Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Luijendijk Identifies the Ancient Owner of P10

The Unreported Heritage News, Sunday 2 January features a popular and exciting story about the findings of AnneMarie Luijendijk, who for the first time, after some detective work, has identified an ancient owner of a Greek New Testament papyrus, i.e., P.Oxy. II 209 = Greg. Aland Papyrus 10 (a writing exercise), which was owned by a man named Aurelius Leonides. The story also demonstrates the great potential and benefit of using modern day databases in this field:

To find the ancient owner of this papyrus Professor Luijendijk engaged in some archaeological detective work. Grenfell and Hunt mentioned in 1899 that “the papyrus was found tied up with a contract dating to 316 AD.” Unfortunately they did not specify which document this is.

“They were not particularly interested in the social context of the texts they had unearthed, or perhaps they were too busy editing their enormous find,” writes Luijendijk.

To find this missing document Luijendijk turned to a modern day papyrus database called the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis or HGV. She searched for examples from Oxyrhynchus that date to AD 316.

She found 13 examples but only two of them were contracts. One discussed a “lease of a plot of land” while the other was “a contract for the sale of a donkey.”

Luijendijk determined that the donkey sale could not be the missing contract. “Grenfell and Hunt cannot have referred to the latter papyrus, for it did not come from their excavations.”

This left only the land lease document. Further investigation revealed that it was excavated during the same field season as the New Testament papyrus. This meant that it had to be the one.

From there the discovery got even more interesting.

Read the whole story here (HT: Paleojudaica).

Read Luijendijk's scholarly account in, “A New Testament Papyrus and Its Documentary Context: An Early Christian Writing Exercise from the Archive of Leonides (P.Oxy. II 209/P10), Journal of Biblical Literature (2010): 575–96 (available here).


  1. Well done, AnneMarie!! The owner has a normal Greek name with no Christian insinuations. I wonder if we can link the handwriting of the owner to this papyrus?

  2. It's nice to have this nugget of historical context for the papyrus. But it's not quite correct to say that Grenfell and hunt "provided no further clues" about the identify of the cotnract. The table of contents in vol. 1 of Grenfell & Hunt's Oxyrhynchus Papyri lists the papyri by date so the pertinent contract is easy to find without a database. (This is mentioned in the JBL article.) The text is downloadable at Archive and the contract's description and contents begin on p. 168 ("CIII. Lease of Land. 26 x 16 cm. A. D. 316., Lease of an aroura of land near the village of Isionpanga . . .")

    Now what I'm wondering is if there are any similarities between P10 and the *other* school exercise described by Grenfell & Hunt in Vol. 1, Papyrus CXXIV, "Schoolboy's Exercise: the Story of Adrastus," to which a date of "3rd cent." is assigned. It is described as being written in "large sprawling uncials."

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  3. "identify of the cotnract"?? I need more sleep!

  4. Martin Fassnacht1/12/2011 10:39 pm

    Find pictures (in NT.VMR or external), further material like INTF dossiers, catalogue informations and a link to this blog article in the Handschriftenliste (INTF Muenster, Germany):
    click here

  5. Martin Fassnacht1/12/2011 10:44 pm

    Sorry, the link to P10 in the Handschriftenliste must be:

  6. Thanks Martin, and thanks for adding links to this blog in the VMR - we hope to add many!