Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Deity of Christ in the New World Translation

When witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses we often try to object to their particular Bible translation, known as the New World translation, or the NWT. While there are serious problems with this particular translation, the fact is, the deity of Christ still bleeds from the pages of Scripture, even theirs.

3 Early Christian Artifacts for Apologetics

In the field of Textual Criticism, there are various discoveries that go largely unnoticed by the outside Christian community. Three of these discoveries contain valuable influence regarding the earliest Christian communities. In this video, I briefly address all three of these artifacts and their apologetic impact for today.

The Importance of Church History in Apologetics

I was recently asked to be on Ratio Christi TV's "Truth Matters" program to discuss the importance of knowning church history in apologetics.  It was a blessing as always and I hope it will be an encouragement to you as well.

About Clark

My Calling

The American church is seeing its sharpest decline in influence, effectiveness, and presence in history.  While there are many factors that contribute to this, I believe firmly that the biblical illiteracy becoming increasingly prevalent in the pews has been at its core.  The body of Christ cannot function as the answer to the human dilemma if it doesn't first understand its message and mission.  The Lord has called me to seek to fill this gap.  I believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures, as well as their textual reliability and efficacy to answer all of life's questions.

My Background

I came to Christ as a teenager but walked away from the faith for the better part of a decade after enlisting in the United States Coast Guard.  Having lived my life as I saw fit and nearly destroying my marriage in the process, my wife suggested we seek counsel with a local pastor.  It was through him and the local church that my faith was renewed and my marriage healed.  From that time onward I have sought to grow in my knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and share that knowledge with all who would hear it.

I hold a Bachelors of Science in Religion from Liberty University, having graduated Magna Cum Laude, and a Masters of Divinity degree in Pastoral Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.  I am currently studying for a second Master's degree in Theology with Phoenix Seminary, serving as a Fellow with the Text and Canon Institute, and intend on pursuing my PhD immediately after.  For roughly a decade I have served in the local church as teaching elder, interim pastor and guest lecturer.  I have spoken at numerous churches and gatherings along the Oregon coast, California, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois, emphasizing the reliability of the Christian Scriptures, the Christian worldview in science and philosophy, and the person of Jesus Christ.

I believe that every Christian should be confident in the faith that they hold and, following the directive of the apostle Peter, be willing and able to give a reason for the hope that dwells within them, with grace and compassion.  My desire is to see unbelievers find the saving grace of Jesus Christ and fellow believers to rise up and seek to change the world for the kingdom of God, but neither can happen if the church is not willing to listen and empathize with those we engage with.  Apologetics begins with a compassionate ear and a willingness to learn from those we wish to reach.

What Does the Title Mean?

I named the website Exe-Jesus as a play on words of the term below.  After all, if Jesus is the central message of Scripture all meaning we draw from it will point to Him.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

For Everything There is a Season

Posted by Clark Bates
January 18, 2020

I was asked last year how I got involved in apologetics, and to be honest, I hadn’t reflected on that for quite some time. In one form or another, I have been engaged in apologetic ministry for roughly a decade, and in all that time of reading, studying, speaking and writing, it becomes easy to lose sight of how everything began. One day you’re just an apologist. You don’t know when you went from studying to be an apologist to being one, but at some point, everything shifted.

As I reflect on it now, I have to say that I entered the world of apologetics a few years after coming to Christ. You see, prior to my being a follower of the Lord I was not a good man. My sins were many and some were illegal. While I had been justified a few years prior, the crimes I committed caught up with me and I had to face justice for them. While I was in prison, I was given a pair of headphones that were useful for two things: listening to AM/FM radio and the television in the common area. I wasn’t much for television, so I used them for radio. The only problem was that the prison house was cinderblock, as was my cell, which creates an excellent barrier to prevent radio signals from getting in. This meant that it was very difficult to find a radio station that I could receive in my cell, let alone a Christian one.

I was able to dial in one Christian radio station, but it only came in if I laid on my bed in my cell, pushed right next to the window. On Sunday afternoons, there was a program that broadcasted in San Diego right around lunch, for 1 hour. That radio program was called Stand to Reason. Yes, this is the same Stand to Reason operated by Greg Koukl, Amy Hall, and Alan Shlemon. For one hour, every Sunday Greg answered calls and dealt with the evidence for the Christian faith. In the darkest corner of my world, his voice was a beacon of light, reminding me that my faith was not vain. It strengthened me in ways that I can never express or repay.

After my release, I returned to my life, began working, and returned to serving my local church as I was able. I bought Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and read it cover to cover. Before long, I was sharing in the adult Sunday Schools what I was learning. I read vociferously, digesting all four volumes of Norm Geisler’s Systematic Theology, Frank Turek’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, and everything from Ravi Zacharias. It wasn’t long before I was teaching regularly in the church and fighting a pull on my heart to serve the Lord in some form of teaching ministry. The effectual calling upon me was confirmed by the elders of my church and I approached the pastor to share what was on my heart. To be honest, I thought I was crazy, because there was no way a felon could serve the church (at least that’s what I thought). But my pastor encouraged me to pursue the calling and begin the degree process to receive an MDiv. Not having had any education prior, this meant 7 years of schooling, but I signed up and my journey began.

As the years, and my training progressed I grew in wisdom and stature (metaphorically) with the Lord and others. I began to preach and teach in my church and others. I visited gatherings that were
interested in answering objections to the faith and helped strengthen the Body as I was able. Several years in, I was gifted with a scholarship to attend Frank Turek’s Cross Examined Instructor’s Academy, and I can honestly say that it changed my life. I learned how to focus my time and work in apologetics and to become a master of just one topic, rather than mildly familiar with many. I was fortunate to attend two Academies at different years and build a strong working relationship with many fellow apologists. From then to now, I have operated this website, completed my Master’s degree and continued to speak at various events in the areas I’ve lived. I’ve seen apologetics ministry go from being something almost unheard of to existing in every corner of the internet. For good or bad, apologetics and apologists are everywhere, and the Christian faith, to one degree or another, is being defended. For that I thank God.

But now we come to where I am at today. As I sit at my keyboard, I am in the final stages of a Master’s Thesis for my second Master’s degree. I took on this second degree as I felt the call of God on my heart with more clarity and a call to academic study. To attain a PhD, I must have a Master’s of Theology, so here I am, at the end of that road. To reach this destination I was given the inexpressible gift of a Fellowship at Phoenix Seminary to work under the intellectual giants, Dr. Peter Gurry and Dr. John Meade. I have been blessed beyond measure to travel to Oxford, England and learn paleography; to work with the Museum of the Bible and the University of Birmingham as a transcriber of Greek manuscripts; I have held the oldest fragment of the Gospel of Matthew in my hands, and I have humbly sat under the teaching of great and godly men and women. The baby Christian in that San Diego prison cell could never have fathomed where his life was headed.

All of that to say this, Lord willing, I will be working toward a PhD next year, and it will demand all of my focus and time for several years. Assuming anyone regularly reads this blog, it has probably been noticeable that I have posted less and less in the last year. This is because the sheer demand on my time is already very heavy and as much as I love apologetics, I simply cannot keep up. I have taken a great deal of time delaying this decision. I have prayed about it. I have sought counsel about it. And I believe that it is the right thing to do. At the end of this month, I will shut down this website and close the social media platforms for ExeJesus ministries. If asked, I will gladly speak at any gathering that would have me, but my time as an apologist has come to an end. I will always be thankful for everyone who encouraged me, supported me, and challenged me along this journey. And I will always defend the faith with love and compassion whenever I am asked about the hope that rests within me.

If I may pass on some parting words from ten years of observation, it is this: the best apologetic is the one that listens to the other person before speaking. It is the one that cares about the skeptic in the same way that it cares about the Christian. Apologetics is a part of evangelism, but it is not evangelism. Evangelism shares the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world. You can be an excellent apologist and have answers for every question, but never share the Gospel. My parting plea to the numerous young apologists out there is simply this: love your enemy, because they will know we are Christians by our love. There is no other way.

May the Lord Bless You

May He Keep You

       May He Make His Face to Shine Upon You

  And be Gracious to You

         May the Lord lift up His Countenance Upon You

And Give You Peace.

Book Review: Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism

Posted by Clark Bates
November 30, 2019


For the sake of full disclosure, I must state that many of the contributors to this book are acquaintances and/or friends. Two of whom I work directly for. While this might lead readers to believe I cannot review this work objectively, I hope that they will not still believe this at the end. For those who have read the articles here regularly, it should also be understood that much of the material in this text corresponds to the same ideals expressed here.


Elijah Hixson and Peter J. Gurry, Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2019.

I was speaking to a church group, expected to be an expert in all things apologetics, feeling the pressure to be both a low-budget Bible Answer Man, and encourage the congregation that they have good reasons to be Christians and to trust their Bible. When the time came for me to martial the evidence for the reliability of Scripture, I told them confidently, “Even if we didn’t have the New Testament, the quotations from the Church Fathers are so plenteous that we could recreate the entire New Testament and even close to the whole Bible, just from those!” I went on to say that even though many skeptics like to make a big deal out of “errors” or “variants” in the manuscripts, if you compiled them all, “The New Testament is still 99% accurate in every detail”, and “none of these variants, even make a difference to the Christian faith.”.

That was many years ago, and today I’ve come to learn that even though my intentions were good, my information was not. I still see these factual errors made in print and in conversation from fellow apologists, which tells me that bad information, because it is often sensational, circulates widely. It’s for this reason that Peter Gurry and Elijah Hixson’s book is so well timed. Both editors being junior academics themselves, have compiled some of the brightest young minds in textual studies today, to help inform the church and apologists about the actual data and its ramifications for the text of the Bible. This is not done in a condescending manner but with a genuine desire to see these ministries flourish through the use of accurate weights and measures. The authors introduce their work by citing several common errors made in defense of the faith and do not shy away from naming some of the more prominent figures who have done so. The chapters are then divided into 15 “Myths” that have been believed by Christians for many years.

Timothy Mitchell, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, addresses the myth of “autographs”, taking to task claims of extended longevity made by a recent popularly acclaimed film, as well as the challenge of defining early publication in the 1st century. Jacob Peterson, PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, tackles the ever inflating “math myths” regarding how many New Testament manuscripts actually exist. Addressing the difficulty of actually cataloguing these texts and identifying those manuscripts that exist in multiple fragments, each with their own shelf number though being one actual manuscript, Peterson provides a more accurate count and a more balanced understanding of what this data actually means for the Christian. In one of the most enlightening chapters, James Prothro, graduate of the University of Cambridge, explains the different methodology used by scholars of classical literature when recognizing manuscript evidence and that used by apologists. In doing so, he provides a rarely afforded glimpse into this academic community with an appeal for Christians to avoid the extreme counts on either side of the argument and focus on more realistic numbers. The mid way point of the book is reached by addressing the “myth of dating” in 2 chapters. The first, written by University of Edinburgh graduate Elijah Hixson, tackles the overlooked difficulties of paleographic dating methods. By citing examples from both the extremely conservative dates often preferred in Christian apologetics and the preference for late-dating by those like Brent Nongbri, the chapter serves both as a crash course in paleography and manuscript awareness. For most Christians, an early date is to be preferred while a late date to be rejected. Others, opt for the middle of the road, selecting a date between the two extremes. The power of this chapter is in the author’s explanation that none of the three options is an accurate use of the data. The second chapter, authored by University of Cambridge graduate Gregory Lanier, tackles the adage of “earlier manuscripts are always better”, by guiding readers through a primer on the later Greek manuscripts of the Bible. In so doing, the author provides evidence for the consistency of these texts and their potential for containing earlier readings. In tandem with the preceding chapter, Lanier’s work serves as an exceptionally measured response to the doubts of scribal accuracy.

The latter half of the text begins with University of Edinburgh graduate, Zachary Cole and a discussion on the actual habits of scribes and copyists who handled the New Testament texts. This chapter follows effectively after the last and serves as a more academic response to the skeptical claims made in popular work such as Misquoting Jesus. By analyzing various, observable tendencies in Manuscripts, Cole builds a macrostructure of behaviors that reveal a tendency for accuracy over error. Having discussed the actual copyists of manuscripts, University of Cambridge graduate, Peter Malik, uses his chapter to address the actual mistakes and corrections they made. As he states that, “the scribe’s main goal was not to innovate, and when they did, it was often accidental.” Additionally, helpful here is the author’s discussion on how to weigh a “correction”, especially if it is corrected by the original scribe. Moving into the “myth of transmission”, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary graduate S. Matthew Solomon distills his PhD dissertation on the manuscripts of Philemon into a digestible discussion on the accuracy of the transmission of the text. This chapter addresses the type of variation most often seen and its lack of impact in Christian doctrine, and lays the foundation for the following chapter by University of Cambridge graduate Peter Gurry. In this chapter, Gurry accesses the claim that no variants are significant for the Christian faith and points out several that do. In so doing, he seeks to adjust the argument away from oversimplification and require readers to face difficult variants head-on.

In perhaps the most direct chapter addressing a specific skeptical challenge, Robert Marcello, PhD student at Dallas Theological Seminary, speaks to the “myth of orthodox corruption”. Refining the subject of the previous chapter to focus on “why” scribes might change the text, Marcello explains the difficulty of identifying a theological motivation in most cases, and addresses those instances where it is clearly the case. Addressing one of my own errors stated above, University of Edinburgh graduate Andrew Blaski takes on the myth of patristics and the claim that we can recreate the NT text from quotations. This chapter excellently establishes the difficulty with even identifying a direct quotation in the writings of the early church and reveals to readers the source of this oft made fallacious claim. John Meade, graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, draws from his expertise as a Canon scholar to address the “Myths of Canon”. This chapter reviews various approaches to defending the NT canon, and the areas where they fall short, concluding with an assessment of canonical lists of the early church and their value for apologetic methodology. PhD student at the University of Notre Dame, Jeremiah Coogan, uses his chapter to expose readers to the world of manuscript versions (i.e. non-Greek translations of the New Testament) and their role in textual studies. Citing both their value and limitations, Coogan deflates the notion that an “earlier” text might somehow be recreated from a version and reminds readers of their value in revealing how the New Testament was received in other cultures. The book ends with a first-of-its-kind chapter, wherein Bible translator and graduate of the University of Birmingham, Edgar Obojo discusses how textual criticism effects the translation of the New Testament and how both enterprises share some concerns, but differ in others.

There is much to be commended in this book. The effort on the part of each author reveals both a strong academic affinity as well as a commitment to the faith and life of the church. At times the discussions may delve into such technical depths that the lay reader becomes lost, therefore, having a basic understanding of the terminology employed by textual critics can be very helpful before reading. That being said, every reader that becomes lost will be saved through the immensely helpful “Key Takeaways” section at the close of each chapter. These sections provide easily memorable bullet points of the overall discussion that readers can return to at will. As an apologist, I must admit that there were moments in which my ego was slightly bruised when reading, and others where my initial thought was the criticism was little more than tilting at windmills, given the specificity which the authors were trying to attain. But, I digress, that egos can and should recover, and what might appear to be unnecessary criticism to some is actually warranted if the integrity of our defense is at the forefront of our minds.

It is rightly said that there are more manuscripts of the New Testament than any other ancient classical text, but if we apply numbers to this claim, we must ensure that those numbers are true. Likewise, it is rightly stated that the doctrines of the church are not affected by any single variant in scripture, but this is not because those variants don’t matter; it is because no doctrine of the church rest exclusively on one verse. It is true that the church fathers reference scripture throughout their writings, but they do not do so in such a way as to accurately apply chapter and verse, nor could we know that they are citing Scripture, if we did not have the New Testament to compare them to. And perhaps the hardest truth for some to hold to is that we do not need a first century copy of Mark, or any other New Testament text, to defend the reliability of the message of Scripture. Therefore, always choosing the earliest date for the manuscripts in our possession is neither necessary nor recommended when engaging with lay people in the body of Christ.

This book accomplishes its goal in speaking the truth with love, and prods the apologetics community to walk with greater integrity than we have done in the past. It is also helpful for any person interested in the world of textual criticism and serves as an excellent primer into the various facets of this academic field. It is helpful for the minister seeking to educate their congregation, the apologist looking to mature in their knowledge and the student considering where they would like to take their studies in the future. It’s initial success in sales is testament to the felt need in the broader community and I hope that the desire for it continues to grow, as it is my core conviction that apologists, as soldiers on the frontline of the spiritual battle, must, above all others, walk in truth and integrity. I have made the mistakes listed in this book.  I have believed many of the myths. I am certain that you have too. I choose to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them. I pray you will choose the same, and make this book the turning point for you future engagements.

Let's Talk About Preservation

Posted by Clark Bates
November 1, 2019

Let’s talk about preservation.  Preservation is one of those Christian doctrines that is largely presumed in a discussion rather than explained or thought through.  Essentially, the doctrine of preservation is the belief that since God has promised that His word will never pass away, the word of God found in the books of the Bible must be preserved for all time.  The reason this doctrine isn’t often addressed on its own, is because it usually gets enveloped into an argument for the reliability of the text.  Discussions focus on manuscripts, variants, text categories and the like.

For critics like Dr. Bart Ehrman, the existence of variants in the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament patently demonstrate that there has been no preservation of God’s Word. For others, the need to maintain the doctrine of preservation leads to adopting a particular translation of the Bible as the “only inspired and inerrant word of God” or to prefer the text that is found in the majority of manuscripts. And others choose to adopt a particular form of the text adopted by the Reformed creeds. In general, these slightly extreme approaches are bound up in a generally honorable desire, to defend the doctrine of preservation.

The doctrine of preservation is entirely biblical (Ps. 12:6-7; Is. 40:8; Lk. 21:33) and if one believes that God must work miraculously through time to preserve every single word, the desire to adopt a specific form of the text makes perfect sense.  I believe in the doctrine of preservation even though I do not hold to any of the positions above, but this post isn’t about breaking down the details of the doctrine, it’s about sharing what I believe to be an excellent example of God’s actions in history, through completely natural processes, to preserve his word for the next generations.

It's all Greek

The direction of my academic work rarely intersects with content that I would consider applicable to
this site, but this week I believe it does. My present studies involve the transition in Greek manuscripts from the handwriting commonly called Majuscule or Uncial to what is called minuscule.  In the earliest New Testament manuscripts, the Greek writing was entirely capital letters, with no spacing; this is what we call “majuscule” Greek.  Over several centuries the Greek majuscule was refined into various styles seen fit for writing books, referred to generically as a “book-hand”.  One of the most used styles by the 4th century onward is now called the “biblical majuscule” and is best evidenced in Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

The majuscule Greek dominated all literary works for hundreds of years, until the 9th century when a new book-hand abruptly appears on the scene. Nothing like the refined beauty of the all-capital majuscule style, this form of writing was lowercase.  Not only this, but it was written in a cursive style of interconnected letters in random places and marked with several combination forms of letters, called ligatures. This new hand would later be called “minuscule” for its lowercase approach to the text and becomes the predominate style of writing until the time of the printing press in the 16th century. So influential was the minuscule that the earliest Greek typefaces used in printing were designed after the minuscule writing style, so much so that ligatures are even found in the earliest printed Greek New Testaments.

The question that puzzles many (okay not many, but a select few that have nothing better to do) is why did the style of writing change as it did, and when did this actually begin? It’s impossible to believe that our oldest example of the Greek minuscule book-hand is the first time it appeared.  Many of these studies are very technical, but most paleographers are in agreement on two features:
  1. The minuscule book-hand must go back to at least the 8th century
  2. All evidence suggests that this book-hand originated in the Stoudium monastery in Constantinople
It’s these two details that I want to expand on, briefly.

A Brief Byzantine History

In the 4th century a Roman diplomat of high social status named Flavius Stoudios founded a monastery in Constantinople. Very little is known of the monastery in the following centuries, but the surrounding Empire experienced immense difficulty.  As various Emperors rose and fell, the wealth of the empire grew, but suffered under excessive expansion of territories. The plague decimated people and grain storages and people-groups living on the outskirts of the Empire began to revolt. Persia began to encroach into the northern boundary, Avars invaded in the West. By the 7th century, the Byzantine Empire was a shadow of its once great glory. At this same time, a new religion was rising in the East led by a man named Muhammed Ibn Abdullah: Islam.  The Islamic faith spread rapidly in the 7th century, conquering Egypt and the Persian Empire, threatening the existence of the
Byzantine Empire and Constantinople.

The Islamic invasion was suppressed for a time, but their conquering of Egypt cut off the supply of papyrus to the Empire resulting in a shortage of writing materials. The alternative material, vellum, made from animal skins was costly and not producible in mass quantities in a financially diminished Byzantium.  Within Christianity, this was the era of the Chalcedonian Council and the Christological battles against Nestorianism and the nature(s) of Christ. By the 7th century, a new conflict had arisen called the Iconoclasm. This dispute in the church revolved around the use of icons (images of Christ and Mary) in worship or in churches. The iconoclasts argued that they should be destroyed, while the iconodules argued for their necessity.  It is here that the monks of the Stoudite monastery reappear in history.

The Stoudite monks opposed the iconoclastic emperors and churchmen, arguing fervently and writing
excessively in favor of the use of icons in the church. So adamant and vocal were they, that many were persecuted, defrocked and exiled.  Among them was the abbot of the monastery, Theodore the Studite.  Theodore didn’t begin his life as a monk, but was trained to be a bureaucrat, loving the sciences, reading and writing.  He was convinced of the monastic lifestyle by his uncle Plato, also an abbot, and also trained in reading writing and the sciences.  Under Theodore’s leadership the Stoudite monastery became a center of literature. The monks were diligent in labor and encouraged to read and copy books regularly.  How would this be possible in a time of material shortage like I mentioned above?  The monks raised sheep, both for food and for their skins to use as material.  They became a self-sufficient center of learning.

In the obituaries written of Theodore and Plato, it is said that they possessed a style of writing that is difficult to translate into English.  The use od the Greek word is strange, but when combined with its context, the suggestion is that they wrote with a sweeping motion and with great speed. It is presumed that Plato taught this style to Theodore, who, in turn, taught it to his monks.  This is believed by some to be the beginning of the minuscule Greek hand. Why? Because the earliest dated example of this book-hand is a Gospel text referred to as the Uspenski Gospels and it is signed by a monk.  Nicholas the Stoudite, servant of Theodore.

Over time, the church returned to the use of icons and the monks were allowed to return, yet their monastery had become so influential in its operations that the Empress Irene asked that they send monks to other monasteries and train them. In effect, these monks took the minuscule book-hand they had learned from Theodore and spread it to the rest of the Christian world, where it was then recopied, taking on regional features of its own, and eclipsing the previously used majuscule hand. Within a few centuries, the demand for book making increased to such a level that it rocked even the archaeological evidence left behind.  In the 8th century a scant 58 New Testament papyri remain, many of which are fragmentary.  By the 9th century, and the beginning of the minuscule book-hand, there are 208, by the 11th century there are 836 and it grows astronomically from there.

Allow me to take this one step further by going one step backward. If you examine the non-literary papyri of the 5th – 7th centuries, it is possible to trace the expansion of a sloppy minuscule writing style, very useful for writing deeds, receipts, and the like.  These all come from Egypt of course, and are nowhere near the Stoudite monastery in Turkey.  However, the monastery was founded by a Roman diplomat, who would have been familiar with these non-literary styles of texts and was likely exposed to this very early form of the minuscule Greek. To populate the monastery, monks were brought in from the Ivory Coast of Africa on a trade route that would have taken them through Egypt, exactly where we find these papyri, exposing the monks to this style as well. What this may suggest is that the Greek minuscule writing style can be pushed back farther than originally thought, possibly back to at least the 6th century.


So, what does all this mean for preservation?  Let me show you what I see, from 10,000 feet. An educated Roman consul creates a monastery a century after the reign of Constantine from which a monk trained in the love of literature would eventually lead. It is populated by monks exposed to a very new and foreign way of writing Greek that also happens to resemble a Latin style of writing, once refined. This monastery becomes an outpost of book care and production, even establishing its own provisions for material in a time when the outside world is being ravaged. They are led by scholars, to become scholars, and influence other monasteries with them. They perfect a writing style that is faster than the one prior to it and aesthetically resembles the Latin, making it approachable in all regions of the Empire. These monks take this style of writing into the rest of the Empire right at a time when economic upturns promote a love and demand for literature. A demand for books that can be written quickly and stylishly. A demand that the earlier majuscule style would not have been able to meet. Without the minuscule hand, the coming Byzantine Renaissance would have died before it began, but because a thousand small changes took place centuries prior, exactly the right people, were in exactly the right places, at exactly the right time, to enable the largest period of book production ever seen prior to the printing press.

I call that divine preservation. I call that providence. In all times, for all people, God has provided His word and He has ensured that it will last even through the most unlikely of times.