Thursday, February 19, 2015

A New Name for P75

In an interesting new development in scholarly textual criticism the Vatican announced on Twitter that “The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV (P75) has a new name: Hanna Papyrus 1 (Mater Verbi)”

This is a new development, since until recently the Vatican had been referring to the codex as “Vatican Library, Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV”. While the reference to Bodmer at least recalled the place of this codex in the larger collection with which it was purchased, this new name refers to Frank Hanna (who bought the codex from the Bodmer Library in 2006 and donated it to the Vatican in 2006/7). I am not sure whether the additional term “Mater Verbi” is a reference to Mary as mother of the Word, or to the church as the mother of the Word. I await further clarification on that aspect of Catholic theology. I’m also not too sure whether this new name will catch on (even the Vatican seems to be using “Hanna Papyrus 1 (Mater Verbi) (P75)”).

It is also interesting that for Frank Hanna the private ownership of biblical papyri is intimately connected with his Christian faith and apologetics, as seen in the following interesting excerpts from his recent talk entitled, Defending the Faith, Defending the Word of God.
Frank Hanna, CEO of Hanna Capital in Atlanta, Ga., ... told students that his efforts to acquire the papyri for the Vatican were the beginning of “a defense of the Faith” for him. “Faith is something that we decide to do,” Hanna said. “It draws us closer to God. So when we talk about the defense of the faith, we are talking about the defense of a decision we made. And when we need to defend a decision we have made, we like to provide evidence.”
Hanna explained that the Christian faith is one that relies on the spiritual nature of man, but also embraces the corporal nature. “We are spiritual, but we live in this physical world,” he said. “And thus physical evidence of that which has happened is important. Defending that physical evidence is important. Defending that physical evidence is not a substitute for faith, but it can enhance it.” Hanna said that while we cannot prove that Jesus was God made man, we do have a lot of proof that Jesus was a real man, that many people believed he was God, and that they were willing to die for that belief. “The better preserved the records of those events are, the better it is for all of us and our faith,” he said. “And the [Bodmer] Papyrus helps us to preserve that record. When we cling to those records, it is like clinging to photographs of a loved one.”


  1. Just as "Pluto will always be a planet to me"... also Hannah will always be a Bodmer to me.

  2. To me it's just P75.
    I'm looking forward to new images!

  3. Manuscripts have different contexts. In the context of the list of NT papyri, P75 is pretty clear and helpful. In the context of the purchase (and I would think the background provenance), then Bodmer is clear and helpful (although I have never been completely happy with XIV-XV for a single codex). In its new context it has a new name.

  4. According to this page, its new name is "Mater Verbi Papyrus," which leads me to suspect that "Hanna 1" is its shelf mark rather than part of its name, despite what the tweet claims.