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Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 656 (abbreviated as P.Oxy.IV 656, VH 13, LBAD 3094, or Rahlfs 905) – is a Greek fragment of a Septuagint manuscript written on papyrus in codex form. This is a manuscript discovered at Oxyrhynchus, and it has been catalogued with number 656. Palaeographically it is dated to late second century (Bell and Skeat) or early third century (Grenfell and Hunt).
The manuscript was written on papyrus, in codex form. The surviving fragments are four pieces of 24 cm by 20 cm. The fragments contain Genesis (14:21-23, 15:5-9; 19:32-20:11; 24:28-47; 27:32-33, 40-41), written in Koine Greek. According to C. H. Roberts and van Haelst, it is almost certain to be Jewish.
Jason David BeDuhn, quoting Emanuel Tov wrote:
The transition from the practice of preserving JHVH in archaic Hebrew letters to replacing it with the Greek kurios can be seen in Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 656 (Rahlfs 950). In the text of Genesis preserved in this manuscript, the original scribe left blank spaces for JHVH exactly like the scribe of PFouad 266 did. But later another scribe instead of writing YHWH into those spaces wrote kurios.
Martin Rösel states that in this manuscript the first scribe left four gaps, three of which were filled by another with the word κύριος. Similarly, in Papyrus Rylands 458 a blank space remains, large enough for either κύριος or the Tetragrammaton. According to Philip Wesley Comfort, who speaks of the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 656 gaps as four-letter spaces, they were intended to be filled in with the Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew script, but for lack of someone capable of writing in that script, the Greek surrogate κύριος was squeezed in instead.
Parts of four leaves from this Greek Septuagint codex that contain portions of six chapters of Genesis, as was stated above (14:21-23, 15:5-9; 19:32-20:11; 24:28-47; 27:32-33, 40-41). This codex is very important because of its being dating to the late second or early third century C.E. However, aside from dating early, these chapters are absent in the Codex Vaticanus and they are defective in the Codex Sinaiticus. These leaves can now be found in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England.
History of P.Oxy. 656
The fragment was published in 1904 by Bernard P. Grenfell and Artur S. Hunt in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol IV. The number 905 was given to the fragments list of Septuagint manuscripts according classification system of Alfred Rahlfs.
Paleographical Insight from
Philip W. Comfort
In the late 1800s paleographers thought Christians did not use the codex (as opposed to the roll, or the scroll) until the fourth century. This view changed in the beginning of the 1900s when more Christian codices were discovered with handwriting that matched the style of earlier centuries A.D. Still, paleographers were reluctant to assign a date to a Christian codex any earlier than the century. Grenfell and Hunt hesitated to date any Christian papyrus codex earlier than the third century, even if the handwriting style belonged to the late first or second century. For example, they noted that the style of P.Oxy 656 (A Christian codex preserving a portion of Genesis) completely accorded with the style of other second century manuscripts, but they still dated the manuscript to the third century. Bell and Skeat redated P.Oxy. 656 to the late second century. (Comfort & Barret, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 1-72, Vol. 1 , 2019), 13.
By Wikipedia and Edward D. Andrews
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 The Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Alexandrian translation of Jewish Scriptures into Koine Greek exists in various manuscript versions. The initial translation was made between 280-150 B.C.E.
 A codex is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials. The term is now usually reserved to describe manuscript books, with handwritten contents, but it describes the format that is now nearly universal for printed books in the Western world. The book is usually bound by stacking the pages and securing one set of edges in a bookbinding, by a variety of methods over the centuries. Modern books are divided into paperback or softback and those bound with stiff boards, called hardbacks. Elaborate historical bindings are called treasure bindings.
 Oxyrhynchus is a city in Middle Egypt located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo in Minya Governorate. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered. Since the late 19th century, the area around Oxyrhynchus has been excavated almost continually, yielding an enormous collection of papyrus texts dating from the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Among the texts discovered at Oxyrhynchus are plays of Menander, fragments from the Gospel of Thomas, and fragments from Euclid’s Elements. They also include a few vellum manuscripts, and more recent Arabic manuscripts on paper.
 Palaeography (UK) or paleography is the study of ancient and historical handwriting. Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts, and the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing, and books were produced, and the history of scriptoria.
 Papyrus is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge. Papyrus can also refer to a document written on sheets of such material, joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book.
 The Book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament, is an account of the creation of the world, the early history of humanity, Israel’s ancestors, and the origins of the Jewish people. Its Hebrew name is the same as its first word, Bereshit. It was written by Moses in the late 16th century B.C.E.
 Koine Greek, also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the common supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic period, the Roman Empire, and the early Byzantine Empire, or late antiquity. It evolved from the spread of Greek following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.E. and served as the lingua franca of much of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East during the following centuries. It was based mainly on Attic and related Ionic speech forms, with various admixtures brought about through dialect levelling with other varieties.
 Colin Henderson Roberts was a classical scholar and publisher. He was Secretary to the Delegates of Oxford University Press between 1954 and 1974.
 Larry W. Hurtado (2006). The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p. 62
 Jason David BeDuhn, Ph.D. is a historian of religion and culture, currently Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University.
 Emanuel Tov is emeritus Professor in the Department of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
 Papyrus Fouad 266 is a copy of the Pentateuch in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint. It is a papyrus manuscript in scroll form. The manuscript has been assigned palaeographically to the second or the first century B.C.E. The manuscript has survived in a fragmentary condition. Discussion about this manuscript questions whether it is or is not a later recension of the standard Septuagint text. It contains the name of God in the Hebrew language יהוה. Fragment of Deuteronomy 31:28 – 32:7
 Jason David BeDuhn (2003). Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. University Press of America, p. 179.
 Papyrus Rylands 458 is a copy of the Pentateuch in a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint. It is a papyrus manuscript in roll form. The manuscript has been assigned palaeographically toward the middle of the 2nd century BC, and before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it was the oldest known manuscript of the Greek Bible. The manuscript has survived in a very fragmentary condition.
 Martin Rösel (8 October 2018). Tradition and Innovation: English and German Studies on the Septuagint. SBL Press. p. 295.
 Philip Wesley Comfort is a professor, writer, editor and expert on the Bible who specializes in textual criticism of the New Testament. He served as Professor of Greek and New Testament at Trinity Episcopal Seminary, visiting professor at Wheaton College, and senior Bible reference editor at Tyndale House Publishers.
 Philip Wesley Comfort (2005). Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism. B&H Publishing Group. p. 210.
 Alfred Rahlfs was a German Biblical scholar. He was a member of the history of religions school. He is known for his edition of the Septuagint published in 1935.
 See H. Idris Bell and T. C. Skeat, eds., Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and Other Early Christian Papyri (London Oxford University Press for the British Museum, 1935), 6-7
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