PAPYROLOGISTS: Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt

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The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Bernard Pyne Grenfell

FBA[1] (1869 – 1926) was a papyrologist[2] and Egyptologist.[3]

Life of Grenfell

Grenfell was the son of John Granville Grenfell FGS and Alice Grenfell. He was born in Birmingham and brought up and educated at Clifton College in Bristol, where his father taught. He obtained a scholarship in 1888 and enrolled at The Queen’s College, Oxford.[4]

With his friend and colleague, Arthur Surridge Hunt, he took part in the archaeological dig of Oxyrhynchus and discovered many ancient manuscripts known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri,[5] including some of the oldest known copies of the New Testament and the Septuagint. Other notable finds are extensive, including previously unknown works by known classical authors. The majority of the find consists of thousands of documentary texts. Parabiblical material, such as copies of the “Logia (words) of Jesus” were also found.

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

In 1895, Grenfell and Hunt were the first archaeologically to explore the site of Karanis (present Kom Aushim) in Fayum.

His mother, Alice Grenfell, was living with him after his father died in 1897. She took a great interest in Egyptian Scarab shaped artifacts. She taught herself to read hieroglyphics. She published her own papers and a catalog of the scarab collection belonging to Queen’s College.

In 1908, he became Professor of Papyrology[6] at Oxford and was part of the editing team of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri and other similar works. However, he was ill for four years, and during that time the professorship lapsed. Grenfell was cared for by his mother and he had recovered by 1913.[7]

Grenfell Publications

  1. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, Sayings of Our Lord from an Early Greek Papyrus (Egypt Exploration Fund; 1897).
  2. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt, and D. G. Hogarth, Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri (London 1900).
9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Arthur Surridge Hunt

FBA (1871 – 1934) was an English papyrologist.

Hunt was born in Romford, Essex, England. Over the course of many years, Hunt, along with Bernard Grenfell, recovered many papyri from excavation sites in Egypt, including the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Hunt Publications

  1. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, Sayings of Our Lord from an early Greek Papyrus (Egypt Exploration Fund; 1897).
  2. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt, and D. G. Hogarth, Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri (London 1900).

800px-Excavations_at_Oxyrhynchus_1_ca_1903_A

Manuscripts Saved
from Egyptian Garbage Heaps

Beginning in 1778 and continuing to the end of the 19th century, many papyrus texts were accidentally discovered in Egypt that dated from 300 B.C.E. to 500 C.E., almost 500 thousand documents in all. About 130 years ago, there began a systematic search. At that time, a continuous flow of ancient texts was being found by the native fellahin, and the Egypt Exploration Society, a British non-profit organization, founded in 1882, realized that they needed to send out an expedition team before it was too late. They sent two Oxford scholars, Bernard P. Grenfell, and Arthur S. Hunt, who received permission to search the area south of the farming region in the Faiyūm district. Grenfell chose a site called Behnesa because of its ancient Greek name, Oxyrhynchus. A search of the graveyards and the ruined houses produced nothing. The only place left to search was the town’s garbage dumps, which were some 30 feet [9 m] high. It seems to Grenfell and Hunt that all was lost but they decided to try.

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

In January of 1897, a trial trench (excavation or depression in the ground) was dug, and it only took a few hours before ancient papyrus materials were found. These included letters, contracts, and official documents. The sand had blown over them, covering them, and for nearly 2,000 years, the dry climate had served as a protection for them.

It took only a mere three months to pull out and recover almost two tons of papyri from Oxyrhynchus. They shipped twenty-five large cases back to England. Over the next ten years, these two courageous scholars returned each and every winter, to grow their collection. They discovered ancient classical writing, along with royal ordinances and contracts mixed in with business accounts private letters, some from Christians, shipping lists, as well as fragments of many New Testament manuscripts.

Illustrates excavations at Oxyrhynchus
Excavations at Oxyrhynchus 1, ca. 1903

At 500 thousand, a person may have to look through tens of thousands of documents, such as letters, shopping lists, administrative documents, and so forth before ever possibly picking up any New Testament text. Imagine how much time that would take. One person working alone might spend 40 years doing this only for 10-12 hours six days a week and get through 20-30 thousand documents out of 500 thousand. It takes a person with impeccable, special skills in paleography to look through these and maybe find something of value. It is a low going process because of the condition of the material and the painstaking time in trying to read the documents, date the documents, and so forth.

Grenfell and Hunt’s Dating of the
Papyri Manuscripts

Generally speaking, even lately, palaeographers have often dated New Testament manuscripts without citing any other manusctipts that possess comparable paleographical features. We can excuse Grenfell and Hunt for this because they are our pioneers in the firld of papyrology. Therefore, they did not have enough manuscripts so as to make comparisons. In addition, they were early in the 20th century when many textual scholars thought the codex was not developed until the second or even the third century, so they were reluctant to date any manuscripts earlier than the third century. Therefore, we can view their dates as best estimations based on what was available to them. Sir Frederic George Kenyon (1863-1952) also failed to cite comparable manuscripts when dating P45 P46 and P47. Because of all the manuscript discoveries over the poast century and a growth in knowledge, we can more accuratelt date manuscripts, many of which should be dated earlier and more precisely. So, there are about fifty manuscripts that have been redated for these very reasons. palaeographer Philip W. Comfort has been doing just that.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

[1] Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. The categories are:

  1. Fellows – scholars resident in the United Kingdom
  2. Corresponding Fellows – scholars resident overseas
  3. Honorary Fellows – an honorary academic title

[2] Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Papyrology includes both the translation and interpretation of ancient documents in a variety of languages and the care and preservation of rare papyrus originals.

[3] Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, architecture, and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the 4th century AD. A practitioner of the discipline is an Egyptologist.” In Europe, particularly on the Continent, Egyptology is primarily regarded as being a philological discipline, while in North America it is often regarded as a branch of archaeology.

[4] Bell, H. (2004-09-23). Grenfell, Bernard Pyne (1869–1926), papyrologist. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved Sunday, December 20, 2020.

[5] The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a group of manuscripts discovered during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by papyrologists Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

[6] Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Papyrology includes both the translation and interpretation of ancient documents in a variety of languages and the care and preservation of rare papyrus originals.

[7] Bell, H. (2004-09-23). Grenfell, Bernard Pyne (1869–1926), papyrologist. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved Sunday, December 20, 2020.

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