Page 6, 20th June 1975

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People: Megan preSealS
Locations: Manchester, London

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by Fr Kenneth Green Encountering New Testament Manuscripts by Jack l'inegah ISP('K £5,95) A work of .texlital criticism of the Greek New

cst.iment W uld put ..invh()(1v off except the relatively le yv s h oh a rly eccentrics one might imagine lost in the world of anc ic t manuscripts. N't; nothing could he farther from the truth.

Professor I 'Megan preSealS W I I Ii an ABC of New Team men t criticism. a hook as instructive as ii is rewarcline, his intent ion

is, Er ,. of photographs, to

1211•L' Us esperienee or work ing oil fragments still 'ID tYX et)1.L' Since the oldest one known is or St John's Gospel, of which more mantisaripts remain than or Ole others, the passages sl tidied are from John.

[laving been clearly instructed it Om materials and teehniques of the ancient

writers well is iti textual

criticism itself, we can now attempt to deal with what at first sight appears to be indecipherallte squiggles On bits of a jigsaw putile. These are spoil seen to be a small, familiar section of the Gospel which is subsequently compared with a more complete passage from other ancient fragments.

We arrive, after some very close study, at the best Greek text and thence to the English translation. We meet "opisthograph," "palimpsest," "stichometry," and Euthaliana" hut since these are difficult words for simple things, they are soon mastered.

The book is for that kind of Christian who is prepared to be stringently instructed in the rudiments of what for those who love truth is of the greatest importance.

To know how the New -testament came to us is a 'natter of elementary knowledge: to all hut handle the ancierit papyti and codices is an experience of great intellectual and spiritual value: to realise the vast erudition expended on the texts is a matter of admiration and pr'is'e. We have. then, a mine of information including the small fact that, found in Egypt, the oldest fragment of St John is now in Manchester. A lVth century Bible, too, has made its way from the monastery on Mount Sinai via Russia to London.

So textual criticism does not seem to be so remote and esoteric a world but one which, through this admirable book, can reveal to anyone who knows a little Greek the spirit of man tirelessly striving towards an ever deeper grasp of the Word of God.




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