Tuesday, February 24, 2009

P123 1 Cor 14 - 15, P.Oxy 4844

I had a look (long one, but not necessarily good) at P123 as published recently in the Oxyrhynchus volumes (we mentioned this one and P124 here).
Text from 1 Cor 14 and 15, IVth century.

The pictures can be found here.

The transcription by Thomas struck me as somewhat optimistic:
μα]ν̣θανωσιν κ[αι παντες
παρ]α̣κ̣α̣λ̣ω̣ντ̣[αι και] π̣να προ̣φητων̣ [προφηταις
υ]π̣ο̣τασσεται̣ ο̣υ γαρ εστι[ν α]κ̣ατασ[ιας ο θς
αλλ ειρ]η̣νες οω εν πασαις τα[ις] εκκ̣[λησιας
των αγι]ω̣ν̣ α̣ι̣ γ̣υναικες εν [ταις εκκλησιαις
σιγατωσαν ου γα]ρ̣ επιτρεπ̣[εται αυταις λαλειν
υ]μ̣ιν εν π̣ρωτοι̣[ς ο και παρελαβον οτι
χς απεθα]ν̣εν υπερ των α̣[μαρτιων ημων κατα
τας γραφ]α̣ς και ο̣[τ]ι̣ ε̣τ̣α̣φη και̣ [οτι] εγηγε̣ρτα̣[ι τη
ημερα τη τριτ]η̣ κα̣[τα] τ̣ας̣ γραφας κ̣αι οτι ωφ[θη κηφα
ειτα τοις δωδεκα επειτα] ω̣φθη επανω̣ πε̣ν̣[τ]α̣
κοσιοις αδελφοις εφαπαξ ε]ξ̣ ων οι πλ̣[ειονες
μενουσιν εως αρτι τινες δε εκο]ι̣μ[ηθησαν

I would be much more cautious and would transcribe the text as follows:

[c. 4]ν.[ ... ]ν̣α̣προ̣φητω.[...
] ... [... ]υ̣να̣ικεσεν̣[...

]σ̣και.[...]..φ̣ηκ̣..[...] εγηγ.ρ̣τ.[...
] . . [

The main difference is that I would only print a letter as secure if it is almost completely visible and would dot those letters that are incomplete but still likely. Consequently, I have quite a few letters less than Thomas in his transcription. Yet, I have no issue with any of the letters or, by and large, with the reconstructed text (perhaps ιβ rather than δωδεκα).

The only real question I have if the two strokes above the ν are a scribal marking (recto, line 1), (but what?):

It is quite handsome that one can use NA27 as the base text for this papyrus. The only possible textual variation then is whether the nomen sacrum πνα can be seen as the plural πνευματα (Thomas refers to Paap for support). Difficult to decide without knowing the scribal patterns in this particular manuscript.
By the way, I think the fragments as they are on the Oxyrhynchus website are slightly displaced. Not much, but enough to be wrong-footed trying to squeeze all the letters into the blank spaces.

Oxyrhynchus website:

My version would be more like this:


  1. Thank you, Dirk, and I heartily agree with your objective precision in transcribing the papyrus.


  2. Philip Comfort's new book, New Testament Text and Translation Commenary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008), also engages in questionable calls with the papyri.

    For example, for the variant in Mark 6:3, he strangely cites p45vid as supporting the variant O UIOS TOU TEKTONOS O UIOS THS MARIAS, even though only ...OS O U... is visible. NA27, more responsibly, cites p45vid in support of O TOU TEKTONOS UIOS KAI. His reasoning? After stating that p45 could support the citation in NA27, he asserts: "However, since p45 appears to show UIOS as a nomen sacrum (there is an overbar showing over the first letter of UIOS), it seems just as likely that the scribe wrote what is indicated in the second variant--inasmuch as Jesus' divine status was attached to his virgin birth through Mary" (112).

    If this wasn't bad enough, on the same page, for the variation unit that precedes this one in his book (Mark 5:42), he prints that Codex Bezae has PANTES EXESTHSAN, when it clearly has EXESTHSAN PANTES (according to NA27 and Scrivener).

    I'm hoping his 900-page book does not have as many mistakes and possible misjudgments as this one page would indicate.


  3. Dirk,

    I think you are correct in the spacing for the fragment. Following PASAIS there is clearly a T then what looks like an E followed by K. The horizontal crossbar of the E is present joining to the K, but the lower mark just to the right of the T could be part of the lower loop of the A in TAIS. I would be good to confirm with Oxford where the fragment is actually broken to determine if part of the A is present or if it is all part of the E in EKKLESIA (as you seem to have noted it "t . ek . " ?).Since you pointed this out I will rework my reproduction of the fragment (made for a future museum) since I made it all as one piece as it appears to be in the POxy edition.

    Steven Whatley

  4. I just wrote a paper on P119 through P122. I haven't had a chance yet to look at P123, but I agree with more conservative transcriptions.

  5. Something ought to be said about editorial practice here. For the most part, Dr. Jongkind offers a diplomatic transcript of the papyrus, something usually reserved in P.Oxy., and papyrological practice generally, for texts that are otherwise unknown (a new fr. of Sappho, say). When the text is known from other sources, a diplomatic transcript is generally regarded as superfluous.
    G.W. Schwendner

  6. This last remark is absolutely fair and I don't have a real problem with the, in a sense, rather crude method which is common in transcribing texts (though, of course, a transcription with commentary by the transcriber is a way around this problem).

    However, in NT textual criticism things can hang on a single letter (spelling etc. is a genuine topic of enquiry). I have a problem when we start to print dotted letters for strokes or traces in which the main argument for printing the letter is that the evidence on the actual papyrus does not seem to contradict what we would expect on the basis of the known text and in which it would be impossible to deduce the letter with any amount of certainty from the actual document. Having said this, I am all for it to use existing evidence in order to see better and see more - it is just that history shows that sometimes we get things awfully wrong.