Friday, May 04, 2018

The Curious Case of P44

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In my NA28, P44 is listed as a sixth/seventh-century manuscript containing Matt 17.1–3, 6–7; 18.15–17, 19; 25. 8–10 and Jn 9.3–4; 10.8–14; 12.16–18. It seems then to be a lectionary, which is how LDAB and the Met’s website list it. My co-blogger, Elijah Hixson, however, pointed out to me yesterday that P44 has been split in two since the printing of my NA28 so that it is now P44 and P128. The sections containing Jn 9.3–4; 12.16–18 are P128 and the other sections are now P44. That means that P44 still contains Matt and John materials and still seems to be a lectionary.

It’s the remaining bit of John in P44, however, that seems strange to me and I would like to hear from others about it. I pinged another one of my co-bloggers, Pete Malik, on this and all three of us get the impression that text of John that is still listed as part of P44 looks to be from a different hand. My library is limited at the moment and none of my own books gave me any help. So, I’m wondering if any of our readers know more about what’s going on here.

In this image, I’ve highlighted P44 in blue, P128 in orange, and the remaining John material of P44 in purple. It’s this last part I’m curious about.

P44 (in blue) and P128 (in orange). John 10.8–14 is in purple.
Update: Brent Nongbri emails this photo from the IGNTP volume of John, showing how they split it into A and B. In this case, their P44B is now P128 and they naturally don’t include the portions of Matt from what they’re calling P44A. But I’d like to know if they say anything more about their P44A and its relation to the rest of P44.

17 comments :

  1. I'm no paleographer, but the John 10:8-14 fragment does look to me like it was written by a different hand. The letters are more oblique and have more generous spacing between them.

    But if I'm interpreting the photograph correctly, this would mean that one hand wrote Matthew on one side of this fragment and another wrote John on the opposite side. Perhaps the original scribe wrote on only the "good" side of the papyrus (with horizontal fibers), and a slightly later scribe took advantage of the available space on the opposite side?

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  2. Now I'm certainly no expert on handwriting, but the letters in the purple section (which you believe to be of a different manuscript) are certainly more slanted than the others.

    If you look at the ε, the purple-highlighted section has a much longer middle bar than those in the rest of P44.

    The ω also, in the purple-highlighted section (frag 2 line 4, & frag 4 lines 3 & 4), doesn't look like those in the rest of P44 (Top-left frag lines 2 & 6).

    There's also the ρ, which in the purple-highlighted section likes to drop below the rest of the letters (Frag 1 line 1; Frag 3 line 3), but in the rest of P44 is more or less in line with the rest of the letters.

    You'd obviously have to compare letter sizes etc., but there's certainly a strong case for those who may want to argue that P44 should be split into another manuscript.

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    1. Apologies - meant into having another hand, rather than another manuscript.

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  3. It seems like the folks at the IGNTP recognized the problem. In the Elliott and Parker volume on the papyri of the Gospel According to John, they divided P44 into parts A and B, but the plate they published lacks some of the pieces in your image. I only have a scan of the plates from the Elliott/Parker volume, but they probably discuss the issue in their text.

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    1. Thanks, Brent! That's helpful. I'm guessing they don't have the P128 portions in the image, is that right?

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  4. The Taus look different: the top has a different curvature. I do wonder if Joey McCollum is onto something with one side being a "junk" manuscript, while the other is the more professional scribe...

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  5. Nice title!... :-)

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  6. Could this be the case where we are dealing with a reused scroll? John would be written on the recto side (like a normal scroll). If that's the case, it's curious the scroll is from the 6/7th century.

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  7. What's that you say? A lectionary from the 500s/600s?

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    1. That’s one option, I guess. Should that be surprising?

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    2. The passages involved do not seem to comport with the otherwise standard Orthodox pattern of lections. Might it perhaps have a parallel with the Palestinian lection system?

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    3. I was hoping someone could help me with exactly that question, MAR.

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    4. Junack is still best on lectionaries. He discussed P44 in ANTF5 (1972), pp. 508-509. "... aus Ägypten, also aus einem ganz anderen Kirchenbereich." Compare K. Aland in ANTF2 (1967), p. 123, for the reconstruction of P44.

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    5. While one cannot simply leap from the Syriac Palestinian lectionary to a hypothetical Greek model, I would note that the Smith and Lewis volume of 1899 cites the following Palestinian lections in Syriac that theoretically could parallel what appears in the papyrus fragments:

      Mt 17.1-9; Mt 18.10-20; Mt 25.1-13; Jn 9.1-38; Jn 10.7-16; Jn 12.1-8 (or Jn 12.17-50).

      The downside of this is that the sequential order of the Syriac Palestinian lectionary does not at all follow that order of readings (rearrangment of course could be possible, but that is another matter).

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  8. Previously noted here: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/new-nt-papyrus-manuscripts.html

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    1. Thanks, Pete. That post conflates the John 9, 12 fragments with the John 10 one which is still part of P44 (per VMR Liste). It’s the John 10 portion I’m curious about.

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  9. Hi,

    To be honnest, i'm not learned in the papyrology and handwriting analysis. But, i worked as a graphist for a few years and am interested in the papyrology. Though my contribution might then be odd (and feel free to delete it). In the same vein, english is not my mother tongue, so i might lack some expressions on the descriptions of what i see.
    This being said, i'd like to submit to you a few remarks about it :
    1. the spaces between the characters and their orientation : this is probably the most obvious and visible remark :
    it seems to me the space is regularly greater in the purple area than the spaces in the blue one. I noted that the letters have a tendancy on leaning to the right, more like they said in graphology 20 years ago as the dynamic people handwriting type.
    2. i noted the form of the sigmas : in the blue, more round and each ending quite egal with a clean cu -> un the purple area -> the top part of the opening seems to be having quite more length than the bottom part of the opening
    2. the Εpsilon : the middle bar seems usually having more length than the blue part - it seems as well as the back of the Epsilon (the vertical line) is more rounds in the purple part
    4. the Θ : i note in the purple part that is seems to me that it was made with a round O and the middle - was added straight without raising the feather whereas when we look to the Θ in the blue part, it seems like the copyist was raising the hand between drawing the O and the -
    5. on the K part : this is probably the most difficult to explain (sorry for that) :
    i remark that it seems like the K in the purple has a shorter bottom right leg and a lengthier upright arm. in the blue part, they seem to have more often a lengthy right leg whereas the up right arm seems more shorter. i’d like as well to note that that in the purple part, the up right arm of the K seems to end with a bigger point, a bit like if the feather of the scribe stop or made a round up there for a split second.
    6. the alpha : in the purple part, the round part of the alpha seems to be more center near the bottom line of it, more rounds with a top of the vertical line which seems more long whereas i find that the alphas in the blue part have their bottom junction with the vertical happening higher than the purple.

    in any case, IMO, the last fragment of the purple (bottom right) seems to me to belong more to the blue part of P44 than of the purple part, when i look to the omega especially, as well as the spaces between 2 letters and their orientation and the epsilon.

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