BIBLE (NT): The Origin of the Nomina Sacra

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

In Christian scribal practice, nomina sacra (singular: nomen sacrum from Latin sacred name) 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. See image to the left.

Metzger lists 15 such expressions from Greek papyri: the Greek counterparts of God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Son, Spirit, David, Cross, Mother, Father, Israel, Savior, Man, Jerusalem, and Heaven. (Bruce Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, pp.36-37) These nomina sacra are all found in Greek manuscripts of the 3rd century and earlier, except Mother, which appears in the 4th. – Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts – Philip Comfort and David Barrett (1999) pp.34-35

Nomina sacra also occur in some form in Latin, Coptic, Armenian (indicated by the pativ), Gothic, Old Nubian, and Cyrillic (indicated by the titlo).

To our left is an image of five Nomina Sacra, the first four being divine names and the first four of the fifteen known. Nomina Sacra (Sacred Names): Various contractions and abbreviations that are found in our earliest manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures.[1] The type that is most important to this discussion is what has become known as the sacred names, or nomina sacra (nomen scrum, singular), such as Lord (ΚΣ), Jesus (ΙΣ), Christ (ΧΣ), God (ΘΣ), and Spirit

Two nomina sacra are highlighted, ΙΥ and ΘΥ, representing of/from Jesus and of/from God (as these are genitives) respectively, in this passage from John 1 in Codex Vaticanus (B), 4th century

(ΠΝΑ). These sacred names are abbreviated or contracted by keeping the first letter or two and the last letter. Another important feature is the horizontal bar placed over these letters to help the reader know that they are dealing with a contraction. The early Christian writers had three different ways that they would pen a sacred name: (1) suspension, (2) contraction, and (3) longer contraction. The suspension is accomplished by writing only the first two letters of say Jesus (ιησους) = (ιη), and suspending the remaining letters (σους). The contraction is accomplished by writing only the first and last letter of say Jesus (ιησους) = (ις), and removing the remaining letters (ησου).

The longer contraction would simply keep the first two letters instead of just one, as well as the last letter (ιης). After penning the suspension or contraction, the scribe would place a bar over it. This practice of place a bar over the name was likely a carried over from the common practice of scribes placing bars above contractions, especially numbers, which were represented by letters, ΙΑ = eleven.

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

Origin and Development

Nomina sacra are consistently observed in even the earliest extant Christian writings, along with the codex form rather than the roll, implying that when these were written, in approximately the second century, the practice had already been established for some time. However, it is not known precisely when and how the nomina sacra first arose.

The initial system of nomina sacra apparently consisted of just four or five words, called nomina divina: the Greek words for Jesus, Christ, Lord, God, and possibly Spirit. The practice quickly expanded to a number of other words regarded as sacred. –  S. D. Charlesworth, “Consensus standardization in the systematic approach to nomina sacra in second and third century gospel manuscripts,” Aegyptus 86 (2006), pp. 37-68.

In the system of nomina sacra that came to prevail, abbreviation is by contraction, meaning that the first and last letter (at least) of each word are used. In a few early cases, an alternate practice is seen of abbreviation by suspension, meaning that the initial two letters (at least) of the word are used; e.g., the opening verses of Revelation in 𝔓18 write Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (Jesus Christ) as ΙΗ ΧΡ. Contraction, however, offered the practical advantage of indicating the case of the abbreviated noun.

It is evident that the use of nomina sacra was an act of reverence rather than a purely practical space-saving device, as they were employed even where well-established abbreviations of far more frequent words such as and were avoided, and the nomen sacrum itself was written with generous spacing. Furthermore, early scribes often distinguished between mundane and sacred occurrences of the same word, e.g., a spirit vs. the Spirit, and applied nomina sacra only to the latter (at times necessarily revealing an exegetical choice), although later scribes would mechanically abbreviate all occurrences.

Scholars have advanced a number of theories on the origin of the nomina sacra. Larry Hurtado has suggested Greek numerals as the origin of the overline spanning the nomen sacrum, with ΙΗ, the ordinary way of writing “18”, being taken as reminiscent of a suspended form of ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (Jesus). (Larry Hurtado, “The Origin of the Nomina Sacra: A Proposal”, JBL 117 (1998), pp. 655-673.) In some Greek Scripture manuscripts, the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (transliterated as JHVH) is found unabbreviated in the Greek text. The Septuagint manuscript Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1007 even uses an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton: two Greek zetas with a horizontal line through the middle, imitating two Paleo-Hebrew yodhs (). – Larry W. Hurtado (2006). The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Robert J. Wilkinson, Tetragrammaton: Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God: From the Beginnings to the Seventeenth Century (BRILL 2015), p. 55

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Greek culture also employed a number of ways of abbreviating even proper names, though none in quite the same form as the nomina sacra. Inspiration for the contracted forms (using the first and last letter) has also been seen in Revelation, where Jesus speaks of himself as “the beginning and the end” and “the first and the last” as well “the Alpha and the Omega.” – Colin H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (1979), p. 37.

George Howard argues that κς (κύριος) and θς (θεός) were the initial nomina sacra, created by non-Jewish Christian scribes who “found no traditional reasons to preserve the Tetragrammaton” in copies of the Septuagint. Larry W. Hurtado, following Colin Roberts, rejects that claim in favor of the theory that the first was ιη (Ἰησσῦς), as suggested in the Epistle of Barnabas, followed by the analogous χρ (Χριστός), and later by κς and θς, at about the time when the contracted forms ις and χς were adopted for the first two. –  Larry W Hurtado (2017). “The origin of the Nomina Sacra”. Texts and Artefacts: Selected Essays on Textual Criticism and Early Christian Manuscripts, The Library of New Testament Studies. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 127.

Cilliers Breytenbach and Christiane Zimmermann report that by the end of the 2nd century nomina sacra occur even in Christian tomb inscriptions in Greek in Lycaonia (modern central Turkey). –  Cilliers Breytenbach, Christiane Zimmermann (2018). Early Christianity in Lycaonia and Adjacent Areas: From Paul to Amphilochius of Iconium, Early Christianity in Asia Minor. BRILL. p. 14.

These nomina sacra are found only in Christian manuscripts.[2] This is not to say other non-Christians did not use abbreviations and contractions, as they did. However, they served as a purpose of saving space in their manuscripts (in other words no specific words), and the horizontal bar was used in their abbreviations as well, especially numbers. The Christian abbreviations while are an appropriate description of their form, it is inaccurate to function, as they served as sacred names.

What is amazing about the nomina sacra is that they appear in all the earliest New Testament manuscripts and Christian Old Testament manuscripts, no matter if the manuscripts were produced by professional scribes, documentary scribes, or those barely able to write in Greek. As was noted before, the handwriting of Christian biblical manuscripts falls into one of four categories: professional (those produced by full-time professional scribes), reformed documentary (those produced by scribes accustomed to making copies of documents and works of literature), documentary (those accustomed to making copies of documents only), and common (those who knew Greek as a second language or were just barely able to write Greek). There are extant manuscripts in all of these categories, and in all of them there are nomina sacra. This indicates that the practice was well-known to all Christians, not just professional scribes. (P. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism 2005, 253)

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Why, how, and when did this distinctive form of writing these fifteen names develop? Was it isolated to a certain area of the Roman Empire? Which of these sacred names came first? There are multiple reasons given by the textual scholars in an attempt to answer the above questions. We are going to look briefly at the 18-page paper by paleographer Dr. Larry W. Hurtado, The Origin of the Nomina Sacra: A Proposal, out of the Journal of Biblical Literature, (JBL117/4, 1998, 655-673). However, first, let us note that “the nomina sacra for Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, and Spirit are present in all extant second-century New Testament manuscripts where one or more of these nomina sacra are extant. The following second-century manuscripts that clearly show these nomina sacra are as follows:

P4+P64+P67Matthew, Luke

P32Titus

P46Paul’s Epistles

P66John

P75Luke, John

P90John”[3]

However, P4+P64+P67 dates to (150-175 C.E.), P32 dates to (150-200 C.E.), P46 dates to 110-150 C.E.), P66 dates to about (110-150 C.E.), P75 dates to about (175-225 C.E.), and P90 dates to (150-200 C.E.). This means that the nomina sacra for Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, and Spirit are standard by 125-150 C.E., which would suggest that, after the death of the last apostle John, who died in about 100 C.E., more than just division started to set in, as the apostles had really served as a restraint against the great apostasy that was about to come. Now, this little excursion into an area that might seem totally unrelated is just to say, we cannot know what the authors penned in their autographs, nor the first generation of copyists, based on early-mid-late second century manuscripts. Why? The phenomena of the standardization of the nomina sacra only need about 25-50-years to take place. Of course, John wrote his Gospel and three letters between 96-98 C.E., so we can say that his writings would have been closest. The other books all date before 70 C.E.

Hurtado introduces what the Nomina sacra, offering his reader background information, like the above. He then points to a couple of examples of the nomina sacra, dating back to about 150-200 C.E. “It is, however, particularly significant for the investigation of the origins of Christianity that nomina sacra … are found even in the very early scraps of Christian manuscripts, which take us back perhaps to the late or middle second century.” (L. Hurtado, The Origin of the Nominal Sacra 1998, 657) He offers us a footnote that points us to two manuscripts, one possibly dating between 150 and 200 C.E. (Egerton Papyrus 2 [more on this below from Andrews]), the other dating to about 150 to 175 C.E. (P4/P64/P67, three scraps, all from the same MS). We are then told,

They are found in Christian biblical manuscripts, noncanonical religious texts (e.g., the Egerton Gospel fragment), and in “orthodox” and unorthodox Christian writings (e.g., the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Peter, Acts of John). All this indicates a remarkable instance of standardization that contrasts with the wide diversity we have come to associate with the earliest centuries of Christianity. (p. 658)

It should be noted that to see the nomina sacra in both orthodox and unorthodox Christian writings, as well as biblical and non-biblical Christian writings across the Roman Empire, demonstrates a standardization, by 150-175 C.E., which we do not find in any other aspect. This is not like today’s internet, where a word or phrase goes viral, meaning hundreds of millions are using it instantly, and the next year, it is added into our dictionaries. As was state above, you would need a minimum of 25-50-years to have such a standardization to take place. However, while Hurtado loves to use the word “earliest” in describing the introduction of the nomina sacra, the evidence takes us no earlier than 100 to 175 C.E. for an introduction date, to standardization. The primary concern of Hurtado’s paper is,

Given that the nomina sacra are apparently both distinctively Christian and amazingly early, what relation do they have to the religious and cultural background of the early church, and what influences might have prompted and shaped them? (p. 660)

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

A chapter in his book, based on this article, offers the final analysis,

I propose that the suspended form of Jesus’ name ([ΙΣ]) was likely the originating device from which the whole scribal practice of the nomina sacra then developed. . . . It is an advantage of this proposal that it accounts well for features often not otherwise explained. In particular, we have a cogent explanation for the puzzling supralinear stroke that became characteristic in Christian nomina sacra. According to the view advocated here, this mark began its special Christian usage with the writing of Jesus’ name as [ΙΣ], and originally functioned in its more familiar capacity as a signal to readers that this two-letter compendium could also be read as a number, eighteen. Then, however, as Christian piety quickly sought to extend a similar scribal treatment to other key designations of God and Jesus.  … This supralinear stroke came to function as a distinctly Christian device that functioned simply to highlight nomina sacra forms, signaling readers that these various compendia were abbreviations of these words. . . . I propose that in its initial usage the  compendium was read as “Jesus” written in a manner designed also to allude to his significance as a divine vehicle of “life” for believers.[4]

The point is clear: all throughout the Christian church in its early centuries, New Testament texts displayed the nomina sacra. Special notice was given to “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “God,” and “Spirit.” Whether we accept Hurtado’s hypothesis as to the how and why of the rise of the nomina sacra, or we go with other suggestions, we cannot make the connection back to the originals 27 New Testament manuscripts, or the first generation of copyists. Some would suggest Lord (κυριος, kurios ΚΣ), written as  was first in the line of the nomina sacra (as Philip Comfort would suggest), or Jesus (ιησους, Iēsous ΙΣ), written as ΙΗ (as Larry Hurtado suggests). I would tend to agree with Comfort, and for the same reason he offers as well.

It would seem, to this author, the best suggestion is the desire of the second century C.E. Christianity and Pharisaic Judaism to separate themselves from each other. For example, you have the Judaism abandoning the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, even though; just a few decades earlier they were espousing it to be inspired. Why? The Christians had adopted the Septuagint as their evangelism tool because the de facto language of the Roman Empire was Koine Greek.

The Nomina Sacra by Philip W. Comfort

NOTE: Below, like above, all of those nomina sacra have a bar above it in the manuscript, but we cannot get it to carry over here in the blog article.

Anyone who reads the ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament is struck by the phenomenon: the names kurios (Lord), Iēsous (Jesus), Christos (Christ), and theos (God) are written in this unique fashion. These four titles are the primary and most primitive divine names to be written in a special way; they can be seen in all the earliest Greek manuscripts. Another early divine name written in a special way is pneuma (Spirit); it may be as early as the other four or it could have been developed slightly later. These specially written names are called nomina sacra, meaning “sacred names” (the singular is nomen sacrum). The inventor of the term nomina sacra was L. Traube. After his study on the nomina sacra, the most thorough study was done by A. H. R. E. Paap.

Scattered across the pages of nearly every extant Greek New Testament manuscript can be seen the following nomina sacra:
ΚΣ for κυριος (Kurios) = Lord
ΙΗ or ΙΗΣ for ιησους (lēsous) = Jesus
ΧΡ or ΧΣ or ΧΡΣ for χριστος (Christos) = Christ
ΘΣ for θεος (theos) = God
ΠΝΑ for πνευμα (pneuma) = Spirit
By way of example, the reader can look at photos of P46 and P66 (on pages 140 and 148) where all five of these sacred names are written in special form.

The earliest Christian writers wrote the nomina sacra in three ways. The first way is called suspension; that is, the first two letters of the name are written, and the rest are suspended. This is illustrated by ΙΗ, the first two letters of ιησους (Jesus). The second way is called contraction, that is, the first and last letters are written with the in-between letters omitted. This is illustrated by ΙΣ, the first and last letters of ιησους (Iēsous). The third way is a longer form of contraction, as in ΙΗΣ, the first two letters and the last letter of ιησους (lēsous).

After the scribe wrote the suspended or contracted form, he would place an over-bar over the entire name, as in ΙΣ. It is quite likely that the placing of the overbar was a carryover from the way scribes wrote documents; scribes everywhere had a habit of using the overbar to signal an abbreviation. This was especially common for the use of numerals, which would be written as ΙΑ for eleven, ΙΒ for twelve, etc. The over-bar stroked above the word was a signal to the reader that the word could not be pronounced as written. The reader would have to know what the coded form signified in order to read it correctly. Placing an overbar over the contracted or suspended nomen sacrum also helped the oral reader in working his or her way through scriptura continuum (words running into one another, as was common in ancient Greek texts).

The nomina sacra for Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, and Spirit are present in all extant second-century New Testament manuscripts where one or more of these nomina sacra are extant. … The nomina sacra are also present in Greek Old Testament manuscripts and other Christian writings produced by Christians.

THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

One of the main reasons we know that the Old Testament manuscripts are Christian manuscripts and not Jewish is the presence of nomina sacra in the text. Significantly, not one copy of the Greek Old Testament found at Qumran has these nomina sacra because this was a Jewish, not a Christian community. Jews never wrote nomina sacra the way Christians did; the Jews did things differently, for one divine name and one divine name only: Yahweh. Jewish scribes would frequently write this in its Hebrew contracted form (even in paleo-Hebrew letters) and then continue on with the Greek text. Christians used κυριος (kurios = Lord) in place of Yahweh (YHWH) and wrote it in nomen sacrum form. Many Greek Old Testament manuscripts produced by Christians display this nomen sacrum. This can be seen in all six second-century Greek Old Testament manuscripts noted above. (This phenomenon is discussed at length below.)

The earliest copies of the New Testament writings (perhaps some of the autographs themselves) included these specially inscripted forms for the sacred names. These writings made the rounds from church to church and thereby influenced the scribes in each church to write certain divine titles as nomina sacra. Since there was no official rulebook as to the exact form in which the nomina sacra were to be written, there were some slight variations in form. As noted above, some writers and/or scribes used the first letter and last letter of the name; others used the first two letters and the last letter. Thus, for example, χριστος (Christ) was written either as ΧΡ (a very rare form), ΧΡΣ, or ΧΣ (the most common form). In whatever form, χριστος (Christ) was always written as a nomen sacrum.

The nomina sacra for Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, and Spirit must have been created in the first century (a phenomenon discussed below at length). As I will argue below, the earliest form seems to have been a contraction of Lord (κυριος, kurios), written as ΚΣ. The next name to have been written as a nomen sacrum was Jesus (ιησους, Iēsous), written as ΙΗ or ΙΣ or ΙΗΣ. The contracted form for Christ (χριστος) was early (probably the earliest); it was maintained in most manuscripts in the form ΧΣ. A longer form of contraction was also used: ΧΡΣ. Only two manuscripts display the suspended form, ΧΡ—P18 (Rev. 1:5) and P45 (one time; Acts 16:18). The title “God” was contracted as ΘΣ from earliest times and remained constant thereafter.

NOTE: As I disagreed with Hurtado that the practice of the nomina sacra must have begun in the first century, I would disagree with Comfort here. I think this is extreme speculation. The motivation for beginning the nomina sacra did not really come about until the beginning of the second century at the earliest.

NTTC MATTHEW 1:1: The Gospel According to Matthew and the Nomina Sacra

It is difficult to say whether the nomina sacra were first written with the suspended form and then later with the contracted form, or vice versa. In arguing for the suspended form, it could be said that several early manuscripts show the suspended form. However, one of the earliest Christian manuscripts, P. Chester Beatty VI, shows the contracted form, as do several other early Christian manuscripts. The suspended form of abbreviation was very common in both documentary and literary works from the first century BC on into the second century AD. McNamee wrote, “Methods of abbreviation throughout [this] period covered are the same in literary as in documentary papyri. The most common means was suspension, in which one or more letters were omitted from the end of a word.”

If the prevailing practice of suspended abbreviations in the papyri was a primary influence on the formation of the Christian nomina sacra, then the suspended forms came first. If so, it is possible that scribes found these to be impracticable from a grammatical perspective inasmuch as the suspended form could not denote grammatical function. As such, the suspended form ΙΗ may have been elongated to ΙΗΣ (nominative), ΙΗΥ (genitive), and ΙΗΝ (accusative), thereby creating a contracted form. However, this phenomenon can be argued only for “Jesus.” None of the other divine names went in this direction orthographically.

It could be argued that the contracted form (which allows for grammatical denotation from the onset) was primary—written either in short form (using the first letter and last) or longer form (using the first two letters and last). The contracted form was also used for abbreviations in the hellenistic writings of the first century AD, though not as extensively as the suspended form. Certain Christian scribes could have emulated this practice from the contemporary literature. Or, more likely, the contracted form could have been modeled after the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH. Since the contracted form is the prevailing form for all the primary nomina sacra (only “Jesus” and “Christ” appear in suspended form), it stands to reason that this form was primary and the suspended secondary. But I cannot be dogmatic about this.

A few other terms may have been written as nomina sacra in the original writings or, at least, in the very earliest copies the Greek words for “cross” (stauros) and “crucify” (stauromai) were written as nomina sacra. I say this because these words were written as nomina sacra in the earliest New Testament manuscripts (P45, P46, P47, P66, P75). In due course two other divine names began to appear as nomina sacra: Father and Son. “Father” was contracted by using the first letter and last letter of ΠΑΤΗΡ as ΠΡ, and Son (υιος) was contracted as ΥΣ. These two divine names were sometimes written out in full (plene) and sometimes written as nomina sacra in the early manuscripts. And sometimes there was discrepancy within the same manuscript. Thus, we can tell that these two titles were probably not written as nomina sacra in the original manuscripts but were a later development. Beginning in the second and third centuries some other titles were treated as nomina sacra—namely, “Son of Man,” “Israel,” “Jerusalem,” and “Christian.” In the fourth century, a few manuscripts (such as the well-known Codex Sinaiticus) display “mother,” “David,” and “Savior” as nomina sacra. Most of these will be discussed later.

As noted before, it is easy to spot any of the nomina sacra on the page of a Greek New Testament manuscript (see on pages 140 and 148) or a Christian Greek Old Testament manuscript (see photo of Ezekiel on p. 173) by looking for the overbars. The special written forms of the nomina sacra would not be enigmatic to Christian readers; they could easily decipher them. In fact, these forms would heighten their importance in the text and prompt the readers (lectors) to give them special attention when reading the text aloud to the congregation.

Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

Making a name a nomen sacrum desecularized the term, lifting it to sacred status. For example, scribes could differentiate between “the Lord” and “lord”/“sir”/“master” by writing ΚΣ or κυριος (plene), and they could distinguish between “Spirit” (the divine Spirit) and “spirit” (the human spirit) by writing the first as a nomen sacrum and any other kind of spirit as pneuma (in plene). The term pneuma in ordinary, secular Greek meant “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” Writing it as a nomen sacrum signaled that this was the divine Spirit. Scribes also uplifted the ordinary terms “cross” and “crucify” by making them nomina sacra. In this written form, they signaled Jesus’ cross and crucifixion, the means by which all Christians are saved from sin.

The early Christian writers (and/or compilers of the first authoritative copies of the Scriptures) chose not to use a nomen sacrum for “Savior” in New Testament texts. This is puzzling, especially since the Greek term for “Savior” (sōtēr) was used for military heroes and Caesars. The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BAGD, 801) says that the term was “applied to personalities who [were] active in the world’s affairs, in order to remove them from the ranks of ordinary humankind and place them in a significantly higher position. So it is when Epicurus is called sōtēr by his followers.… Of much greater import is the designation of the (deified) ruler as sōtēr (such as Ptolemy) and often in later times of the Roman emperors as well.” I would think what Christians would have wanted to make sōtēr a nomen sacrum so as to differentiate Jesus the Savior from these glorified mortals. However, not one of the earliest New Testament manuscripts (second and third century) show the title written as a nomen sacrum; it is always written out in plene. (This shows, by the way, that the nomina sacra were not created by the whims and vagaries of individual scribes.) Sometime in the first century, someone (or some group) created a system that was followed thereafter.

Two early Christian writings may have a nomen sacrum for “Savior.” The first is P. Geneva 253, a theological homily dated to the end of the second century. The editor of this papyrus, Jean Rudhardt, reconstructed the manuscript to show sōtēr (the genitive of sōtēr) written twice as a nomen sacrum in the form ΣΣ. My own examination of the photographs gives me pause about these two identifications. The first occurrence of the nomen sacrum is broken for the first letter and could just as likely be a nomen sacrum for theos or even kurios. As for the second occurrence, the first letter looks much closer to being a theta than a sigma; if so, the nomen sacrum is for theos. Another noncanonical manuscript, P. Oxyrhynchus 840 (fourth century), unquestionably has a nomen sacrum for “Savior.”

I would conjecture that sōtēr was not made a nomen sacrum in New Testament manuscripts because it could be confused with stauros (cross) in various grammatical, written forms, when written as a nomen sacrum. To be specific, the genitive form of sōtēr, sōtēr could be written as ΣΤΡΣ in shortened form. But this could be mixed up with the nominative form of stauros (cross), which is also written the same. (See 1 Cor. 1:17 in P46 for the nominative form of stauros written as ΣΤΡΣ.) Since stauros was one of the principal nomen sacrum for Christians, it took precedence over sōtēr. Thus, not one extant canonical New Testament manuscript has a nomen sacrum for “Savior.”

One other significant title was excluded from the canon of nomina sacra—namely, “King.” In not one canonical New Testament manuscript is “King” (basileūs) ever written as a nomen sacrum. The noncanonical Gospel fragment, P. Egerton 2, has one instance of “King” written as a nomen sacrum, and so does, perhaps, one fourth-century liturgical work (P. Oxyrhynchus 2068).

The inclusion of certain titles and exclusion of others is significant, for it shows that there was some kind of universal recognition among Christian scribes as to which terms were to be written as a nomen sacrum and which ones were not. This points to an early standard or what could be called an early canon for acceptable and non-acceptable nomina sacra.

When one studies the extant Christian manuscripts, a general chronological evolution of which names were written as nomina sacra and which were not emerges. First, the name Kurios (Lord) was chosen and/or Iēsous (Jesus). These two were soon followed by Christos (Christ), theos (God), and pneuma (Spirit). These five were primary nomina sacra by the beginning of the second century. The noun for “cross” and the verb for “crucify” were also dignified as nomina sacra by the beginning of the second century. From the beginning of the second century and into the third, other names were experimented with: anthropos (man), Patēr (Father), huios (Son), Ierousalem (Jerusalem), Israēl (Israel), and ouranos (heaven). Some scribes treated them as a nomen sacrum; others did not. Some scribes in the same manuscript treated them both as nomina sacra and not as such. By the time we get to the fourth century, some experimentation is still going on (as in Codex Sinaiticus), but—for the most part—there seems to be a conscious effort to limit the nomina sacra to Lord, Jesus, Christ, and God, as in Codex Vaticanus.

The Origin of the Nomina Sacra by Philip W. Comfort

Thus far, we have been exploring the earliest names that Christians chose to designate as nomina sacra. We have also been looking at the various forms in which they were written, as well as the various manuscripts in which they appear. Throughout the course of this discussion, one could not help asking how the nomina sacra were created—why and when? The answers are close within grasp but still evanescent. We have several clues, but definitive proof eludes us. Nonetheless, the origin of the New Testament nomina sacra is well worth exploring.

In my estimation, the nomina sacra originated for one of two reasons: (1) a scribe or scribes (whether Jewish Christian or Gentile Christian) created a nomen sacrum form for kurios (Lord), reflecting knowledge of and purposeful distinction from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH; or (2) a scribe or scribes (whether Jewish Christian or Gentile Christian) created a nomen sacrum form for kurios (Lord), reflecting knowledge of and purposeful distinction from the presence of kurios in hellenistic literature as describing a particular god or Ceasar. In the second option, the creation of the nomen sacrum could have also been for theos for the same reasons. Let’s explore both options.

Kurios (ΚΣ) in Relation to the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH

The Scriptures make clear that the name and person of God are inseparably related, in keeping with the biblical concept of what a name signifies. In the Hebrew language, the term for “name” most probably meant “sign” or “distinctive mark.” In the Greek language, “name” (onoma) is derived from a verb that means “to know.” A name, therefore, indicates that by which a person or thing is known. In biblical times, names were given in order to express something about a person or to express something through him, and not simply to hang a convenient label around his or her neck. Names were given to reveal the nature of the person, his function, or some other significant thing about him. A prime example of this is the name Jesus (Matt. 1:21), meaning “Yahweh the Savior” or “Yahweh saves,” for his mission was to save the world from sin.

The Jews have always had great respect for the name of God, and so have Christians. Both revere the same God, but they know him by different names; this means they recognize different revelations of his person. The Jews call God by the names El, Elohim, and Adonai. And above all, they recognize God as Yahweh, the I AM WHO I AM, but they dare not utter this name or even write it in full. The Christians recognize God as Creator, Lord, and Father. And above all, they recognize God as Jesus. This is where Jews and Christians divide. The Jews believe that Yahweh has always been the eternal, divine, transcendent God. Christians believe that Yahweh became incarnate; he is Jesus (Yahweh the Savior), the Christ, the Son of God, even God himself. The same reverential respect that Jews give to Yahweh, Christians give to Jesus. Christians, however, take great delight in uttering his name. Just read the New Testament, and you will see how often the early Christians called upon the name of Jesus.

The early Christians proclaimed Jesus’ name, preached his name, and healed the sick by the power of his name (see Acts 4:7–18; 8:12; 9:28). They were willing to suffer for his name (see Acts 5:28, 40; 15:26) and even the for his name (see Acts 21:13). Often the New Testament writers didn’t even need to identify his name. Rather, they would simply say “the Name,” and every Christian reader would know whose name they meant—the name, Jesus Christ (see Acts 5:31; Heb. 1:4; 6:10; 13:15; James 2:7; 1 John 2:12; 3 John 7).

To the Jews, one name and one name only was sacred: Yahweh. This name was so sacred to them that they refused to utter it or even spell it out in full when they made copies of Scripture. So, they wrote it in a special way—as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH in archaic Hebrew script. To the Christians, the primary names and titles of Jesus were sacred. This included his personal name, “Jesus”; his primary title, “the Christ”; his sovereign identity, “the Lord”; and his divine identity, “God.” The earliest believers also considered another title to be sacred, “the Spirit,” because this Spirit was none other than the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Unlike the Jews, the earliest Christians did not refrain from uttering these names. However, like the Jews, they chose to write them in a very special way when these names were used in Scriptures. It is quite likely that the Christian use of the nomina sacra was directly related to the Jews’ creation of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, for Yahweh; and in this regard, it is very likely that the first of the nomina sacra was ΚΣ for kurios (Lord).

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

In the Hebrew language, four consonants יהוה—YHWH, pronounced “Yahweh,” represent what the Bible identifies as the essential name of God. These four consonants of God’s name are called the Tetragrammaton or Tetragram (from the Greek tetra, “four,” and gramma, “a letter of the alphabet”). These letters are the Hebrew equivalents of English Y (or J), H, W, and H. The most widely accepted meaning of the name is “the one who is, that is, the absolute and unchangeable one.” By this name God made himself known to Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:14). Unlike the general Old Testament word for God (elohim), this essential name conveys a dynamic personality. In Exodus 3:14 God tells Moses, “I am who I am.” This is not merely the equivalent of the English “I am he who is.” Rather, the words denote one whose absolute uniqueness requires his defining himself by himself. The expression conveys the sense of a vitally real being, as if God had said to Moses, “I really am!”

Another meaning of the name is that of a creative, redeeming Savior. The Hebrew verb “to be” does not simply speak of static existence; rather, it shows a personal presence involved with a people’s need for deliverance. The God of Israel saw his people’s afflictions and acted on their behalf to give them freedom. The verbs used in conjunction with the Tetragrammaton are dynamic, never static. In the encounter at the bush, Moses learned that his God was really present to help. Some have therefore suggested that Exodus 3:14 be translated, “I-Am-Present is what I am.” This name—the name YHWH—appears in the Ten Commandments. The Jews were explicitly commanded not to take this name in vain (Exod. 20:2, 7). There is also a stern prohibition in Leviticus 24:16, “He that names the name of Yahweh shall surely be put to death.” This warning against a vain or blasphemous use of the name was taken in an absolute sense, especially after Israel’s deportation to Babylon—a punishment for their idolatry (Amos 6:10). Consequently, when reading the Old Testament, the Jews substituted Adonai (“Lord”) for Yahweh. Thus, the Jews completely avoided uttering his name by always saying Adonai in place of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH.

In the written Hebrew text, however, the name remained written as YHWH. Jewish scribes, from ancient times, took great care in writing this sacred name in just this way. Generation after generation of Jewish scribes even formed the letters exactly the same—in paleo-Hebrew script—even when the rest of Hebrew handwriting changed throughout the ages. They believed what the ancient formation of the letters dated to the time when Moses himself first wrote them. Several of the Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts (produced between the first century BC and the first century AD) show the paleo-Hebrew script for the Tetragrammaton. For example, this ancient form can be seen in the manuscript 1QpHabakkuk.

When the Jews started to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, they persisted in using the Hebrew Tetragrammaton wherever the name Yahweh appeared. This means what the Jewish scribe switched from Greek to Hebrew whenever he came to the sacred name, and men he would write it in an allotted space from right to left (as is done in writing Hebrew). This can be seen, for example, in P. Oxyrhynchus 3522 (first century AD), which preserves a portion of (Job 42:11–12). The scribe wrote first in Greek, then in Hebrew, when he copied the divine name. In the space alloted, he wrote from right to left, fitting in the Tetragrammaton (in paleo-Hebrew script) between the Greek words. It can also be seen in the Habakkuk manuscript from Kirbet Mird, as well as in the Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Nahal Hever (8HevXIIgr). Scribes purposely left a space open for the Tetragrammaton and then filled it in with the Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew letters. In Papyrus Fouad 266 (Deuteronomy, first century BC), the Greek scribe left open large spaces for the Tetragrammaton, each of which is indicated by a raised dot on each side of the space. The Tetragrammaton YHWH was added later (perhaps by a different scribe).

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

According to Origen (in his commentary On Psalms, 2:2), the Tetragrammaton was still written in paleo-Hebrew letters in Aquila’s Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced in the first or second century AD. It is also likely that the original translators of the Septuagint used the Hebrew Tetragrammaton for YHWH, although later copies of the Septuagint show that scribes started to use kurios (Lord) as a surrogate. We know that Jews substituted Adonai (meaning “Lord”) for YHWH when they read the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew text. It is also likely that they substituted kurios (the Greek form for “Lord”—kurios) when they were reading the Greek text to a Greek-speaking audience. Origen (in his commentary on Psalms 2:2) tells us of both practices. Examples of kurios used for Yahweh can be found in the writings of Philo and in the Wisdom of Solomon (see 1:1, 7, 9; 2:13). Josephus remarked that the early Jews refused to call the emperor kurios because they regarded it as a name reserved for God (Jewish War 7.10.1).

In short, Greek-speaking Jews both wrote and spoke kurios in place of YHWH. As such, the written name kurios took on a whole new aura of significance. When Jews became Christians, they heard and/or read kurios in Old Testament texts, knowing that it was a substitute for YHWH, a special graphic form for the divine name. Knowing this, it could have dawned on some early Jewish-Christian scribe and/or a Gentile Christian scribe familiar with the special orthography, while making a copy of an Old Testament Greek text or putting together several Old Testament messianic proof texts (called “testimonia”), to come up with a special way of writing the divine name kurios in Greek. The result was ΚΣ, a contracted form, using the first and last letters of kurios.

Interestingly, a transitional stage—between writing YHWH and ΚΣ—can be witnessed in P. Oxyrhynchus 656 (Genesis). (Though this codex is dated to the second century AD, it probably reflects earlier practice.) In any event, the original scribe left a four-letter space open in four occurrences where the name “Lord” would appear, presumably for someone else to fill in the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew. But it was not filled in with the Tetragrammaton. Instead, the divine name was squeezed in by another scribe with the name κυριος. Evidently, there was no one qualified to fill in the space with the archaic-Hebrew form, so it was filled in with the Greek surrogate.

The question remains: who produced this manuscript? A Jew or a Christian? If this manuscript had been produced by a Christian, we would expect to see a nomen sacrum here—namely, ΚΣ. But if the manuscript was produced by a Jew, we would expect to see it in scroll form, not codex. Either way, the manuscript could give us a glimpse as to how the nomen sacrum for kurios may have been originally created—even a century earlier.

One probable scenario is as follows: A certain Greek-speaking Christian (perhaps formerly a Jew) copied a Greek Old Testament text and left open four letter spaces, where appropriate, for someone else (presumably knowledgeable in Hebrew) to fill it in with the well-established Hebrew Tetragrammaton. Another Greek-speaking Christian came along and decided to use a different form for this name—one distinct from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton—when he filled in the name for the Lord. Instead of using YHWH, or even squeezing in κυριος (as did the second scribe for P. Oxyrhynchus 656), he wrote the nomen sacrum: ΚΣ.

Harry Gamble, following G. Howard, reconstructed a similar scenario for the creation of the nomina sacra:

The ability to set off the divine name in Christian manuscripts of Septuagintal texts, not by continuing to write it in Hebrew as Jews did but in some other way, must have occurred early to Greek-speaking Christian scribes copying Jewish manuscripts. The contracted forms of theos and kyrios probably derive, as G. Howard supposes, from Gentile Christians who, lacking the support of the Jewish tradition for retaining the Tetragram in (Greek) Christian copies of Jewish texts, adopted instead clearly designated contractions of Greek equivalents “out of deference to the Jewish Christians, to mark the sacredness of the divine name which stood behind these surrogates.” The principle, used at first with respect to texts of Jewish scripture, would have been extended under christological war rants to the further names, Jesus and Christ, in Christian documents.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

It must be kept in mind that Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) would have first used the nomina sacra in Greek Old Testament texts, and then transferred this practice to New Testament manuscripts. These Old Testament writings could have been books of the Old Testament with continuous text (i.e., all of Exodus or all of the Psalms). It is also possible that these Old Testament writings were collections of testimonia—i.e., excerpts of Old Testament passages (with commentary) that Christians compiled as proof texts for Christian claims and that the early Christian writers used for providing quotations in their writings, such as we see in Matthew’s Gospel.

We know that the Jews at Qumran assembled collections of texts with messianic implications. This can be seen in 4QTestimonia (a compilation of five scriptural texts with messianic significance—namely, Deut. 5:28; 18:18–19; Num. 24:15–17; Deut. 33:8–11; Josh. 6:26) and perhaps 4QFlorilegium (having three texts concerning eschatological figures—as found in 2 Sam. 7:10–14; Psalm 1:1; Psalm 2). As to collections produced by Christians, one clear example is P. Rylands Greek 460, which C. H. Roberts (the editor of the editio principes) regarded as preserving portions of a Christian book of testimonia—namely, Isaiah 42:3–4; 66:18–19; 52:15; 53:1–3, 6–7, 11–12 (an unknown verse); Genesis 26:13–14; 2 Chronicles 1:12; Deuteronomy 29:8–11.

It is very likely that these kinds of testimonia books, existing in the very earliest years of the Christian church, aided the believers by providing a collection of Old Testament prophecies that were used to prove Jesus was the Messiah. These would have been the earliest written documents that the church would use both in preaching the gospel and in writing the New Testament Scriptures. As such, if the nomina sacra for “Lord” (and perhaps “God”) were introduced in this early stage of Christian writings (that is, in the Old Testament quotations, ΚΣ would replace YHWH), then it would stand to reason that it would be carried over into the Gospel texts by the original writers. As for now, the earliest extant testimony for the nomina sacra does not come from the Testimonia but from continuous Old Testament texts—namely P. Chester Beatty VI (dated 100–120) and P. Baden IV. 56 (early second century)—and from the earliest New Testament manuscripts—such as P4+64+67 (150–175) and P66 (mid-second century, which happens to share most of the same nomina sacra forms as Chester Beatty VI).

Regardless of whether the nomina sacra were invented in the testimonia stage or in early Christian Greek Old Testament manuscripts (i.e., first century), the significance is that they may have existed in written form before the Gospels and Epistles were written. As such, some of the New Testament writers themselves could have adopted these forms when they wrote their books. The presence of the nomina sacra in all the earliest extant Christian manuscripts (both of the Old Testament and the New), dating from the early second century, necessitates that it was a widespread practice established much earlier. If we can place the origin of that practice to the autographs and/or early publications of the New Testament writings, it explains the universal proliferation thereafter.

In conclusion, it must be noted that though inspired by the Tetragrammaton, the written form of the Christian nomen sacrum for “Lord” was a unique creation. Nowhere did the Jews use an overbar for the sacred name. And in no way did the Christian writers simply imitate the consonantal form of YHWH; otherwise, they would have written ΚΡΣ. However, not one early Greek Christian manuscript has the name written in this way; all manuscripts exhibit the two-letter ΚΣ …

Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 199-211.

The Epistle to the Hebrews PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

Here we can see second-century Christianity in their move to distance themselves from Judaism, by not adopting the same practice, even though it is likely that many of the Christian copyists were Jewish. In other words, “a scribe or scribes (whether Jewish Christian or Gentile Christian) created a nomen sacrum form for kurios (Lord), reflecting knowledge of and purposeful distinction from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH.”[7] At the beginning of the second century C.E., there were a number of things beginning to take place. (1) Judaism wanted to separate itself from Christianity. (2) Christianity wanted to distance itself from Judaism. (3) The Jews were starting to replace the Tetragrammaton (יהוה, JHVH) with ’Adhonai´ (Lord), as they felt the divine name was too sacred to pronounce. (4) Christians began the transition of Lord (κυριος, kurios), written as  being first in the line of the nomina sacra that was to come.

THE UNKNOWN GOSPEL

This practice by the Christian scribes followed the custom of the Jewish scribes and their rendering of the Tetragrammaton or sacred name יהוה [JHVH] in Greek by the words kyrios (“Lord”) without the definite article and theos (“God”) with only the first and last letters written and a stroke above them. However, P4+P64+P67 dates to (150-175 C.E.), P32 dates to (150-200 C.E.), P46 dates to 150 C.E.), P66 dates to about (150 C.E.), P75 dates to about (175 C.E.), and P90 dates to (150-200 C.E.). This means that the nomina sacra for Lord, Jesus, Christ, God, and Spirit are standard by 150 C.E. Which would suggest that, after the death of the last apostle John died in about 100 C.E., more than just division started to set in, as the apostles had really served as a restraint against the great apostasy that was about to come. Now, this little excursion into an area that might seem totally unrelated is just to say, we cannot know what the authors penned in their autographs, nor the first generation of copyists, based on mid-late second-century manuscripts. Why? The phenomena of the standardization of the nomina sacra only need about fifty-years to take place. Of course, John wrote his Gospel and three letters between 96-98 C.E. so we can say that his writings would have been closest. The other books all date before 70 C.E.

Egerton Papyrus 2 Recto OKC

Again, the first four nominal sacra were (‘Jesus,’ ‘God,’ ‘Lord,’ and ‘Christ’) in the earliest extant manuscripts that we have. It is possible that the personal name of the Father, Jehovah, could be designated in the Greek as OKCandθCand were the first attempts at the nomina sacra. (Nomina Sacra, by Traube, III, i, p. 32.) The Christian scribes soon thereafter expanded the list of abbreviations that included the following: OKC ho kyrios with a definite article applying to Jesus, not the Father? Followed by (IH) (Iesous, Jesus). Was the initial attempt with OKCthe title for the father replacing the Tetragrammaton or sacred name יהוה in Greek without the definite article? Also,θC, the title for the father replacing the Tetragrammaton or sacred name יהוה in Greek? In addition, we have PRA (patera, father) and Moses(Moÿses, Moses). (Fragments of an Unknown Gospel, by Bell and Skeat, p. 2.) It is certainly an anomaly that we find Moses’ name abbreviated by suspension (the first two letters) here in P Egerton 2 similar to how Jesus’ name is treated. Comfort writes, “Scattered across the pages of nearly every extant Greek New Testament manuscript can be seen the following nomina sacra.” (Encountering the Manuscripts, 2005, 199). The contraction or suspended word would have a bar over it.

ΚΣ for κυριος (Kurios) = Lord
ΙΗ or ΙΗΣ for ιησους (lēsous) = Jesus
ΧΡ or ΧΣ or ΧΡΣ for χριστος (Christos) = Christ
ΘΣ for θεος (theos) = God
ΠΝΑ for πνευμα (pneuma) = Spirit

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

George Howard argues that κς (κύριος) and θς (θεός) were the initial nomina sacra, created by non-Jewish Christian scribes who “found no traditional reasons to preserve the Tetragrammaton” in copies of the Septuagint. Larry W. Hurtado, following Colin Roberts, rejects that claim in favor of the theory that the first was ιη (Ἰησσῦς), as suggested in the Epistle of Barnabas, followed by the analogous χρ (Χριστός), and later by κς and θς, at about the time when the contracted forms ις and χς were adopted for the first two. It is possible that the personal name of the Father, Jehovah, could be designated in the Greek as κς (κύριος) and θς (θεός) and were the first attempts at the nomina sacra. Reiterating, Comfort writes,

The nomina sacra are also present in Greek Old Testament manuscripts and other Christian writings produced by Christians. This includes several second-century manuscripts noted below:

P. Chester Beatty VI, Numbers, Deuteronomy
P. Baden 4.56 (P. Heidelberg inv. 8), Exodus and Deuteronomy
P. Antinoopolis 7, Psalms
PSI 921, Psalms
P. Oxyrhynchus 1074, Exodus
P. Chester Beatty Papyrus VIII, Jeremiah
P. Chester Beatty Papyrus IX, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther

Other Christian writings also use nomina sacra:

P. Geneva 253, Christian homily
P. Egerton 2, Unknown Gospel
P. Oxyrhynchus 405, fragment of Irenaeus
P. Oxyrhynchus 406, Christian homily

PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

One of the main reasons we know that the Old Testament manuscripts are Christian manuscripts and not Jewish is the presence of nomina sacra in the text. Significantly, not one copy of the Greek Old Testament found at Qumran has these nomina sacra because this was a Jewish, not a Christian community. Jews never wrote nomina sacra the way Christians did; the Jews did things differently, for one divine name and one divine name only: Yahweh. Jewish scribes would frequently write this in its Hebrew contracted form (even in paleo-Hebrew letters) and then continue on with the Greek text. Christians used κυριος (kurios = Lord) in place of Yahweh (YHWH) and wrote it in nomen sacrum form. Many Greek Old Testament manuscripts produced by Christians display this nomen sacrum. This can be seen in all six second-century Greek Old Testament manuscripts noted above. – Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 202.

Egerton Papyrus 2 (150 C.E.) Verso Moses Father

Take a look at the image below at “1 verso” and note PRA in line 12, Moses in line 13 and θC in line 16. Next look at “1 recto” and note OKC in line 9 and (IH) in line 12. However, we do not have Kyrios without the definite article, which would apply to the Father in the fragments. Really, we can say that it is likely that 150 C.E. was entering the time of standardization of the nomina sacra that would grow in sacred names and words.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, was a British palaeographer and biblical and classical scholar, comments on these fragments. “They contain four episodes in the life of our Lord, told quite simply, and therefore unlike the exaggerated and fanciful style of later apocryphal gospels, and in language showing strong affinities, sometimes with the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and sometimes with the Fourth Gospel (John). The exact wording is often left doubtful by the mutilation of the papyrus, but the main drift of three out of the four episodes is clear.” (The Bible and Archaeology, 1940, by Sir Frederic Kenyon, pp. 216, 217.) The superior verse below provided by Edward D. Andrews into Bell and Skeat’s translation is his notes indicating those portions paralleled in the Biblical accounts.)

Egerton Gospel Translation

The Unknown Gospel Egerton Papyrus 2 + Cologne Papyrus 255 Fragment 1: Verso (?)

. . . ? And Jesus said] unto the lawyers, [? Punish] every wrongdoer and transgessor, and not me; . . . . . And turning to the rulers of the people he spake this saying, Search the scriptures, in which ye think that ye have life; these are they which bear witness of me. [John 5:39.] Think not that I came to accuse you to my Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye have set your hope. [John 5:45] And when they said, We know well that God spake unto Moses, but as for thee, we know not whence thou art, [John 9:29] Jesus answered and said unto them, Now is your unbelief accused …

Fragment 1: Recto (?)

… ? they gave counsel to] the multitude to [? carry the] stones together and stone him. [John 8:59; 10:31] And the rulers sought to lay their hands on him that they might take him and [? hand him over] to the multitude; and they could not take him, because the hour of his betrayal was not yet come. [John 7:30] But he himself, even the Lord, going out through the midst of them, departed from them. [Luke 4:30] And behold, there cometh unto him a leper and saith, Master Jesus, journeying with lepers and eating with them in the inn I myself also became a leper. If therefore thou wilt, I am made clean. The Lord then said unto him, I will; be thou made clean. And straightway the leprosy departed from him. [And the Lord said unto him], Go [and shew thyself] unto the [priests . . .

Fragment 2: Recto (?)

. . . coming unto him began to tempt him with a question, saying, Master Jesus, we know that thou art come from God, [John 3:2; Matt. 22:16] for the things which thou doest testify above all the prophets. [John 10:25] Tell us therefore: Is it lawful [? to render] unto kings that which pertaineth unto their rule? [Shall we render unto them], or not? [Matt. 22:17] But Jesus, knowing their thought, [Matt. 9:4] being moved with indignation, said unto them, Why call ye me with your mouth Master, when ye hear not what I say? [Luke 6:46] Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, [teaching as their doctrines the] precepts [of men] [Matt. 15:7-9] . . .

Fragment 2: Verso (?)

. . . shut up . . . in . . . place . . . its weight unweighed? And when they were perplexed at his strange question, Jesus, as he walked, stood still on the edge of the river Jordan, and stretching forth his right hand he . . . and sprinkled it upon the . . . And then . . . water that had been sprinkled . . . before them and sent forth fruit . . . Translation reprinted from: H.I. Bell and T.C. Skeat, Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and Other Early Christian Papyri (London: Oxford University Press, 1935).

Dating the Manuscript

Papyrus Köln 255, University of Cologne

The date of the manuscript is established on paleography alone. When the Egerton fragments were first published its date was estimated at around 150 CE; (Bell, Idris and Skeat, T.C. Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and other Early Christian Papyri. Oxford, OUP, 1935.) implying that of early Christian papyri it would be rivaled in age only by P52, the John Rylands Library fragment of the Gospel of John. Later, when an additional papyrus fragment of the Egerton Gospel text was identified in the University of Cologne collection (Papyrus Köln 255) and published in 1987, it was found to fit on the bottom of one of the British Library papyrus pages. In this additional fragment, a single use of a hooked apostrophe in between two consonants was observed, a practice that became standard in Greek punctuation at the beginning of the 3rd century; and this sufficed for some to revise the date of the Egerton manuscript. This study placed the manuscript to around the time of Bodmer Papyri P66, noting that Eric Turner had confirmed the paleographic dating of P66 as around 200 A.D., citing use of the hooked apostrophe in that papyrus in support of this date. However, this author and others would date P66 to c. 150 A.D. – Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts Vol. I (Gran Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 353.

Papyrus 52 (P52) and the Nomina Sacra

PAPYRUS 52 (P52) and the Nomina Sacra Part II

Michael Gronewald argues that P52 should be dated no earlier than 200 C.E. based on his analysis of P.Köln VI 255, using the hooked apostrophe in recto line 3 to support his redating of P52. To reinforce this argument Gronewald turned to a comment by Eric Gardner Turner an English papyrologist in Greek Manuscripts, suggesting with certainty (certainty when it suits them) that the apostrophe between mute consonants (e.g., lamb) was a feature of the third-century (200-300) C.E. However, Turner actually said, “In the first decade of iii AD this practice [using an apostrophe between two consonants] suddenly becomes extremely common and then persists.” Notice here what Turner does not say, he was not saying that this practice was not taking place in the second century at all but rather it became “extremely common and then persists” in the third century. Then Turner goes on to give examples of using a hooked apostrophe between two consonants from the second century: BGU III 715.5 (101 A.D.) and P.Petaus 86.11 (184/85 A.D.) and SB XIV 11342.11 (193 A.D.). Even P66 that has been dated to 150-200 A.D. has a hooked apostrophe between two consonants, αγ’γελους. Turner states, this practice of a hooked apostrophe between two consonants “is not normally written in documents till iii AD” – Turner, Greek Manuscripts, 108. (bold and underline mine)

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

The revised dating for the Egerton Papyrus 2 continues to carry wide support among most of the new textual scholars. However, Stanley Porter has reviewed the dating of the Egerton Papyrus 2 alongside that of P52; noting that the scholarly consensus dating the former to the turn of the third century and the latter to the first half of the second century was contra-indicated by close paleographic similarities of the two manuscripts. (Porter, Stanley E. (2013) “Recent efforts to Reconstruct Early Christianity on the Basis of its Papyrological Evidence” in Christian Origins and Graeco-Roman Culture, Eds. Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitts, Leiden, Brill, pp 71–84.) The 1987 redating of the Egerton Papyrus had rested on a comment made by Eric Turner in 1971 (albeit that Turner himself had continued until his death in 1983 to accept a mid-second century date for the Egerton Papyrus), “in the first decade of III AD this practice (of using an apostrophe between two consonants, such as double mutes or double liquids) suddenly becomes extremely common, and then persists.” (Eric G Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, Oxford, OUP, 1971, p11 n50) Porter notes that Turner had then nevertheless advanced several earlier dated examples of the practice from the later second century, and one (BGU III 715.5) dated to 101 CE. Porter proposes that, notwithstanding the discovery of the hooked apostrophe in P. Köln 255, the original editors’ proposal of a mid-second century date for the Egerton Papyrus accords better with the paleographic evidence of dated comparator documentary and literary hands for both P52 and this papyrus “the middle of the second century, perhaps tending towards the early part of it.”

Simon Gathercole, The Earliest Manuscript Title of Matthew’s Gospel, Novum Testamentum 54 (2012) 209 -235

Article Abstract: A flyleaf bearing the title of Matthew’s gospel, found with the Luke fragments of P4 (henceforth P4), has been neglected in studies of P4 as well as in editions of the Greek New Testament. This article publishes for the first time a photograph of the flyleaf, and seeks to provide an accurate transcription of the often misspelled title. It also discusses the various factors impinging upon the date of the fragment, such as the Philo codex in which it was found and the apostrophe in the middle of Matthew’s name. A date in the late second or early third century makes best sense of the evidence, making this neglected flyfleaf the earliest manuscript title of Matthew’s gospel. Within this article is a lengthy discussion about the scribal habit of using an apostrophe between two consonants that was developing in the second century and became “extremely common and then persists” in the third century. This ties in with our discussion here in P. Egerton 2, the Unknown Gospel, and the redating of P52. Simon Gathercole’s article is excellent and very objective but I feel some observations need to be made. Thus, below are highlights from his article along with my responses

ARTICLE QUOTE: Turner and Parsons have commented: “In the first decade of iii A.D. this practice suddenly becomes extremely common and then persists.” (Page 227).

ARTICLE QUOTE: Oxford Handbook of Papyrology remarking that “in the third century CE, the habit arose of placing an apostrophe between doubled mutes or liquids,” (Page 228).

RESPONSE: Turner said, “In the first decade of iii AD this practice [using an apostrophe between two consonants] suddenly becomes extremely common and then persists.” Notice here what Turner does not say, he was not saying that this practice was not taking place in the second century at all but rather it became “extremely common and then persists” in the third century. Then Turner goes on to give examples of using a hooked apostrophe between two consonants from the second century.

ARTICLE QUOTE: Comfort and Barrett are the two scholars (writing collaboratively) who have ventured to question the consensus view. As a result of some of these considerations outlined above, they remark: “This title sheet was probably produced around a.d. 175-200 because that is when it became stylish for scribes to insert a hooked comma (apostrophe) between double consonants—as here, between the thetas.” (Page 230).

RESPONSE: Gathercole is about to question the wording from Comfort, “it became stylish.” But notice turner again arguing for the third century, [became “extremely common and then persists”] and now Comfort, “became stylish.” What Comfort meant was that using an apostrophe between two consonants was developing in the second century and Turner is correct that it was in the third century that it became “extremely common and then persists.” I will show this to be true after the next quote.

ARTICLE QUOTE: First, the reasons given by Comfort and Barrett for assigning a probable second century date are clearly problematic. Both the facts and the logic are faulty: it is not really true that the habit “became stylish” in the second century, and even if it had, a particular instance in a particular manuscript cannot with probability be assigned to the time when the habit first became fashionable. (Page 230-1).

RESPONSE: Then, this would be true of when it became “extremely common and then persists” too. I mean really, Comfort is only saying when it was being developed. This, if you argue that it was the third century when using an apostrophe between two consonants became “extremely common and then persists;” then, it only seems like common sense that with numerous examples from the second century, it was developing.

On this Philip Comfort offers us a reasonable view, when he writes,

Turner indicates that another feature began in the early third century, namely, the use of a separating apostrophe between double consonants. Some paleographers of late seem to have adopted this observation as “fact” and thereby date manuscripts having this feature as post AD 200. Some paleographers would even redate manuscripts displaying this feature. For example, Schmidt redates P52 to ca. 200 based on the fact that its hand parallels that of the Egerton Gospel, which is now thought by some to date closer to ca. 200 based on this feature appearing in a newly published portion of the Egerton Gospel. However, I would argue that the previously assigned date of such manuscripts was given by many scholars according to their observations of several paleographic features. Thus, the presence of this particular feature (the hook or apostrophe between double consonants) determines an earlier date for its emergence, not the other way around. Thus, the Egerton Gospel, dated by many to ca. 150, should still stand, and so should the date for P52 (as early second century). Another way to come at this is to look at P66, dated by several scholars to ca. 150 (see discussion below). Turner, however, would date P66 later (early third) largely because of the presence of the hook between double consonants. What I would say is that the predominant dating of P66 (i.e., the dating assigned by most scholars) predetermines the date for this particular feature. Furthermore, there are other manuscripts dated prior to AD 200 that exhibit the apostrophe or hook between double consonants:

1. BGU iii 715.5 (AD 101)
αγ’χωριμφις
2. P. Petaus 86 (= P. Michigan 6871) (AD 185)
αγ’γων
3. SPP xxii 3.22 (second century)
απυγ’χεως
4. P. Berol. 9570 + P. Rylands 60 (dated by the editors of the editio princeps to ca. 200, dated by Cavallo to ca. 50)
φαλαγ’γας[9]

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

ARTICLE QUOTE: In these cases above, the apostrophe is often treated not merely as a deciding factor in favour of a third century hand all other things being equal. Rather, it is regarded by some as alone sufficient to indicate a third century date, and to outweigh the other factors indicating an earlier timeframe. (Page 233).

RESPONSE: Herein lies the problem. Using an apostrophe between two consonants was developing in the second century and became “extremely common and then persists” in the third century, so we ignore the fact that is was developing and existed in the second century and start redating everything based on an apostrophe, even though prior to many scholars for many reasons dated the manuscripts earlier. I will return to this in a moment.

ARTICLE QUOTE: It is extremely difficult to evaluate the relative merits of these arguments. Perhaps one should at most conclude that the appearance of the apostrophe cannot be assigned quite the decisive significance it has had in some recent discussions. On the other side, neither should one rush to argue that an apostrophe is as likely to be second century as third. (Page 233).

RESPONSE: No one is arguing that an apostrophe is as likely, just likely, and when coupled with the other reasons for an early date, the early date should stand.

ARTICLE QUOTE: Overall, the presence of the apostrophe in the flyleaf might well play a role in nudging the date into the third century, but it should not play an absolutely decisive role. (Page 233).

RESPONSE: Agreed. But once again, you had many world-renowned scholars date some manuscripts one way and then based on an apostrophe that was developing and did exist in the second century, they redate because it became “extremely common and then persists” in the third century

ARTICLE QUOTE: The giants in the field of papyrology commonly state that the apostrophe as a consonant divider is a feature almost exclusively belonging to the third century CE and beyond. (Page 227).

RESPONSE: Usually, either side would say this is a fallacy of arguing from authority. But I can say it has to add some weight, but the evidence they present is the real evidence. So, if we are going to argue “giants in the field of papyrology” then let’s do it.

World-Renowned Paleographers and Textual Scholars Date P52 Early

  • 100-150 C.H. Roberts
  • 100-150 Sir Frederic G. Kenyon
  • 100-150 W. Schubart
  • 100-150 Sir Harold I. Bell
  • 100-150 Adolf Deissmann
  • 100-150 E. G. Turner
  • 100-150 Ulrich Wilken
  • 100-150 W. H. P. Hatch
  • 125-175 Kurt and Barbara Aland
  • 100-150: Philip W. Comfort
  • 100-150 Bruce M. Metzger
  • 100-150 Daniel B. Wallace
  • 125-175 Pasquale Orsini
  • 125-175 Willy Clarysse

The New Uncertain and Ambiguous Minded Textual Scholars Date P52

  • 175-225 Brent Nongbri
  • 200-300 Michael Gronewald

English Bible Versions English Bible Versions English Bible Versions

P52 and the Nomina Sacra

Larry W. Hurtado

Whether P52 did or did not have some nomina sacra form of Ιησους is a relatively small matter that can be addressed only on the basis of the sort of highly detailed observations that I have urged here. The larger concern that I underscore here is the importance of following an adequate method in dealing with such questions. My fundamental point is that sound method requires a rather thorough acquaintance with the scribal features of early Christian manuscripts in general, and particular attention to all the scribal features of any manuscript about which we seek to judge probabilities. – P52 (P. RYLANDS GK. 457) AND THE NOMINA SACRA_METHOD AND PROBABILITY

In New Testament textual studies, there are but two ways to make a name for oneself as a textual scholar. (1) The person would have to make a discovery that overwhelms the scholarly world in the extreme. (2) The person has to take a view or a position on something and then go out and find evidence that changes that view or position. Brent Nongbri seems to be trying (2) in his efforts to have his place within the history of New Testament Textual Studies. In 2120, scholars can look back at who changed the dates of the early papyri.

From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts

In Conclusion

In short, concerning the sayings of Jesus that were not part of the canonical Gospels, they can be viewed with mere curiosity because they were not preserved for us through inspiration by NT authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when the canonical Scriptures were being written. They contain no value that would be binding on Christians.

Nevertheless, there is a great value in Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments, just as it true with P52. They serve as an aid in undermining the Bible critics. These critics have long argued that John’s Gospel was not written until 150 C.E. This would mean that it could not have been written by the apostle John who died fifty years earlier in 100 C.E. Since Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments have so many parallel expressions found in John’s Gospel, it strongly indicates that whoever wrote Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments, he was using John’s writing as a source. Then, we have P52, a fragment of John’s Gospel, which has been dated to 100-150 C.E. Thus, the Gospel of John must have been written earlier than 150 C.E. in order for it to have been circulating down in Egypt where the Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments were written about 150 C.E. Therefore, Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments bolstered by the discovery in 1935 of the fragment P52 of John’s Gospel (Papyrus Rylands Gk 457), which also dates likely 110-125 C.E. to give it time to be found in Egypt, confirm the date of the writing of John’s Gospel to be about 96 C.E.

See Also: PAPYRUS 52 (P52): THE “AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY” OF MODERN-DAY EVANGELICAL BIBLE SCHOLARS REDATING EARLY PAPYRI

Attribution: This article incorporates a small portion of text from the public domain: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of Greek Nomina Sacra

English Meaning Greek Word Nominative (Subject) Genitive (Possessive)
God Θεός ΘΣ ΘΥ
Lord Κύριος ΚΣ ΚΥ
Jesus Ἰησοῦς ΙΣ ΙΥ
Christ/Messiah Χριστός ΧΣ ΧΥ
Son Υἱός ΥΣ ΥΥ
Spirit/Ghost Πνεῦμα ΠΝΑ ΠΝΣ
David Δαυὶδ ΔΑΔ  
Cross/Stake Σταυρός ΣΤΣ ΣΤΥ
Mother Μήτηρ ΜΗΡ ΜΗΣ
God Bearer i.e., Mother of God Θεοτόκος ΘΚΣ ΘΚΥ
Father Πατήρ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΣ
Israel Ἰσραήλ ΙΗΛ  
Savior Σωτήρ ΣΗΡ ΣΡΣ
Human being/Man Ἄνθρωπος ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΟΥ
Jerusalem Ἱερουσαλήμ ΙΛΗΜ  
Heaven/Heavens Οὐρανός ΟΥΝΟΣ ΟΥΝΟΥ
 

New Testament Greek Manuscripts Containing
Nomina Sacra (Before 300 CE)

Greek manuscript Manuscript date Nomina sacra used
𝔓1 (P. Oxy. 2)
~250
ΙΥ ΙΣ ΧΥ ΥΥ ΚΥ ΠΝΣ
𝔓4 (Suppl. Gr. 1120)
150–225
ΘΣ ΘΥ ΚΥ ΚΣ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΟΣ ΠΝΑ ΧΣ ΙΥ ΙΣ
𝔓5 (P. Oxy. 208 + 1781)
~250
ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ ΠΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ ΘΥ
𝔓9 (P. Oxy. 402)
~250
ΘΣ ΧΡΣ
𝔓12 (P. Amherst. 3b)
~285
ΘΣ
𝔓13 (P. Oxy. 657 + PSI 1292)
225–250
ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΥ ΘΩ ΙΣ ΙΝ ΙΥ ΚΣ ΚΥ
𝔓15 (P. Oxy. 1008)
200–300
ΚΩ ΚΥ ΧΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΩ ΠΝΑ ΘΝ ΚΜΟΥ
𝔓16 (P. Oxy. 1009)
250–300
ΘΥ ΙΥ ΧΩ
𝔓17 (P. Oxy. 1078)
~300
ΘΩ ΠΝΣ
𝔓18 (P. Oxy. 1079)
250–300
ΙΗ ΧΡ ΘΩ
𝔓20 (P. Oxy. 1171)
200–250
ΠΝΣ ΚΝ ΘΥ
𝔓22 (P. Oxy. 1228)
200–250
ΠΣ ΠΝΑ ΠΡΣ ΠΡΑ ΙΗΣ ΑΝΟΣ
𝔓24 (P. Oxy. 1230)
~300
ΠΝΑ ΘΥ
𝔓27 (P. Oxy. 1395)
200–250
ΘΥ ΚΩ
𝔓28 (P. Oxy. 1596)
255–300
ΙΣ ΙΝ
𝔓29 (P. Oxy. 1597)
200–250
ΘΣ ΘΝ
𝔓30 (P. Oxy. 1598)
200–250
ΚΥ ΚΝ ΘΩ ΙΗΥ
𝔓32 (P. Rylands 5)
150–200
ΘΥ
𝔓35 (PSI 1)
~300
ΚΣ ΚΥ
𝔓37 (P. Mich. Inv. 1570)
~260
ΚΕ ΙΗΣ ΠΝΑ ΙΗΣΥ
𝔓38 (P. Mich. Inv. 1571)
~225
ΧΡΝ ΠΝΑ ΚΥ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΥ ΠΝΤΑ
𝔓39 (P. Oxy. 1780)
200–300
ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΙΗΣ
𝔓40 (P. Heidelberg G. 645)
200–300
ΘΣ ΘΥ ΘΝ ΙΥ ΧΩ ΧΥ
𝔓45 (P. Chester Beatty I)
~250
ΚΕ ΚΣ ΚΝ ΚΥ ΣΡΝΑΙ ΙΗ ΙΥ ΙΗΣ ΠΡ ΠΡΣ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΙ ΘΥ
ΘΝ ΘΩ ΘΣ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ ΠΝΑ ΥΝ ΥΕ ΥΣ ΥΩ ΣΡΝ ΧΥ
𝔓46 (P. Chester Beatty II
+ P. Mich. Inv. 6238)
175–225
ΚΕ ΚΝ ΚΥ ΚΩ ΚΣ ΧΡΩ ΧΡΥ ΧΡΝ ΧΝ ΧΣ ΧΩ ΧΥ ΧΡΣ ΙΗΥ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ ΘΩ ΘΥ ΘΝ ΘΣ

ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ ΥΙΥ ΥΙΝ ΥΙΣ ΥΝ ΣΤΡΕΣ ΣΤΡΝ ΣΤΡΩ ΣΤΡΟΣ ΣΤΡΟΥ ΕΣΤΡΟΝ ΕΣΤΡΑΙ

ΕΣΤΑΝ ΣΤΟΥ ΑΙΜΑ ΑΝΟΥ ΑΝΟΝ ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΟΙΣ ΠΡΙ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ ΙΥ

𝔓47 (P. Chester Beatty III)
200–300
ΘΥ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΩ ΑΘΝ ΚΣ ΚΕ ΚΥ ΕΣΤΡΩ ΠΝΑ ΧΥ ΠΡΣ
𝔓48 (PSI 1165)
200–300
ΥΣ
𝔓49 (P. Yale 415 + 531)
200–300
ΚΩ ΘΥ ΘΣ ΙΥ ΠΝ ΧΣ ΧΥ ΧΩ
𝔓50 (P. Yal 1543)
~300
ΙΛΗΜ ΠΝΑ ΑΝΟΣ ΘΣ ΘΥ
𝔓53 (P. Mich. inv. 6652)
~250
ΠΡΣ ΙΗΣ ΠΕΡ ΚΝ
𝔓64 (Gr. 17)
~150
ΙΣ
𝔓65 (PSI XIV 1373)
~250
ΧΥ ΘΣ
𝔓66 (P. Bodmer II +
Inv. Nr. 4274/4298)
150–200
ΚΣ ΚΥ ΚΕ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΥ ΘΩ ΙΣ ΙΝ ΙΥ ΧΣ ΧΝ ΧΥ ΥΣ ΥΝ ΥΩ ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ

ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ ΠΡΙ ΠΕΡ ΠΡΕΣ ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΟΝ ΑΝΟΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΩ ΑΝΟΙΣ ΑΝΟΥΣ ΣΡΩ ΣΡΟΝ ΣΡΟΥ ΣΡΘΗ ΣΡΑΤΕ ΣΡΩΣΩ ΕΣΡΑΝ ΕΣΡΘΗ

𝔓69 (P. Oxy. 2383)
~200
ΙΗΝ
𝔓70 (P. Oxy. 2384 +
PSI Inv. CNR 419, 420)
250–300
ΥΝ ΙΣ ΠΗΡ
𝔓72 (P. Bodmer VII and VIII)
200–300
ΙΥ ΙΗΥ ΙΗΝ ΧΡΥ ΧΡΝ ΧΡΣ ΧΡΩ ΘΥ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΩ ΠΡΣ ΠΑΡ ΠΤΡΑ ΠΡΙ ΠΝΣ

ΠΝΑ ΠΝΑΙ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΤΙ ΚΥ ΚΣ ΚΝ ΚΩ ΑΝΟΙ

𝔓75 (P. Bodmer XIV and XV) Also
175–225
ΙΣ ΙΗΣ ΙΥ ΙΗΥ ΙΝ ΙΗΝ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΥ ΘΩ ΚΣ ΚΝ ΚΥ ΚΩ ΚΕ ΧΣ ΧΝ ΧΥ

ΠΝΑ ΠΝΣ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΟΣ ΠΝΤΑ ΠΝΑΣΙ ΠΝΑΤΩΝ ΠΡΣ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΙ ΠΡΟΣ ΠΡ

ΥΣ ΥΝ ΥΥ ΙΗΛ ΙΛΗΜ ΣΡΟΝ ΣΤΡΟΝ ΣΡΩΘΗΝΑΙ

ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΟΝ ΑΝΟΥ ΑΝΟΙ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΩ ΑΝΟΥΣ ΑΝΟΙΣ ΑΝΕ

𝔓78 (P. Oxy 2684)
250–300
ΚΝ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΝ ΧΡΝ
𝔓90 (P. Oxy 3523)
150–200
ΙΗΣ
𝔓91 (P. Mil. Vogl. Inv. 1224 + P. Macquarie Inv. 360)
~250
ΘΥ ΘΣ ΠΡΣ ΧΡΝ ΙΗΝ
𝔓92 (P. Narmuthis 69.39a + 69.229a)
~300
ΧΡΩ ΚΥ ΘΥ
𝔓100 (P. Oxy 4449)
~300
ΚΥ ΚΣ
𝔓101 (P. Oxy 4401)
200–300
ΥΣ ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ
𝔓106 (P. Oxy 4445)
200–250
ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΧΡΣ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ
𝔓108 (P. Oxy 4447)
175–225
ΙΗΣ ΙΗΝ
𝔓110 (P. Oxy. 4494)
~300
ΚΣ
𝔓111 (P. Oxy 4495)
200–250
ΙΗΥ
𝔓113 (P. Oxy. 4497)
200–250
ΠΝΙ
𝔓114 (P. Oxy. 4498)
200–250
ΘΣ
𝔓115 (P. Oxy. 4499)
225–275
ΙΗΛ ΑΥΤΟΥ ΠΡΣ ΘΩ ΘΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΠΝΑ ΟΥΝΟΥ ΟΥΝΟΝ ΚΥ ΘΝ ΑΝΟΥ ΟΥΝΩ
𝔓121 (P. Oxy. 4805)
~250
ΙΣ ΜΗΙ
0162 (P. Oxy 847)
~300
ΙΗΣ ΙΣ ΠΡΣ
0171 (PSI 2.124)
~300
ΚΣ ΙΗΣ
0189 (P. Berlin 11765)
~200
ΑΝΟΣ ΠΝΑ ΚΥ ΚΩ ΙΛΗΜ ΘΩ ΙΣΗΛ
0220 (MS 113)
~300
ΚΝ ΙΥ ΙΝ ΧΥ ΘΥ
 
 

Bibliography

C. M., Tuckett. “Nomina Sacra in Codex E.” Journal of Theological Studies, 2006: 487-499.

Colwell, Ernest C. Scribal Habits in Early Papyri: A Study in the Corruption of the Text. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.

Comfort, Philip. Encounterring the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005.

Comfort, Philip W. New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.

Comfort, Philip Wesley. The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1992.

Comfort, Philip, and David Barret. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.

Edward, James R. “A Nomen Sacrum in the Sardis Synagogue.” Jornal of Biblical Literature, 2009: 813-821.

Howard, George. “The Tetragrammaton and the New Testament.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 1977: 63-83.

Hurtado, Larry. “P52 and the Nomina Sacra.” Tyndale Bulletin, 2003: 1-14.

Hurtado, Larry. “The Origin of the Nominal Sacra.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 1998: 655-673.

Hurtado, Larry W. The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Transmission. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964, 1968, 1992.

Metzger, Bruce. The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, & Content. Nashville: Abingdon Books, 1965, 1983, 2003.

Roberts, Colin H. Manuscript, Society, and Belief in Early Christian Egypt. London: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Roberts, Colin H., and Theodore C. Skeat. The Birth of the Codex. London: Oxford University Press, 1987.

[1] It should be noted that the early manuscripts were written in all caps, known as majuscule, the large rounded letters uncials used in ancient manuscripts. Moreover, there were no breaks between the letters, so you might have GODISNOWHERE, which could be broken apart as GOD IS NO WHERE or GOD IS NOW HERE.  

[2] One of the main reasons we know that the Old Testament manuscripts are Christian manuscripts and not Jewish is the presence of nomina sacra in the text. Significantly, not one copy of the Greek Old Testament found at Qumran has these nomina sacra because this was a Jewish, not a Christian community. (P. Comfort, Encounterring the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism 2005, 202)

[3] Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 200.

[4] L. W. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 115–16.

[5] This writer prefers Jehovah (JHVH), as opposed to the modern scholarship’s Yahweh (YHWH).

[6] Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 202.

[7] IBID., 206.

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