Monday, June 29, 2015

The Trouble with "Autographs": Craig Evans, "How Long were Late Antique Books in Use?

Bulletin of Biblical Research  (BBR) 25.1 (2015), 25-37.

"Given that there is no evidence that early Christian scribal practices differed from pagan practices, we may rightly ask whether early Christian writings, such as the autographs and first copies of the books that eventually would be recognized as canonical Scripture, also remained in use for 100 years or more."

The use of the term "autographs," or rather the unexamined assumptions that underlie its use, deserves scrutiny.  It might mean a sort of signed first edition, or at least a "fair copy," or else a working copy, a draft version, identified by the number of alternative  word choices, some words crossed out, others written above etc. as in the case P. Oxy. vii 1015 (image of a diplomatic transcript below) or P. Koeln vi 245.
E.G. Turner, GMAW2 no. 50
Probably Evans is thinking of autograph to mean "fair copy" and further, assumes that textual variety stem from  secondary copies made from this original one. This in any case the simplest assumption: the closer you are, the clearer the view. 
If we understand "autograph" to mean a working version, or rough draft,or a revised copy, tit might be that some of the multiplicity of variants, and the textual variety found in secondary copies might stem not from scribal caprice, lapsus calami etc., but from the author's writing process itself. 

Now, it might seem obvious that the best copy, representing the author's "last and best thoughts" on his subject.  But not necessarily. Take for example Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. We have two drafts, one which is assumed to be his script, so to speak (the Nicolay version); the other (Hay version) is probably an attempt to revise his remarks. We have two main versions of transcripts made at the event and published in newspapers, one of which is assumed to be verbatim, or nearly verbatim (Hale's transcript). Beyond this, there are several fair copies written by Lincoln himself.
A plethora of variation, major and minor, result, as can be seen in the critical edition below. I should note that the base text I use is the Nicolay version, considered to be Lincoln's "script" for the speech.

In short, what Lincoln intended to say (Nicolay version) differs from what he said, through extemporization, as when he transforms, "This we may in all propriety do" to "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this," (note 7)  or by accident, as when he appears to have said "beyond our power " rather than "beyond our poor power" (note 10).
The last known revised copy by Lincoln, the "Bliss Copy," (prepared for the Baltimore Sanitary Fair of 1864) became what is now considered the standard text only with planning and dedication of the Lincoln Memorial (1911-1922).
 In a May 5, 1909, letter, Robert (sc. Lincoln) said, "The Baltimore Fair [Bliss] version represents my father's last and best thought as to the address, and the corrections in it were legitimate for the author, and I think there is no doubt they improve the version as written out for Col. Hay,-and as I said to you before, I earnestly hope that the Baltimore Fair version will be used."73
Jared Peatman. The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (Kindle Locations 1317-1319). Kindle Edition. 
Subsequently,  a Senate committee was given the responsibility:

On February 20, 1913, the U.S.Senate adopted a joint resolution stating, "Protests having been made that there are many different versions of Lincoln's Gettysburg speech, which it is proposed to inscribe on the Lincoln Memorial to be built [in Washington, D.C.], the Senate adopted Senator Root's joint resolution to-day, authorizing a committee to report the correct version." ("Seek Lincoln's Own Words," New York Times, February 21, 1913, 6.)
Jared Peatman. The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (Kindle Location 2794). Kindle Edition.
 So the standard text was 50 years in coming, before which the variation among the copies and the newspaper accounts were not considered a problem. It was only after the speech became institutionalized, included in The McGuffey Reader of 1889 (no 79, p. 266), which prints "beyond our power to add or detract" (note 10 above), and carved in stone in Washington that careful consideration was given to the details of the text.

There are some obvious points in the NT transmission that might have come from variation in authorial versions: the long and short versions of Acts,  or the position of the letter of recommendation for Phoebe in Romans, for example.

Let me summarize by saying, if one thinks that if we had the autograph version of John's Gospel, say, that legend has it was kept by the church at Ephesus into the third century, we would still require textual criticism to adjudicate between variants.

As a coda, let me say that sometimes the author's scholarship is faulty. On p. 32, referring to the above mentioned legend, he writes:

There is yet another testimony in which a NT autograph is mentioned. In a Paschal treatise, of which only fragments are extant, Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (died in A.D. 311), is remembered to have said the following:
Now it was the preparation [cf. John 19:14, 31], about the third hour [cf. Mark 15:25], as the accurate books have it, and the autograph copy itself of the evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful. (frag. 5.2) note 34 

[J. B. H. Hawkins, “Fragments from the Writings of Peter,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson; 10 vols., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1898) 6:283. The original Greek treatise survives only in Latin quotations.]
 The note attached to this fr. in the 1869 edition of the work cited above refers the reader to Andreas Gallandi (Gallandius), Ex Chronico Paschale, p.179 d, Venice 1729). This work, of course, is not in Latin, but Greek, and the text in question can be found in TLG, which contains Dindorf's edition, Chronicon Paschale (Bonn 1832).

ὥρα ἦν ὡσεὶ τρίτη, καθὼς τὰ ἀκριβῆ  βιβλία περιέχει,
αὐτό τε τὸ ἰδιόχειρον τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ Ἰωάννου,
ὅπερ μέχρι νῦν πεφύλακται χάριτι θεοῦ ἐν τῇ Ἐφεσίων
ἁγιωτάτῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν πιστῶν ἐκεῖσε προσκυνεῖται. 
 Finally, let me disown a reference to an article of mine: in  note 15, p 27 the author writes:

Schwendner, “A Fragmentary Psalter from Karanis and Its Context,” 127. Schwendner discusses two texts that originated in the third/fourth centuries that apparently were reinked toward the end of the fifth century.
 I am not sure what he had in mind. I don't discuss reinking at all in that article, to which I am in Prof. Evan's debt for publishing, btw, and have only once, in an online paper concerning the so called "Gospel of Jesus Wife."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Inside Roman Libraries (Houston): Preliminary Observations on Ancient Dumps

Many years ago, at a meeting of CAMWS (2005?), my wife, Ariel Loftus, first introduced the author to the LDAB, then still in CD-form, or maybe just newly on the internet. 

George Houston's new book, Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity (UNC Press, 2014) offers a valuable overview of what we know about book collections in the Roman World. I limit my remarks to one chapter. My only real concern is the number of assumptions that are made in chapter four, and not with its overall conclusions about intellectual life in Oxyrhynchus. 

In Chapter Four, "Books Collections of Oxyrhynchus," states generally "Grenfell and Hunt noticed that the ancient residents of the town had occasionally thrown out not just random materials, but substantial collections of interconnected written materials (1). These concentrations, coherent in date and content (2), usually consisted of official documents or of some individual's letters and accounts. But in the inter of 1905-06 Grenfell and Hunt discovered three concentrations (3) each of which contained numerous literary papyri." About the first of these, the author reports, that they "were confident that they all had been discarded at one time and all came from a single library."

 "Interconnected written materials (1)" and : "coherent in date and content (2). When documents are considered, there are clear criteria for determining their interconnectedness: date and prosopography. The archive of the sons of Ptollas, some of which were held together by string (P.Mich. vi 399-407), were found together in a sealed dump at Karanis (*158). That is, structure 158 was built on top of this dump, and it has, in theory, a fixed terminus ante quem. More often, discarded archives were deposited in a group, as was the case with the Archive of Aur. Isidorus, even though it was not excavated, but found during an illegal dig and destined for the antiquities market. A few papyri made it onto the market, and were sold to western collections (Merton and Michigan), but most of the archive was recovered by the authorities, and so remained together.
Connecting literary texts into a group is a trickier affair than Houston lets on. He simply relies on the confidence of Grenfell and Hunt, and says no more about it.  Sometimes, as in the case of the Archive of the sons of Ptollas, and in Archive of Leonides, son of Theon, papyri are found tied together. (TM Archives). But for the most part, it is a matter of conjecture. Grenfell and Hunt were pre-scientific excavators, and so give no accurate record of the dumps they dug, as Bingen did for Mons Claudianus ("Dumping and the Ostraca at Mons Claudianus," in D.M. Bailey, Archaeological Research in Roman Egypt, JRA Suppl. 19, 1996), 29-38).

As to the second point (2: "coherent in date and content"), dating is problem, not only because most of the literary papyri the author groups together must be dated palaeographically, that is to say, not historically, but because they are not coherent in their dates. For the "Second Find" at Oxyrhynchus (1906), most have a range of three centuries (first-third AD, pp. 159-62).  We have examples of literary texts that from a coherent group, in topic and date, that were deposited together, that is the Tura Find of 1941. Even here, however, we do not really know the date of deposition.  One might suppose they were deposited in cave 35 at Tura after Origen and Didymus' work was declared anathema by Justinian in 553, but we cannot know with certainty. These were whole books, not partial, fragmentary or worn out, in contrast to the Oxyrhynchus finds. It is salutary to have some comparanda when evaluating with what we think we know about literary papyri in dumps.

Another problem is the author's assumption that, first,  we can know the date these "concentrations" of literary papyri were deposited, and second, we may safely assume they were deposited together, at the same time, not gradually. "As a reasonable and conservative guess, I will assume they were thrown in about 400 AD" (p.162). Perhaps I am misunderstanding here, but if he means there is either a terminus ante quem for the dump (which we can hardly say, because there we do not know all the datable objects that were found there, and, since, I assume, and may be wrong, the dump was not sealed), or can have any good idea about the precise date of deposition. We may be able to ascertain the earliest datable text or object form this layer of the dump, and so arrive at a rough terminus post quem, apart from Grenfell and Hunt's observation that they were excavating a fourth-fifth century layer. Grenfell and Hunt report that "at Oxyrhynchus it is not uncommon to come upon large groups of papyri which have been thrown away simultaneously" ("Excavations at Oxyrhynchus" in Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts (edd. A. Bowman et al., EES Greco-Roman Memoirs no. 93, 2007), p. 360. This assumption may be reasonable, but it cannot be demonstrated, and must be understood as conjectural rather than factual.

Second, if, as is assumed, these texts (First Find, Second Find, etc.) were deposited in the dump simultaneously, how can we know if this was a primary or secondary deposit? That is, can we know that discarded bookrolls were taken straight to library to the dump, in a sort of spring cleaning? These rolls, or their detritus, of might just as well been collected in the library first,  (garbage often accumulated in spare rooms, or just outside doorways) all at once, or over time, and only later taken to the dump. Therefore the dump would be a secondary deposit, and we are another step away from knowing when these book rolls, or parts of them, were discarded originally.

More needs to be said, about how one may apply Houston's results as to the longevity of books to Christian text, especially in light of the fact that he deals almost exclusively with book rolls, not codices. Given the early Christian use of single-quire codices, notoriously clumsy and easily damaged, his findings cannot be imported without qualification into the context of the longevity of Christian books. But that is for another time.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Strange things you can find on the internet: David Stewart Crawford's gravestone in Cairo

He was the editor of P. Fuad Univ. and, posthumously, P. Michael(idae).
In my first papyrological seminar with Ludwig Koenen, another student was working on a Byzantine papyrus whose best parallel was in P. Michael. Al-Ahramon the 50th anniversary in 2002, describes what happened: 
The next day, [after an attack by British forces on an Egyptian police station in Ismalia, killing 41] demonstrators gathered in Cairo to protest against the slaughter. The absence of police control of any sort (which was hardly surprising) allowed the crowd to quickly develop into a rampaging mob. Led by extremists, the rioters set about systematically torching foreign-owned interests -- bars, cinemas, hotels. In one attack nine members of the Turf Club -- a name synonymous with British imperialism in Egypt -- were killed. They were stripped and beaten to death before their bodies were consigned to the flames of the burning building. In total, 26 foreigners were killed on what became known as "Black Saturday." 

Several of Crawford's readings could have been improved in comparison with the new text, but, we were told, the original was lost in Cairo when the editor was killed in the rioting there in 1952. At least I think that's what he said.  But George Michaelides' collection manuscript collection can now be tracked down because of Sarah Clackson's article, "The Michaelides Manuscript Collection" in ZPE 100 (1994), 223-6The Turf Club is now the Cairo Center Hotel.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

more about P39 and the INTF Liste

P39 ( =P. Oxy. 15 1780). It was distributed by the EEF to the Crozer Theological Seminary in eastern Pennsylvania (Upland). Crozer merged in 1970 with the Colgate Rochester Divinity School in the University of Rochester, NY, and its papyrus collection moved accordingly to the Ambrose Swasey Library; so the online Location List of Oxyrhynchus Papyri (given as The Ambrose Swabey (sic) Library)—a typo originating in the R. Coles print edition, Location-list of the Oxyrhynchus papryi and of other Greek papyri published by the Egypt Exploration Society, p.2, and reproduced numerous places since.
The CSNTM also gives the location as Rochester.
These papyri were sold at auction by Sotheby's. I append below the entry front he auction catalogue, since all the links I have seen to it are broken (here, at least is the latest url, and this links, for now, to a pdf of the same.

The Green Collection, Oklahoma City OK, bought P39, and has exhibited since at The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.,

The TM 61638 (=LDAB 2788) gives the date as "AD 250 - 299 (date : W. Clarysse - P. Orsini, Eph. Theol. Lov. 88 (2012), p. 462 ...[AD 275-300])"
The reason given by Clarysse-Orsini is expressed in terms of the stylistic evolution of this type of hand, "Biblical Uncial": "The canon ... reaches its peak...." But another reason is given by comparing P.Oxy. XLIX 3509Plato, Republic i 330 a2 - b4, because a document is written on the back, and parts of the front (published as P.Oxy. XLIX 3511), dated to the first half of the 4th AD.

Other similar hands are P.Oxy. xxii 2334 (GMAW2 pl. 26), P.Ryl. i 13, P.Berol. 13411, according to the editor of the, R. Hübner (ZPE 30, 1978, pp. 195-96).
( G. Zuntz, De Pap. Berol. 13411, Aegyptus 15, 1935, 282–296 (P. 13411)
Below" P.Ryl. i 16
On the back of the above (P.Ryl. i 16) is a letter from Syrus to Heroninus (P.Ryl. ii 236), which has been dated to either Jan.11 256, or Jan. 10, 253 . 
So the third century date of P39 can be justified by the necessity of dating P.Ryl. i 6 before 250 AD not he one hand, and the consensus view that P.Oxy. xxii 2334 probably was written after 250. So it would seem the desire for a date-range of fewer than one hundred years must remain frustrated. 
But, consider what dating an undated hand means: the working life of a scribe of, e.g., between 20  and 30 years. So the limit of what we can know is not which year between 201-301 was a particular text written, but in which of 5 lifetimes (if we assume a 20 year working lifetime for a scribe) or 4 lifetimes (assuming a 30 year lifetime) it might have been A second probability, the length of time a book might remaining use before being discarded, is less easy to qualify.  A rough estimate for the reuse of documents is about 30 years (NOTE). But for books, we will first want to know why it might come to be discarded, in whole or in part. 1. Damage 2. loss of interest 2.a change of owner 2.b change in circumstances of the owner. Of these, damage might occur at any time, and so is imponderable. Change of ownership might have a strong link to generational change.  As for the remarkable claim made by Houston that books remained in 150-500 years, this is a matter for another time.

03 DECEMBER 2008 | 2:00 PM GMT
Estimate  200,000 — 300,000 GBP
297,920 - 446,880USD

Gospel of John, in Greek, large fragment from a manuscript codex on papyrus a vertical piece, c. 250mm by 77mm., comprising approximately half of a leaf from a large and exceptionally fine early Christian codex, 25 lines complete with upper and lower margins intact, text from John 8:14-22,  written in a magnificent widely-spaced biblical uncial, original pagination for ' 74'  in upper left-hand corner of verso, approximately half of each line missing, other very small lacunae, between sheets of perspex, framed.

One of the finest and most celebrated early Christian Gospel fragments, perhaps the oldest or possibly second oldest surviving witness to this part of the text of the Gospel of John, in its original language. Written almost certainly in Alexandria, and used in the important early Christian community at Oxyrhynchus, in the desert west of the Nile about 120 miles from Cairo, partly covered now by the modern village of Behnesa.  Ancient Oxyrhynchus was principally discovered Bernard Grenfell (1869-1926) and Arthur Hunt (1871-1934), both of Queen's College, Oxford, who devoted their lives to excavating it.  The site furnished many of the finest and most precious records of early Christianity ever found, including the sensational 'Sayings of Jesus' (later known as the 'Gospel of Thomas'), as well as notable classical texts, including Pindar and Menander.  The present fragment was recovered by Grenfell and Hunt on 28 September 1922, and it was classified as P. Oxy. 1780.  Most of the Oxyrhynchus finds are now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the British Museum.  Some specimen pieces, however, were transferred by Oxford University to appropriate theological seminaries and colleges elsewhere, including the present piece which had been given by 1924 to the Baptist college, Crozer Theological Seminary, founded near Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1865.  It was later the alma mater of Martin Luther King.  In 1980 Crozer merged with the ecumenical Colgate Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York.  The present manuscript was Inv. 8864 in the Ambrose Swasey Library in the combined Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, until their sale in our New York rooms, 20 June 2003, lot 97, $400,000, bought then by the present owner for what is still by far the highest price ever paid at public sale for any early Christian manuscript.  Since 2004 it has toured American museums in the exhibitions Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book and Ink and Blood, where it has been seen by hundred of thousands of people.  The bibliography below takes no account of the manuscript's truly enormous presence now on Christian websites, DVDs and published videos.

B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, XV, 1922, pp. 7-8, no. 1780; and XVI, 1924, p.279.

E. von Dobschütz, 'Zur liste der neutestamentlichen Handschriften', Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, XXV, 1926, p. 301 (mistakenly as P37), and XXVII, 1928, p. 218.

 J.H. Bernard and A.H. McNeile, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St John, Edinburgh, 1928, pp. xiv  (as being in the British Museum) and xxix.

H.A. Sanders, 'The Egyptian Texts of the Four Gospels and Acts', Harvard Theological Review, XXVI, 1933, p. 90.

C.M. Cherry, 'A Study of the Oxyrhynchus Greek Papyri at Crozer Theological Seminary', dissertation, 1934, pp. 146-49.

P.L. Headley, 'The Egyptian Text of the Four Gospels and Acts', Church Quarterly Review, CXVIII, 1934, p. 206

E.M. Schofield, The Papyrus Fragments of the Greek New Testament, Clinton (New Jersey), 1936, pp. 273-77.

K.W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America. Chicago, 1937, p. 29.

J. Merell, Papyri a kritika Novozákonního textu, Prague, 1939, pp. 56 and 117.

G. Maldfeld and B.M. Metzger, 'Detailed List of the Greek Papyri of the New Testament', Journal of Biblical Literature, LXVII, 1949, p. 367/

G. Maldfeld, 'Die griechischen Handschriftenbruchstücke des Neuen Testamentes aus Papyrus', Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, XLII, 1949, p. 248, and XLIII, 1950/51, p. 261.

A. Merk, ed., Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, Apparatu Critico, Rome, 1951 ed., p. 29*.

K. Aland, 'Zur Liste der Neutestamentlichen Handschriften', VI, Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, XLVIII, 1957, pp. 49, 153 and 154.

J.M. Bover y Oliver, ed., Novi Testamenti Biblia Graeca et Latina, Critico Apparatu, 4 ed., Madrid, 1959, pp. lxix and 301.

K. Aland, 'Neue Neutestamentliche Papyri, II', New Testament Studies, IX, 1962-63, p. 307.

K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, 1963, p. 31; and 2 ed., Berlin and New York, 1994, p. 7.

G. Cavallo, Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica, Florence, 1967 (Studi e testi di papirologis, ii), I, p. 49, and II, pl. 27.

K. Aland, 'Das Neue Testament auf Papyrus', Studien zur Überlieferung des Neuen Testamentes und seine Textes (Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung, II), 1967, pp. 105 and 120.

J. van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens, Paris, 1976, no. 448.

K. Aland, Repertorium der Griechischen Christliche Papyri, Münster, 1976, p. 262.

K. Aland et al., eds., Novum Testamentum Graece, post Eberhard Nestle et Erwin Nestle communiter ediderunt, Stuttgart, 1979, pp. 12*, 49* and 275.

J.K. Elliot, A Survey of Manuscripts used in Editions of the Greek New Testament, Leiden, 1987, p. 5.

K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament, trans. E.F. Rhodes, 1989, pp. 57, 95, 98, 159 and 244.

K. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, Their History and Development, London and Philadelphia, 1990, p. 245 and n. 3.

W.J. Elliott and D.C. Parker, The New Testament in Greek, IV, The Gospel according to Saint John, 1, The Papyri, Leiden, 1995, p. 237.

P.W. Comfort and D.P. Barrett, The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, Grand Rapids, 1999, pp. 137-39.

J.K. Elliott, A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts, 2 ed., Cambridge, 2000, p. 27.

Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book, A History of the Bible, Murfreesboro (Tenn.), 2003, p. 9, and illustration on front cover.

M.H. Burer, W. Hall Harris and D.B. Wallace, eds., New English Translation, Novum Testamentum Graece, New Testament, Stuttgart and Dallas, 2004, p.15* and pp. 274-75.

P.M. Head, 'The Habits of New Testament Copyists: Singular Readings in the Early Fragmentary Papyri of John', Biblica, LXXXV, 2004, p. 406.

P.W. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts, An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism, Nashville (Tenn.), 2005, pp. 20, 33, 53, 65, 107, 172, 252, 271, 288 and 353-4.
This is P39 in the standard classification of Greek New Testament papyri.  Grenfell and Hunt described the script as "a handsome specimen of the 'biblical' type, large and upright, ... unlikely to be later than the fourth century" (p.7).  Roberts & Skeat, Aland, Cavallo, and others moved the dating back to well within the third century, to which it is generally assigned.  More recently, Professor Philip Wesley Comfort writes (Encountering the Manuscripts, 2005, p. 172, repeated p. 353): "This manuscript displays the work of a professional scribe who wrote an early form of the Biblical Uncial script ... P39 lines up remarkably well with P. Rylands 16, dated quite confidently to the second / early third century ... and with P. Oxyrhynchus 25, dated early third.  I would not hesitate to date P39 as ca. 200".

Such a date, if right, brings the fragment almost as far back as any extant substantial records of Christianity survive.  It is less than 170 years from the Crucifixion.  In theory, an extremely old person in 200 could as a child have known someone who at the beginning of his or her own long life might have met Jesus himself.  Christianity was illegal in the Roman empire, practised in secret and in the catacombs, until the fourth century.  When it was excavated at Oxyrhynchus the present fragment was by far the earliest manuscript of any part of Saint John's Gospel then known.  Around 1952 the manuscript now Papyrus Bodmer II was discovered in Egypt, P66, also datable to around 200 A.D. overlapping with the text of the present fragment.  Papyrus Bodmer III, P75, found at the same time, includes large portions of John's Gospel and is ascribed too to within the third century.  Apart from these two, however, no other papyrus or vellum fragment includes any part of John chapter 8, and the next earliest witness to this passage is the Codex Sinaiticus itself, generally assigned to the fourth century.  If the date of about 200 A.D. is sustainable, the present piece is one of the two oldest witnesses to the text; if it is cautiously dated to the third century, it is the second or third oldest known manuscript.

The fragment has John 8:14-18 on the recto and John 8:19-22 on the verso, with the account of Jesus preaching in the Temple.  The people challenge his right to give evidence on his own behalf, rather than with the testimony of two witnesses, as required by the Jewish law.  He replied, " 'I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf'.  And they said to him, 'Where is your Father?'  Jesus answered, 'You know neither me nor my Father.  If you knew me, you would know my Father also'" (verses 18-19).  It includes the cryptic and prophetical verse 21, "Where I am going you cannot come".

The Gospel text preserved here is extremely pure, graded by Aland as category 1 among New Testament sources, a "strict" text (Text of the N.T., 1989, p.98); "the papyrus evidently agreed with the best manuscripts" (Grenfell and Hunt, 1922, p.8, n.43).  The text is consistent word for word with the readings of the fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, probably also from Alexandria.  The present fragment is used for its textual value in all modern critical editions of the Greek Gospels, including those of 1951, 1959, 1979 and 2004.

Among excavated fragments, the piece is of substantial size. The script is a superb and spacious Greek uncial, the script especially associated with the earliest Bibles.  The writing is as fine as in any early manuscript.  "The large and beautiful calligraphy shows that this manuscript was probably produced by a professional scribe for church use" (Comfort and Barrett, 1999, p. 137).  The leaf was clearly from a codex, one of the oldest known, and it was evidently paginated (not foliated) by the original scribe, for it has the Greek number "ÏÄ", '74', at the top of the verso, one of the earliest of all books with contemporary pagination.  It is not possible to tell whether or not the recto was also paginated, since that side of the piece is missing.  Pagination, which is very rare in early codices, suggests that the volume was to be consulted at specific passages rather than read as a consecutive narrative, which is necessarily the case with scrolls.  Comfort (2005, pp. 353-4) makes interesting calculations by working backwards from the page number.  He notes that the scribe evidently wrote 330 characters on p. 73 and 333 on p. 74.  He then counts 23,796 characters from John 8:14 back to John 1:1 at the start of the Gospel.  23,796 divided by 333 is almost exactly 71½ pages.  This would not allow enough space for inclusion of the disputed passage of the Woman taken in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11), which cannot have been present.  It also shows, more obviously and unambiguously, that this was from a one-volume Gospel of John.

RED-2060 needs to retrieve related lots by ajax

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Some problems with Institut für Neuestestamentliche Forschung (INTF) List of NT papyri

P39 Wikipedia does better in several repsects.

  1. Institute: given as "Ambrose Swasey Library," not the Green Collection, Oklahoma City. (so does the IGNTP for that matter, although it mispells the name “Swabey”).
  2. The Bibliography takes note of the sales catalogue, although lsiting it three times is a bit excessive: Anonymus. “Sotheby’s Auktionskatalog ‘Fine Books & Manuscripts’, Auction in New York, 13-18 June,” n.d. 
  3. The is not referred to (P.Oxy. XV 1780).
  4. There is a  LDAB link, but no other ref. to Clarysse-Orsini’s re-dating, in Eph. Theol. Lov. 88 (2012), p. 462 and 470 [AD 275-300]).
  5. The transcription introduces a new editorial sign without explanation (at least I could not find a list of conventions). [ερχομαι] η̣*n που υπα- 
  6. The INGTP gives  [ερχομαι  κα]ι που υπα 
  7. The DDBDP uses a simple asterisk to identify an alternate reading: ""Variante κα]ὶ̣ aus Platzguenden eher nicht, anders Ell-Parker."