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Original Manuscripts and Their Significance for Studying Early Christianity — Selected Essays


This selection of essays with autobiographical introduction aims to demonstrate the value of working with the original manuscripts in detail in order to gain a more profound understanding of the many facets of Early Christianity, in particular the texts and background of the New Testament.

This book should persuade other scholars to once again take a look at the original manuscripts, whether it be a textual witness to the New Testament, some apocryphal text, a reference to early Christian life, or even a specific socio-historical feature of the life of the common people in the days of early Christianity.

The specific selection of essays has been chosen with this purpose in mind, presenting editions of papyri and first-hand information, and showing how to base even complex constructs of ideas on a studious treatment of manuscripts. The essays demonstrate the value of studying manuscripts for lexicography, painting a picture of a socio-historical background, and showing how to assess and evaluate data methodologically.

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Thomas J. Kraus (Ph.D., 2000, University of Ratisbona) worked as a Lecturer at the University of Ratisbona and is now a private scholar. He participated in several research projects as an active contributor. In 2004, he co-edited (with Tobias Nicklas) the Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter for Griechische Christliche Schriftsteller (GCS). His current projects include Septuaginta Deutsch, Novum Testamentum Patristicum (NTP), Oxford Early Christian Gospel Texts (OECGT), and Death in Antiquity.
"The author shows an infectious love for the study of ancient manuscripts... One cannot but catch some of that enthusiasm... a weath of careful research, astute analysis and fascinating reading on every page. This book is essential reading for all courses on textual criticism and papyrology. A first-rate collection of essays and studies, recommended without hesitation." – Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, in: The Expository Times, April 2008
"This fascinating collection of essays by a younger scholar, clearly establishing himself as one of the world’s leading experts on biblical manuscripts and papyrological studies, provides many illuminating insights into the world of early Christian scribes, their products, and their lives... The author, and editors of the series, are to be congratulated for having made these essays available in this form." – Christopher Tuckett, Oxford, in: RBL, July 2008
"it is helpful to have this collection, especially as Kraus has much of value to impart--verifiable scholarship, wise deductions and helpful pointers forward to further research. He is an honestly engaging writer and researcher--a veritable terrier!" – J.K. Elliott, Leeds, in: Novum Testamentum, 2009
"Kraus’ lively enthusiasm for manuscripts shines through. [..] useful, detailed analysis of some manuscripts, and we hope to see more, with the same love of the documents." – D.C. Parker, in: Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, 2009