Article published by Timothy Mitchell

Tim Mitchell

ITSEE doctoral student Timothy Mitchell has had an article published in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. 

Entitled  “Exposing Textual Corruption: Community as a Stabilizing Aspect in the Circulation of the New Testament Writings during the Greco-Roman Era” the article is now published in Open Access in Volume 43, Issue 2 of Journal for the Study of the New Testament and is freely available at

Timothy says: "While reading Bart Ehrman's book "Misquoting Jesus" I was fascinated by the distance in time between the date of composition of the New Testament writings (such as the Gospels) and when our earliest extensive physical manuscript witnesses first appeared. For some of the writings, there is as much as a 200 year gap with no, or little textual evidence in the interim. I began to think about the process of copying and circulation during these "silent years" and I wondered if there was any way to have knowledge concerning the stability or instability of transmission during this period (and afterwards). It was reading Harry Gamble's "Books and Readers in the Early Church" that I first encountered a possible solution to my questions. The process of Roman era circulation of literature appeared to shed some light on the problem. This article is the result of this long discovery process and I present the thesis as an answer to my original question concerning these "silent years." I am pleased that it has appeared in print in such a great Journal and I appreciate all of my friends and colleagues who have discussed with me these concepts as I researched and formed my ideas over the past few years."

In his abstract, Timothy writes: Because few manuscripts of the NT writings are preserved from the first three centuries of the Christian era, scholars have debated the extent that modern critical editions of the NT reflect the text in circulation during these early centuries. In order to answer this question, this article will set out the evidence for ancient publication through community transmission. It will consider examples from Cicero, Martial, Quintilian, Pliny the Younger and Galen. These authors reveal that they preferred social networks rather than commercial dealers to circulate their writings. These same communities that copied and distributed an author’s works inadvertently created an environment in which significant alterations and plagiarizing of these same writings became known. Matthew D.C. Larsen, who has recently approached the same problem addressed in this article by examining ancient publication conventions, is engaged with throughout. The conclusions drawn here press hard against Larsen’s assertions.