The Oxyrhynchus “Distributions”

In the recent discussions about the newly published fragment of the Gospel According to Mark (P.Oxy. 83.5345), there has been a little confusion about the so-called “distribution papyri.” These are pieces of papyrus excavated from Oxyrhynchus and elsewhere that the Egypt Exploration Fund sent to various institutions (and occasionally individuals), mostly in the UK and USA, that made financial donations to support the work of the EEF. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, Green Collection, Oxyrhynchus Papyri, William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Leave a comment

EES Makes Edition of the New Oxyrhynchus Mark Fragment Available Online

The EES has made the edition of the new Mark fragment in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri series available freely online at

Also, Candida Moss and Joel Baden, who have been following the Green Collection and Museum of the Bible story for the past few years, weigh in with further news from Scott Carroll and Dirk Obbink in the Daily Beast here.

Posted in Antiquities Market, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | Leave a comment

Sorting the Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Oxyrhynchus Papyri Pile

Papyri from the excavations of Grenfell and Hunt; image source: Egypt Exploration Society

Again, it would be great to get a systematic account from somebody “in the know” about the unpublished inventory of material from Oxyrhynchus. Hunt, of course, identified some things in the field and then back at Oxford. But it seems like he and Grenfell didn’t themselves have a sense of just how much material they uncovered. In a lecture in 1920, Grenfell wrote that Volume 15 of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri series “probably carries us more than half-way through the publication of the total finds of literary texts from that site. Continue reading

Posted in Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 2 Comments

P.Oxy. 83.5345: A Picture and Still More on Inventory Numbers

The papyrus formerly known as “First Century” Mark, which is now second or third (or fourth) century Mark, has finally appeared. Elijah Hixson’s original post has now been updated several times and now includes a picture of the papyrus in question. (UPDATE: The picture has been removed from their site per the request of the Egypt Exploration Society. The EES has now made their edition of the papyrus and a picture available here.) Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, First Century Mark, Green Collection, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 14 Comments

Egypt Exploration Society on the Papyrus Formerly Known As “First Century” Mark

The Egypt Exploration Society has just posted an announcement on their website about P.Oxy. 83.5345: Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, First Century Mark, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 1 Comment

So-called “First Century Mark.” Wow. (with a coda on Oxyrhynchus inventory numbers)

Quite a bit has gone down since Elijah Hixson broke the news yesterday that a newly published Oxyrhynchus papyrus (P.Oxy. 83.5345) is the much awaited “first century Mark” fragment that has been rumored to exist since 2012. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, First Century Mark, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 8 Comments

P.Oxy. 31.2604: Writing Exercises and Palaeography

Elijah Hixson has drawn attention this morning to a new volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri series that is set to appear. Elijah focuses on a potentially interesting new copy of the Gospel According to Mark, but I must admit that the item that really caught my eye in the description of the new volume was this one:

“There is also a glimpse of the anonymous copyists to whom we owe our texts, practising the various graphic styles from which their customers could choose.”

I wonder if this is another piece similar to P.Oxy. 31.2604, an example of a copyist writing the same hexameter line in different styles of writing that we generally associate with different periods of time:

POxy 31 2604 small

A portion of P.Oxy. 31.2604, a writing exercise; image source: P.Oxy Oxyrhynchus Online

ⲃⲱⲙⲟⲛ ⲟ ⲅ’ⲏⲯⲉ ⲑⲉⲟⲓⲥ ⲍⲁⲙⲉⲛⲏⲥ ⲇⲉ ⲡⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲕⲉⲭⲩⲧⲟ ⲫⲗⲟⲝ

“He fired an altar to the gods, and a powerful flame of fire poured out.”

As the editor of the piece notes, the hexameter line is a Greek equivalent of the English phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” a sentence that contains all the letters in the alphabet.  So this hexameter line is ideal for a display of writing skills.

In the first two lines, the hexameter is written in different sizes of a “chancery” hand that is generally associated with the third century CE, while the final line is written in larger majuscule capitals usually associated with the first or early second century CE. So much of palaeographic dating is based on the assumption that graphic difference is always indicative of temporal difference. Examples like this that demonstrate that such an assumption isn’t always safe. I will be curious to see the new Oxyrhynchus exercise.

And while I’m on the topic of the problematic nature of palaeographic dating, I’ll also point out that Christian Askeland has just uploaded an important new chapter on the dating of Coptic literary manuscripts. It is available at his site here.

Posted in Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Palaeography | 3 Comments