The Earliest Manuscript Title of Matthew’s Gospel (BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3 / 𝔓4)

In: Novum Testamentum

Abstract

A flyleaf bearing the title of Matthew’s gospel, found with the Luke fragments of 𝔓4 (henceforth P4), has been neglected in studies of P4 as well as in editions of the Greek New Testament. This article publishes for the first time a photograph of the flyleaf, and seeks to provide an accurate transcription of the often misspelled title. It also discusses the various factors impinging upon the date of the fragment, such as the Philo codex in which it was found and the apostrophe in the middle of Matthew’s name. A date in the late second or early third century makes best sense of the evidence, making this neglected flyfleaf the earliest manuscript title of Matthew’s gospel.

  • 4)

    V. Scheil, “Fragments de l’Évangile selon saint Luc, recueillis en Égypte,” RB 1 (1892) 113-115 (114).

  • 5)

    V. Scheil, “Deux traités de Philon,” Mémoires publiés par les membres de la Mission Archéologique Française au Caire 9.2 (1893) iii-viii (“Préface”) + 151-215 (Philo text) + 216 (“Fragment d’Évangile”) + Plates I-IV. The mention appears in “Préface,” iii.

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  • 6)

    M.-J. Lagrange, Critique Textuelle II: La critique rationnelle (2nd ed.; Paris: Gabalda, 1935) 118-124 (118).

  • 7)

    Copying from Scheil, “Deux traités de Philon,” iii, J. Merell, “Nouveaux fragments du Papyrus 4,” RB 47 (1938) 5-22 (6): “À la suite du quarante-quatrième feuillet, en guise de bourre, je pense, et pour remplir la capacité de la couverture, se trouvaient plusieurs fragments de feuillets collés ensemble, [Scheil + et provenant d’un Évangéliaire,] l’un d’eux portant κατα Μαθθαιον, et les autres, des fragments de saint Luc.” (See also the list of contents on the same page.) This is strange, not only because of the mention of the pensée in the first person, but also because Merell states that he spoke with Scheil about the matter in 1937.

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  • 8)

    G. Maldfeld & B.M. Metzger, “Detailed List of the Greek Papyri of the New Testament,” JBL 68 (1949) 359-370 (364).

  • 9 )

    C.H. Roberts, “An Early Papyrus of the First Gospel,” HTR 46 (1953) 233-237, with Plate.

  • 13)

    C.H. Roberts, Buried Books in Antiquity: Habent Sua Fata Libelli (Arundell Esdaile memorial lecture, 1962; London: Library Association, 1963) 13.

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  • 14)

    Aland, “Neue neutestamentliche Papyri II,” 193-194; idem, Studien zur Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments und seines Textes (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1967) 108, under the heading “𝔓4(+𝔓64+ 𝔓67?)”: “Bei den Fragmenten noch 3 Teile eines fremden Textes und Rest eines Blattes, ro mit der Überschrift Matthäusevangelium, vo mit bisher unidentifiziereten Buchstabspuren in 2 Spalten, wohl zur gleichen Handschrift gehörend.”

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  • 15)

    Aland, “Neue neutestamentliche Papyri II,” 193-194.

  • 19)

    Aland, “Neue neutestamentliche Papyri II,” 193-194.

  • 20)

    Scheil, “Preface,” iii, followed by Merell, “Nouveaux fragments du Papyrus 4,” 6. Also reproduced in van Haelst’s catalogue entry for the Philo codex: J. van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens (Paris: Sorbonne, 1976) §695.

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  • 21)

    C. Astruc & M.-L. Concasty, eds., Catalogue des manuscrits grecs. Troisième partie: Le supplément grec. Tome III (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1960) 241 (§1120, by Concasty). This is the spelling in Codices Alexandrinus (subscriptio to Matthew) and Ephraemi rescriptus (inscriptio to Matthew), and in Codex Washingtoniensis (at Matt. 10.3).

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  • 22)

    Aland, “Neue neutestamentliche Papyri II,” 194.

  • 24)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 18.

  • 25)

    P.W. Comfort, “New Reconstructions and Identifications of New Testament Papyri,” NovT 41 (1999) 214-230 (217).

  • 26)

    Aune, “Meaning of Εὐαγγέλιον,” 875.

  • 28)

    See J.M. Robinson, “Interim Collations in Codex II and the Gospel of Thomas,” in Mélanges d’histoire des religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech (ed. A. Bareau; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974) 379-392 (387).

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  • 29)

    Robinson, “Interim Collations,” 387.

  • 34)

    L.W. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006) 175 n. 67, rightly notes that such classifications are much less useful than real measurements.

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  • 38)

    M. Waldstein and F. Wisse, eds., The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of the Nag Hammadi Codices II,1; III,1; and IV,1 with BG 8502,2 (NHMS XXXII; Leiden/New York/Köln: Brill, 1995) 1 (title on the verso).

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  • 39)

    J.D. Turner, “Introduction to Codex XI,” in Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII (ed. C.W. Hedrick; NHS 28; Leiden/New York/Köln: Brill, 1990) 3-20 (5, 19), again with the title on the verso.

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  • 41)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 19. His judgment is based on the supposed size of his P4 + P64 + P67 codex, but the dimensions of the P4 fragments (which are rather larger than those of P64 and P67) have the most significant impact on his calculation of the dimensions.

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  • 46)

    C.H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press/ The British Academy, 1979) 13 and 8 n. 1.

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  • 47)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 24.

  • 48)

    Scheil, “Deux traités de Philon,” iii.

  • 51)

    Scheil, “Fragments de l’Évangile selon saint Luc,” 113; idem, “Deux traités de Philon,” iii. Merell’s reference to 1880 a misprint for 1889. The introductions to the Loeb Classical Library texts of Philo (LCL II, p. 93, and IV, p. 282) also have 1889. Skeat rightly warns that the story of discovery must be taken “like all dealers’ stories—in this case quite literally—cum grano salis,” alluding to the fact that the codex was encrusted with a mass of small crystals of salt (“Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 25).

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  • 53)

    Scheil, “Fragments de l’Évangile selon saint Luc,” 113; idem, “Deux traités de Philon,” iv.

  • 54)

    L. Cohn & P. Wendland, eds., Philonis Alexandri Opera quae Supersunt (Berlin: Reimer, 1896) I, xlii. (Cohn was the sole editor of the first volume.)

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  • 57)

    A.S. Hunt, ed., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri: Part IX (London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1912) 16.

  • 58)

    Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyri IX, 16.

  • 59)

    W.G. Waddell, “On the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Philo (P. Oxy. IX, 1173; XI, 1356),” Études de Papyrologie 1 (1932) 1-6 (5). He notes, however, that the Paris papyrus is in two columns, whereas the Oxyrhynchus text is in a single column.

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  • 60)

    Roberts, Buried Books, 12; Turner, Typology of the Early Codex, 113; Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 26; Roberts, Manuscript, Society, Belief, 8: “later third century.” The only exception which I have found to the third century date is that given by Harl (as advised by A. Bataille), namely the fourth century. M. Harl, ed., Quis rerum divinarum heres sit (Philon d’Alexandrie 15; Paris: Cerf, 1976) 155.

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  • 63)

    J.R. Royse (with A. Kamesar), “The Works of Philo,” in The Cambridge Companion to Philo (ed. A. Kamesar; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) 32-64 (63), dating both the Coptos papyrus and the Oxyrhynchus text to the third century.

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  • 65)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 26.

  • 66)

    Scheil, “Fragments de l’Évangile selon saint Luc,” 113.

  • 67)

    Lagrange, Critique Textuelle II, 118.

  • 68)

    Merell, “Nouveaux fragments du Papyrus 4,” 7.

  • 69)

    Turner, Typology of the Early Codex, 145.

  • 71)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 30.

  • 72)

    See e.g. Head, “Is P4, P64 and P67 the Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?” 451, who questions whether they were part of the same codex, but suggests that the same scribe wrote the two (separate) texts.

  • 74)

    D. Barker, “The Dating of New Testament Papyri,” NTS 57 (2011) 571-582 (578).

  • 75)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 3. Similarly G. Cavallo, “Greek and Latin Writing in the Papyri,” in The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (ed. R. Bagnall; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 101-148 (129) on the “biblical majuscule.”

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  • 77)

    G. Cavallo, Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica (Studi e testi di papirologia 2; Florence: Le Monnier, 1967) 20 and n. 3 for the date of P.Berol. 7499, with plate 19a; on PSI 1377, Ricerche, 41 for the date, with plate 20a.

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  • 82)

    Turner/Parsons, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, 108.

  • 84)

    F.G. Kenyon, ed., The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, Fascicle VI. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ecclesiasticus: Text (London: Emery Walker, 1937) viii.

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  • 86)

    P.M. Head, “Some Recently Published New Testament Papyri from Oxyrhynchus: An Overview and Preliminary Assessment,” TynB 51 (2000) 1-16 (5).

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  • 87)

    Head, “Some Recently Published New Testament Papyri,” 5.

  • 88)

    A. Pietersma, The Apocryphon of Jannes and Jambres the Magicians. P. Chester Beatty XVI (with new editions of Papyrus Vindobonensis Greek inv. 29456+29828 verso and British Library Cotton Tiberius B. v f. 87) (Leiden/New York: Brill, 1994) 89-90 on the fourth century date, and 83 for examples of the apostrophe between gammas.

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  • 89)

    B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt, The Amherst Papyri, being an Account of the Greek Papyri in the Collection of the Right Hon. Lord Amherst of Hackney (London: Oxford University Press, 1900) 3.

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  • 90)

    H.J.M. Milne, Catalogue of the Literary Papyri in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1927) 165-166: απαγ’ [γελω].

  • 94)

    Skeat, “Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels,” 18; L.W. Hurtado, “The Origin of the Nomina Sacra: A. Proposal,” JBL 117 (1998) 655–673 (657 n. 7), cites from personal correspondence with Skeat: the apostrophe as a division of double consonants “is common in the 3rd cent. but decidedly rare in the 2nd.” A.F. Gregory, The Reception of Luke and Acts in the Period before Irenaeus: Looking for Luke in the Second Century (WUNT II/169; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003) 30, follows Skeat’s NTS article in dating the flyleaf to the third century on the basis of the apostrophe.

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  • 95 )

    W. Crönert, Memoria Graeca Herculanensis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1903) 18; P.W. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2005) 109; Turner/Parsons, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, 11 n. 50. Contra T. Nicklas, “Papyrus Egerton 2,” in Non-Canonical Gospels (ed. P. Foster; London: Continuum, 2008) 139-149 (140 n. 6), on the later dating of the Egerton manuscript: “Concretely the newly found part of the manuscript has an apostrophe between two consonants at the new line 44, a scribal practice otherwise not attested during the second century CE.”

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  • 96 )

    The text is printed in K. Wessely, Papyrorum Scripturae Graecae Specimina Isagogica (Leipzig: Avenarium, 1900) 4 and in Table 6 (text 7). Since the text has not to my knowledge yet been published in the official publications of the Rainer papyri (to which it belongs) I present the reference number above in the form given in the sceptical note of Wilcken, where he remarks, presumably (!) in reference to the first-century scribe rather than Wessely: “Das sieht eher wie ein lapsus calami aus” (“Ein Polybiustext auf Papyrus,” 388 n. 4). Wessely is clear about the presence of the apostrophe, however, noting: “Hoc instrumentum scriptum esse a scriba haud imperito manifestum est etiam ex eo quod in vocabulo αλ’λωι quo facilius legatur uirgula addita est.”

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  • 104)

    See W. Crönert, “Literarische Texte mit Ausschluss der christlichen,” APF 1 (1901) 502-539 (536-537), and idem, Memoria Graeca Herculanensis, 18 n. 3.

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  • 105)

    Comfort & Barrett, Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, 44.

  • 106)

    Comfort, “New Reconstructions and Identifications,” 217.

  • 107)

    Cf. the brief remark in R. Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009) 95.

  • 109)

    See H.I. Bell & T.C. Skeat, Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and other Early Christian Papyri (London: Oxford University Press, 1935) 2-7.

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  • 110)

    M. Gronewald, “Unbekanntes Evangelium oder Evangelien Harmonie (Fragment aus dem ‘Evangelium Egerton’),” in Kölner Papyri. Vol. VII, Band 6 (ed. M. Gronewald, B. Kramer, K. Maresch, M. Parca and C. Römer; Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1987) 136-145 (136-137): “Nachzutragen ist, daß sich in dem Kölner Fragment nun auch Apostroph zwischen Konsonanten (ανενεγ’κον) wie in P.Bodmer II findet, was nach E.G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts 13, 3 eher ins dritte Jahrhundert weist. Doch auch bei einer eventuellen Datie-rung um 200 würde P.Egerton 2 immer noch zu den frühesten christlichen Papyri zählen.”

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  • 112)

    A.S. Hunt, Catalogue of the Greek Papyri in the John Rylands Library (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1911) 190.

  • 113)

    Wilcken, “Ein Polybiustext auf Papyrus,” 388.

  • 114)

    Hunt, Catalogue of the Greek Papyri, 190.

  • 115)

    M.W. Haslam, ed., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri: Volume LIII (London: Egypt Exploration Society/The British Academy, 1986) 60. For images, see the plates in the volume, as well as: http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/POxy/papyri/vol53/pages/3708.htm.

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  • 117)

    P.J. Parsons, ed., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XLII (London: Egypt Exploration Society/The British Academy, 1974) 46.

  • 119)

    C.H. Roberts, Greek Literary Hands 350 B.C.—A.D. 400 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1956) xiv; Turner/Parsons, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, 20.

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