The Date of P.Köln 10.406 (P118)

One of the habits of papyrologists and New Testament scholars that I’ve tried to highlight over the last decade is the practice of dating the handwriting of ancient manuscripts by comparing them to other samples of handwriting that are themselves of uncertain date. Another good example of this phenomenon is P.Köln 10.406 (better known to New Testament scholars as P118), fragments from a leaf of a papyrus codex containing Paul’s letter to the Romans (LDAB 10081) copied in two columns per page.

P118 PKöln 10 406

P.Köln 10.406, fragments of a leaf of a papyrus codex containing Romans; image source: Die Kölner Papyrus-Sammlung

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Posted in Codices, P.Bodmer II, Palaeography | 1 Comment

Venn Diagrams and the Synoptic Problem

I mentioned that I gave a paper in Oslo some weeks ago on the issue of manuscripts and the synoptic problem. While it was the issue of manuscripts and variant readings that was the focus of my attention, writing this paper forced me to revisit some foundational scholarship on the gospels and challenged me to try to visualize some data for a general audience. I did so using Venn Diagrams. Now I see that Mark Goodacre, in a series of posts (here, here, and here) prompted by the insightful work of Matthew Larsen, has also been experimenting with Venn Diagrams to model synoptic relationships (see also the interesting contribution by Joe Weaks). Continue reading

Posted in New Testament | 12 Comments

P.Bodmer 58 and Ancient Instructions for Preparing Parchment

PBodmer 58 Spine

While the Bodmer Papyri are best known for the subset of Greek and Coptic codices that Martin Bodmer acquired from Egyptian sources through the Cypriot dealer Phocion Tano in the 1950s, there are other early Christian materials in the collection that were acquired under different circumstances. One of the most curious of these is now known as P.Bodmer 58 (LDAB 107785). This papyrus codex, usually said to have been copied in the sixth or seventh century, contains a series of works in Coptic: a dialogue between two deacons and Cyril of Alexandria, letters of Theophilus, a dialogue between Horsiesius and Theophilus, a dialogue between Phausos and Timotheos with Horsiesius, and a collection of works attributed to Agathonicos, along with a set of instructions for the preparation of parchment. Unlike the more famous Bodmer Papyri that first appeared on the antiquities market in the 1950s, P.Bodmer 58 has been known since the nineteenth century. It was formerly in the collection of Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872). The individual papyrus leaves have been placed between a kind of wax paper, and these “sandwich” leaves have been bound together in a modern binding in a somewhat jumbled order. Three different copyists seem to have been responsible for the production of the leaves now bound together in the codex. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Dealers and Collectors, Bodmer Papyri, Book binding, Codices, Monastery of Epiphanius, Thomas Phillipps | 3 Comments

An Oxyrhynchus Manuscript of Romans

Oxyrhynchus RomansIn light of the recent report on unpublished early Christian manuscripts from the Oxyrhynchus collection, it may be worth revisiting an old video. In 2006, the PBS television program Nova: ScienceNow presented a segment on the use of multispectral imaging (MSI) on ancient manuscripts, including some in the Oxyrhynchus collection. Continue reading

Posted in Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 2 Comments

Article in The Ancient Near East Today

ANE Today Article

The April 2019 edition of The Ancient Near East Today is carrying a very nicely illustrated article about my book, God’s Library. You can check it out at their site.

Posted in Archaeological context | 1 Comment

Kenyon’s Editions of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri Online

Kenyon Beatty Papyri Fasc 1In addition to digital images of many of their manuscripts, the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin has also made available the text and plates of Frederic Kenyon’s editions of the Beatty Biblical Papyri. As I have noted before, these volumes are extremely difficult to find on the used book market, so this is a fantastic development. Many thanks to the people at the Beatty Library in Dublin! I can’t find an organized set of links to the pdf files, so I’ve made one below. Please use the comments to let me know if there are problems with any of the links. Continue reading

Posted in Chester Beatty Papyri | 7 Comments

Pachomian Letters

Beatty W 145 Pachomius

Among the images recently posted online at the Chester Beatty Library are a number of copies of the writings of the Egyptian monk Pahom (usually called by his Latinized name, Pachomius) and his followers. Pachomius established a monastery near Faw Qibli (ancient Pbow) in the 330s. The letters of Pachomius himself have long been known in the form of a Latin translation made by Jerome early in the fifth century, which was transmitted through the centuries and survives in several manuscripts, the oldest of which comes from the ninth century. But in the 1950s, copies of the letters of Pachomius and his followers preserved in Coptic (and occasionally Greek) surfaced on the antiquities market. The manuscripts are generally assigned to a much earlier period (some perhaps as late as the seventh century but one possibly as early as the late fourth century). These manuscripts are notable for their curious formats. Some are copied on oddly shaped strips of parchment; others are copied on long narrow rolls of parchment, while others are written in very broad columns on papyrus rolls.

These items have been rather challenging to study because of a lack of access of good images. This has now changed. Continue reading

Posted in Bodmer Papyri, Chester Beatty Papyri | Leave a comment