The Bodmer Papyri: An Inventory of “P.Bodmer” Items

The longest chapter of my forthcoming book is dedicated to “The Bodmer Papyri,” a group of manuscripts that can be confusing even for scholars of early Christianity. The name derives from the Swiss collector Martin Bodmer (1899-1971), who bought a number of papyrus and parchment manuscripts from Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s. Many (though not nearly all) of these pieces seem to derive from a single ancient find in Upper Egypt.

Bodmer and Menander

Martin Bodmer with a leaf of the Bodmer Menander codex (P.Bodmer XXV+IV+XXVI)

So, the term “Bodmer Papyri” usually refers to this ancient find (which also contained material that Bodmer did not buy), but Bodmer’s collection of early Christian manuscripts also contains early Christian manuscripts from Egypt that were not part of this find. The early papyrus and parchment manuscripts in Bodmer’s collection, now part of the Fondation Martin Bodmer, carry the papyrological designation “P.Bodmer.” There does not seem to be a complete, up-to-date list of these “P.Bodmer” items online, so I am producing one here. Most of these manuscripts are presently in the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva, although some of them are now elsewhere (and now have other additional names, just to make things a little more confusing).

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Anton Fackelmann: Conservator and Seller of Antiquities

In researching the supposed first-century papyrus of Mark’s gospel associated with Anton Fackelmann, I found that there wasn’t a lot of information about Fackelmann available either online or elsewhere. So, I thought I would take a moment to write up a quick summary of what I have learned of the work of the long-time conservator of papyrus and parchment at Vienna over the last few years. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, Anton Fackelmann, Cologne Mani Codex, Derveni Papyrus, First Century Mark, Herculaneum Papyri, Mummy cartonnage | Leave a comment

The Harris Homers and the Crocodile Pit of Maabdeh

In the 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, I have an article that ended up being a sort trip down the rabbit hole. The title gives you an idea of the curious combination of topics: “The Crocodile Pit of Maabdeh, Florence Nightingale, and the British Museum’s Acquisition of the Harris Homers.” This all started because I wanted to cite a particular papyrus, the so-called Harris Homer.

The first thing to note is that there are actually two different manuscripts that are sometimes called “the Harris Homer.” Both were part of the collection of Anthony Charles Harris (1790-1869), a British merchant and collector of antiquities who lived in Alexandria in Egypt. Continue reading

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Some Answers on Fackelmann’s “First-century Mark” Papyrus

When I wrote my earlier post on a papyrus allegedly containing a draft of Mark’s gospel, I also did a bit of searching to see if anything new had come up with regard to Fackelmann’s alleged Mark papyrus. The only thing I came across turned out to be a quite interesting find. There is actually a recent (2015) biography of the Anton Fackelmann, the famous conservator of papyrus and parchment: Continue reading

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Just a Bit More on the Robinson Papyri

I find one of the items in the list of Robinson Papyri at Duke especially curious. The last item in the list, which is given in the Duke records as P.Duk.inv. 798 (= P.Rob.inv. L 1). It is a fragment of Cicero’s Catiline orations. Several things stand out about this piece.


P.Duk.inv. 798 (=P.Rob.inv. L 1), Cicero, In Cat. 1.13-15

It belongs to a Greek-Latin codex with Christian contents, the rest of which is now kept in the Abbey of Montserrat near Barcelona. This codex is widely agreed to be a part of the “Bodmer Papyri,” a group of manuscripts that appeared on the antiquities market in the early 1950s and seem to derive from a single ancient collection. In his edition of the Cicero fragment, William H. Willis reported that the papyrus was the only Latin piece among the Robinson Papyri and also “the last papyrus [Robinson] acquired for his collection.” It was “purchased in Cairo in 1955” (Willis, “A Papyrus Fragment of Cicero,” TAPA 94 [1963], p. 321). Interestingly, the Robinson Cicero fragment is also usually said to have been found inside one of the Coptic codices acquired by the University of Mississippi in 1955. Thus Willis wrote: “It was found between the leaves of the Crosby Codex, a papyrus codex in Coptic now at the University of Mississippi Continue reading

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Further Details on the Robinson Papyri

Once I got to organizing my thoughts about the Robinson Papyri yesterday, it occurred to me that the best thing to do was simply to list them out. As I was working through the collection, I came across another description of the group that is more helpful with regard to numbers and provenance. Again, the source is an article by William H. Willis, “Oxyrhynchite Documents among the Robinson Papyri,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 25 (1988), 99-127. Here, the collection is described by Willis as follows:   Continue reading

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The Robinson Papyri


William H. Willis

“The Robinson Papyri” are a group of manuscripts bought by David Moore Robinson (1880-1958), professor of classics and archaeology at the University of Mississippi. I first became interested in these papyri while trying to sort out the origins of the Bodmer Papyri, another somewhat confusing group of manuscripts that I will discuss in a later post. Most scholars know the Robinson Papyri mainly through a paper presented by William H. Willis (1916-2000) in 1958, which was published in the Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Papyrology, “The New Collections of Papyri at the University of Mississippi.” In that publication, Willis gave the following information about the Robinson Papyri, which were then housed at the University of Mississippi, where Willis was the chair of the Department of Classics:   Continue reading

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