is dangerous to speculate further, and we must leave the imaginary Roman, and, advancing to our own time, where we are on surer ground, ask what remnants of old records and literature have come down to us, and how have they been preserved?
It will be disappointing news, perhaps, to those to whom the facts are fresh, that no original manuscript of any classical author, and no original manuscript of any part of the Bible, Old Testament or New, has yet come to light. Nothing is known of any of these documents except through the medium of copies, and in some cases very many copies indeed intervene between us and the original. For instance, the oldest Homeric manuscript known, with the exception of one or two fragments, is not older than the first century B.C., and the most ancient Biblical manuscript known, a fragment of a Psalter, is assigned to the late third or early fourth century A.D. The earliest New Testament manuscript extant, the first leaf of a book of St Matthew's Gospel, is also no older than t
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