Bible Manuscripts


Biblical manuscripts, copies and translations are authentic documents of any handwritten copy or portion of text of an original biblical author or book. These manuscripts are important as they authentic the original text of the biblical books and help us to understand their early interpretation and inspiration.

Every original text was copied many times over by different scribes verifying the original source as the copies are found to independently authenticate what the original text said.

Fragments of the original texts or manuscripts are found in various conditions that help add to the authenticity of the copies of the various version of the text we have today.

The staggering and awesome point concerning Gods word is that the bible is known to be over 99% consistent among all translations and copies throughout the entire world, thus verifying its power of preservation through all of time.

Old Testament - Manuscripts, Copies and Fragments of the Bible

Hebrew Manuscripts

The Aleppo Codex

c. 920 a.d., once known as one of the oldest manuscripts of the Tanakh until the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

The Leningrad Codex

c. 1008 a.d. once known as one of the oldest manuscripts of the Tanakh until the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

Vulgate Text

Written between the 5th and 8th century c.e. in Latin.

Amiatinus Codex

Written between the 5th and 8th century c.e. in Latin.

Peshitta Text

Written in 500 c.e. written in Syriac

Targum Text

Written in 500 c.e. in Aramaic

Coptic Text

Written in 3rd or 4th century c.e. in Coptic.

Masoretic Text

Written from 100 c.e to 1000 c.e. in Hebrew. The Aleppo and Leningrad are examples of this text.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

c. 150 b.c. - 60 b.c. Is a collection of a great many copies of the oldest known Hebrew copies of an earlier manuscript. Most of these scrolls are fragmentary.

Samaritan Pentateuch

Written in 200 b.c. to 100 b.c. in Hebrew.


Written from 300 b.c.e to 100 b.c.e in Greek. Fragments have been found dating to the second century b.c.e and the complete manuscript date to the 4th century c.e. Completed copies of this text re found in the codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and other earlier papyri. The term Septuagint is Greek for the number 70, as this work was completed by 70 Jewish scribes.

Ketef Hinnom Scrolls

Written in 650 b.c.e to 587 b.c.e in Hebrew Paleo Hebrew Alphabet. Amulets with priestly blessings have been found that date to this time period.

New Testament - Manuscripts, Copies and Fragments of the Bible

Greek Manuscripts

The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work of literature. It has over 5800 known complete and fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10k Latin and over 9000 in other languages including Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopian, Slavic etc. dates ranging from 100 a.d to 1500 a.d.

Papyrus Fragments

Most of the oldest Greek manuscripts and first generation copies of the New Testament are fragmented pieces that remain of the original. Most of these fragments from the first few centuries a.d. where written on papyrus, the typical writing material of that time and region. Papyrus is writing paper or parchment paper made from the reeds that grow along the Nile river. Most of the books of the new testament where originally letter written to various churches in the first century. The known composition of these letters being bound into books is found to date to the 4th and 5th century.

Various manuscripts date between 32 B.C and 640 A.D

Rylands Papyri is a collection of thousands of Papyri Fragments and documents

Completed Manuscripts

A number of notable completed or mostly completed Greek manuscripts are as follows:

Desiderius Erasmus Greek New Testament - c.1516 - Desiderius compiled the first published edition of the Greek New Testament. He based his work off of several older manuscripts because he did not have a single work to compile his work from.

The 4 Great Uncial Codices

The Great Uncial Codices are ancient manuscripts containing the majority of both the Old and and New testament:

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus - 500 a.d. - A manuscript of the New Testament and Old Testament in Greek. It is missing 2 Thess, 2 John, and a number of Old Testament books.

Codex Alexandrius - 500 a.d. - Dating to the 5th century and contains most of the books of the New Testament. This is another Greek manuscript considered a uncial, because it contains both the New and Old testament.

Codex Vaticanus - 400 a.d., a 4th century manuscript that contains a majority of the Greek Old and New Testament.

Codex Sinaiticus - 400 a.d. - a 4th century manuscript of a Greek bible containing the New Testament, including the epistle of Barnabas and Hermes, and the majority of the Old Testament.