Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SBL Finale: Visit to Houghton Library in Harvard

On Tuesday afternoon after the SBL conference had finished a group of us, mostly from Tyndale House in Cambridge England, but with some extras who happened along, took a trip to the other Cambridge (where Harvard is) to the Houghton Library (opposite) to see some mansucripts. It was a pretty dismal wet old day so it was nice to get out of the rain and get our hands on some ancient manuscripts.

Here are some links to images of the manuscripts we saw, analysed, deciphered, argued about and generally had a great time with.

MS GR SM 2218 (Rom 1.1-7) = P. Oxy 209 = NT P10
It was very good to see this, to read the text, to check the cursive and to appreciate the blank bottom of the page and the blank verso. Clearly a school text, as Cribiore has argued.

MS GR SM 3736 (1 John 4.11-12, 14-17) = P. Oxy 402 = NT P9
This is quite wild and careless, with strange variants and poor orthography. I wouldn't trust its text very far.

MS GR SM 3735 (Matt 1.21-24; 1.25 - 2.2) = P. Oxy 401 = NY 071
Nice to see before Christmas.

MS GR SM 4367 (Gospel of Thomas) = P. Oxy 655
Surprisingly beautiful in the flesh.

I am very grateful to Susan Halpert, Reference Librarian at the Houghton for organising our visit.


  1. Thanks Peter for organizing this excursion! It was very nice. I wish everyone could have shared the excitement of this bunch of manuscript geeks when a new line filler was identified which was not in the ed. pr. of the Thomas fragment, or the fact that an interlinear correction, an added epsilon, looked slightly different from the other; was the correction by a different hand?

    Another observation we made was that the older ed. pr. of the 1 John fragment contained more text. Some material had worn off. Peter told us an anecdote about a papyrus MS in Princeton which he had once examined. He told the staff that it was very nice but a whole piece was missing ... Bruce Metzger had to dig it out from somewhere. (Please correct me if I am wrong Peter.)

  2. I don't get it--two entirely different mss both labeled p10.

    MS GR SM 2218 (Rom 1.1-7) = P. Oxy 209 = NT P10

    MS GR SM 3736 (1 John 4.11-12, 14-17) = P. Oxy 402 = NT P10

    Is it because they were found together, or because the classification system has changed since the 11th papyrus was dug up?

  3. Anonymous.
    There is a simpler solution.
    Human error.
    I'll fix the post.

  4. While on the subject of human error:

    By omission, MS GR SM 3735 (Matt 1.21-24; 1.25 - 2.2) = P. Oxy 401 failed also to be identified as Gr.-Al. 071.

  5. OK. Thanks for that.
    As it says in the good book "ironing sharpens iron".*

    *An interesting variant recently seen in A.J. Ko/stenberger & S.R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John's Gospel (NSBT; IVP, 2008), p. 13.