Earliest Greek Parchment Texts

This is an example of early Greek text from dating to about 50 BC. This is a section from the book of Genesis in the Septuagint. No word spaces, not cursive, and different letter styles being more like those found in Alphabetic Akkadian texts.
Online at: https://www.historyofinformation.com/image.php?id=2693

Early Greek Writing 250 BCE

(September 25, 2023) The Septuagint (LXX) is the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Koine Greek, may have been produced at Alexandria, Egypt in stages, starting about 250 BCE. The Alexandrian community then included the largest community of Jews, including a group of scholars who prepared the translation.  The Septuagint derives its name (derived from Latin septuaginta, 70, hence the abbreviation LXX). The oldest witnesses to the LXX include 2nd century BC fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BC fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943).



A section of page 393r of the Clarke Plato Manuscript dating to 895 CE. It is now at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Britain. This is the earliest of such manuscripts which has survived and it is a copy of an earlier one. The text is a late cursive Greek with spaces separating words. Either this text has been modernized by copyists or the text itself does not really go back to Plato (400 BCE) but was only attributed to him (most likely). This means Plato's philosophy was not Athenian Philosophy but actually Byzantine or Hellenistic Philosophy. 
Online at: https://iiif.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/iiif/viewer/?iiif-content=https://iiif.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/iiif/canvas/5d6142d0-7f93-4b44-8e80-913b1857dac0.json#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=18&r=0&xywh=464%2C1381%2C1450%2C808

The Clarke Plato, Oldest Surviving Manuscript of Plato's Tetralogies 895 CE

(September 25, 2023) Quote from Bodleian Library online site: "The 'Clarke Plato', one of the oldest and most important witnesses for the text of this author (Plato)." 

Constantinople copied the "Clarke Plato" (Bodleian Library MS. E. D. Clarke 39) for Arethas of PatraeOffsite Link, later Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (Kayseri, TurkeyOffsite Link). The cost was 21 nomismata, or gold coins, for the copying and the parchment. Completed in November 895, this is the oldest surviving manuscript of Plato's Tetralogies 1-6 (Euthyphro-Meno).

Sometime between the inventory of 1382 and 1581-1582 the manuscript was purchased by the monastery of St. John the Theologian on the Island of Patmos. In 1801 E. D. Clarke purchased it from the monastery, and donated it to the Bodleian Library where it is preserved today.

Most early Greek philosophers are only known by references and short quotes found in later Hellenistic and Byzantine texts.


Hunt, R.W., The Survival of Ancient Literature. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1975, No. 56.