Tuesday, December 04, 2012

P. Oxy 5072 another non-canonical gospel fragment


In the most recent copy of Early Christianity Juan Chapa discusses 'A newly published "gospel fragment"' (EC 3 (2012), 381-389), i.e. P. Oxy 5072 which is published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. 76 (2011). Brief highlights: II/III date; BALEIA as nomen sacrum for BASILEIA (with parallel in P. Egerton 2); a story of an exorcism with similarities of language to Matthew, Mark and Luke but no decisive evidence of literary dependence; sayings of Jesus to a disciple. Overall interesting similarities with P. Egerton 2. An interesting (but fragmentary) addition to the corpus of non-canonical "gospel"s.


  1. Hi,
    Very interesting. I would like to know it the so called Egerton Gospel is another variant of the Gospel of John?
    Greetings from Romania, I appreciate your work.
    God bless,

  2. What strikes me is as odd as that BALEIA is not very much shorter than BASILEIA. It seems hardly worth missing out two letters in an eight letter word... Why not have a shorter contraction?

    With reference to the nominum sacrum, are there reasons for only missing out two letters? Is it because BASILEIA was written less frequently as a contraction than other nomina sacra, so some clarity was needed to help the reader? Was BASILEIA only contracted as part of expressions such as 'kingdom of heaven/God'? If so, should not the context make it obvious which word was being contracted, especially since there can't be many nomina sacra beginning with B. (Are there any at all other than BASILEIA).

    Similarly, I think that OURANOS was only contracted to OUVOS. Were these two words deemed less significant, and so not contracted as fully as other nomina sacra?

    My final thought is slightly ridiculous, but is it possible that a scribe accidentally omitted two letters, and tried to disguise the mistake by over-lining the word and pretending that the nominum sacrum was intended?


  3. Ianos, I wouldn't say that P. Egerton 2 is a variant of the Gospel of John (although indeed it was cited in support of a variant reading at John 5.39 in NA26&27 [not in NA28]). It does have a somewhat Johannine stylistic "flavour"; which is probably the over-riding reason why despite the interesting parallels between P. Oxy 5072 and P. Egerton 2, Chapa does not propose that these are two pieces of the same original text or document.

  4. Pete: an interesting idea. But there is evidence beyond P. Egerton 2 and P. Oxy 5072 for a form of BASILEIA or BASILEUS contraction (e.g. John 1.49 and 3.3 in Codex W) and also (according to my notes, in P. Oxy 2068 & GA 2907). For more info see R. Goode, 'Kings or God?' in Textual Variation: Theological and Social Tendencies (ed. HAG Houghton & DC Parker; Gorgias Press, 2008), p. 27.
    Also note that Gospel of Judas has lots of extensive (uncontracted) words marked as nomina sacra.

  5. On John and P. Egerton 2 I recommend: J. Pryor, 'Papyrus Egerton 2 and the Fourth Gospel' Australian Biblical Review 37 (1989), 1-13 (which Goode's article reminded me of; John Pryor was my esteemed teacher in days of yore).