Dublin: Biblical Papyri (and Guinness, the way God made it)
I’ve just lined up interested PhD students from Edinburgh for another visit to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin (http://www.cbl.ie/) to take in their wonderful holdings, and more specifically to examine the unrivalled cache of early biblical papyri housed there. (For general readers of this site who don’t know the importance of these manuscripts, the Wikipedia entry is actually pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_Beatty_Papyri.)
Housed now in Dublin Castle, the CBL is a treasure trove, reason enough to visit Dublin for anyone keen on biblical studies and early papyri. Among the treasures in its trove are the earliest extant codex containing a collection of Pauline letters (“P46″, dated ca. 200 CE), the earliest extant 4-Gospel codex (“P45″, which also includes Acts, dated ca. 250 CE). As well, there are phenomenally early codices of Greek OT writings (“Septuagint”, LXX).
For anyone seriously interested in the matter, I’ve uploaded the manuscript of my essay, “P45 and the Textual History of the Gospel of Mark” (published in 2004) on the “Essays, etc” tab of this site. This will illustrate the dramatic significance of just one of the CBL biblical papyri. But the most sizeable and high-impact study is Guenther Zuntz’s volume on P46: The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition Upon the Corpus Paulinum, The Schweich Lectures, 1946 (London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1953), which ought to be required reading for any budding NT scholar (presuming, of course, that any self-respecting Pauline scholar already practicing will have read it!).
While in Dublin there is also Trinity College Dublin, which houses a remarkable display of historic illuminated manuscripts: “The Book of Kells” (ca. 800 CE) the “jewel in the crown”.
Oh, and it does seem to me also that the Guinness tastes better in Dublin!