Early Biblical Manuscripts

Oral Transmission

The teachings of the “Evangelists” and the disbursement of the disciples, along with Paul’s journeys, led the oral transmission of the Gospel. Oral transmission continued for years before written transmission began. At that time, there was a culture of memorization and oral transmission.

“Birger Gerhardsson has brought together a massive amount of data to show how deeply entrenched the culture of memory was in the ancient Jewish world.”    
– Dan Wallace, Reinventing Jesus

The Codex

Apostolic and adopted writings were quickly copied. The early church did not have scribes as the Old Testament did. These copiers were from all walks of life, some professional and some not. Organization, structure and discipline were put into place very quickly. The use of the relatively new technique of the codex was primarily used for New Testament copying, unlike the common usage of scrolls. Copiers developed scriptoriums and implemented proofreading techniques and the use of Nomina Sacra.

“Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.”    
– Clement of rome I Clement, XLV

Distribution of the Gospel

God disbursed His people to quickly spread the Gospel, in a time when oral tradition and memorization was critical to the culture. Churches were taught orally for years before written transmission began, and rejected any teachings that varied from the Gospel they had already received. Four regions of copying developed – Western (Rome), Byzantine (Constantinople), Caesarean (Israel), and Alexandrian (Alexandria). We have authoritative writings as early as 250 AD of the books to be included in the Canon of Scripture.

Matthew first sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel; Mark also; Luke and John each played their own priestly trumpets. Even Peter cries out with trumpets in two of his epistles; also James and Jude. In addition, John also sounds the trumpet through his epistles [and Revelation], and Luke, as he describes the Acts of the Apostles. And now that last one comes, the one who said, “I think God displays us apostles last,” and in fourteen of his epistles, thundering with trumpets, he casts down the walls of Jericho and all the devices of idolatry and dogmas of philosophers, all the way to the foundations.”
Homiliae on Josuam 7.1
      ~250 AD  (emphasis added)