The Earliest Christian Manuscripts and their Contribution to the History of the Canon


  • Juan Chapa


Summary: I. Numerical comparisons II.Formal features. III. Textual stability. IV. Collections of “scriptural” books. V. Scriptural citations on amulets. VI. Conclusion.

The number of the earliest extant Christian manuscripts of “scriptural” character and the study of their formal features offer some clues about the complex history of canon formation. In a negative sense they allow us to question the view that understands the Christian canon as a simple product of the fourth century—the product of a particular historical situation—and in a positive sense it suggests that the decisions about the makeup of the canon might be the result of a process of theological discernment on the basis of the particular use of some books.