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God's Library

The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts

Brent Nongbri

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Yale University
15 February 2020
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 the 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 the most important collections of early Christian manuscripts, Nongbri vividly shows that 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.
By:   Brent Nongbri
Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 228mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   546g
ISBN:   9780300248609
ISBN 10:   0300248601
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   15 February 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Brent Nongbri is an Honorary Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and the author of Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept and numerous articles on the paleography and codicology of early Christian manuscripts.

Reviews for God's Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts

Nongbri is to be congratulated for his ability to synthensize large amounts of data and present a clear and cogent picture of the issues in manuscript study. -Sean A. Adams, Journal for the Study of the New Testament There is much to commend in this wonderful rich and informative book about books. Nongbri's discussion should be of interest for all scholars of the New Testament writings -Paul Foster, Expository Times Finalist for the 2019 PROSE awards, Theology and Religious Studies category Winner of the 2019 Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, presented by the Texas Institute of Letters Winner of the 2019 George A. and Jean S. DeLong History Book Prize sponsored by The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) Winner of the 2019 Best Book Relating to the New Testament Award, sponsored by the Biblical Archaeology Society We can all be grateful for Nongbri's impressively researched book. -Larry Hurtado With a skeptical eye, a large amount of original archival research, a comprehensive command of the bibliography, and fine critical judgment, this essential book takes apart most of what has been claimed for generations about early Christian manuscripts. This is the best available broad treatment of its subject and is certain to have a wide audience. -Roger S. Bagnall, New York University Breath-taking . . . with its spectacular archival research and clear, level-headed thinking, this book is a model of scholarship. As a result of Nongbri's research, we know both more and less about these important early Christian books. -AnneMarie Luijendijk, Princeton University Nongbri offers an engaging account of early Christian manuscripts and their modern discoverers, interpreters, and publicists. His lucid narrative offers useful guidance about what can and cannot be known about these important relics. -Harold W. Attridge, Yale University In a study that is erudite, persuasive, and massively documented, Brent Nongbri explodes many of the dominant assumptions of early Christian textual scholars. This is a must read for anyone interested in the 'archaeology' of Christian manuscripts. -Bart D. Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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