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A Basic Introduction to the Text

Like the rest of the New Testament, there are many witnesses to the text of the Revelation which are quite old, however when the Christogenea New Testament translation was created, the concern centered exclusively with those manuscripts which are esteemed to predate the 6th Century AD, which was the time of Justinian and when the Roman church first began to extend its reach and consolidate its power over Christendom. So that the listener has an idea of the age of sources for the text, here are the relevant witnesses to the Revelation which are from that remotest antiquity:

The Papyri (P) designated 18, 24, 47, 85 and 98. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition (NA27),  tells us where these Papyri are located, university, library or museum, and gives a catalog number for each. I will not include the details here.

P-98 is from the 2nd century and contains Rev. 1:13-20.

P-18 is from the 3rd or 4th century and contains Rev. 1:4-7.

P-24 is from the 4th century and contains parts of chapters 5 & 6.

P-47 is from the 3rd century and contains much of chapters 9 through 15.

P-85 is from the 4th or 5th century and contains parts of chapters 9 and 10.

Next are the Great Uncials, which are Koine Greek vellum manuscripts, which – unlike the Papyri – were made from animal skins and were very durable:

The Codex Sinaiticus: From the 4th century, this is the only complete copy of the Revelation from antiquity which predates the 5th century. While no manuscript can be deemed to be perfect with the information that we have, this is probably the most reliable single ancient copy that we currently possess.

The Codex Alexandrinus: From the 5th century, it contains all of the Revelation. It must be warned that I find the manuscripts of the Alexandrian tradition to be unreliable in many respects. Yet out of all the ancient manuscripts, the King James Version is closest to this one.

The Codex Ephraemi Syri: From the 5th century and a manuscript which closely follows the Alexandrian, it contains text from many chapters of the Revelation.

Other less famous codices are know only by identifying numbers:

0163: From the 5th century, it contains Rev. 16:17-20.

0169: From the 4th century, it contains parts of chapters 3 and 4.

0207: From the 4th century, it contains part of chapter 9.

There are many other manuscripts after these, which contain all or parts of the Revelation, which like the rest of the New Testament is attested to rather consistently down through the centuries. There are also witnesses for the text of the Revelation in the manuscripts of early writers such as Tertullian, Irenaeus, Cyprian, and Victorinus of Pettau, who are all from the second and third centuries. However for the Revelation, and only for the Revelation, the medieval Manuscripts known as the Majority Text are divided into two camps. These are those manuscripts of the Revelation known as the Koine tradition, which are of the majority, as contrasted to a minority of manuscripts known to originate from one Andreas of Caesareia. Andreas was a medieval monk, of possibly the 9th century AD or a little earlier, who wrote a commentary on the Revelation. Many of his notes were, apparently, later incorporated into the text, and those manuscripts copied from it created a second camp of Revelation manuscripts that contain many differences and many interpolations. The King James Version of the Revelation is based on one of these faulty manuscripts. One of the more famous interpolations is found there at Revelation 20:5, and reads “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” These words of that verse do not belong in our Bibles. They are the opinion of a medieval monk.

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