PAPYRUS 66 (P66): One of the Earliest Available Papyri

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Papyrus 66 (also referred to as P66) is a near-complete codex of the Gospel of John, and part of the collection known as the Bodmer Papyri.

Description

The first page of the papyrus, showing John 1:1-13 and the opening words of v.14

The manuscript contains John 1:1–6:11, 6:35b–14:26, 29–30; 15:2–26; 16:2–4, 6–7; 16:10–20:20, 22–23; 20:25–21:9, 12, 17. It is one of the oldest well-preserved New Testament manuscripts known to exist. Its original editor assigned the codex to the early third century, or around AD 200, on the basis of the style of handwriting in the codex.[1] Herbert Hunger later claimed that the handwriting should be dated to an earlier period in the middle or early part of the second century.[2] More recently, Brent Nongbri has produced a broader study of the codex and argued that when one takes into consideration the format, construction techniques, and provenance of the codex along with the handwriting, it is more reasonable to conclude that the codex was produced “in the early or middle part of the fourth century.”[3]

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS King James Bible The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

In common with both the other surviving early papyri of John’s Gospel; P45 (apparently), P75, and most New Testament uncials, Papyrus 66 does not include the pericope of the adulteress (7:53-8:11);[4] demonstrating the absence of this passage in all the surviving early witnesses of the Gospel of John. The manuscript also contains, consistently, the use of Nomina Sacra.

Studies done by Karyn Berner[5] and Philip Comfort,[6] contended that P66 had the work of three individuals on it: The original, professional scribe, a thoroughgoing corrector and a minor corrector. But more recently James Royse argues that, with the possible exception of John 13:19, the corrections are all by the hand of the original copyist.[7]

The staurogram appears in at least ten places in the papyrus (corresponding to chapter 19 of the Gospel).[8]

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Text

The Greek text of this codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland ascribed it as “Free text” and placed it in I Category.[9]

A transcription of every single page of P66 is contained in the book referenced in reference,[10] pages 388-468.

In John 1:15 ο οπισω ] ο πισω, the reading is supported by Sangallensis and 1646;[11]

In John 13:5 it has unique textual variant ποδονιπτηρα instead of νιπτηρα.

In John 13:7 it has αρ (error) instead of αρτι (now).

Something interesting found in {\displaystyle {\mathfrak {P}}}P66 is that Martha, the sister of Lazarus of Bethany, replaces Mary in the text multiple times. The Greek name for Mary is μαρια, and the Greek name for Martha is μαρθα. A scribe replaced μαρια with μαρθα a few times.[12] For example, in John 11:5, the original verse was:

ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάριαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS I AM John 8.58

However, it was changed to:

ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον.

Elizabeth Schrader was the one who discovered this, and she states that it “points to a deliberate minimizing of the legacy of Mary Magdalene, the controversial follower of Jesus who witnessed his death, burial and resurrection.”

P66
First page, showing John 1:1-13 and the opening words of v.14

History

The manuscript was found in 1952 at Jabal Abu Mana near Dishna (Egypt).[13] In fact, the preservation level of P66 surprised scholars because the first 26 leaves were basically fully intact, and even the stitching of the binding remained.

It was published in 1956 and it was the most important New Testament manuscript publication since the Chester Beatty Papyri in 1933–1934.[14]

It is currently housed at the Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland: Bibliotheca Bodmeriana. The Papyrus contains 39 folios – that is 78 leaves, 156 pages – at a size of 14.2 cm x 16.2 cm for each leaf with roughly 15-25 lines per page.

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DATING P66

Paleographer Philip W. Comfort Writes,

In the editio princeps, Martin originally dated P66 to around a.d. 200, saying it was very much like P. Oxy. 1074 (Exodus), a manuscript the editors said might well be placed at the beginning of the third century or even earlier.

Hunger, founder of the Vienna Institute of Papyrology, redated P66 to the first half of the second century (A.D. 100–150).3 Hunger contends that P66 must be dated to the same period as P52 (P. Rylands 457), which is dated 110–125, and the Egerton Gospel (ca. 130–150). This means that P66 should not be dated later than 150. Hunger based his readjustment on the many similarities (especially in the connecting letters, i.e., ligatures) between P66 and manuscripts dated to the late first and early second century. He cites many manuscripts in the article in which he makes this assessment.

Turner, disagreeing with Hunger, dated P66 to the first half of the third century (A.D. 200–250) because the broad delta, broad theta, narrow alpha (stroked in one sequence), finial end on the crossbar of epsilon, and hook (apostrophe) between double consonants are characteristics of third-century manuscripts.4 It must be kept in mind that Turner was reacting to the revised datings of the 1950s and 1960s, when many of the codices were given earlier dates than previously ascribed to them. During this period paleographers were beginning to realize that the codex was a late-first-century invention. Turner thought the revisions went too far in the direction of earlier dating and therefore posited a more conservative dating for many of the New Testament manuscripts.

With all due respect to Turner, I disagree with his date for P66. The delta is unusually wide in P66, but there are examples of this in second-century manuscripts (see P. London 110 and P. Berol. 9782). The body of the theta is not that broad (only the cross-through line makes it wide), and there are examples of this in the second century (see P. Oxy. 2161, 2213, and even 216 [dated first century]). The crossbar on the epsilon only rarely displays a finial, and this seems to be the result of a stop, creating a slight blob. This is very common in both the second and third centuries, as is also the formation of the alpha in P66. Furthermore, some manuscripts of the second century display the hook between double consonants (P. Mich. 6871, P. Oxy. 3013, BGU iii 715.5).

According to my evaluation, the following manuscripts exhibit a handwriting style very similar to that found in P66: P. Oxy. 220 (late first or early second century); P. Oxy. 841 (first hand, which cannot be dated later than A.D. 120–130, during the reign of Hadrian); P. Oxy. 1434 (A.D. 108–109); P. Oxy. 2161 and 2162; PSI 1208–1210 (same scribe, second century). Also, P. Chester Beatty IX and X (Esther and Daniel), dated second century by Wilcken and Galiano, have many affinities with P66.

There are several other manuscripts that bear even greater resemblance in both the details of lettering and overall appearance. As noted by Martin and Barns, P. Oxy. 1074 (Exodus; second century) is an extremely close match. But this was dated conservatively by Grenfell and Hunt to the beginning of the third century, while saying it was probably earlier. It appears to be a second-century manuscript. P. Lit. London 132 (first half of second century), which is also very similar to P. Oxy. 3010, is very much like P66, and even more so P. Berolinenses 9782 (second century). Therefore, comparative paleography strongly suggests a second-century date for P66, and probably in the middle of that century. Indeed, two noted papyrologists, G. Cavallo and R. Seider, have each assigned the same date to P66—“middle second century.”5[1]

3 Herbert Hunger, “Zur Datierung des Papyrus Bodmer II (P66),” Anzeiger der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Klasse, no. 4 (1960), 12–23.

4 E. G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, 2d ed., edited by P. J. Parsons (London: University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, 1987), 108, no. 63.

5 G. Cavallo, Richerche sulla Maiuscola Biblica (Firenze, 1967), 23. R. Seider, Paläographie der griechischen Papyri, vol. 2. (Stuttgart, 1970), 121.

[1] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001), 376–378.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

World-Renowned Textual Scholars Date P66 Early

  • 200-225 Kurt and Barbara Aland
  • 200 Victor Martin
  • 100-150 Herbert Hunger
  • 100-150: Philip W. Comfort
  • 175-225 Bruce M. Metzger
  • 200-250 Eric G. Turner
  • 175-225 Daniel B. Wallace

The New Uncertain and Ambiguous Minded Textual Scholars Date P66

  • 250-325 Pasquale Orsini
  • 300-350 Brent Nongbri

SEE ALSO PAPYRUS 52 (P52) THE “AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY” OF MODERN-DAY EVANGELICAL BIBLE SCHOLARS

PAPYRUS 75 (P75): THE MANUSCRIPT THAT CHANGED THE THINKING OF TEXTUAL SCHOLARS

Recent Efforts to Reconstruct Early Christianity on the Basis of Its_Papyrological Evidence [9789004234161 – Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture]

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

Daniel B. Wallace writes in the foreword of MYTHS AND MISTAKES In New Testament Textual Criticism that “The new generation of evangelical scholars is far more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty than previous generations.” (Page xii). This is certainly the case. However, this trend has been a long time coming. In the 1800s into the early 1900s, Higher Criticism (biblical Criticism) ruled the day wherein liberal to moderate Bible scholars dissected the Word of God until it became the word of man and a garbled word at that. A few positions of these scholars would be that Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible, Job was not a real historical person, the prophet Isaiah of the eight-century B.C.E. and Daniel the prophet of the sixth-century B.C.E. did not write the books that bear their name, Jesus did not say everything recorded that he said in his famous Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus did not say that the Pharisees were snakes and vipers in Matthew 23, it was Matthew who said these things because he hated the Jews.

Then, in the middle of the twentieth century, we from literal Bible translations (what God said by way of his human authors) and entered into the era of interpretive translations (i.e., dynamic or formal equivalent), wherein the translators give the reader what they think the authors meant by their words. The last few decades textual scholars have refocused their objectives and goals from attempting to ascertain the original words of the original text to getting back to the earliest text possible. More recently, there his been a concerted effort to reset the dates of our earliest manuscripts to later dates.

Comfort W. Comfort is one of few who has actually examined and published major works in which he has examined the entire range of early New Testament manuscripts, and he is constantly under attack by the new wave of textual scholars that favor ambiguity and uncertainty and are seeking to redate our early papyrus manuscripts to later dates. If they can undermine the credibility of this one man who is standing in their way; then, they will control the narrative.

One thing I loved/love about the late Norman L. Geisler was/is that he did not worry about what man thought, his first concern as always what God thought about him. John Macarthur comes from the same mindset. This author believes that New Testament textual criticism, formerly constructive, has joined higher criticism (biblical criticism), as well as interpretive translation movement, and now has become destructive. If any conservative, evangelical textual scholar wants to maintain a steam of New Testament textual criticism that is constructive, do not hesitate to contact Christian Publishing House at support@christianpublishers.org or call Edward D. Andrews at 866-580-6125, ext. #1.

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[1] Victor Martin, Papyrus Bodmer II: Evangile de Jean chap. 1–14 (Cologny-Geneva: Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, 1956), 15-18.

[2] Herbert Hunger. “Zur Datierung des Papyrus Bodmer II (P66),” Anzeiger der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften philosophisch-historische Klasse 97 (1961) 12–23.

[3] Brent Nongbri. “The Limits of Palaeographic Dating of Literary Papyri: Some Observations on the Date and Provenance of P.Bodmer II (P66),” Museum Helveticum 71 (2014), 1–35.

[4] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 97-98.

[5] Karyn Berner. Papyrus Bodmer II, P66: A re-evaluation of the Correctors and corrections (MA thesis, 1993)

[6] Philip W. Comfort. The Scribe as Interpreter: A new Look at New Testament Textual Criticism according to Reader-Reception Theory (1996)

[7] Royse, pp. 409–21.

[8] Hurtado, Larry W., in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Text and Their World, ed. Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas, Leiden: Brill 2006, pp. 207–226 at p. 212

[9] Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 101.

[10] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), Vol. II, 15-115.

[11] UBS3, p. 321

[12] Ferreri, Eric. “Mary or Martha?: A Duke Scholar’s Research Finds Mary Magdalene Downplayed by New Testament Scribes.” Duke Today, 18 June 2019,

[13] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 11.

[14] Floyd V. Filson, A New Papyrus Manuscript of the Gospel of John, The Biblical Archeologist (Vol. XX), p. 54.

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