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In the years after Jesus was crucified atCalvary, the story of his life, death and resurrection was not immediatelywritten down. The experiences of disciples like Matthew and John would havebeen told and retold at many dinner tables and firesides, perhaps for decades,before anyone recorded them for posterity. St Paul, whose writings are equallycentral to the New Testament, was not even presentamong the early believers until a few years after Jesus’ execution.

耶稣在骷髅地被钉上十字架之后的岁月里,关于他生活、死亡和复活的故事并没有立刻被记录下来。在有人为后世子孙记录下它们之前,像是马太和约翰等门徒的经历,会在很多餐桌和炉火边被反复述说,可能长达几十年。对于新约同等枢要的圣保罗的著述,在早期信徒中间甚至都没有出现过,直到耶稣被处死后的一些年。

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In the second century, church fatherIrenaeus of Lyons argued for the validity of the Gospels by claiming that whatthe authors first preached, after receiving “perfect knowledge” from God, theylater put down in writing. Today, scholars differ on these issues – from theAmerican writer Bart Ehrman stressing how much accounts would be changed by theoral tradition; to his Australian counterpart Michael Bird’s argument thathistorical ambiguities must be tempered by the fact that the books are the wordof God; or the British scholar Richard Bauckham’s emphasis on eye-witnesses asguarantors behind the oral and written gospel.

公元二世纪,教父艾任纽通过主张作者们在接收到来自上帝的“完美知识”后,先是传道其后笔录,来论证福音书的可信度。今天,学者们对于这些问题意见不一,从美国作家巴特·埃尔曼(BartEhrman)强调,由于口口相传的传统会有多少记述发生变化;到他的澳大利亚同行迈克尔·伯德(MichaelBird),主张说这些书是上帝话语的事实,必然会抹平史实上的模棱两可;或是英国学者理查德·包克罕(Richard Bauckham),他强调口传和书面福音背后的目击见证才能作为担保。

The first New Testament books to be writtendown are reckoned to be the 13 that comprise Paul’s letters (circa 48-64 CE),probably beginning with 1 Thessalonians or Galatians. Then comes the Gospel ofMark (circa 60-75 CE). The remaining books – the other three Gospels, lettersof Peter, John and others as well as Revelation – were all added before oraround the end of the first century. By the mid-to-late hundreds CE, majorchurch libraries would have had copies of these, sometimes alongside othermanuscripts later deemed apocrypha.

第一批被写下来的新约书籍被认为是包含了保罗信件的13本(约公元48-64年,即《使徒书信》),可能是以帖撒罗尼迦前/后书或加拉太书开始的。然后就有了马可福音(约公元60-75年)。其余的书,包括其他三本福音、彼得前/后书、约翰一/二/三书以及其他人的书信,连同启示录,都是在公元一世纪前或左右添加进来的。到公元几百年的中后期,主要的教会图书馆都会有这些书籍的副本,偶尔还会同时存有其他在日后被视为伪经的手稿。

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Bible #1

1号圣经

The oldest surviving full text of the NewTestament is the beautifully written Codex Sinaiticus, which was “discovered”at the St Catherine monastery at the base of Mt Sinai in Egypt in the 1840s and1850s. Dating from circa 325-360 CE, it is not known where it was scribed –perhaps Rome or Egypt. It is made from parchment of animal hides, with text onboth sides of the page, written in continuous Greek script. It combines theentire New and Old Testaments, though only about half of the old survives (theNew Testament has some fairly minor defects).

现存最古老的全本新约是书写精美的西奈山抄本,它在1840至1850年代“被发现”于埃及西奈山山脚下的圣凯瑟琳修道院中。它可以追溯到约公元325-360年,它被抄录之地并不知名,可能是罗马或埃及。它由羊皮纸做成,书页两边都有文本,以连续的希腊文写就。它同时包含了新约和旧约,虽然旧约只有大约一半幸存(新约部分存在一些小瑕疵)。



Codex Sinaiticus, Book of Matthew.

(图解:西奈山抄本之《马太福音》)

Sinaiticus may not be the oldest extantbible, however. Another compendium of Old and New Testaments is the CodexVaticanus, which is from around 300-350 CE, though substantial amounts of bothtestaments are missing. These bibles differ from one another in some respects,and also from modern bibles – after the 27 New Testament books, for example,Sinaiticus includes as an appendix the two popular Christian edifying writingsEpistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas. Both bibles also have a differentrunning order – placing Paul’s letters after the Gospels (Sinaiticus), or afterActs and the Catholic Epistles (Vaticanus).

然而西奈山抄本可能不是现存最古老的圣经。另一部旧约和新约的概要是梵蒂冈抄本,年代约是在公元300-350年,虽然缺失了新旧约中的大量内容。这几部圣经在某些方面彼此相异,与现代版圣经也有所不同。譬如,在27部新约书籍之后,西奈山抄本还包括了两部流行的基督徒启蒙作品作为附录,分别是《巴拿巴书》和《黑马牧人书》。这两部圣经都有着不同的章节顺序,西奈山抄本把保罗书信置于福音书之后,或是在梵蒂冈抄本中,将其置于《使徒行传》和《大公书信》之后。

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But in the absence of a single book priorto the fourth century, we have to content ourselves with the many survivingolder fragments sensationally found during the 20th century. We now have some50 fragmentary New Testament manuscripts written on papyrus that date from thesecond and third centuries – including the valuable Papyrus 45 (fourfold Gospeland Acts), and Papyrus 46 (a collection of Pauline letters). In all, thesecomprise almost complete or partial versions of 20 of the 27 books in the NewTestament.

但由于四世纪前一本书也没有,我们不得不靠20世纪的惊人发现,即现存更古老的碎片来自我满足。我们现在拥有50份写在纸莎草纸上可追溯到二至三世纪的新约抄本碎片,包括价值极高的纸莎草纸45号(Papyrus 45,含四福音书和使徒行传),以及纸莎草纸46号(Papyrus 46,保罗书信集)。加总起来,这些涵盖了新约中27部书中20部的几乎全本或是部分的版本。



Papyrus 46 extract.

(图解:纸莎草纸46号摘录)

The quest will likely continue foradditional sources of the original books of the New Testament. Since it issomewhat unlikely anyone will ever find an older Bible comparable withSinaiticus or Vaticanus, we will have to keep piecing together what we have,which is already quite a lot. It’s a fascinating story which will no doubtcontinue to provoke arguments between scholars and enthusiasts for many yearsinto the future.

对新约原本额外来源的追索可能会继续下去。因为任何人找到比西奈山抄本或梵蒂冈抄本更古老的圣经都有点不太可能,我们不得不将我们拥有的那些持续不断地拼凑到一起,它们的数量已经相当多了。这是一个让人神魂颠倒的故事,毫无疑问将会在未来的很多年里,继续激起学者和狂热分子之间的争论。