Papyrus 46 – Unfinished Papyrus ManuscriptPapyrus 46 is said to be an unfinished papyrus manuscript comprising mostly of the Pauline epistles in Greek. It was one of the ancient remaining manuscripts of the early Christian documents, originally written approximately in 52-58 CE. Papyrus 46 is said to be inscribed between 175 and 250 CE. It is the only surviving manuscripts of the New Testament.
No one is aware of the origin of the papyrus though it was possibly discovered among the ruins of the first Christian church or abbey. The manuscript had been broken up by the dealer, after its discovery which took place in Cairo.
In 1930, Chester Beatty had purchased 10 leaves, while 6 were attained in 1931 and 24 in 1933 by the University of Michigan. In 1935 he purchased 46 leaves more and his achievements now tends to form part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, eleven manuscripts of scriptural material.
Papyrus 46 Identified – Cairo - 1930
It was in 1930, that the leaves of the document was first identified among the stuffs of a innate relics vendor in Cairo which was purchased without any delay by private collector, Mr. Chester Beatty of London. Thereafter the remaining of the manuscript was acquired from the same dealer by Beatty and the representatives of the University of Michigan.
The earliest extensive New Testament script which existed is said to be a somewhat damaged papyrus of Paul’s epistles around the year 200. It comprised of eighty-six leaves, which measured around 11 by 6.5 inches. Originally it was presumed to comprise of 104 leaves, wherein eighteen leaves now seemed to be missing from the beginning and towards the end.
Existing leaves includes the last eight chapters of Romans, mostly of Hebrews; almost all of 1-2 Corinthians, all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians together with two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. Due to corrosion, all of the leaves of Papyrus 46 are said to have lost some lines towards the bottom of the leaves.
Papyrus 46 Examined – Micro Graph Form
Initially the document had been examined by prominent researcher Frederic G. Kenyon, in micro graph form. Kenyon made great efforts to discover the susceptibilities of the scribe of Papyrus 46. He also made attempts to determine the number of lines for each page and letters for each line in order to evaluate the contents of the missing pages.
The data gathered from Papyrus 46 would have been utilised by the transcriber for calculating on the quantity of writing material needed. Moreover it would have also been helpful in getting some insight on the fee which the transcriber gathered for each line of the services rendered by them. It was observed from the existing page numbers, that seven leaves were lost from the beginning of Papyrus 46.
This synchronizes impeccably with the length of the lost parts of Roman, which it certainly contained. Since the manuscript had been designed from the mass of papyrus leaves folded from the centre, in the style of a magazine, the outer seven sheets, comprising of the first and last seven leaves of the manuscripts seemed to be lost. Matter from the seven missing leaves towards the end is vague since they has been lost.
Queries – Analysis of Kenyon
According to Kenyon’s calculation, 2 Thessalonians would need two leaves, where only five leaves are left (10 pages), for the remaining canonical Pauline writings. 1 Timothy (considered 8.25 pages, 2 Timothy – 6 pages, Titus – 3.5 pages, Philemon – 1.5 pages all totalling to ten leaves were needed. Kenyon was of the opinion that Papyrus 46 did not contain the pastorals and this prevailed for several decades.
New study however had raised queries regarding the analysis of Kenyon. Initially, Kenyon had not accounted for the fact that the average letter for each page of the transcriber had been increasingly deep in the text. It was observed that there were half as many letters on each page in the last pages than what was in the centre leaves.
This was somewhat owing to the outer leaves being wider than the inner leaves. However there seemed to be more letters towards the outer leaves at the back in comparison to the front outer leaves. This specified that some compression could have taken place at some point of time portraying that transcriber had been conscious of the issue he created for inclusion of the pastorals. He then had made attempts compensating for the same on realising the error done.
CSNTM – High resolution Images
Furthermore, the Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts – CSNTM were capable of taking high resolution images of the earlier manuscript. On scrutiny of the fresh images, the CSNTM were of the opinion that the lower quality microfilm of Kenyon was somewhat twisted which led him to misjudge on the writing space the transcriber had utilised in the completion of his work.
It was found that at least 3 of his measurements had been miscalculated by 3mm and another one by 5mm. The flaw on measurement had then been compounded over the remaining manuscript leading him to underestimate on the space the transcriber utilised for completing his work. Daniel B. Wallace, who performed measurement only on few leaves, suggested that further study would be essential.
It has been detected that all through Romans, Hebrews and the concluding chapters of 1 Corinthians, small and thick strokes or dots, generally considered to be that of the reader instead of the transcriber of the manuscript. On examination it was found that the ink seemed much lighter than what was found on the text. They seems to indicate divisions which are likely to verse numbering found in Bible as well in parts of Papyrus 45.
Papyrus 46 Nomina Sacra
Papyrus 46 could be some evidence of reading in the community held for both the manuscripts. Edgar Ebojo made a case that the `reading signs’ with or without space could be of some help to the readers most probably with regards to liturgical perspective.
Nomina Sacra, in Christian scribal training is said to be the abbreviation of various regular happenings of divine name or titles, particularly in Holy Scriptures in Greek manuscripts. A Nomina Sacra comprises of two or more letters for the new word crossed by an overline.