Papyrus 115 (P. Oxy. 4499, P115) Is a Fragmented Manuscript of the New Testament Containing Parts of the Book of Revelation

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Papyrus 115 (P. Oxy. 4499, designated by P115 in the Gregory-Aland numbering) is a fragmented manuscript[1] of the New Testament written in Greek on papyrus.[2] It consists of 26 fragments of a codex[3] containing parts of the Book of Revelation, and probably nothing more.[4] It dates to the early to the middle third century, c. 200-250 C.E.[5] Grenfell[6] and Hunt[7] discovered the papyrus in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.[8]

P115 was not deciphered and published until the end of the twentieth century. It is currently housed at the Ashmolean Museum.[9]

Red arrow points to χιϛ (616), “number of the beast” in P115
Name P. Oxy. 4499
Text Rev 2-3, 5-6, 8-15
Date c. 275
Found Oxyrhynchus, Egypt
Now at Ashmolean Museum
Cite Juan Chapa, Oxyrynchus Papyri 66:11-39. (#4499)
Size 26 fragments; 15.5 x 23.5 cm; 33-36 lines/page
Type Alexandrian, close agreement with A & C
Category I
Note Gives the number of the beast as 616
The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Description of P115

The original codex had 33-36 lines per page of 15.5 cm by 23.5 cm. The surviving text includes Revelation 2:1-3, 13-15, 27-29; 3:10-12; 5:8-9; 6:5-6; 8:3-8, 11-13; 9:1-5, 7-16, 18-21; 10:1-4, 8-11; 11:1-5, 8-15, 18-19; 12:1-5, 8-10, 12-17; 13:1-3, 6-16, 18; 14:1-3, 5-7, 10-11, 14-15, 18-20; 15:1, 4-7.[1]

The manuscript has evidence of the following nomina sacra:[10] ΙΗΛ , ΑΥΤΟΥ , ΠΡΣ , ΘΩ , ΘΥ , ΑΝΩΝ , ΠΝΑ , ΟΥΝΟΥ , ΟΥΝΟΝ , ΚΥ , ΘΝ , ΑΝΟΥ , ΟΥΝΩ.

The manuscript uses the Greek Numeral[11] system, with no number extant as being written out in full.[12]

The manuscript is a witness to the Alexandrian text-type,[13] following the text of Codex Alexandrinus[14] (A) and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus[15] (C).[16]

An interesting element of P115 is that it gives the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18 as 616 (chi,[17] iota,[18] stigma[19] (ΧΙϚ)), rather than the majority reading of 666 (chi, xi, stigma (ΧΞϚ)), as does Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus.[20]

According to the transcription of the INTF,[21] a conjectured reading of the manuscript, due to the space left, is [χξϛ] η χιϛ (666 or 616), therefore not giving a definite number to the beast.[22]

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Revelation 13:18

TR WH NU ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ [= χξς]
“666”
𝔓47 (א) A P Maj Irenaeus Hippolytus
all

variant 1 εξακοσιοι δεκα εξ [= χις]
“616”
𝔓115 C (5 11—no longer extant) MSSaccording to Irenaeus
RSVmg NRSVmg ESVmg NASBmg NJBmg NABmg NLTmg HCSBmg

variant 2 εξακοσια εξηκοντα πεντε [= χξε]
“665”
2344
none

Writing in the late second century, Irenaeus (Haer. 5.30) was aware of the reading “616” but denounced it as “heretical and deceptive.” He claimed that “666” was found in “all the good and ancient copies” and was “attested to by those who had seen John face to face.” Three significant witnesses (𝔓47 א A) must have their roots in those “good and ancient copies” because they read “666.” However, the recently published 𝔓115 reads “616,” as does Codex C. These are among the “good and ancient copies,” and the number they contain, “616,” is not heretical. Either “666” or “616” could be original inasmuch as both symbolize “Caesar Nero.” In ancient times the letters of the Hebrew and Greek alphabets were used as numerals. The “number” of a name is the sum of its individual letters. The number “666,” abbreviated in ancient manuscripts as χξς (χ = 600, ξ = 60, ς = 6), came from a Hebrew transliteration of the Greek for “Neron Caesar.” The number “616,” abbreviated in ancient manuscripts as χις, is either a Latin equivalent of the name “Nero Caesar” by way of gematria (see Aune 1998, 770–771; netmg) or a different spelling of Neron Caesar, which drops the final “n” (Metzger 2003, 308). Both convey the same signification of the same person. As of yet, not one English translation prints “616” in the text, even though several note it. The note in HCSB says that one Greek manuscript plus other ancient evidence read “616.” There are actually two ancient manuscripts, 𝔓 and C.[23]

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS I AM John 8.58

Physical features [Philip W. Comfort]   

This manuscript contains 26 fragments of a codex containing the book of Revelation (and probably nothing more). Each sheet originally measured about 15.5 cm x 23.5 cm, with 33–36 lines per page. It is likely that the scribe used a codex that was already bound before he began to his work, inasmuch as the width of the writing on the pages with binding to the right-hand side (i.e., the even-numbered pages) tends to be narrower than those with binding to the left-hand side (i.e., the odd-numbered pages). The difficulty of writing on the right side of the left page thereby can be explained if the pages were already bound.[24]

Textual Character [Philip W. Comfort]

Significantly, P115 aligns with A and C in its textual witness, which are generally regarded as providing the best testimony to the original text of Revelation. Thus, P115 has superior testimony to that of P47, which aligns with א and together form the second-best witness to the book of Revelation.[25]

Textual Variants[26]

Revelation 8:12
και το τριτον της σεληνης: (and the third of the moon)
Omit.: P115.
Incl. : אA.

Revelation 9:11
ο απολλυων: (the Apollyon; the destroyer) P115, 1740. 
απολλυων: (Apollyon; destroyer) P47א, pc, gig, 2344. 

Revelation 9:13
δ/τεσσάρων (four)
Incl.: P115, M, vgcl, syph.
Omit.: P47אA, 0207, 1611, 2053, 2344, pc, lat, syh, co.

Revelation 11:15
λεγουσαι: (saying [verb, present, active, participle-plural, nominative, feminine]) P47, P115א, C,[27] 051, 1006, 1611, 1841, 1854, 2329, 2344, MA.
λεγοντες: (saying [verb, present, active, participle-plural, nominative, masucline]) A, 2053, 2351, MK

Revelation 12:3
πυρρος μεγας: (red great) P47, P115, 2053, א.
μεγας πυρρος: (great red) A, P, 051, 1841, pm, lat, sa.
πυρος μεγας: (fire great) C, 046, 1611, 1854, 2329, 2344, pm, syh.

Revelation 13:8
το ονομα αυτου: (the name of him) C 1854, 2053, pc, Irlat, Prim.
το ονομα: (the name) P115, M, co, Bea.
τα ονοματα αυτων: (the name of them; their names) P47א, P,[28] 051, 1006, 1841, 2329, al, lat.

Revelation 13:13
εκ του ουρανου (from the heaven)
Omit.: P115, 175.
Incl.: P47אA, M.

Revelation 14:6
κατοικουντας: (ones residing) P115A, 2049, 69.
καθημενους: (one sitting) P47א, C, P, 1611, 1854, 2053, 2329, pc, syph, Origen.

Revelation 14:20
βχ (2600): P115.
αχ / χιλιων εξακοσιων (1600): P47אc2A, 42, 69, 82, 93, 177, 325, 456, 498, 627, 699, 1849, 2138, 2329, M.

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[1]biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. Biblical manuscripts vary in size from tiny scrolls containing individual verses of the Jewish scriptures to huge polyglot codices containing both the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the New Testament, as well as extracanonical works.

[2] 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.

[3] The codex was the historical ancestor of the modern book. Instead of being composed of sheets of paper it was generally composed of sheets of vellum, papyrus, or other materials. The term is now often used to describe ancient manuscript books, with handwritten contents. A codex much like the modern book is bound by stacking the pages and securing one set of edges in a form analogous to modern 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.

[4] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 75-139 and Uncials, Vol. 2 (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 163-172.

[5] Juan Chapa, Oxy. Pap., 66:11-39, no. 4499

Philip W. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts. An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005, p. 77.

[6] Bernard Pyne Grenfell, FBA was an English scientist and Egyptologist.

[7] Arthur Surridge Hunt, FBA was an English papyrologist.

[8] 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.

[9] Liste Handschriften”. Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Thursday, September 24, 2020.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world’s first university museum and Britain’s first public museum. Its first building was erected in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

[10] In Christian scribal practice, nomina sacra is the abbreviation of several frequently occurring divine names or titles, especially in Greek manuscripts of Holy Scripture. A nomen sacrum consists of two or more letters from the original word spanned by an overline.

[11] Greek numerals, also known as IonicIonianMilesian, or Alexandrian numerals, are a system of writing numbers using the letters of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greece, they are still used for ordinal numbers and in contexts similar to those in which Roman numerals are still used elsewhere in the West. For ordinary cardinal numbers, however, Greece uses Arabic numerals.

[12] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 75-139 and Uncials, Vol. 2 (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 163-172.

[13] The Alexandrian text-type is one of several text types found among New Testament manuscripts. It is the text type favored by textual critics and it is the basis for modern Bible translations. The name of the text type comes from Codex Alexandrinus, a manuscript of this type.

[14] The Codex Alexandrinus is a fifth-century Christian manuscript of a Greek Bible, containing the majority of the Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. It is one of the four Great uncial codices. Along with the Codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the Bible. Brian Walton assigned Alexandrinus the capital Latin letter A in the Polyglot Bible of 1657. This designation was maintained when the system was standardized by Wettstein in 1751. Thus, Alexandrinus held the first position in the manuscript list.

[15] Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is a fifth-century Greek manuscript of the Bible, sometimes referred to as one of the four great uncials. The manuscript is not intact: in its current condition, Codex C contains material from every New Testament book except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John; however, only six books of the Greek Old Testament are represented. It is not known whether 2 Thessalonians and 2 John were excluded on purpose, or whether no fragment of either epistle happened to survive.

[16] Philip W. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts. An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005, p. 77.

[17] Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet.

[18] Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh. Letters that arose from this letter include the Latin I and J, the Cyrillic І, Yi, and Je, and iotated letters.

[19] Stigma (ϛ) is a ligature of the Greek letters sigma (Σ) and tau (Τ), which was used in writing Greek between the Middle Ages and the 19th century. It is also used as a numeral symbol for the number 6. In this unrelated function, it is a continuation of the old letter digamma, which had served as a numeral since antiquity and was conflated with the σ-τ ligature in the minuscule handwriting of the Middle Ages.

[20] Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is a fifth-century Greek manuscript of the Bible, sometimes referred to as one of the four great uncials. The manuscript is not intact: in its current condition, Codex C contains material from every New Testament book except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John; however, only six books of the Greek Old Testament are represented. It is not known whether 2 Thessalonians and 2 John were excluded on purpose, or whether no fragment of either epistle happened to survive.

[21] The Institute for New Testament Textual Research at the University of Münster, Westphalia, Germany, is to research the textual history of the New Testament and to reconstruct its Greek initial text on the basis of the entire manuscript tradition, the early translations and patristic citations; furthermore the preparation of an Editio Critica Maior based on the entire tradition of the New Testament in Greek manuscripts, early versions and New Testament quotations in ancient Christian literature. Under Kurt Aland’s supervision, the INTF collected almost the entire material that was needed – Manuscript count 1950: 4250; 1983: 5460; 2017: approx. 5800.

[22] http://ntvmr.uni-muenster.de/community/vmr/api/transcript/get/?docID=10115&pageID=160&format=html

[23] Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 846.

[24] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 75-139 and Uncials, Vol. 2 (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 163-172.

[25] Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 75-139 and Uncials, Vol. 2 (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 163-172.

[26] Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).

[27] Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is a fifth-century Greek manuscript of the Bible, sometimes referred to as one of the four great uncials. The manuscript is not intact: in its current condition, Codex C contains material from every New Testament book except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John; however, only six books of the Greek Old Testament are represented. It is not known whether 2 Thessalonians and 2 John were excluded on purpose, or whether no fragment of either epistle happened to survive.

[28] Codex Porphyrianus designated by Papr or 025, α 3, is a Greek uncial manuscript of the Acts of Apostles, Pauline epistles, and General epistles, with some lacunae, dated paleographically to the 9th century. It is one of a few uncial manuscripts that include the Book of Revelation.

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