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The New Testament (NT), a crucial part of the Christian Bible, contains 27 books written during the first century CE. These books, written in Koine Greek, encompass the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. As we explore the rich history of the New Testament manuscripts, we journey back into the annals of time, studying the origin, transmission, and preservation of these sacred texts, integral to Christian faith and theology.
Originating in the first century CE, the New Testament’s initial writings were likely individual papyrus scrolls. The choice of papyrus as the writing material is indicative of the prevailing writing culture of that period, especially around the Mediterranean. Moreover, its relative affordability and accessibility made it a popular choice for early Christians.
It is important to note that the autographs, the original manuscripts of the New Testament books, no longer exist. What we possess today are copies of these originals, painstakingly preserved and transmitted over the centuries. Despite this, through rigorous textual criticism and archaeological discoveries, scholars have been able to approximate the original text’s content and meaning with significant accuracy.
The earliest extant fragments of the New Testament are the John Rylands Papyrus (P52), which dates back to around 125-150 CE, containing a few verses from the Gospel of John, and the Chester Beatty Papyri, from the early 3rd century, which includes major portions of the New Testament. These attest to the wide circulation and recognition of New Testament writings in the early Christian communities.
The fourth century CE ushered in a significant development: the codex form began to replace the scroll. A codex, similar to a modern book, allowed for writings on both sides of a page and was more portable and economical. This period witnessed the creation of the two oldest complete New Testament codices, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. These codices, written on parchment, contain almost all the New Testament books and, significantly, they follow the same order as we find in modern Bibles, affirming the canon’s relative stability by the 4th century CE.
The next critical set of manuscripts were produced from the 9th to the 16th centuries, the Byzantine or Majority Texts, named so due to the Byzantine Empire’s cultural influence. The Majority Texts form the largest group of Greek manuscripts. The Textus Receptus, the basis for many Reformation-era translations of the New Testament, including the King James Version, was derived primarily from this text type.
Despite the majority of manuscripts belonging to the Byzantine family, it’s crucial to mention other text-types like the Alexandrian, Western, and Caesarean, each contributing significantly to the text’s understanding. The Alexandrian text-type, typically older and considered more accurate, is represented in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. However, no text-type should be considered superior in all instances; each offers valuable insights into the New Testament’s textual history.
The invention of the printing press in the 15th century was revolutionary for the New Testament’s transmission. Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, Novum Instrumentum omne, the first to be published (1516), paved the way for widespread access to the Greek New Testament. His work, although criticized for its haste, was seminal in making the New Testament available in its original language to the masses.
Manuscript discoveries continued into the modern period. The 20th century saw significant findings, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi library. While these primarily shed light on the Old Testament and early Christian Gnostic writings, they offered a wider context for understanding the New Testament texts.
New Testament textual criticism is a field devoted to studying these manuscripts, evaluating variants, and attempting to ascertain the original wording of the text. Over time, scribal errors, intentional changes, and regional influences resulted in thousands of variants among the manuscripts. These variants, while numerous, rarely impact the core of Christian doctrines, and the field’s continuous efforts ensure an increasingly accurate understanding of the original text.
Today, the New Testament enjoys a rich manuscript tradition unparalleled by any other ancient text. With over 5,800+ Greek manuscripts, tens of thousands of Latin Vulgate manuscripts, and many more in various ancient languages like Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian, the New Testament’s textual integrity remains remarkably robust. This vast wealth of data provides scholars with the tools to piece together the New Testament’s original text and understand its rich history.
The history of New Testament manuscripts is a fascinating journey of preservation and transmission across centuries. Despite the challenges of time and human error, the resilience of these texts highlights their historical significance and enduring relevance, making them an intriguing area of study for anyone interested in the New Testament, its history, and its impact on world culture.
Papyrus 52 (P52) – A Small Fragment of John 18:31–33, 18:37–38, Dating from Around 100-150 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 52, also known as P52 or the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, is one of the most important early New Testament manuscripts. Comprising a small fragment of the Gospel of John (18:31–33, 37–38), it provides key evidence for the dating of this Gospel’s original text.
CONTENTS: The contents of P52 consist of portions of seven verses from the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John (John 18:31–33, 37–38), written in Greek. The fragment contains parts of Pilate’s dialogue with Jesus during his trial. The front (recto) holds John 18:31-33 and the back (verso) contains John 18:37-38.
DATE: The date of P52 has been subject to significant debate, with most scholars agreeing it originates from the early second century (ca. 100–150). This estimation is based on paleographic analysis, a method that compares the handwriting on the papyrus with other dated documents.
HOUSING LOCATION: P52 is currently housed in the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England, where it is catalogued as Gr. P. 457.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: P52 is a single leaf papyrus fragment measuring approximately 18 cm x 22 cm, with 18 lines per page. It is written in a reformed documentary hand, a style that bridges the gap between formal book-hand and a more casual, cursive style.
TEXT TYPE: The text type of P52 is considered to be “Alexandrian” or what Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland termed as “normal”. The Alexandrian text-type is one of several text types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of biblical manuscripts.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: Though the fragment is too small for a comprehensive textual analysis, the existing text aligns well with the standard text of the Gospel of John, indicating an early, accurate transmission of the text.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: While Kurt Aland did not specifically comment on P52, his work on the categorization of New Testament manuscripts informed the classification of P52 as a “normal” text type. This classification suggests that the text of P52 was not heavily influenced by the editorial work of later scribes and remains close to the original.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, a renowned New Testament scholar, referred to the text of P52 as “Alexandrian.” This implies that the scribe who wrote P52 likely worked in or near Alexandria, Egypt, where this precise, scholarly style of copying was practiced.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a noted scholar in the field of papyrology and textual criticism, has affirmed the early dating of P52. He suggests that this manuscript may be only 20 years removed from the original, given the consensus dating of the Gospel of John’s composition around 80-85 AD. This underlines the remarkable significance of P52, testifying to the rapid spread and circulation of the Gospel of John within the early Christian communities.
In conclusion, P52 serves as a crucial piece of historical evidence for the early composition and transmission of the Gospel of John. Despite its size, the fragment’s early date, the precision of its text, and its geographic origin in Egypt—far from the Gospel’s traditional place of composition in Ephesus—contribute significantly to our understanding of the New Testament’s early textual history.
The P52 Project
In the realm of religious studies, particularly in the study of the Bible, individuals such as parishioners, Bible college enrollees, and seminary scholars may find themselves at a crossroads when faced with diverging interpretations from various Bible scholars. This is often exemplified in the case of P52, a fragment of the Greek New Testament, where scholars propose different dates of creation. To clarify, P52 refers to a manuscript written on sheets of papyrus paper, derived from an Egyptian plant known as papyrus, with the number 52 denoting its catalogued discovery.
This uncertainty can be particularly disconcerting for those not deeply immersed in the field, only equipped with a fundamental knowledge base. With multiple scholars offering differing viewpoints, it raises the question – how can one discern the truth? Even more so, it can lead to awkward moments on social media platforms for Christians, such as when an atheist challenges the widely accepted dating of P52 to 100-150 C.E., countering with recent research suggesting a later date of 200 C.E. or beyond. How can a Christian respond to this?
The approach we will utilize in THE P52 PROJECT can serve as a useful tool for Christians confronted with such scholarly disagreements. Guided by God-given wisdom, we will evaluate the evidence from all sides, applying logic and reasoning. THE P52 PROJECT will be approached as if we were in a court of law, with P52 itself on trial. Through this method, we aim to reach a resolution that respects the evidence and upholds the truth.
World-Renowned Paleographers and Textual Scholars Date P52 Early
- 100-150 C.H. Roberts
- 100-150 Sir Frederic G. Kenyon
- 100-150 W. Schubart
- 100-150 Sir Harold I. Bell
- 100-150 Adolf Deissmann
- 100-150 E. G. Turner
- 100-150 Ulrich Wilken
- 100-150 W. H. P. Hatch
- 125-175 Kurt and Barbara Aland
- 100-150: Philip W. Comfort
- 100-150 Bruce M. Metzger
- 100-150 Daniel B. Wallace
- 125-175 Pasquale Orsini
- 125-175 Willy Clarysse
The New Uncertain and Ambiguous Minded Textual Scholars Date P52
- 175-225 Brent Nongbri
- 200-300 Michael Gronewald
In New Testament textual studies, there are but two ways to make a name for oneself as a textual scholar. (1) The person would have to make a discovery that overwhelms the scholarly world in the extreme. (2) The person has to take a view or a position on something and then go out and find evidence that changes that view or position. Brent Nongbri seems to be trying (2) in his efforts to have his place within the history of New Testament Textual Studies. In 2120, scholars can look back at who changed the dates of the early papyri.
ESTABLISHING THE DATE OF P52
The significance of P52 is twofold; it lies in its proposed early dating and its geographic distribution from the supposed location of authorship, traditionally believed to be Ephesus. Since the fragment isn’t the original but a copy, the Gospel of John’s authorship must have occurred a few years before P52 was written, whenever that was. The fragment’s discovery in Egypt adds to this time frame, accounting for the documents’ spread from the place of authorship and transmission to the place of finding.
The Gospel of John is possibly referenced by Justin Martyr, making it plausible that it was written before approximately 160 CE. However, 20th-century New Testament scholars, notably Kurt Aland and Bruce Metzger, using the proposed early dating of P52, have suggested that the Gospel’s latest possible composition date should be recalibrated to the early parts of the second century. Some scholars even posit that the discovery of P52 suggests a composition date for the Gospel no later than the traditionally accepted date of around 90 CE, or even earlier.
Doubts about using P52 to date the Gospel of John (not questioning the fragment’s authenticity) stem from two main issues. Firstly, the papyrus’s age has been determined solely based on the handwriting, without the corroboration of dated textual references or related archaeology. Secondly, like all other surviving early Gospel manuscripts, this fragment is from a codex, not a scroll. If it indeed dates from the first half of the second century, this fragment would be among the earliest surviving examples of a literary codex. (In approximately 90 CE, Martial introduced his poems in parchment codex form, claiming this to be a new innovation.)
In the year preceding the publication of P52, the British Museum library acquired papyrus fragments of the Egerton Gospel (P.Egerton 2), which also came from a codex, and these were published in 1935 by H. Idris Bell and T.C. Skeat. Since P52’s text is from a canonical gospel, the Gospel of John, and the Egerton Gospel’s text isn’t, there was significant curiosity among biblical scholars about whether P52 could be dated as the earlier of the two papyri.
Colin Roberts’ Analysis
P52 is a literary text and, like almost all such papyri, lacks an explicit date marker. Consequently, determining its age required comparison with texts that have dates, usually found in documentary hands (contracts, petitions, letters). Nonetheless, Roberts identified two undated literary papyri as most comparable to P52: P. Berol. 6845 (a fragment of an Iliad scroll kept in Berlin and paleographically dated to around the end of the first century), and P.Egerton 2, which was then approximated to date around 150 CE. Roberts argued that, except for the alpha letter, P. Berol. 6845 is “the closest parallel to our text,” a view supported by Frederic Kenyon, an authority in the field. He also stated that in the Egerton Gospel, “most of the characteristics of our hand are to be found, though in a less accentuated form.”
Roberts’ establishment of the Berlin Iliad P. Berol 6845 as a reference was crucial in suggesting an early 2nd century date for P52. The Berlin papyrus had been dated to the end of the first century by Wilhelm Schubart, whose papyrological study illustrated its hand’s resemblance to that of P. Fayum 110, a personal letter penned by a professional scribe in a “literary type” hand and explicitly dated 94 CE. Skeat and Bell, in assigning a mid-second-century date to P. Egerton 2, also relied on comparison with P.Fayum 110.
Roberts proposed two additional dated papyri in documentary hands as comparators for P52: P. London 2078, a private letter written during Domitian’s reign (81–96 CE), and P. Oslo 22, a petition dated 127 CE. He noted the particular similarity of P. Oslo 22 in some of the more distinctive letter forms, such as eta, mu, and iota. Roberts shared his analysis with Frederic G. Kenyon, Wilhelm Schubart, and H. I. Bell, all of whom agreed with his dating of P52 to the first half of the 2nd century.
In 1935, Roberts’ date assessment was supported by A. Deissmann, who suggested a date in the reigns of Hadrian (117–138) or even Trajan (98–117), although without providing actual evidence. In 1936, Ulrich Wilcken supported the dating based on a comparison between the hand of P52 and those of papyri in the extensive Apollonius archive, which are dated 113–120.
Philip Comfort’s Analysis
Later, other comparative literary papyri were proposed, notably P. Oxy. XXXI 2533, which contains a second-century literary text in a hand very similar to P52. This text was written on the back of a reused document in a late first-century business hand. Also, three biblical papyrus codices were proposed as comparators: P. Oxy. LX 4009 (an apocryphal gospel fragment, paleographically dated to the early/mid-second century), and P. Oxy. L 3523 (P90) and P. Oxy. LXIV 4404 (P104), both paleographically dated to the later second century. The discovery of other papyrus codices with second-century hands, like the Yale Genesis Fragment (P. Yale 1), suggested that this book form was more common for literary texts at this date than previously assumed.
Thus, until the 1990s, the inclination among New Testament commentators, supported by several paleographers like Philip W. Comfort, was to propose a date for P52 towards the earlier half of the range suggested by Roberts and his correspondents. However, the discovery that a papyrus fragment in Cologne is part of the Egerton Gospel raised caution. In this fragment, the letters gamma and kappa are separated by a hooked apostrophe, a feature infrequent in dated second-century papyri. To the newer papyrologists this feature implies a date for the Egerton Gospel closer to 200 CE and underscores the difficulties in dating a papyrus text of which only a small part of two pages survives.
Brent Nongbri’s Critique
The early date for P52, favored by many New Testament scholars, was questioned by Andreas Schmidt, who suggests a date around 170 CE, give or take twenty-five years. He bases this on a comparison with Chester Beatty Papyri X and III and the re-dated Egerton Gospel. Brent Nongbri has criticized both Comfort’s early dating of P52 and Schmidt’s late dating. He disputes all attempts to establish a date for undated papyri within narrow ranges based purely on paleographic grounds, along with any inference from the paleographic dating of P52 to a precise terminus ad quem for the composition of the Fourth Gospel.
Nongbri notes that both Comfort and Schmidt propose their respective revisions of Roberts’s dating solely based on paleographic comparisons with papyri that had themselves been paleographically dated. In response to these tendencies, Nongbri collected and published images of all explicitly dated comparator manuscripts to P52. He demonstrated that although Roberts’s assessment of similarities with a succession of dated late first to mid-second-century papyri could be confirmed, two later dated papyri, both petitions, also showed strong similarities. These papyri include P. Mich. inv. 5336, dated around 152 CE, and P.Amh. 2.78, an example first suggested by Eric Turner, that dates to 184 CE.
Nongbri suggests that older styles of handwriting might persist much longer than some scholars had assumed, and that a wider range of possible dates for the papyrus must be considered. He criticizes the way scholars of the New Testament have used and potentially misused papyrological evidence. He emphasizes that paleography is not the most effective method for dating texts, particularly those written in a literary hand, and argues that P52 cannot be used to silence other debates about the existence of the Gospel of John in the first half of the second century.
While Nongbri does not provide his own opinion on the date of P52, he seems to agree with the relatively cautious terminology of Roberts’s dating and his speculations on the possible implications for the date of John’s gospel. Some commentators have interpreted Nongbri’s accumulation of later dated comparators as undermining Roberts’s proposed dating; however, this fails to consider the essential similarity of Roberts’s and Nongbri’s main findings. Nongbri extends the range of dated primary reference comparators both earlier and later than in Roberts’s work, suggesting that the actual date of P52 could conceivably be later (or earlier) still. He emphasizes that a late second (or early third) century date for P52 cannot be discounted based solely on paleographic evidence. His chief criticism is directed at those who have tended to take the midpoint of Roberts’s proposed range of dates, treat it as the latest limit for a possible date for this papyrus, and then infer that the Gospel of John cannot have been written later than around 100 CE.
Stanley Porter’s Perspective
Stanley E. Porter has delved deeper into the relationship between P52 and P.Egerton 2. He brings into the discussion two more early biblical papyri for both texts, P. Oxy IV 656 (a fragment of Genesis) and P.Vindob. G. 2325 (another apocryphal gospel, the Fayum Fragment). Porter presents a comprehensive overview of the history and spectrum of opinion among papyrologists regarding the dating of P52 and P.Egerton 2. He presents arguments supporting Robert’s assertion that the two are close parallels, likely written around the same time, and that P52 is probably the earlier of the two.
Porter points out that P.Egerton 2 is written in a “less heavy hand with more formal rounded characteristics, but with what the original editors called ‘cursive affinities.'” He adds, “Both manuscripts were apparently written before the development of a more formal Biblical majuscule style, which began to develop in the late second and early third centuries.” Porter also acknowledges that the hooked apostrophe form found in the Cologne fragment of P.Egerton 2 is rare in the second century, but he identifies at least one example in a papyrus dated to 101 CE and three others from the mid or late second century. His findings place the two manuscripts somewhere in the middle of the second century, perhaps leaning towards the early part.
Stanley Porter also questions Nongbri’s claim that valid comparisons can be made between P52 and documentary papyri from the later second and early third centuries. He cites Eric Turner’s cautionary note that comparing book hands with dated documentary hands can be unreliable due to the different intentions of the scribes. In this regard, Porter warns against what he sees as Nongbri’s ‘overly skeptical’ disregard for comparators without an explicit date, which forces comparisons for literary texts to be limited to purely documentary hands. Porter argues that Nongbri’s proposed late second and third century comparators are, in several cases, quite different from P52, compelling a focus on detailed letter forms without consideration of the overall formation, trajectory, and style of the script.
If typological letter comparisons are applied using published series of dated representative script alphabets instead of document by document comparisons, then, Porter asserts, both P52 and P.Egerton 2 “fit comfortably within the second century. There are of course some letters that are similar to those in the third century (as there are some in the first century) but the letters that tend to be given the most individualization, such as alpha, mu and even sigma, appear to be second century.”
Both Porter and Nongbri acknowledge that Eric Turner, despite his proposal of P.Amh. 2.78 as a parallel for P52, continued to believe that “The Rylands papyrus may therefore be accepted as of the first half of the second century”. However, Nongbri has since pointed out the limited usefulness of Porter’s study as it makes no reference to manuscripts with secure dates, rendering it circular (several undated manuscripts are used to provide a date for another undated manuscript).
John Rylands Library’s Perspective
The John Rylands Library provides a perspective on the dating of the fragment. The initial editor placed the fragment in the first half of the second century (between 100-150 CE), based on paleographic estimation. This process involved comparing the handwriting with that of other manuscripts.
Importance for Textual Criticism and History
The discovery of early Christian papyri from Egypt provides the earliest solid physical evidence for Christianity and the Gospels. There is considerable overlap in the proposed dating for these papyri, so it’s not definitive whether 𝔓52 is older than other New Testament fragments thought to be from the 2nd century, such as P90 (100-150 CE), P104 (100-125 CE), and 𝔓64+67 (150-175 CE). This also applies to some early non-canonical texts like P. Egerton. 2, P.Oxy. LX 4009. Additionally, there are several Greek fragments of Old Testament books (mainly Psalms) dated to the 2nd century, whose characteristics suggest a Christian rather than Jewish or pagan origin. All these papyri have been dated paleographically, and P52 is often recognized as having earlier characteristics.
Despite its small size, the text that remains in P52 provides an early witness to several historical aspects of Jesus’s life. Even though Jesus isn’t named, the verses indicate a man tried before the Roman authorities during Pontius Pilate’s governorship, at a specific location (the Praetorium in Jerusalem), sentenced to a specific punishment (crucifixion), all orchestrated by the Jewish Temple authorities.
Assuming P52 indeed dates back to the early 2nd century, its codex form (rather than a scroll) implies an early adoption of this writing style among Christians, contrasting with the common Jewish practice of the time. An analysis of the length of missing text between the front and back sides aligns with the corresponding Gospel of John, suggesting no significant additions or deletions in this part. Except for two iotacisms and the likely omission of a phrase, P52 generally agrees with the Alexandrian text base.
Despite its small size, it is presumed that the original text was nearly full gospel length to justify the effort of writing in codex form. However, considering the large size and format of the P52 codex pages, it’s improbable that it initially contained all four canonical gospels.
Although P52 is small and its coverage of the Gospel of John is necessarily limited, it has sparked some debate about whether the name ‘Jesus’ was originally written as a sacred name, or nomen sacrum, contracted to ‘ΙΣ’ or ‘ΙΗΣ’ as per Christian practice in other early Gospel manuscripts. The verses included in P52 are also found in the Bodmer Papyrus P66 – dated 100-150 CE – and there is some overlap with P90 from 100 to 150 CE. Kurt Aland described it as a “Normal text,” and due to its age, categorized it in Category I.
The P52 papyrus, also known as the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, is of significant interest to scholars for a few key reasons:
Age and Physical Evidence: The P52 papyrus is one of the earliest known fragments of the New Testament, making it an invaluable resource for scholars studying the historical development of the New Testament and early Christianity.
Textual Evidence: Despite its small size, P52 provides insights into the text of the Gospel of John. While there has been some debate about whether the name ‘Jesus’ was originally written as a sacred name, the presence of certain verses in P52 corresponds with other early copies of the Gospel of John, suggesting a level of consistency in the transmission of the text.
Adoption of the Codex: If P52 indeed dates back to the early 2nd century, its form as a codex (a type of book) rather than a scroll suggests an early adoption of this writing style among Christians, providing insights into the technological and cultural shifts of the time.
Papyrus 66 (P66) – A Manuscript of John 1:1–6:11, 6:35b–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17, Dating from Around 100-150 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 66 (P66) is an important early Christian papyrus codex, named for its location in the Bodmer collection of Swiss libraries. It contains a large portion of the Gospel of John and is one of the oldest known New Testament manuscripts. It is a significant resource for textual critics, historians, and biblical scholars due to its age and relatively high-quality preservation.
CONTENTS: P66 includes most of the Gospel of John, specifically 1:1–6:11; 6:35–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17. Notably, it does not contain the pericope of the adulteress (John 7:53–8:11), making it the earliest manuscript not to include this passage, often considered a later addition to the text.
DATE: The date of P66 is a matter of some debate, but it is generally agreed to have been written in the middle of the second century (around 150 AD), making it one of the earliest substantial New Testament manuscripts. The dating is based on paleographical analysis, comparing the handwriting style to other known dated texts.
HOUSING LOCATION: P66 is currently housed in the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland (P. Bodmer II), with one leaf located in the Institut für Altertumskunde der Universität zu Köln in Cologne, Germany (inv. nr. 4274/4298).
PHYSICAL FEATURES: P66 comprises 39 folios, equivalent to 78 leaves or 156 pages, each measuring 14.2 cm x 16.2 cm. The writing contains 15–25 lines per page, with page numbers ranging from 1 to 156. The manuscript’s handwriting suggests it was likely created by a professional scribe.
TEXT TYPE: The text of P66 is a Greek text of the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of John. It is part of the Alexandrian text-type, a group of early New Testament manuscripts associated with Alexandria, Egypt.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: Studies by Berner and Comfort suggest that P66 likely reflects the work of three individuals: the original scribe, a thorough corrector (or diorthōtēs), and a minor corrector. The original scribe’s work is characterized by a free interaction with the text, including several singular readings, suggesting an active interpretation of the text. The diorthōtēs made many substantial corrections, likely adjusting the copy according to a different exemplar.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a renowned New Testament scholar, categorizes P66 as Category I in his classification system, indicating that it is a manuscript of very special quality. He recognizes its textual independence and its significant contribution to our understanding of the early text of the New Testament.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another prominent New Testament scholar, also acknowledges the importance of P66. He notes its early date, its substantial content, and its significance for textual criticism, particularly its value in demonstrating the fluidity of the New Testament text in the second century.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar specializing in papyrology and New Testament text criticism, has extensively analyzed P66. He emphasizes the textual character of the manuscript, highlighting its distinctiveness and independence. Comfort considers the scribe of P66 as competent and the manuscript reliable, despite some peculiarities and mistakes. Furthermore, Comfort discusses the role of the correctors in the manuscript’s transmission, arguing that their work reflects careful and thoughtful engagement with the text.
In conclusion, Papyrus 66 is an essential piece of early Christian literature, providing valuable insights into the early text of the New Testament and its transmission. Its study continues to contribute significantly to our understanding of the early Christian world.
Papyrus 75 (P75) – A Manuscript of Luke 3:18–24:53; John 1–15, Dating from Around 175-225 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 75, also known as P. Bodmer XIV and XV, is an important early New Testament papyrus manuscript containing portions of the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John. The manuscript is highly valued by textual scholars due to its textual reliability and early date. It provides significant insights into the early text of the New Testament and sheds light on the development of the Alexandrian text type.
CONTENTS: P75 contains Luke 3:18–22; 3:33–4:2; 4:34–5:10; 5:37–6:4; 6:10–7:32, 35–39, 41–43; 7:46–9:2; 9:4–17:15; 17:19–18:18; 22:4–24:53; and John 1:1–11:45, 48–57; 12:3–13:1, 8–10; 14:8–29; 15:7–8. It does not include John 7:53–8:11, making it the second earliest witness not to include this spurious passage.
DATE: P75 is dated to the late second or possibly early third century, based on its comparability with other papyri from the same period.
HOUSING LOCATION: The manuscript is housed at the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: P75 consists of 36 folios (72 leaves, 144 pages), measuring 13 cm x 26 cm. It has 38–45 lines per page and was written by a professional scribe.
TEXT TYPE: Textual scholars classify P75 as an early example of the Alexandrian text type. It has been described as “proto-Alexandrian” by Bruce M. Metzger and having a “strict text” by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: P75 is considered a reliable and accurate copy of the New Testament text. Its scribe demonstrated discipline and care in producing an exact copy, with no evidence of revision or systematic correction. However, the scribe did make several corrections (116 in Luke and John) and had a tendency to shorten the text, particularly by dropping pronouns. Despite these flaws, P75 is highly regarded for its textual reliability.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a leading New Testament textual scholar, initially believed that the second and third-century manuscripts exhibited a text in flux or a “mixed” text. However, after the discovery of P75, Aland changed his perspective, stating that P75 shows such a close affinity with Codex Vaticanus that the supposition of a recension of the text at Alexandria in the fourth century can no longer be held.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another prominent New Testament textual scholar, referred to P75 as “proto-Alexandrian,” indicating its early representation of the Alexandrian text type. Metzger recognized P75 as an important witness to the New Testament text and its development.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar specializing in papyrology and New Testament text criticism, has studied P75 extensively. He agrees with the dating of P75 to the late second century, possibly early third century. Comfort emphasizes the textual character of P75, highlighting its reliability and the scribe’s discipline in producing an accurate copy. He also discusses the connection between P75 and Codex Vaticanus, noting that while the two texts share a close affinity, it’s unlikely that the scribe of Codex Vaticanus directly used P75 as his exemplar. This is due to the difference in line length between the two texts: the scribe of Vaticanus appears to have copied from a manuscript with an average line length of 12-14 letters, while P75 has an average line length of about 29-32 letters. As such, Comfort suggests that the scribe of Vaticanus likely used a manuscript similar to P75, but not P75 itself.
This conclusion emphasizes the existence of a highly accurate, ‘Alexandrian’ type text that predates Codex Vaticanus, challenging previous theories that proposed the Alexandrian text was the culmination of a recension, or revision process, occurring in the fourth century. Instead, the evidence from P75 suggests that the ‘Alexandrian’ or ‘neutral’ text already existed in a relatively pure form by the late second century.
Papyrus 104 (P104) – A Manuscript of Matt. 21:34–37, 43, 45(?), Dating from Around 100-150 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 104, often referred to as P104, is a small fragment of a papyrus manuscript of the New Testament. Its discovery and subsequent analysis have provided valuable insight into the early transmission of the New Testament text.
CONTENTS: P104 contains a portion of the Gospel according to Matthew, specifically Matthew 21:34-37 and 43, with the possibility of verse 45. Notably, it does not include Matthew 21:44, making it the earliest manuscript witness to the exclusion of this verse.
DATE: The dating of P104 is a topic of scholarly discussion. The manuscript’s editor, J. D. Thomas, places it in the late second century. However, other scholars, including Philip W. Comfort, have suggested an earlier date. Comfort points to the manuscript’s handwriting style, which is reminiscent of the Roman uncial script commonly seen in the Ptolemaic period, suggesting that P104 could potentially date back to the late first or early second century. If this earlier date is accepted, P104 could be considered one of the earliest New Testament manuscripts in existence.
HOUSING LOCATION: P104 is currently housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: P104 consists of a single leaf, measuring approximately 14 cm x 25 cm. The lettering is clearly visible on one side, and barely visible on the other, suggesting that the text was written on both sides of the papyrus. The manuscript originally contained 31 lines per page.
TEXT TYPE: While the small size of P104 makes a definitive categorization challenging, the text is in agreement with the UBS4/NA27, a widely accepted scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament, save for the exclusion of Matthew 21:44. This alignment suggests an early ‘Alexandrian’ text type, a category of manuscripts known for their accuracy and reliability.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: Despite its small size, P104 is considered an important witness to the New Testament text. Its exclusion of Matthew 21:44, a verse found in many later manuscripts, provides valuable evidence concerning early textual variants.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: While there is no specific commentary from Kurt Aland on P104 available, his work on categorizing New Testament manuscripts would likely place P104 within Category I, which he reserves for manuscripts of the Alexandrian text type that are typically dated before the fourth century.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another influential New Testament scholar, did not specifically comment on P104. However, his work on the textual commentary of the Greek New Testament may have classified P104 as an important witness to the exclusion of Matthew 21:44.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar specializing in papyrology, suggests that P104 may date back to the late first or early second century. He highlights the manuscript’s similarity to other texts from this period, including P. Oxy. 4301 and PSI 1213. According to Comfort, these similarities could potentially make P104 the earliest New Testament manuscript or at least one of the earliest. Comfort’s analysis of P104 emphasizes the significance of this small fragment in understanding the early transmission of the New Testament text.
Papyrus 45 (P45) – A Manuscript of the Gospels and Acts, Dating from Around 175-225 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 45 (P45) is one of the most important early New Testament manuscripts, known for its substantial content and unique textual character. It is one of the Chester Beatty Papyri, a group of early Christian manuscript codices (bound books) from the 2nd to the 4th centuries. P45 is the first of this collection, also known as P. Chester Beatty I.
CONTENTS: P45 contains portions of the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the Acts of the Apostles. The portions of the text preserved show a range of passages from each book, with numerous gaps due to the damaged and fragmentary state of the manuscript.
DATE: The manuscript is generally dated to the early third century. This dating is based on the handwriting style, comparison with other texts, and the educated judgments of various scholars such as Frederic Kenyon, W. Schubart, and H. I. Bell.
HOUSING LOCATION: P45 is currently housed in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. It was purchased by Chester Beatty, a wealthy American collector living in Ireland, in 1931.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: The original codex of P45 is estimated to have had 224 pages, with the extant pages numbering 193 and 199. The surviving portions measure approximately 20 cm wide by 25 cm high. Each page contains an average of 36-37 lines of text. The first and last pages were blank, probably serving as a protective cover for the manuscript. The handwriting of P45 displays a reformed documentary hand, a style typical of the period.
TEXT TYPE: The text type of P45 varies with each book. In Mark, it shows affinities with the so-called Caesarean text type, while in Matthew, Luke, and John, it stands somewhere between the Alexandrian and Western text types. In Acts, P45 aligns most closely with the Alexandrian text type.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: The scribe of P45 is known for his “free” style, often seen as more of an exegete and paraphraser than a strict copyist. He seemed to work phrase by phrase, often abbreviating, harmonizing, and smoothing out the text, resulting in a very readable, though not always strictly accurate, rendering of his exemplars.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a notable New Testament scholar, has not directly commented on P45. However, he classified it as Category I (strict text) for the Gospels and Category II (good, normal text) for Acts in his standard work “The Text of the New Testament,” indicating the high quality and importance of the manuscript.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce Metzger, another leading scholar of New Testament textual criticism, noted in his works the unique character of P45’s text. He emphasized the freedom and creativity of the scribe in shaping the text, making it one of the distinctive early witnesses to the New Testament.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar specializing in papyrological and textual studies, has done extensive work on P45. He has highlighted the scribe’s intelligent engagement with the text and the ways in which the scribe made the text more concise and readable. Comfort has also argued for the high quality of the manuscript and its importance for understanding the early history of the New Testament text.
Papyrus 90 (P90) – A Manuscript of John 18:36–19:7, Dating from Around 100-150 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 90, often referred to as P90, is a small fragment of the New Testament in Greek, containing portions of the Gospel of John 18:36–19:7. Designated by the Gregory-Aland numbering system, this fragment is recognized for its valuable contributions to the textual criticism of the New Testament. Its provenance is traced back to Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, a significant location known for yielding numerous papyrus documents of historical importance.
CONTENTS: The contents of P90 are limited but significant, containing a portion of the Gospel of John (18:36–19:7). This passage encompasses the final parts of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, with a dialogue between Jesus and Pilate concerning the nature of Jesus’ kingdom, concluding with Pilate’s statement to the Jewish leaders, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”
DATE: The fragment is dated palaeographically to the period between 100 and 150 CE. Paleography is the study of ancient writing, and the dating is estimated based on the script style and other material characteristics. This places P90 in the early 2nd century, making it one of the oldest extant fragments of the New Testament.
HOUSING LOCATION: P90 is currently housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, specifically in the Sackler Library’s Papyrology Rooms (P. Oxy. 3523). The Ashmolean Museum is renowned for its extensive collection of historical artifacts, including numerous papyrus fragments.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: The fragment, originally measuring 12 cm by 16 cm, is written on a single leaf and contains 24 lines per page. The script is a reformed documentary hand, which is a style of handwriting used in formal or official documents during the Hellenistic period. The hand is decorated and rounded, showing similarities with the Egerton Gospel and P. Oxy. 656 (Genesis), both from the 2nd century.
TEXT TYPE: The Greek text of P90 is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. The Alexandrian text-type is one of several text types used in textual criticism for categorizing New Testament manuscripts. Alexandrian manuscripts are known for their scrupulous adherence to the text, suggesting a careful copying process from an early stage in their transmission.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: P90 shows a strong textual affinity with P66, another early Greek manuscript of John’s Gospel, but it does not concur with P66 in its entirety. Additionally, it has some textual affinity with Codex Sinaiticus, designated by the Hebrew letter Aleph (א). This suggests that these documents may have been part of a similar textual tradition or may have had a common ancestor.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a prominent New Testament scholar and co-founder of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, classified P90 in Category I in his system of categorization. This category is reserved for manuscripts of the New Testament that are at least from the 3rd century and earlier, and which provide a careful and precise text, often aligned with the Alexandrian text type.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, a well-respected biblical scholar and textual critic, recognized the value of P90 as an early witness to the text of John’s Gospel. Although specific comments from Metzger regarding P90 are not provided, his work in New Testament textual criticism often underscored the importance of such early papyrus fragments in understanding the transmission and variants of the New Testament text.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar known for his work in New Testament textual criticism, particularly papyrological studies, has noted P90’s close textual affinity with P66 and some connection with Codex Sinaiticus (א). Comfort’s work emphasizes the significance of these early papyrus fragments, like P90, in shedding light on the early text of the New Testament and its transmission. His recognition of the textual relationships between these manuscripts contributes to a broader understanding of the historical development and reliability of the New Testament text.
Papyrus 115 (P115) – A Manuscript of Rev. 2-3; 5-6; 8-15; Dating from Around 225-275 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 115 (P. Oxy. 4499), often referred to as P115, is a fragmented manuscript of the New Testament written in Greek on papyrus. This papyrus is part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri collection, discovered by the scholars Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. P115 is identified with the Gregory-Aland numbering as 𝔓115 and contains various parts of the Book of Revelation.
CONTENTS: The surviving text of P115 includes passages from the Book of Revelation: 2:1–3, 13–15, 27–29; 3:10–12; 5:8–9; 6:5–6; 8:3–8, 11–13; 9:1–5, 7–16, 18–21; 10:1–4, 8–11; 11:1–5, 8–15, 18–19; 12:1–5, 8–10, 12–17; 13:1–3, 6–16, 18; 14:1–3, 5–7, 10–11, 14–15, 18–20; 15:1, 4–7. There is also evidence of nomina sacra, abbreviations for certain divine names, used in the manuscript.
DATE: The manuscript is dated through paleographical analysis to the middle to late third century (225-275 CE). The handwriting style of P115 resembles two manuscripts from the Heroninos Archive, P. Flor. 108 and P. Flor. 259, which predates 256 CE. It also bears resemblance to P. Oxy. 1016, which predates 234 CE according to a land register on the other side.
HOUSING LOCATION: P115 is currently housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. The Ashmolean Museum is one of the most renowned museums worldwide, boasting an extensive collection of historical artifacts, including the valuable Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: The manuscript consists of 26 fragments of a codex, likely containing only the Book of Revelation. The original codex was about 15.5 cm by 23.5 cm, with 33–36 lines per page. The document appears to have been written in a codex that was already bound before the scribe began his work, as the width of writing on pages with binding to the right-hand side (even-numbered pages) tends to be narrower than those with binding to the left-hand side (odd-numbered pages).
TEXT TYPE: P115 is a witness to the Alexandrian text-type, aligning with the text of Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C). This text-type is one of several categories used in textual criticism of the New Testament to group manuscripts based on their shared textual characteristics.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: One of the notable aspects of P115 is its textual alignment with Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C), which are generally regarded as providing superior testimony to the original text of Revelation. This makes P115’s textual witness significant in the study of the Book of Revelation.
A unique element of P115 is that it gives the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18 as 616 (chi, iota, stigma (ΧΙϚ)), rather than the majority reading of 666 (chi, xi, stigma (ΧΞϚ)), as does Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a German theologian and biblical scholar, recognized the importance of papyrus manuscripts like P115 in illuminating the early text of the New Testament. He did not comment directly on P115, but his significant work on categorizing New Testament manuscripts by content, date, and text-type provides a contextual framework for understanding P115’s contribution to New Testament textual criticism.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, a renowned American biblical scholar, has not directly commented on P115, as it was published after his death. However, his extensive work on New Testament textual criticism provides valuable context for interpreting P115. His work emphasizes the importance of early papyri in providing the earliest possible text of the New Testament and helping to clarify textual variants.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort is known for his work in New Testament textual criticism, particularly in papyrological studies. While his direct comments on P115 may not be available, his recognition of the textual relationships between early papyri contributes to a broader understanding of the historical development and reliability of the New Testament text. Comfort’s work highlights the significance of these early papyrus fragments, like P115, in shedding light on the early text of the New Testament and its transmission.
Papyrus 46 (P46) – A Manuscript of the Pauline Epistles, Dating from Around 100-150 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 46 (P46) is an ancient Greek manuscript of the New Testament, an early witness to the texts of Pauline Epistles. The papyrus is named after Chester Beatty, a mining engineer who purchased it, and it’s often referred to as P. Chester Beatty II.
CONTENTS: The contents of P46 primarily consist of most of Paul’s Epistles. It includes substantial parts of Romans, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians, with varying levels of completeness. The Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy and Titus) are notably absent.
DATE: The date of P46 is a matter of scholarly debate. Sir Frederic Kenyon originally dated the codex to the early third century, largely based on the handwriting of the stichometrical notes at the end of several epistles. However, other scholars, such as Ulrich Wilcken and Hans Gerstinger, argue that it belongs to the second century, around 200 CE. A later proposal by Young Kyu Kim even suggested a date in the reign of Domitian (81–96 CE). However, a more accepted consensus places P46 in the middle of the second century, allowing time for the formation of the Pauline corpus and its circulation in Egypt.
HOUSING LOCATION: P46 is housed in two locations. Thirty leaves are located at the University of Michigan, Special Collections Library, while fifty-six leaves are part of the Chester Beatty Collection in Dublin, Ireland.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: P46 is composed of papyrus leaves, and its handwriting is considered an upright, informal uncial, reflecting an early style, manifesting sometimes a running hand, while maintaining the upper line. The manuscript has suffered from wear and tear, with many pages damaged or fragmented.
TEXT TYPE: P46 is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type, one of the earliest and most respected text types of New Testament manuscripts.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: The text of P46 shows a strong affinity with Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Sinaiticus (א), and the 10th-century Alexandrian manuscript 1739. The manuscript has been corrected by multiple hands, implying that it was well-used, perhaps by various members of a church or monastery. The text exhibits various idiosyncrasies, including the rearrangement of the Pauline Epistles, and placing the Letter to the Hebrews between Romans and 1 Corinthians.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Kurt Aland, a renowned New Testament scholar, categorized P46 as Category I, indicating that it is of a very high quality and represents the Alexandrian text-type very well.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another leading biblical scholar, acknowledged the significance of P46 as one of the oldest and most extensive witnesses to the Pauline corpus. He also noted the peculiar order of the Epistles in P46, which differs from the canonical order and from most manuscripts.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, a scholar specializing in textual criticism of the New Testament, opined that P46 likely belongs to the middle of the second century, which allows time for the formation and circulation of the Pauline corpus. He also pointed out that the manuscript was professionally produced and used extensively by various readers, as evidenced by multiple corrections and lectoral marks.
Papyrus 47 (P47) – A Manuscript of Revelation 9:10-17:2, Dating from Around 200-225 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 47 (P47), also referred to as P. Chester Beatty III, is an early Greek New Testament manuscript inscribed on papyrus. The document is of significant value in biblical studies due to its antiquity and the content it carries. Its existence helps scholars analyze variations and similarities in the text of the New Testament, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the historical and textual development of biblical writings.
CONTENTS: The contents of P47 include text from the Book of Revelation, specifically chapters 9:10-11:3; 11:5-16:15; and 16:17-17:2. However, due to fragmentation, the manuscript does not provide a complete record of these chapters. The absence of complete text is not unusual in the world of ancient manuscripts where deterioration and damage over centuries can result in partial losses.
DATE: Based on paleographic analysis, which involves the examination and comparison of writing styles, P47 is dated to the beginning of the third century (200-225 CE). Its provenance is believed to be either from the Fayum of Egypt or perhaps the ruins of a church or monastery near Atfih, ancient Aphroditopolis.
HOUSING LOCATION: The manuscript is currently housed in the Chester Beatty Collection in Dublin, Ireland.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: Physically, P47 consists of thirty leaves, measuring approximately 14 cm x 24 cm, with 26-28 lines written per page in a documentary hand. The consistent abbreviation of numerals suggests that the scribe was practiced at making documents. A second corrector (c2) made some additional corrections and darkened many letters, providing further insight into the manuscript’s production and later interventions.
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: Textually, the character of P47 is deemed closest to Codex Sinaiticus (represented by the symbol א), making them witnesses for one type of the early textual forms of the Book of Revelation. The text of this manuscript is classified as a representative of the Alexandrian text-type, one of the primary textual families along with Western and Byzantine, which is characterized by specific or generally related readings differing from other groups.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: Notably, biblical scholar Kurt Aland categorized P47 as a Normal text and placed it in Category I, referring to manuscripts of the New Testament in the original Greek language, of which the character of the text is considered particularly significant.
The commentary provided by scholars offers additional insights into P47’s historical and textual significance. For instance, Frederic G. Kenyon, who first examined P47, initially stated that the manuscript was on the whole closest to א and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C), with a bit more distance from Codex Alexandrinus (A). However, further analysis suggested that P47 and א are more closely allied, with A, C, and Papyrus 115 (P115) forming a distinct textual group for Revelation.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another esteemed biblical scholar, noted the importance of P47 in understanding textual variance and agreement within the manuscripts of Revelation. Despite the observable differences, Metzger underscored the manuscript’s value as an early witness to the text of Revelation.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, known for his extensive work on New Testament texts, also contributed to the discourse surrounding P47. Like other scholars, Comfort recognized the manuscript’s textual character as closest to Codex Sinaiticus and emphasized its contribution to our understanding of the Book of Revelation’s textual history.
In conclusion, Papyrus 47 provides a precious glimpse into the textual history of the New Testament, specifically the Book of Revelation. It aids in tracing the evolution and transmission of biblical texts over the centuries. Despite its fragmentary state, P47 continues to be a subject of ongoing study and analysis, offering scholars valuable information about the New Testament’s historical and textual development.
Papyrus 72 (P72) – A Manuscript of Jude, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Dating from Around 200-250 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 72 (P72), also known as P. Bodmer VII and VIII, is an early Greek New Testament manuscript written on papyrus, serving as a valuable historical and academic resource. It contains text from the first and second epistles of Peter and the epistle of Jude, shedding light on the evolution and dissemination of these texts in the early Christian era.
CONTENTS: The contents of P72 include 1 Peter 1:1–5:14; 2 Peter 1:1–3:18; Jude 1–25. In addition to these canonical texts, the document also carries non-canonical writings such as the Nativity of Mary, the apocryphal correspondence of Paul to the Corinthians, the eleventh ode of Solomon, Melito’s Homily on the Passover, a fragment of a hymn, the Apology of Phileas, and Psalms 33 and 34.
DATE: Based on paleographic analysis, P72 is dated to the early to middle third century (ca. 200-250). The manuscript is considered part of the Jabal Abu Mana Manuscripts, though it likely comes from a later find in the same vicinity.
HOUSING LOCATION: The codex is currently housed in the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana in Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland, while 1 and 2 Peter are kept in the Biblioteca Vaticana.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: Physically, P72 consists of three parts of a 72-page codex, measuring approximately 14.5 cm x 16 cm, with 16-20 lines written per page. The text of 1 and 2 Peter is paginated from 1 to 36, while Jude is paginated from 62 to 68. The manuscript exhibits a documentary hand and features several marginal topical descriptors beginning with περι (concerning).
TEXTUAL CHARACTER: P72’s textual character displays a free and often careless transcription of a fairly reliable exemplar. Its text represents the Alexandrian text-type, one of the main textual families along with Western and Byzantine.
COMMENTS FROM KURT ALAND: According to biblical scholar Kurt Aland, 1-2 Peter exhibit a normal text in P72, while Jude displays a free text, each with unique peculiarities. Aland categorizes P72 into Category I, reflecting the significance of its textual character.
Biblical scholars have contributed to our understanding of P72. Michel Testuz, who extensively studied the Bodmer Papyri, underlines the significance of P72 in the study of the epistles of Peter and Jude. Additionally, Carlo M. Martini provided a new transcription for 1 and 2 Peter, enhancing the accuracy of scholarly investigations.
COMMENTS FROM BRUCE M. METZGER: Bruce M. Metzger, another esteemed biblical scholar, recognized the value of P72 as an early witness to the text of these epistles. Despite the observed textual peculiarities and the somewhat uncontrolled text in parts, he highlighted the codex’s contribution to textual studies.
COMMENTS FROM PHILIP W. COMFORT: Philip W. Comfort, renowned for his work on New Testament texts, highlighted the manuscript’s uniqueness. Comfort noted that while 1 Peter showed clear Alexandrian affinities, especially with Codex Vaticanus (B) and then with Codex Alexandrinus (A), the text of 2 Peter and especially Jude exhibited more of an uncontrolled type, usually associated with the “Western” text. Comfort also noted that P72 is thought to have been produced by four scribes for private use, not for church meetings.
It’s worth noting that P72 is the earliest known manuscript of the epistles of Peter and Jude, underscoring its significance for biblical scholarship. It shares a scribe with P. Bodmer X and XI, and it includes the usual nomina sacra, special abbreviated forms used in New Testament manuscripts for several words of significance, along with a few non-standard ones.
To summarize, Papyrus 72, despite its textual peculiarities and the presence of non-canonical writings, offers a unique glimpse into the textual history of the New Testament, particularly the epistles of Peter and Jude. Its combination of canonical and non-canonical texts and its distinctive transcription style make it an important object of study for understanding the dissemination and evolution of Christian texts in the early centuries.
Papyrus 137 (P137) The Earliest Fragment of Mark 1:7-9; 1:16-18, Dating from Around 100-125 CE
INTRODUCTION: Papyrus 137 (P137), part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, is an early Greek New Testament manuscript written on papyrus that contains a small fragment from the Gospel of Mark. Despite its minimal size, P137 is of significant interest to scholars due to its early date and its contribution to the study of the textual transmission of the Gospel of Mark.
CONTENTS: The contents of P137 include Mark 1:7-8 and Mark 1:16-18, constituting only a small fragment of the larger Gospel. Based on paleographic analysis, the manuscript is dated to the early to middle second century, making it the earliest extant manuscript fragment of the Gospel of Mark.
The provenance of P137 is Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, a location known for its wealth of papyrus findings, making a significant contribution to our understanding of ancient writings and everyday life.
HOUSING LOCATION: Today, this precious artifact is housed in the Ashmolean Museum, located in Oxford, England.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: The physical features of P137 are modest. The fragment preserves parts of the bottom five lines of a leaf, both recto and verso. The fragment may have come from the first page of a single-quire codex, with a proposed original page layout of 25 lines per page and a written area of 9.4cm x 12 cm. Interestingly, on the recto side, the papyrus strips are laid vertically, while on the verso side, they are laid horizontally. Regrettably, the letters on the recto are seriously abraded, affecting legibility.
Due to its small size, the textual character of P137 is challenging to determine definitively. However, the surviving handwriting is noted to be in a formal bookhand, described by the manuscript’s editors as having the characteristics of the “Formal Mixed” hand, found in dateable documents from the later second and third centuries.
From the perspective of textual scholar Philip W. Comfort, he would acknowledge the inherent limitations of working with such a small fragment. Even so, they would agree on its historical significance given its early date and status as the earliest known fragment of Mark’s Gospel.
The readings of P137 are noteworthy. The term “Holy Spirit” at verse 8 on the recto is abbreviated as a nomen sacrum. Additionally, the dative preposition εν (‘in’) is not found in P137 either before ‘water’ or before ‘Holy Spirit’. This omission is in contrast to the standard text of Mark in Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28), which includes the dative preposition before ‘Holy Spirit’. The omission of ‘in’ before ‘water’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ is in agreement with the reading in the Codex Vaticanus and in editions of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece up to NA25.
In summary, Papyrus 137, despite its small size and fragmentary state, is an essential artifact for understanding the early textual transmission of the Gospel of Mark. Its early date, the unique textual features it presents, and its connection to the important archaeological site of Oxyrhynchus all contribute to its importance in New Testament studies.
Codex Vaticanus (B or 03): Dating from 300-330 CE
Codex Vaticanus (also known as Vaticanus B or Codex B) is one of the oldest and most important extant Greek manuscripts of the Bible, dating back to the 4th century CE. It holds immense significance in the field of biblical studies and textual criticism, as it provides critical information for understanding the development and transmission of the biblical text. The codex is housed in the Vatican Library, where it has been since at least the 15th century.
- Description and Contents: Codex Vaticanus is a large parchment codex, consisting of 759 leaves and measuring approximately 27 x 27 cm. It is written in Greek uncial script, which features large, distinct, and rounded letters, with three columns per page. The manuscript originally contained the entire Old Testament, including the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), as well as the New Testament and some early Christian writings, such as the Epistle of Barnabas and portions of the Shepherd of Hermas. However, parts of the manuscript have been lost or damaged over time, and some books are incomplete.
- Textual Features: Codex Vaticanus is considered one of the best witnesses to the Alexandrian text-type, which is characterized by its relative accuracy, brevity, and polished style compared to other text-types. It is particularly valuable for its early and reliable representation of the Septuagint, and it is a key source for reconstructing the original text of the New Testament. The manuscript exhibits numerous corrections and revisions made by different scribes over the centuries, providing insight into the textual history and the scribal practices of the time.
- Discovery and Study: Although Codex Vaticanus has been in the Vatican Library for centuries, its significance was not widely recognized until the 19th century. The renowned German scholar Constantin von Tischendorf was granted access to the codex in the mid-19th century and published its text, bringing its importance to the attention of biblical scholars worldwide. Since then, Codex Vaticanus has become a cornerstone for modern critical editions of the Greek Bible, such as the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament.
- Relationship to Other Manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus, along with Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, is part of the group of the three earliest and most significant biblical manuscripts. Codex Sinaiticus, also a 4th-century manuscript, is especially important for its complete New Testament text, while Codex Alexandrinus, from the 5th century, contains the entire Bible with some additional early Christian writings. Together, these three manuscripts provide essential information for the study of the early text of the Bible and the history of its transmission.
In conclusion, Codex Vaticanus is a critically important Greek manuscript of the Bible that has significantly contributed to our understanding of the biblical text’s early history and transmission. As one of the oldest extant witnesses to the Alexandrian text-type, it has played a crucial role in shaping modern critical editions of the Greek Bible and remains an invaluable resource for biblical scholars and textual critics.
Codex Sinaiticus (א or 01): Dating from 330-360 CE
Codex Sinaiticus, also known as א or Aleph, is one of the most significant and oldest extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible, dating to the mid-4th century CE. It is an invaluable source for biblical scholars and textual critics, as it provides critical information on the early transmission and development of the biblical text. The codex is currently preserved in various institutions, with the majority of the manuscript held at the British Library in London.
- Description and Contents: Codex Sinaiticus is a parchment codex comprising 400 leaves, each measuring approximately 38 x 34.5 cm. It is written in Greek uncial script, characterized by large, distinct, and rounded letters, with four columns per page. The manuscript originally contained the entire Old Testament, including the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), as well as the complete New Testament, and some early Christian writings, such as the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. Over time, some portions of the manuscript have been lost or damaged, resulting in gaps within certain books.
- Textual Features: Codex Sinaiticus is considered an important witness to the Alexandrian text-type, which is characterized by its relative accuracy, brevity, and polished style compared to other text-types. It is particularly valuable for its early and reliable representation of the Septuagint, and it is a key source for reconstructing the original text of the New Testament. The manuscript displays numerous corrections and revisions made by different scribes over the centuries, providing insight into the textual history and scribal practices of the time.
- Discovery and Study: The story of Codex Sinaiticus’s discovery is intriguing. It was found by the German scholar Constantin von Tischendorf during his visits to Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in the 19th century. In 1844, Tischendorf discovered 43 leaves of the codex and later returned in 1859 to find the majority of the remaining manuscript. The codex was subsequently presented to Tsar Alexander II of Russia, who sponsored its publication. In 1933, the Soviet government sold the manuscript to the British Library, where it is now held.
The publication and study of Codex Sinaiticus have significantly impacted the field of biblical studies, particularly textual criticism. The manuscript has been extensively analyzed, and its text has served as a basis for modern critical editions of the Greek Bible, such as the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament.
- Relationship to Other Manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus, along with Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus, is part of the group of the three earliest and most significant biblical manuscripts. Codex Vaticanus, also a 4th-century manuscript, is especially important for its representation of the Septuagint, while Codex Alexandrinus, from the 5th century, contains the entire Bible with some additional early Christian writings. Together, these three manuscripts provide essential information for the study of the early text of the Bible and the history of its transmission.
In conclusion, Codex Sinaiticus is an indispensable Greek manuscript of the Bible that has considerably contributed to our understanding of the early history and transmission of the biblical text. As one of the oldest and most complete extant witnesses to the Alexandrian text-type, it has played a crucial role in shaping modern critical editions of the Greek Bible and remains an invaluable resource for biblical scholars and textual critics.
Codex Alexandrinus (A or 02): A 5th-century manuscript
Codex Alexandrinus, designated as “A” or “02,” is a highly significant and relatively complete manuscript of the Greek Bible, dating to the early 5th century CE. It is an essential resource for biblical scholars and textual critics, providing crucial insights into the early transmission and development of the biblical text. The codex is currently housed in the British Library in London.
- Description and Contents: Codex Alexandrinus is a parchment codex containing 773 leaves, each measuring approximately 32 x 26 cm. It is written in Greek uncial script, characterized by large, distinct, and rounded letters, with two columns per page. The manuscript originally contained the complete Old Testament, including the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), as well as the New Testament, and several early Christian writings, such as the First and Second Epistles of Clement. Over time, some portions of the manuscript have been lost or damaged, resulting in gaps within certain books.
- Textual Features: Codex Alexandrinus is considered an important witness to the Byzantine text-type, characterized by its tendency for expansion and harmonization of parallel passages. However, in some sections, especially the Gospels, the text exhibits mixed characteristics with Alexandrian and Western readings. The manuscript is particularly valuable for its early and relatively complete representation of the Septuagint, and it is an important source for reconstructing the original text of the New Testament.
- History and Study: The exact origins of Codex Alexandrinus remain uncertain, but it is believed to have been produced in Alexandria, Egypt, or its surrounding region. The manuscript was brought to Constantinople in the early 17th century and later presented to King Charles I of England by the Orthodox Patriarch Cyril Lucar in 1627. After the British Museum was established in 1753, the codex was transferred to its manuscript collection, and it is now held in the British Library.
The publication and study of Codex Alexandrinus have significantly impacted the field of biblical studies, particularly textual criticism. The manuscript has been extensively analyzed, and its text has been considered in the preparation of modern critical editions of the Greek Bible, such as the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament.
- Relationship to Other Manuscripts: Codex Alexandrinus, together with Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, forms the group of the three earliest and most significant biblical manuscripts. Codex Vaticanus, a 4th-century manuscript, is especially important for its representation of the Septuagint, while Codex Sinaiticus, also from the 4th century, contains the entire Bible and some additional early Christian writings. These three manuscripts provide essential information for the study of the early text of the Bible and the history of its transmission.
In conclusion, Codex Alexandrinus is a vital Greek manuscript of the Bible that has contributed greatly to our understanding of the early history and transmission of the biblical text. As one of the oldest and relatively complete extant witnesses to the Byzantine text-type with mixed characteristics, it plays a critical role in shaping modern critical editions of the Greek Bible and remains an invaluable resource for biblical scholars and textual critics.
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C or 04): A 5th-century Greek manuscript of the Bible
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C or 04) is a 5th-century Greek manuscript of the Bible that is of significant importance in biblical studies due to its antiquity and the textual variants it contains. Named after Ephraem the Syrian, whose works were written over the biblical text, this codex is a palimpsest, a manuscript in which the original writing has been scraped off and overwritten with a later text.
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is one of the oldest surviving manuscripts of the Greek Bible. It is designated as ‘C’ in the Gregory-Aland numbering system and ’04’ in the von Soden system. The manuscript is written on vellum and contains partial texts of the Old and New Testaments. It is notable for being a palimpsest, a manuscript that has been overwritten on an erased older work.
Originally, the manuscript likely contained the whole Bible. However, due to its state as a palimpsest, many sections have been lost. Today, it contains 64 leaves of the Old Testament and 145 leaves of the New Testament. The Old Testament portions include sections of the Septuagint version of the Prophets and the Wisdom books. The New Testament sections contain portions of every book except Second Thessalonians and Second John.
Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is typically dated to the 5th century CE. This dating is based on an analysis of the handwriting, or paleography, of the manuscript.
The codex is currently housed in the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France) in Paris.
The codex is written on vellum, a type of fine parchment made from animal skin. The pages are approximately 31.4 cm by 26.2 cm. The text is written in one column per page and in scriptio continua, meaning there are no spaces between words. The ink used for the original text is brown, while the Ephraemi text is written in a darker ink. The writing of the original text is in a literary uncial hand, with the newer text in a later minuscule hand.
The text type of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is mostly Alexandrian, one of the major text types used to classify and group New Testament manuscripts. However, in the Book of Acts and the Pauline epistles, it has a more Western type of text. The text type influences the variant readings found in the codex.
The textual character of the codex is significant due to the unique readings and textual variants it contains. For instance, in Matthew 1:11, it includes the name Amos in the genealogy of Jesus, a reading only shared with a few other manuscripts. In Acts, it contains additional text for Acts 20:32 and lacks text in Acts 8:39, compared to other manuscripts.
Codex Bezae (D or 05): A 5th-century manuscript containing most of the four Gospels and Acts, and a small part of III John in Greek and Latin texts
Codex Bezae, also known as Codex Cantabrigiensis or designated as “D” or “05,” is a distinctive and significant ancient manuscript of the Greek New Testament and the Old Latin version. The manuscript, dating to the 5th century CE, contains the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles in both Greek and Latin, with the two languages presented side by side in parallel columns. Codex Bezae is housed at the Cambridge University Library in England.
- Description and Contents: Codex Bezae is a parchment codex containing 406 extant leaves, each measuring approximately 26 x 21.5 cm. It is written in Greek uncial script and Latin script, with one column per page for each language. The manuscript originally contained the complete text of the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, as well as the General Epistle of James and the Third Epistle of John. However, portions of the text have been lost over time, and the surviving leaves are incomplete.
- Textual Features: Codex Bezae is known for its unique textual characteristics, representing the Western text-type, which is marked by extensive additions, omissions, and variations from the standard text. The manuscript is particularly famous for its unusual readings, including some that are not found in any other extant manuscript. The text is often characterized as “free” or “wild,” reflecting the scribe’s apparent willingness to alter the text, either intentionally or unintentionally. This makes Codex Bezae a crucial resource for understanding the diversity of early Christian textual traditions.
- History and Study: The origin and provenance of Codex Bezae are uncertain, although it is generally believed to have been produced in either southern France or western North Africa. The manuscript was acquired by the French humanist and biblical scholar Theodore Beza in the 16th century, and he later donated it to the University of Cambridge in 1581. Since then, it has been the subject of extensive study and analysis by scholars seeking to understand its unique textual features and the broader history of the New Testament text.
- Relationship to Other Manuscripts: Codex Bezae is one of several important early witnesses to the Western text-type, which includes other Greek, Latin, and Syriac manuscripts. Among these, Codex Bezae is considered one of the most significant due to its bilingual nature and the extent of its textual variations. Other notable manuscripts representing the Western text-type include Codex Washingtonianus, Codex Claromontanus, and the Old Latin versions of the New Testament.
- Impact on Biblical Scholarship: The study of Codex Bezae has had a considerable impact on the field of biblical scholarship, particularly in the area of textual criticism. Its unique textual features have led scholars to reconsider assumptions about the transmission and development of the New Testament text and to explore the complex relationships between various textual traditions. The manuscript has also been influential in the development of theories about the role of scribes and the processes of textual change in the early Christian period.
In conclusion, Codex Bezae is an invaluable manuscript that offers a unique perspective on the textual history of the New Testament. Its distinctive textual features, bilingual nature, and historical significance make it an essential resource for understanding the development and diversity of early Christian textual traditions, as well as the broader history of the New Testament text.
Codex Washingtonianus (W or 032): A 4th or 5th-century manuscript of the Gospels
Codex Washingtonianus (W or 032) is a 4th or 5th-century Greek manuscript of the Gospels, a valuable artifact for biblical studies due to its age and the unique characteristics of its text. Also known as the Washington Codex, it’s one of the oldest known copies of the Gospels and contains several intriguing textual variants and unique readings.
Codex Washingtonianus is an ancient manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It’s also known as Codex Washingtonensis or the Washington Codex due to its current location. In the Gregory-Aland numbering system, it’s designated as ‘W’ or ‘032’.
The codex contains the four canonical Gospels in the order of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark. This sequence is unusual and distinctive, departing from the more commonly observed order in most manuscripts. It also includes a unique and lengthy textual variant known as the “Freer Logion,” a post-Resurrection dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, which appears after Mark 16:14.
The dating of Codex Washingtonianus is a matter of scholarly debate. It is typically assigned to the 4th or 5th century CE based on paleographical analysis – the study of its handwriting style.
The codex resides in the Freer Gallery of Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., USA. It was bought in Egypt by Charles Lang Freer, an American industrialist and art collector, and subsequently became a part of his extensive collection donated to the nation.
Codex Washingtonianus is written on parchment, and the manuscript’s dimensions are approximately 21 cm by 16 cm. The text is presented in one column per page, with the lines written in a continuously flowing script without breaks between words, a style known as scriptio continua. It includes the Eusebian Canons – an early system of Gospel cross-references – and has several illuminations, an aspect that separates it from most other biblical manuscripts of this age.
The text type of the Washington Codex is predominantly Byzantine, the text type found in the majority of later Greek New Testament manuscripts. However, the Gospel of Mark, especially Mark 1-5, exhibits a more ‘Western’ type of text, which features more substantial variations from the Byzantine text.
The textual character of the Washington Codex is particularly noteworthy because of the unique readings it offers, such as the “Freer Logion” in Mark 16. In general, the textual character is mixed but largely consistent with the Byzantine tradition, with notable exceptions in the early chapters of Mark.
Codex Claromontanus (D or 06): A 5th or 6th-century Greek and Latin diglot manuscript of the Pauline Epistles
Codex Claromontanus (D or 06), dating to the 5th or 6th century, is a Greek and Latin diglot manuscript that houses the Pauline Epistles. It is significant for its detailed historical information about the Bible canon, and its text offers unique insights into the evolution of the New Testament.
Codex Claromontanus is an ancient Greek and Latin diglot, or bilingual, manuscript of the New Testament. It is designated by ‘D’ or ’06’ in the Gregory-Aland numbering system and is named after the Clermont library in France where it was stored in the 18th century.
The Codex Claromontanus contains the Pauline Epistles, including Hebrews, which was traditionally attributed to Paul in the Western church, though this is generally not accepted in modern scholarship. At the end of the Epistle to Philemon, it has a unique stichometric catalogue (a list with the line numbers of each book) of the Old and New Testaments, which provides valuable historical information about the early Christian canon.
The Codex Claromontanus is typically dated to the 5th or 6th century based on paleographical analysis, the study of its handwriting style.
Currently, the manuscript is held at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France.
The Codex is written on parchment in uncial letters. It’s a bilingual manuscript, with Greek text on the left-hand pages and Latin text on the right-hand pages. The codex has 533 leaves, 26.5 cm by 21.5 cm, with the text written in a single column per page.
The Greek text of Codex Claromontanus is of the Alexandrian text-type, which is characterized by a rigorous, academic approach to the copying of texts, with fewer additions and alterations than other text types. The Latin text is of the Western text-type, which is known for more paraphrastic renderings and additional explanatory material.
The textual character of Codex Claromontanus is particularly valued for its stichometric catalogue. The catalogue includes several New Testament apocryphal books and omits some canonical ones, offering a unique perspective on the development of the New Testament canon in the early church.
Codex Basilensis (E or 07): A 8th-century Greek manuscript of the Gospels
Codex Basilensis (E or 07), an 8th-century Greek manuscript, houses the Gospels and contributes essential insights into the history and evolution of the New Testament text.
Codex Basilensis, denoted as ‘E’ or ’07’ under the Gregory-Aland numbering system, is an 8th-century Greek manuscript of the New Testament, preserving the text of the four Gospels. The codex is named after the city of Basel, Switzerland, where it currently resides.
The Codex Basilensis contains the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However, some sections are missing, including Matthew 1:1-25; Mark 1:1-32; Luke 24:46-53; and John 1:1-20.
Paleographical analysis, which examines the manuscript’s handwriting style, attributes Codex Basilensis to the 8th century.
The manuscript is currently held at the University Library of Basel, Switzerland.
Codex Basilensis is written on parchment leaves, in the form of a codex. The manuscript measures approximately 27 cm by 21.5 cm. It contains the text of the Gospels written in one column per page, in 23 lines per page. The writing is in Greek uncial script, a majuscule script (written entirely in capital letters) commonly used from the 3rd to 8th centuries CE.
The Greek text of Codex Basilensis is of the Byzantine text-type, which is characterized by later, more harmonized readings that may smooth out difficulties and apparent discrepancies in the text.
The textual character of Codex Basilensis is largely Byzantine. However, it exhibits some minor readings that are shared with the earlier Alexandrian text-type. The combination of text-types demonstrates the mixed textual nature of this manuscript and its value in text-critical studies.
Codex Seidelianus I (H or 013): A 9th-century Greek uncial manuscript containing the text of the four Gospels
Codex Seidelianus I (H or 013), a 9th-century Greek uncial manuscript, provides invaluable insights into the text of the four Gospels and its transmission.
Codex Seidelianus I, also known as Codex Mutinensis, is referenced as ‘H’ or ‘013’ under the Gregory-Aland numbering system. This Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament dates back to the 9th century and contains the text of the four Gospels.
The Codex Seidelianus I carries the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It should be noted, however, that some parts are missing or have been supplemented from other manuscripts due to damage or loss over time.
Based on the paleographical analysis of the manuscript, which examines handwriting style, Codex Seidelianus I is generally dated to the 9th century.
Currently, the manuscript is kept at the Biblioteca Estense in Modena, Italy, under the shelfmark ‘Greek 71’.
The Codex Seidelianus I is written on parchment leaves and is in the codex form. The text is written in Greek uncial letters (majuscule script) in one column per page, and typically 21 lines per page. The manuscript measures approximately 29.5 cm by 22 cm. It is notable for its clear, careful, and competent scribe’s hand.
The Greek text of Codex Seidelianus I represents the Byzantine text-type, which is later and more harmonized than other text types, such as the Alexandrian. It is also part of the family 1 in the Gospels, a group of New Testament manuscripts that display a consistent pattern of variant readings.
The text of Codex Seidelianus I is primarily Byzantine, but it belongs to the so-called ‘Caesarean text-type’, which some scholars suggest is an early offshoot from the Alexandrian text. It presents certain peculiar readings, which add value to its text-critical significance.
Codex Regius (L or 019): An 8th-century uncial manuscript containing the text of the four Gospels
Codex Regius (L or 019), an 8th-century uncial manuscript, is one of the important textual witnesses to the Greek New Testament, specifically the four Gospels.
The Codex Regius, also known as Codex Lectionarius 97, is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament. Designated by the siglum ‘L’ or ‘019’ in the Gregory-Aland numbering, this manuscript has great historical significance in the study of the New Testament.
The Codex Regius contains the complete text of the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The order of the Gospels in the codex is Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark.
The Codex Regius is dated to the 8th century, as determined by the script’s palaeographic analysis and comparative manuscript studies.
The Codex Regius is currently housed at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France, with the shelf mark ‘Gr. 62’.
The Codex Regius is composed of parchment, written in an uncial script (Greek capital letters), with one column per page and typically 20 lines per page. It measures approximately 26 cm by 21.5 cm. It includes lectionary markings and incipits (initial words of a text) in the margin for liturgical reading.
The Greek text of the Codex Regius represents the Alexandrian text-type, also known as the “Neutral Text” tradition. This text-type is typically considered to contain the earliest form of the New Testament text and is characterized by a high degree of purity and consistency.
The Codex Regius is characterized by textual variants aligning with the Alexandrian text tradition, and its readings are often found to be in agreement with other major Alexandrian texts such as the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. It does have some Byzantine readings as well, making it a critical witness to the textual history of the Gospels.