St John’s Gospel
Chester Beatty Library
University of Michigan
John Rylands Library
Available on back-order
Beatty P46 University of Michigan: “this codex is among the most important examples of early New Testament manuscripts”
Rylands P52 This Fragment of the Gospel of John is one of The John Rylands Library’s most famous artefacts. While small, it provides a wealth of information and is widely regarded as the earliest portion of any New Testament writing ever found. It provides evidence on the spread of Christianity in the provinces of the Roman Empire in the first centuries of the Common Era.
Bodmer P66 Harvard Theological Review, V51, Issue 2: “The importance of Papyrus Bodmer II, to be designated P66 for textual studies can scarcely be overlooked, even in an age accustomed to startling discoveries in the biblical field.”
Chester Beatty P46
Papyrus fragment P46, in Greek, is one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts with its ‘most probable date’ between 175 and 225. It is the oldest surviving almost complete copy of the Pauline Epistles.
The evidential value of the manuscript includes its confirmation of the early period of Pauline writings as well as clear evidence for the form of the Greek Bible in Egypt in the second century prior to the Diocletian persecution in 303. At the time of its initial analysis by western scholars in the early 20th century, the discovery challenged the consensus that Christians did not use the codex form of the Bible until the 4th century.
Eighty-six of its original 112 folios survive and are divided between the Chester Beatty Library (56) and the University of Michigan (30). This fragment contains text from Paul’s Letter to the Romans (left, Romans 6.5-14) and the beginning of Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians (right, 1 Thessalonians 5.5-9).
20.3 x 13.9cm (8″ x 5½”) approximately
John Rylands P52
Rylands P52 is the earliest manuscript of any portion of the New Testament. Known as the St John’s fragment, it contains only a few lines of texts from John 18 written on the front and back of a single fragment. It presents John 18:31-33 on the front (recto) and parts of verses 18:37-38 on the back (verso). It is currently conserved with the Rylands Papyri at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester in the UK.
The evidential value of this fragment is considerable.
“Although the extent of the verses preserved is so slight, in one respect this tiny scrap of papyrus possesses quite as much evidential value as would the complete codex.” Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament (OUP, 1992, ISBN: 9780195161229).
The original editor proposed a date range of 100-150 CE; while Pasquale Orsini and Willy Clarysse proposed a date for P52 of 125-175 CE. In 1934, Colin H. Roberts, the noted classical scholar and publisher, found comparator hands in dated papyri between the late 1st and mid 2nd centuries.
Gospel of John 18:31-33 (recto)
ΟΙ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΟΙ ΗΜΕΙΝ ΟΥΚ ΕΞΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΠΟΚΤΕΙΝΑΙ
ΟΥΔΕΝΑ ΙΝΑ Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΠΛΗΡΩΘΗ ΟΝ ΕΙ-
ΠΕΝ ΣΗΜΑΙΝΩΝ ΠΟΙΩ ΘΑΝΑΤΩ ΗΜΕΛΛΕΝ ΑΠΟ-
ΘΝΗΣΚΕΙΝ ΙΣΗΛΘΕΝ ΟΥΝ ΠΑΛΙΝ ΕΙΣ ΤΟ ΠΡΑΙΤΩ-
ΡΙΟΝ Ο ΠΙΛΑΤΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΦΩΝΗΣΕΝ ΤΟΝ ΙΗΣΟΥΝ
ΚΑΙ ΕΙΠΕΝ ΑΥΤΩ ΣΥ ΕΙ O ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥ-
the Jews, “For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone,” so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he sp-
oke signifying what kind of death he was going to
die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and said to him, “Thou art king of the
Gospel of John 18:37-38 (verso)
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΕΙΜΙ ΕΓΩ ΕΙΣ TOΥΤΟ ΓΕΓΕΝΝΗΜΑΙ
ΚΑΙ (ΕΙΣ ΤΟΥΤΟ) ΕΛΗΛΥΘΑ ΕΙΣ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟΝ ΙΝΑ ΜΑΡΤΥ-
ΡΗΣΩ ΤΗ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ ΠΑΣ Ο ΩΝ ΕΚ ΤΗΣ ΑΛΗΘΕI-
ΑΣ ΑΚΟΥΕΙ ΜΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΦΩΝΗΣ ΛΕΓΕΙ ΑΥΤΩ
Ο ΠΙΛΑΤΟΣ ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΥΤΟ
ΕΙΠΩΝ ΠΑΛΙΝ ΕΞΗΛΘΕΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΙΟΥ-
ΔΑΙΟΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΛΕΓΕΙ ΑΥΤΟΙΣ ΕΓΩ ΟΥΔΕΜΙΑΝ
ΕΥΡΙΣΚΩ ΕΝ ΑΥΤΩ ΑΙΤΙΑΝ
a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would test-
ify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice.” Said to him
Pilate, “What is truth?” and this
5.8 x 8.7cm (2¼” x 3½”) approximately
Papyrus 66 is one of the oldest, best preserved New Testament manuscripts known to exist. Originally dated to the early third century on the basis of the style of the codex’s Greek script, it is a near complete codex of the Gospel of John and part of the collection known as the Bodmer Papyri collection at the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, in Cologny, Switzerland.
The significance of P66 lies in the fact that it is an ancient yet remarkably well preserved and almost complete codex of the Gospel of John. Its first 26 pages are intact, and even some of the original stitching remains. Palaeographical analysis reveals that the manuscript was the product of a professional scribe who corrected his own errors. Traditionally, the dating has placed its origin to between AD 100 and AD 200.
The large central fragment within this group of fragments depicts John 19.25 (recto) and John 19.31 (verso).
14.1 x 16.8cm (5½” x 6⅔”) approximately
P46 – FRONT
P46 – BACK
P46 – FRONT
P46 – BACK
Each fragment is supplied with its own Lucite enclosure which is held together by magnets and can be opened to inspect the fragments. Aluminium legs enable vertical or horizontal display.
Facsimile Editions’ papyri are virtually indistinguishable from the originals, so that where the originals are securely stored and unavailable for scrutiny, our facsimiles can be handled and studied by scholars and collectors as though they were handling the original texts.
Trying to reproduce the look, feel and effect of papyrus posed considerable technical challenges and ultimately proved impossible. There was no alternative but to source real papyrus of extraordinarily high quality from the banks of the River Nile, where it has been made in the same way for some 6,000 years. After months of research and testing, we eventually found papyrus with the right characteristics of surface and texture.
Printing on both sides of real papyrus proved challenging. Modern printing presses are high-tech engineering wonders capable of producing outstanding results, but they need to be fed with equally high-tech material made with a uniform surface and density, and a constant thickness measured in microns – papyrus fails on all counts! Considerable research and lateral thinking eventually led to a process that we had not previously considered. Curators tell us that the fragments are astonishingly similar to the originals and need significant magnification to be revealed as facsimiles.
After printing, the fragments are precisely cut with lasers and aged by hand at the edges. They are finally placed in custom-made acrylic mounts held together by barely-visible magnets so that the fragments can be removed if required. Aluminium legs are provided to enable the mounts to be displayed standing.
Many of the world’s major treasures, such as these papyri, are not permitted to travel, so fine copies are made specifically for important exhibitions. Facsimile Editions’ Dead Sea Scrolls for example, printed in both paper and parchment editions, have been exhibited alongside original manuscripts in major exhibitions in some of the world’s leading libraries such as the Vatican, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the National Library of Japan.