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Brent Landau, Adeline Harrington and James C. Henriques

Abstract

Reading fragmentary and damaged papyri can be extremely challenging for even the most gifted of editors, and as a result, many important texts have multiple editions with divergent transcriptions. A new tool, however, can be useful for adjudicating between different transcriptions: a digital microscope can take high-resolution photographs of individual letters under magnification, and some models also allow for photography in the ultraviolet and infrared light spectra. This paper examines the use of a digital microscope for studying three fragmentary early Christian writings: P.Oxy. 210 (a possible fragment of an apocryphal gospel); P.Oxy. 4009 (which may or may not be part of Gospel of Peter); and P.Oxy. 4469 (an amulet containing part of King Abgar’s letter to Jesus). For each of these manuscripts, the co-authors were able to use a digital microscope to revise previous transcriptions. This article aims to make more specialists in ancient manuscripts aware of this extremely promising tool.