There was a rather depressing article in the New York Times about the New York Public Library a few days ago. But reading the story brought back some fond memories for me. I first visited the main branch of the library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street when I was a graduate student. I was writing a term paper that would become an article called “The Use and Abuse of P52.” In those days, I was lucky enough to have access to the wonderful libraries at Yale University, but on a handful of occasions over the years, even they couldn’t manage to get some resources I needed. One of these instances resulted in a trip to the New York Public Library.
I went in search of the December 3, 1935 issue of the Deutsche allgemeine Zeitung, which contained an article by the famed New Testament scholar Adolf Deissmann, who had given his opinions about the newly published Rylands fragment of the Gospel According to John (P.Ryl. 3.457=P52=LDAB 2774) in this popular periodical. The NYPL was one of the few places in the US that had a copy. Quite a few institutions carried the title on microfilm, but the microfilms inevitably lacked the 1935 issues.
I had contacted the library ahead of my visit, and the newspaper was on site when I arrived, although I had to wait for it to be brought to the reading room. I did not at all mind the wait, as the reading room itself is a spectacular space–a really wonderful place to work (and in those days, it wasn’t quite the buzzing tourist attraction it is now). My issue eventually arrived, and I happily found my article. As this periodical was published in large format and on newsprint, it was too delicate to be subjected to a flatbed scanner, so I used my first digital camera to photograph the article. The results weren’t fantastic, but by patching together some close-ups, I ended up with a reasonably legible composite from which I could cite later as needed.
An English translation of Deissmann’s article appeared in British Weekly December 12, 1935. I was able to find a copy of this publication a bit closer to home in microfilm format in one of Yale’s offsite repositories. A cursory search online indicates that scans of these articles are not readily available, so I append them below. I see that a transcription of the original German is available here. I hasten to add that I do not hold the copyright for these articles, but I doubt anyone will care if they are more readily available (even if I happen to think that Deissmann’s thoughts on dating the Rylands fragment are problematic to say the least).