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More on the Texts in Oxyrhynchus Papyri Vol 83

July 1, 2019

In addition to the fragment of an early copy of the Gospel of Mark, the same volume of Oxyrhynchus Papyri includes a number of other texts that provide data worth noting.

The other identifiably Christian texts include a leaf of a LXX codex of the Psalms (P.Oxy. 5344, Ralfs 2228), dated by the editors to the sixth century AD, preserving Psalm 2:1-8.  The nomina sacra and the codex bookform combine to make it a Christian copy of the Psalms.

P.Oxy. 5346 (N-A P138) is two fragments of the same leaf of a codex that preserves Luke 13:13-17, 25-30.  The uneven quality of the effort at a bookhand led the editors to judge its date to the third century AD.  It has punctuation in the form of an oblique stroke at the end of certain words, indicating either a sense-unit (sentence) or a subordinate clause.  These should probably be seen as readers’ aids in reading out the text, which suggests that this copy of Luke may have been used in ecclesial reading.

P.Oxy. 5347 (N-A 139) is a fragment of a codex leaf dated to the fourth century AD, this fragment preserving Philemon 6-8, 18-20.  The original page size is estimated to have been about 18 x 28 cm.

Note that all these are all fragments of codices.  If we compare these with the several classical (non-Christian) literary texts included in this volume, we get yet another confirmation of the early Christian preference for the codex, and how distinctive that was in the larger literary environment of the time.  All the non-Christian literary texts are either the remains of bookrolls or re-used bookrolls.  This small sampling of items fits into the larger picture obtained, especially when we survey literary texts of the second-third centuries (as can readily be done using the Leuven Database of Ancient Books:  LDAB here.)


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