Monday, July 03, 2006

Glasgow, MS Gen 1026/13.

Last Friday, during a visit to Glasgow (primarily for a spot of external examining at the International Christian College), I managed a quick visit to the twelfth floor of the University Library to take a look at Glasgow MS Gen 1026/13 (a.k.a. P. Oxy 1228; a.k.a. P22).

It is important as being one of very few early NT mss written in roll format (rather than codex). The larger piece has a rather badly preserved text for the most part, so I shall have to return next year for a closer look at the blanks!

Here are some pictures (Glasgow University Library has images of all their Oxyrhycnhus Papyri available here).


  1. We have some papyri in Aberdeen that also appear to have lost writing like this. Is there any technique for reading papyrus when the ink has been lost? Does multispectral imaging work well with papyrus?

  2. I think the basic answer is 'yes it may well work'.

    For more details see Douglas M. Chabries, Steven W. Booras and Gregory H. Bearman, "Imaging the past: recent applications of multispectral imaging technology to deciphering manuscripts" Antiquity 77 (2003)359-372. On-line:

    There is also some discussion of this at the Oxy site:

  3. A PS to PMH's bibliography: In The Hebrew Bible and Qumran, edited by James H. Charlesworth. The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Proceedings of the Jubilee Celebration at Princeton Theological Seminary) Volume 1. North Richland Hills, Texas: BIBAL Press, 2000, there's an essay called ‘Digital Miracles: Revealing Invisible Scripts’, by K.T. Knox, R.L. Easton and R.H. Johnston. It has an explanation of infrared imaging, which can be used on fragments kept under glass (contrast ultraviolet light, which cannot). Supplemented with a ‘local contrast enhancement technique’, it can show up text under darkened parts of manuscripts, as in the case of 1Q34bis. The main emphasis in the chapter is on the colour extraction technique which revealed the extra characters in column 16 of the Temple Scroll. However, the complexity of this analysis is not helped by the added complication of a mistake in the conclusion, where the legend accompanying the photograph of the new text describes the text as having been found on col. 15, rather than on col. 17.

    (Sorry - very formal bits are because I've cut and pasted from a review.)

  4. Yes, but isn't the only multispectral analysis of the DSS so far only on parchment mss? It looks like the question intentionally specified papyrus.

  5. The Oxyrhynchus site does include specific examples of MSI applied to papyri (as well as a NT ms of Romans on parchment - I think as yet unpublished). They have also done work on the Herculaneum papyri (a special case but still papyrus).

    The writing surface is not critical to the mission. More basic differentiated spectrum imaging was used on the wooden writing tablets from Vindolanda.

  6. On the imaging of the Vindolanda tablets see

  7. Other NT MSS in roll form: P12, P13, P18 (and P22 as here). None of them primary compositions on the roll.

  8. "None of them primary compositions on the roll."

    What does this mean? Are you saying these are all palimpsests? Or that the rolls included multiple works of which the NT portion is a minority?

  9. I meant that all four are written on the back of a roll (verso; the side with vertical [not horizontal] papyrus strips - there is probably a techy way to say that).
    P12 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Libr., Pap. Gr. 3; P. Amherst 3b): only has Heb 1.1, not so sure about this (need to check photos)
    P13 (P. Oxy 657 = London, British Library, Inv. 1532v. & PSI 1292): Hebrews on the back of Livy
    P18 (P. Oxy 1079; London, British Library, Pap. 2053V): Revelation on the back of earlier Exodus Greek text (P. Oxy 1075)
    P22 doesn't have anything on the back, but is written on the wrong side of the papyrus.

  10. P12 has Heb 1.1 on the back of Genesis 1.1-5 (Aquila text); but there seems to be some question as to whether this was a roll or perhaps a single sheet (perhaps some sort of amulet?).

  11. Yes, of course. I guess it's obvious that, being papyri, they can't be palimpsests. Thanks.

  12. Papyrus could be re-used as a palimpsest but not very frequently as the results were probably not that clean (it could be sponged but not scraped). I don't think there are any examples among biblical manuscripts, but there are probably some among the documents (I haven't got a list!); there are also some literary references to sponging texts off papyrus (although these I think are relatively recent/contemporary compositions).

    The limited number of NT papyrus manuscripts in roll form (and the complete absence of them in pristine roll form) is often thought to be significant in terms of the early Christian preference for the codex.

  13. Sorry, that is a strangely detached thing to say:
    The limited number of NT papyrus manuscripts in roll form (and the complete absence of them in pristine roll form) IS significant in terms of the early Christian preference for the codex.

  14. My impression is that opisthograph would refer to a roll originally written on both sides, rather than a later re-use of the back of a roll for a different text.

    A quick google reveals this is certainly how the Leuven Database takes the term: "In the case of a roll, we use the term opisthograph only when the text of the recto continues on the verso." []

  15. I was wrong on P12 (perhaps I should have checked my own notes before writing my comment, but if we all did that this wouldn't be the internet).
    a) P12 is not really a ms of Hebrews at all. It has the first verse and then the LXX and Aquila of Gen 1.1-5 (could it be the first page of an intertextual commentary?); all on the back of a letter from Rome to Christians in the Fayum. So it is certainly re-using material; but it is not a continuous text.
    b) P13 is on the back of an pitome of Livy. There is a lot of Hebrews and it is an interesting ms. The pagination on the top of each column (47-50,63-65, 67-69) may suggest it was copied from a codex exemplar which had more than Hebrews (certainly more than Hebrews, I'm not 100% sure about the codex exemplar argument).
    c) P18 is on the back of an Exodus roll (POxy 1075), the lengths apparently matched pretty well, so the Exodus roll ends and you turn over and the Revelation begins.
    d) P22 has fragments from two successive columns in a roll. It is on the verso (vertical strips of papyrus), while the recto (horizontal strips, the normal surface for writing in rolls) is
    blank. It would be pretty odd to use the back of a completely blank roll, so the probability is that the recto had something on except at these points.