Indicators of 'Catholicity' in Early Gospel Manuscripts

Scott Charlesworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Two characteristics of early gospel manuscripts - the use of standard-sized codices and wholesale or systematic contraction of nomina sacra - show that Christians arrived at a 'consensus' about standardizing some aspects of gospel manuscript production in the second century. Since the Egyptian evidence is probably representative, the 'consensus' appears to have been 'catholic'. But the terms 'catholic' and 'catholicity' as used here have no reference to later periods. The same manuscripts indicate that standardization developed via informal collaboration and not hierarchical imposition. In terms of history, these indications of 'catholicity', which continue throughout the third century, pose a very significant problem for the 'heterodox'-dominant view of early Christianity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Early Text of the New Testament
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780191740985
ISBN (Print)9780199566365
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2012


  • Catholicity
  • Codex
  • New testament papyri
  • Nomina sacra
  • Readers' aids
  • Scribal culture
  • Scribes
  • Textual standardization


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