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Losing a Curious Christian Scroll but Gaining a Curious Christian Codex

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An Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Exodus and Revelation

image of Novum Testamentum

Abstract British Library Pap. 2053 is a Greek papyrus fragment from Oxyrhynchus. Its two sides, written in distinctly different hands, were published separately in 1911 as P.Oxy. 8.1075 (Rahlfs 909, the last verses of Exodus) and P.Oxy. 8.1079 (P18, early verses of Revelation). The original editor of the piece, Arthur S. Hunt, described Pap. 2053 as part of a roll rather than a codex. He speculated that at some point after Exodus was copied along the fibers, the reverse was then reused for a copy of Revelation written against the fibers. I argue that, for at least three reasons, it is worth entertaining the possibility that Pap. 2053 is not part of a roll but rather a leaf from a codex. First, the amount of text and the format of the text on the papyrus are appropriate for a codex leaf. Second, we now have good evidence (unavailable to Hunt) for the existence of Christian codices with an eclectic mix of contents copied by different scribes. Third, when the back sides of rolls were reused, they were often rotated 180° such that the texts on the two sides of the papyrus were upside down relative to one another, rather than same-side-up, as the columns of Pap. 2053 are.

Affiliations: 1: North Ryde, NSW


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