Monday, November 08, 2010

P52 and John Rylands Library in the Press

J. K. Elliott has written a piece in Times Literary Supplement 29 October on the collection of biblical MSS in John Rylands Library in Manchester ("Manchester bibles").

Here is an extract:
A. S. G. Edwards’s Commentary article
(January 29) on the digitization of
forty Middle English manuscripts in
Manchester’s John Rylands Library as part of
an ongoing programme paid due respect to
Manchester’s medieval English texts. But its
holdings of biblical materials are also particularly
noteworthy, and many of them qualify
for various superlatives. The Library’s biblical
manuscripts – the largest number in Britain
outside London, Oxford, and Cambridge
– are regularly consulted and their distinctive
readings cited in most modern critical editions
of the Bible.

Two of its treasures are particularly well
known and regularly seen by visitors to its
newly refurbished building in Deansgate.
One (P.Ryl. 457) is the famous papyrus fragment
containing four verses of John 18 and
known to New Testament scholars as P52.
Experts are generally agreed that it was written
by the mid-second century, and thus this
tiny fragment is not only our first witness to
this Gospel, but the oldest example of any
New Testament text in the world – and probably
the earliest Christian writing extant. The
other is a papyrus portion of Deuteronomy in
Greek (P.Ryl. 458).

One can access the whole article by signing up for a free trial of TLS here.

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