I am editing a Sahidic literary papyrus fragment and need help deciphering an interlinear addition. Can anyone make out the letters following the words ASH PE ("what is")? The kappa from the top line (from JWKE) and the phi from the lower line (from COPHOC) intrude into the interlinear addition, so don't let that throw you off. It looks to me something like ASH PE PN.D. – but I can't make heads or tails of it. I don't think we are dealing with a nomen sacrum for "spirit" since there is no overlining. I know I have some Coptic readers out there, so I would be grateful for any of your thoughts. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
One feature of the Nag Hammadi codices that has always fascinated me is the leather covers in which the papyrus codices were bound. According to the traditional story, the Nag Hammadi codices were discovered in 1945 by a native Egyptian while looking for sabakh, a natural fertilizer. It is claimed that he found them in a jar in the ground at the base of the Gebel al-Tarif. (On the question about this discovery, see most recently Nicola D. Lewis and Justine A. Blount, "Rethinking the Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices," JBL 133.2 : 399-419.) Below are two images (open and closed) of the remarkably well-preserved cover of Codex IX, which was found intact. According to Birger Pearson, the papyrus codex was "cut out of the cover" in order to be preserved and mounted in between glass (Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X; [NHS 15; Leiden: Brill, 1981], 1). James M. Robinson offers a full analysis of this cover in the preface to the facsimile edition of Codices IX and X (The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices: Codices IX and X [Leiden: Brill, 1977], 4). This cover was apparently made of sheepskin and goatskin and belongs typologically, according to Robinson, in a group together with Codices II, VI, and X. As with most of these leather covers, this one was reinforced with papyrus fragments (known as cartonnage), and those papyri have been published as well. What is interesting about the cartonnage is that they are datable and thus provide a terminus a quo (starting point) for Codex IX. The photos below were taken by Jean Doresse and may be found—along with many other excellent images of the Nag Hammadi codices, covers, cartonnage, etc.—at Claremont College's Digital Library. When we think of the Nag Hammadi codices, we normally think of the papyrus codices and their texts. However, these are fascinating pieces of 4th century Egyptian material culture that deserve to be studied and analyzed.
Post-scriptum: While the Nag Hammadi codex covers are remarkable, they are not unique. We have several such covers from other manuscripts; see some of them here.
Can you name this New Testament manuscript? What does the isolated text toward the bottom of this papyrus say? I will wait a few days before updating with the answer. Leave your answers, comments, and/or questions below.
Philip W. Comfort, A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2014). 416 pp. $30. May be purchased here.
"An up-to-date commentary on all the significant manuscripts and textual variants of the New Testament.
This small and insightful volume is an essential resource for the committed student of Greek New Testament. Using the same trim size as UBS and NA28 Greek New Testaments, this reference commentary, based on the latest research, is designed to aid the reader in understanding the textual reliability, variants, and translation issues for each passage in the New Testament.
Unlike any other commentary, this volume contains commentary on actual manuscripts rather than a single version of the Greek New Testament. There are nearly 6,000 existing manuscripts, and just as many textual variants, with thousands of manuscripts having been discovered since the time of the King James Version. This commentary is filled with notes on significant textual variants between these manuscripts."
Sarah J. Clackson et Alain Delattre, Papyrus grecs et coptes de Baouît conservés au Musée du Louvre (BEC 22; Cairo: IFAO, 2014). 200 pp. 34 €. May be purchased here.
"Le monastère de Baouît en Moyenne-Égypte est l’un des plus grands monastères égyptiens et l’un des mieux connus. Jean Clédat y mena quatre campagnes de fouilles entre 1901 et 1905. L’archéologue fit à cette occasion une large moisson de papyrus et d’ostraca, plusieurs centaines en tout. Un corpus d’ostraca fut publié en 1999 (MIFAO 111) ; les papyrus sont restés inédits, à quelques exceptions près. La présente publication propose l’édition d’un lot de papyrus découverts par Clédat, qui sont maintenant conservés au musée du Louvre. Les 73 fragments portent des textes grecs et coptes, essentiellement des documents administratifs ou privés, des comptes et de nombreuses lettres. Ce sont souvent des pièces modestes, mais elles participent à la reconstruction des archives de Baouît ; plus généralement, elles enrichissent notre connaissance de la vie au sein du monastère aux viie et viiie siècles. En annexe, un tableau reprend l’ensemble des papyrus et ostraca de Baouît publiés à ce jour, soit plus de 700 documents."
"The monastery of Bawit in Middle Egypt is one of the biggest and best-known Egyptian monasteries. Between 1901 and 1905, Jean Clédat led four archaeological campaigns on the site. The archaeologist found a large amount of papyri and ostraca (up to several hundreds). A corpus of ostraca was published in 1999 (MIFAO 111). The papyri, with a few exceptions, have remained unpublished. The present book offers the edition of a batch of papyri discovered by Clédat and now kept in the Louvre Museum. The 73 fragments contain Greek and Coptic texts, mainly administrative or private ones, including accounts and many letters. Most of the documents are small, but they help reconstructing the archives of Bawit and, more generally, give us information on the life in the monastery in the 7th and 8th centuries. A table is given in appendix, which lists all the published papyri and ostraca from Bawit (more than 700 documents)."
I have received some good feedback about these little manuscript "quizzes" so we'll keep them going until you all get bored! For this week, I have included a manuscript dear to my heart. This papyrus has been in my hands on more than one occasion. Note: this papyrus is not a continuous manuscript of the NT. So, which NT manuscript is this? What is interesting to you about this particular piece? Does anything odd stand out? Feel free to discuss or comment in the comments section below.
Update: So, several people nailed it on the head: this is P.Yale I 3 (P50). As I mention in the comments to this post, I had the privilege in 2010 of examining this papyrus on several occasions. For those interested in the knowing more about the strange lines on the first folio, see my comments below.
Iain Gardner, Anthony Alcock, Wolf-Peter Funk. Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis. Vol. 2: P.Kellis VII. Oxbow Press: Oxford, 2014. 366 pp., 18 plates, CD with supplementary images. $130 USD.
I would like to express my utmost appreciation to the kind folks at Oxbow Books for sending me a review copy of this book.
I am very delighted to bring forth a review of this fine volume that is the culmination of over twenty years of work. This second volume completes the publication of Coptic documentary texts discovered at ancient Kellis during excavations from the late 1980s and early 1990s; volume one (P.Kellis V) was published in 1999. It is a continuation of the Dakhleh Oasis Project (DOP), in whose monograph series the volume under review is number sixteen. “The two volumes together present much the largest quantity of Coptic documents dated prior to 400 C.E. to have ever been made available to modern scholarship” (p. 4).
Ancient Kellis was a thriving village in Upper Egypt in the Dakhleh Oasis—one of the seven oases of Egypt’s Western desert. The village was abandoned by 400 C.E., but its literary remains have afforded us the opportunity to understand the lives of the ordinary people who lived there. Almost all of the Greek and Coptic texts were discovered during the excavations of four houses, most of them stemming from House 3, although a few scattered fragments were recovered from the old Tutu Temple area. Klaas Worp’s publication of the Greek texts from Kellis (P.Kellis I) offered valuable insight into the relationships of persons mentioned in the documents, such that Worp was able to construct a genealogical stemma. It is clear that the Greek and Coptic documents from Kellis must be read together, since some of the Greek documents “were written by or for or sent to the very same persons as in the Coptic letters and business accounts” (p. 17).
The Coptic documents in P.Kellis VII are significant for a variety of reasons, some of which may be highlighted briefly here. First, a late 4th century date for the archive is certain. Given the controlled excavations, the archaeological context (stratigraphy, ceramics, coins, etc.) enables us to place these Coptic documents within the time period of c. 355-380+ C.E. (see discussion at p. 6). Thus, their relevance for Coptic palaeography and dating (among other things) cannot be overstated.
Second, the new documents offer even further evidence of the influence of Manichaeism on the inhabitants of Kellis. We find explicit expressions of Manichaean faith such as “the God of Truth” (no. 71), “Praise God!” (no. 71), etc. No. 61 is of particular interest in this regard (the authors call it “the prize letter”), since it seems to be an actual letter from the leader of the Manichaean community in Egypt! Here called “The Teacher,” the leader writes “to all the presbyters, my children, my loved ones.” Moreover, the editors believe that Apa Lysimachos mentioned in no. 72 is a “Manichaean elect,” an acolyte who assisted the senior member of the Manichaen community in Egypt, that is, “The Teacher.” These historical details are vastly important for our understanding of Manichaeism in the 4th century.
Third, of the Coptic letters from Kellis, over 40% are either written by or to a woman. In contrast, less than 10% of the Greek letters from Kellis involve a female correspondent. The editors’ comments in this regard are worth repeating: “We think that these figures are significant; and that for this social group in the latter 4th century there is a correlation between Coptic, family, gender and religious expression. It is well known that women are relatively invisible (with important exceptions) in the Greek documentary record from late antique Egypt. However, this is certainly not the case in the Coptic archive discussed here” (p. 14). A possible explanation for the presence of women in these letters is the absence of their husbands, some of whom were away for work or travel. In no. 75, for example, Pegosh is angry that his wife Parthene had not written to him, and so he reminds her that he is out working all for her sake!
On a somewhat related note, it is interesting, but in no way surprising, that no legal or administrative documents were discovered among the Coptic archive. This is starkly contrasted with the Greek documents from Kellis. Thus, the editors are probably right in saying that this “is a clear impression that Coptic was favoured for the personal and the familial” (p. 12).
P.Kellis VII is a fine addition to scholarship and I warmly welcome its appearance. Edited by a “dream team” of Coptologists, this volume—which is quite large—contributes to discussions about an ancient Egyptian village, Manichaeism, prosopography, family life in the Egyptian desert, Coptic language, palaeography, epistolography, and more. The indices (native words, loan words, geographical names, conjugations, subject index) are comprised of fifty-seven pages and are complete. And mention must be made of the supplementary images on the disc, which is included in a sleeve on the back cover. The color images (in addition to the black and white printed plates at the back of the volume) are for the most part high-resolution JPEGs of all the documents edited in the volume. This feature alone justifies the purchase of the book. Unfortunately, a few of the images are out of focus at some places (particularly at one or the other extreme end of the image) and the image of no. 110v is unusable. Otherwise, the images are excellent, and take up only about 560Mb of hard drive space, should one decide to import them to one’s computer for personal use, as this reviewer did. In sum, I congratulate the editors for their hard efforts in bringing forth a work of lasting significance to historians.
I would like to close the review by reproducing a few lines of the editors’ translation of nos. 78 and 79 (the former is featured on the cover of the book and included below). These letters, written by Pegosh to his father Horos, concern a variety of commodities, including the textile trade. Both letters, however, begin with addressing an interesting matter concerning the purchase of papyrus scrolls, the sum of which is given.
This NT manuscript is interesting for a variety of reason, one of which is the cursive note at the bottom. This is not a continuation of the NT text above, nor has it been deciphered given its ungrammatical characteristics. So, which NT manuscript is this? And does anyone want to take a stab at the meaning and function of the scribbled note?
Update: As several people have pointed out on Facebook, via email, and through the comments here, this is indeed P.Oxy. II 209 (P10). The most exhaustive study of it is the recent article by AnneMarie Luijendijk, "A New Testament Papyrus and Its Documentary Context: An Early Christian Writing Exercise from the Archive of Leonides (P.Oxy. II 209/P10)," JBL 129.3 (2010): 575-596.
Ed. princ. Franco Maltomini, “340. Amuleto con NT Ev. Jo. 1, 1-11,” in Kölner Papyri (P. Köln), vol. 8 (eds. Michael Gronewald, Klaus Maresch, and Cornelia Römer; Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997), 82-95.
P.Köln 8.340, a long amulet containing both text and images, was designed as a request for healing and protection. It begins by appealing to a lengthy passage of scripture (John 1:1-11), followed by an invocation of the name of God, requesting that he send his angel to chase away sickness, evil spirits, the evil eye, and “every snare of humanity.” I am currently working on this amulet, which has a number of interesting features. Here is the text, following the NT portion, in translation (my own):
"I call upon you God, and Mary the God-bearer, Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that you might send your angel who presides over the healing of those who wear this adjuration [amulet] and implore him to chase away each and every illness and infirmity, every unclean spirit, every evil eye, every snare of humanity. I banish you by the glorious name of the Lord forever and ever. Amen, amen, amen.”
On the backside—in this case, we cannot speak of recto and verso because overlapping patches of papyrus strips preclude such identification—there are two drawn figures, both standing, depicted as praying in the orantes position, i.e., with their hands raised. In this post, I would like to correct the interpretation about one of these figures by the editor, F. Maltomini. According to Maltomini, there is a face superimposed onto the chest of the second standing figure. He describes it as lacking hair, eyebrows, eyeballs, mouth, chin, and neck. The eye sockets are described as tiny and round and the nose as being constructed by a line beginning at the top part of the forehead extending down the bottom of the face and finally curving off to the right. Maltomini wrestles with the identification of this “face,” and concludes by suggesting that it is “probably the person for whose healing the two stand praying their prayers.”
The problems associated with the identification of this superimposed “face,” however, can be easily resolved: what Maltomini describes as a “face” is clearly, in fact, an image of a woman’s breasts. This would explain, then, why this “face” lacks hair, eyeballs, eyebrows, mouth, and chin, and why the "nose" is represented by a long curved line. This identification is further secured by the fact that the standing figure has long, wavy hair; even the editor admits that this must be a female figure on this basis. The breasts are somewhat similar in appearance to the breasts depicted in another Christian amulet, P.Oxy. 8.1077, but are drawn at more of an angle.
Does the inclusion of a female figure suggest that the owner of this amulet was a woman? Perhaps it does, although it is difficult to say who the first (presumably male) figure might be and his relation to the female figure. In my study alone I have see at least two other amulets that were clearly owned by women (P.Oxy. 8.1077 and P.Oxy. 8.1151). Nevertheless, the participial phrase τὸν φοροῦντα ("the one who bears" [the amulet]) in ll. 41-42 of this amulet seems to preclude the possibility of a female owner of the amulet, since it is masculine.
One note on the NT text. If the owner of our amulet purchased it from a ritual specialist (i.e., a church leader), then this may mean that the text was copied from an actual manuscript, although we have no way of proving this, of course. Alternatively, since the Gospel of John was apparently popular in Egypt—for example, a high number of manuscripts of John were discovered at Oxyrhynchus—its text may have been part of the oral culture of the Christian community in which this amulet was produced and used. Either way, P.Köln 8.340 contributes to our knowledge of Egyptian Christianity in more ways than one and it, like many amulets, deserves the attention of early Christian scholars.
 Maltomini’s full description of this figure runs as follows: “Al di sotto di questa figura è rappresentato un orante. Il viso, appena abbozzato, si sovrappone a parte del petto della figura precedente. La linea del contorno non appare chiusa in alto sulla testa; assenti i capelli; gli occhi sono piccoli e rotondi, senza pupille e senza sopracciglia; il naso è constituito da una lunga linea che si inizia nella parte alta della fronte, scende dapprima verticale per poi piegare verso destra. Bocca, mento e parte del collo sono scomparsi in una lacuna. Il tronco è rettangolare; di alcune linee irregolari che vi appaiono all'interno non so ravvisare il significato preciso (panneggio?). Le braccia sono sollevate nel gesto della preghiera, più distese di quelle del primo orante, e vengono ad incorniciare la figura centrale. Non si distinguono gli arti inferiori” (Maltomini, “340,” 95).
 My translation of “…probabilmente la persona per la cui guarigione…i due oranti levano la loro preghiera,” (Maltomini, “340,” 95).
The Digital Loeb Classical Library has now been officially released! It is available for individual and institutional subscriptions (see intro video here). Individual subscriptions are $195 for the first year and $65 for subsequent consecutive years. This is a bit steep, I know, but I feel it is worth it. How many times have you been in the middle of research and needed a critical Greek or Latin text of a classical author? I have been there many, many times and it is a frustrating experience. We need our Loebs! Now, we have them at the tips of our fingers. It is great to see that the LCL has now gone digital. I hope to post here in future a review of the platform and overall user experience. In the meantime, you can subscribe here.