh, is Lead Preaching Pastor of Four Corners Church in Newnan, GA
"... an important study of the earliest extant evidence for the textual transmission of the Gospel of John. [...] Using an innovative approach [...], Bell demonstrates that the earliest witnesses of GJohn exhibit an impressive stability in the transmission of this text. [...] Congratulations!" - Larry Hurtado's Blog, 22 March 2018
"Bell's [...] revised Edinburgh PhD deserves publication in this famed series. [..] His meticulously and cautiously expressed results merit close study." - J.K. Elliott, in: Novum Testamentum 60 (2018)

1 Introduction
 1 Introduction to the Study
 2 Major Approaches to the Early Papyri
 3 My Question and Approach
 4 Rethinking Some “Free” Texts
 5 Structure of the Study

2 Fragments without Full Overlap in P66 or P75
 1 P52 (P.Ryl. III 457)
 2 P90 (P.Oxy. L 3523)
 3 P107 (P.Oxy. LXV 4446)
 4 P108 (P.Oxy. LXV 4447)
 5 P109 (P.Oxy. LXV 4448)
 6 P121 (P.Oxy. LXXI 4805)
 7 P5 (P.Oxy. II 208 & XV 1781)
 8 P22 (P.Oxy. X 1228)
 9 P28 (P.Oxy. XIII 1596)

3 Fragments with Full Overlap in P66 Only
 1 P95 (P.Laur. inv. II/31)
 2 P39 (P.Oxy. XV 1780)

4 Fragments with Full Overlap in P66 and P75
 1 P106 (P.Oxy. LXV 4445)
 2 P119 (P.Oxy. LXXI 4803)
 3 0162 (P.Oxy. VI 847)

5 Results and Implications

Works Cited
Those interested in New Testament Textual Criticism, New Testament papyri, the Early New Testament text, and the Gospel of John in the early church.
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