“Bodmer Papyri” at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin

Beatty NPG 1942

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty; image source: National Portrait Gallery

I’ve mentioned before that the term “Bodmer Papyri” can be a little misleading, both because the ancient collection that scholars call the “Bodmer Papyri” includes some items that are not kept at the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva and because many of the items that are at the Fondation in Geneva do not come from this find. Several other institutions hold pieces that are believed to come from this same ancient collection. The most important of these locations is the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Although Chester Beatty is more well known to scholars of early Christianity for his acquisition of the “Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri” in the early 1930s, Beatty continued to buy manuscripts from Egypt into the 1950s, and some of the items he purchased in the mid-1950s belong to the same ancient collection as the “Bodmer Papyri.” The Chester Beatty Library has recently (quietly) put online a large selection of images of manuscripts from their collection, including some of these “Bodmer” pieces. The Beatty holdings of “Bodmer Papyri” include the following: Continue reading

Posted in Bodmer Papyri, Chester Beatty Papyri, P.Bodmer II | 5 Comments

Visiting the University of Oslo

I’m spending the next couple weeks visiting the University of Oslo, specifically the Faculty of Theology. I’ll be meeting with the research groups here in New Testament and Early Christianity and Coptic Texts and Manuscripts. On Thursday, April 4, I’ll be giving the Oslo Lecture in New Testament and Early Christian Studies. The title of my talk is “Manuscripts: The Problem with the Synoptic Problem.” You can see the full details of the lecture here. If you happen to be in Oslo, drop by!

Posted in New Testament | 2 Comments

The Cast in “Greek Papyri”

Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Many thanks to Ann Hanson for helping to identify the figures in the “Greek Papyri” film featured in my last post. Starting from the beginning of the film:

The voice reading the selection from Winckelmann’s account of the Herculaneum papyri at about the 4 minute mark is that of Otto Skutsch (University College London): Continue reading

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The Film “Greek Papyri”

Greek Papyri

Thanks to a notice from an anonymous commenter, I am thrilled to report that the film “Greek Papyri–The Rediscovery of the Ancient World” is now available on Youtube. The film was produced in 1971 by the Greek and Latin Departments and the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London. It was directed by Mirek Dohnal and features some fantastic archival footage of the British papyrologists of the day. The film is mentioned in an exhibition catalog by T. S. Pattie and E. G. Turner, The Written Word on Papyrus: An Exhibition Held in the British Museum 30 July – 27 October 1974 (British Library Board, 1974). Continue reading

Posted in Mummies, Mummy cartonnage, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 3 Comments

Unpublished Christian Papyri from Oxyrhynchus: Some Numbers

Oxyrhynchus Papyri Pile

Excavated papyri; image source: Egypt Exploration Society

My book on early Christian manuscripts contains a chapter on the Christian material that has so far emerged from the excavations of Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus. One of the questions I was unable to answer during my research was  to what degree the Christian literary material that has been published in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series is representative of the total amount of Christian literary material that was collected by Grenfell and Hunt. To phrase it another way, can we know whether the 160 or so Christian books (codices and rolls) so far published in the P.Oxy. series represent 5%, or 20%, or 50%, or 60%, etc. of the total number of Christian fragments collected in the Oxyrhynchus excavations.

You may recall that, in light of the odd circumstances surrounding the identification and publication of P.Oxy. 83.5345 (the papyrus formerly known as “first-century Mark”), the Egypt Exploration Society announced that in the spring of 2016, “the EES decided to review what NT fragments had been identified in its collection but not yet published.” Now the EES has made available the results of that summary (in the form of rough numbers): Continue reading

Posted in First Century Mark, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 8 Comments

The Green Collection’s “Block Book” and What It Means to Own a Cultural Heritage Item

During the “Passages” Speaker Series in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012 and 2013, it was customary for Jerry Pattengale to host the evening talks and to provide updates on the development of the Green Collection. In one of these updates, Pattengale briefly described some of the circumstances surrounding the Green Collection’s purchase of a particular book. What he said helps us to understand what it can mean for the Green Collection to “own” some of its artifacts. Continue reading

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Burning Papyri

Schow ChartaAs I compiled stories of discoveries of early Christian manuscripts for my book, God’s Library, one of the recurring tropes I encountered was the claim (usually by European and American scholars and collectors) that native Egyptians burned manuscripts. Such stories circulated about the Beatty Biblical Papyri, the Bodmer Papyri, the Nag Hammadi Codices, Codex Sinaiticus, and the Tura Papyri (for further details and references, see the entry for “burning of manuscripts” in the index of God’s Library).

The idea that “the natives burned” manuscripts is a trope that goes back to the very beginning of European encounters with Egyptian papyri. The earliest such report known to me is Nicolao Schow, Charta papyracea graece scripta musei Borgiani Velitris (Rome: A. Fulgonium, 1788), iii–iv: “diripiebant Turcae, earumque fumo (nam odorem fumi aromaticum esse dicunt) sese oblectabant” (the Turks tear them up; they are delighted by the smoke, for they say its smell is aromatic). Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market | 4 Comments