God’s Library

The archeology of the earliest christian manuscripts

Brent Nongbri, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018


A provocative book from a highly original scholar, challenging much of what we know about early Christian manuscripts. In this bold and groundbreaking book, Brent Nongbri provides an up-to-date introduction to the major collections of early Christian manuscripts and demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew about these books and fragments is mistaken. While biblical scholars have expended much effort in their study of the texts contained within our earliest Christian manuscripts, there has been a surprising lack of interest in thinking about these books as material objects with individual, unique histories. We have too often ignored the ways that the antiquities market obscures our knowledge of the origins of these manuscripts. Through painstaking archival research and detailed studies of our most important collections of early Christian manuscripts, Nongbri vividly shows how the earliest Christian books are more than just carriers of texts or samples of handwriting. They are three-dimensional archaeological artifacts with fascinating stories to tell, if we’re willing to listen.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents


Map Showing locations in Egypt

Prologue – Reintroducing the earliest christian manuscripts

1 – The early christian book

2 – The dating game

3 – Finding early christian books in Egypt

4 – A discovery “which threw all other in the shade” : The beatty biblical papyri

5 – An elusive collection : The bodmer papyri

6 – Excavating christian litter an Literature at Oxyrhynchus

7 – Fabricating a second-century codex of the four gospels

Epilogue – The future of ancient christian books

Appendix : Christian books from Oxyrhynchus

Notes Bibliography



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