Magdalen papyrus

Magdalen papyrus
New Testament manuscripts
Papyrus 64
Sign \mathfrak{P}64
Text Matthew 3; 5; 26
Date Late 2nd/3rd century
Script Greek
Found Coptos, Egypt
Now at Barcelona, Fundación Sant Lluc Evangelista, Inv. Nr. 1;
Oxford, Magdalen College, Gr. 18
Type Alexandrian text-type
Category I

The "Magdalen" papyrus was purchased in Luxor, Egypt in 1901 by Reverend Charles Bousfield Huleatt (1863–1908), who identified the Greek fragments as portions of the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 26:23 and 31) and presented them to Magdalen College, Oxford, where they are cataloged as P. Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland \mathfrak{P}64) and whence they have their name. When the fragments were finally published by Colin H. Roberts in 1953, illustrated with a photograph, the hand was characterized as "an early predecessor of the so-called 'Biblical Uncial'" which began to emerge towards the end of the 2nd century. The uncial style is epitomised by the later biblical Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Comparative paleographical analysis has remained the methodological key for dating the manuscript: the consensus is ca AD 200.

The fragments are written on both sides, conclusive proof that they came from a codex rather than a scroll. More fragments, published in 1956 by Ramon Roca-Puig, cataloged as P. Barc. Inv. 1 (Gregory-Aland \mathfrak{P}67), were determined by Roca-Puig and Roberts to come from the same codex as the Magdalen fragments, a view which has remained the scholarly consensus.



\mathfrak{P}64 was originally given a 3rd century date by Charles Huleatt, the one who donated the Manuscript to Magdalen College, and then papyrologist A. S. Hunt studied the manuscript and dated it to the early 4th century. But in reaction to what he thought was far too late a dating for the manuscript, Colin Roberts published the manuscript and gave it a dating of ca. 200, which was confirmed by three other leading papyrologists: Harold Bell, T. C. Skeat and E. G. Turner,[1] and this has been the general accepted date of \mathfrak{P}64 since.

But in late 1994, considerable publicity surrounded Carsten Peter Thiede's redating of the Magdalen papyrus to the last third of the 1st century, optimistically interpreted by journalists. His official article appeared in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik the following year. The text for the layman was cowritten with Matthew d'Ancona and presented as The Jesus Papyrus, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996. (also published as: Eyewitness to Jesus, 1996, New York: Doubleday). Thiede's re-dating has generally been viewed with skepticism by established Biblical scholars.

Philip Comfort and David Barret in their book Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts argue for a more general date of 150–175 for the manuscript, and also for \mathfrak{P}4 and \mathfrak{P}67, which they argue came from the same codex. \mathfrak{P}4 was used as stuffing for the binding of “a codex of Philo, written in the later third century and found in a jar which had been walled up in a house at Coptos [in 250].”[2] If \mathfrak{P}4 was part of this codex, then the codex may have been written roughly 100 years prior or earlier.[3] Comfort and Barret also show that this \mathfrak{P}4/64/67 has affinities with a number of the late 2nd century papyri.[4]

Comfort and Barret "tend to claim an earlier date for many manuscripts included in their volume than might be allowed by other palaeographers."[5] The Novum Testamentum Graece, a standard reference for the Greek witnesses, lists \mathfrak{P}4 and \mathfrak{P}64/67 separately, giving the former a date of the 3rd century, while the latter is assigned ca. 200.[6] Most recently Charlesworth has concluded 'that \mathfrak{P}64+67 and \mathfrak{P}4, though written by the same scribe, are not from the same ... codex.'[7]

See also


  1. ^ Colin Roberts, An Early Papyrus pp. 233-237
  2. ^ Colin Roberts, Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt pp. 8
  3. ^ Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 2001), pp. 50–53
  4. ^ i.e. P. Oxy. 224, 661, 2334, 2404 2750, P. Ryl. 16, 547, and P. Vindob G 29784
  5. ^ Robinson, Maurice A. Review "Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, eds. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts" (2001) TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism v. 8
  6. ^ Nestle-Aland. Novum Testamentum Graece (1997). Barbara and Kurt Aland, eds. NA27 Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. pp. 684, 687
  7. ^ Charlesworth (2007), p. 604



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