What's New in Papyrology

Recent publications of papyri & ostraca 4th BC-8th AD; conferences, lectures etc. from Papy-L and other sources as noted. PLEASE SEND SUGGESTIONS

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SBL Boston 2008: Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds

Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Room: Meeting Room 209 - CC
Lincoln Blumell, University of Toronto
Is P.Oxy. 3057 the Earliest Christian Letter? (30 min)
When P.Oxy. 3057 was first published in 1974 the editor, Peter Parsons, tentatively raised the possibility that it may have been written by a Christian since it contained a number of peculiarities that could have derived from a Christian milieu. Due to the fact Parsons dated this letter to the late first century it initially attracted some interest. However, given that many of the apparently “Christian” features of the letter were later judged to be rather ambiguous, it did not receive much attention as a source for early Christianity in subsequent scholarship. Recently, interest in the letter has been renewed as attempts have been made to reopen the debate surrounding this letter as they have attempted to show that it contains a number of features that decidedly favor Christian authorship. This paper will therefore evaluate the validity of such arguments and will reconsider whether P.Oxy. 3057 could be the earliest extant Christian letter.

Peter M. Head, Tyndale House
A Letter from Tryphon to Asklepiades (BGU 1208 from 27–26 BCE) and the New Testament (30 min)
This letter (Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum P. 13143) has often been appealed to by New Testament scholars since it appears to have the only definitely pre-Christian occurrence of the verb αὐθεντεῖν (which also occurs in 1 Timothy 2.12). This paper offers a fresh reading of the text, a first complete English translation, and a general discussion of the letter as a whole (and in relation to the Asklepiades archive) in its relationship to the language and milieu of early Christianity, before discussing the use of au0qentei=n and its potential relevance to the interpretation of 1 Timothy.

Joel A. Weaver, Baylor University
House Ownership in Ancient Egypt: Evidence of Partial Ownership from the Census Declarations (30 min)
I plan to survey all of the census declarations from the documentary papyri in order to determine what percentage of house owners owned only a portion of a house. After ascertaining whether the majority of house owners owned their homes outright or shared ownership with others, I plan to introduce this data into the debate regarding the relative wealth of early Christians and their house churches.

Don Barker, Macquarie University-Sydney
The Treatment of Numerals in the Early New Testament Papyri (30 min)
According to C. H Roberts, Manuscripts, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, Oxford University Press, 1979.12-22, early Christian books stand apart from secular books in that the copyists are more used to writing documents so that they write their numbers in figures rather than in words. K. Haines-Eitzen, Guardians of Letters, Literacy, Power and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature, Oxford University Press, 2000, 66, continues this assertion by Roberts as do others. The situation however is far more complex than the one that has been indicated, firstly by Roberts, and then by others. This paper will explore this complexity and will seek to demonstrate from the way numbers are treated in the texts how they give us an insight into the differing abilities and backgrounds of the various scribes who copied them.

Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Jefferson - HI
Michael Theophilos, University of Oxford
A New Fragment of James from Oxyrhynchus (30 min)
It is not insignificant that 42% of published New Testament papyri are from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. Furthermore, of the fifty-eight NT papyri dated to the first half of the fourth century or earlier, Oxyrhynchus contributes to nearly 60% of the material, i.e. thirty four fragmentary papyri. Given Oxyrhynchus" prominence, prosperity and significant Christian influence this is somewhat understandable, even if it is equally as baffling as to why so much literature, both biblical and otherwise was "thrown out" en masse, only to be found centuries later by two Oxford graduates, B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt of Queen's College. The primary research that will be undertaken in this study concerns an assessment of a previously unknown New Testament papyrus fragment of the epistle of James from Oxyrhynchus (inventory number 51 4B.18/c [1-4]b). The significance of this study is to offer original and focused research into the history of the textual tradition of the New Testament. Discussion of the fragment will be divided into three sections. Firstly, an extended introduction which will note, among other things, the paleographic points of interest - roll/codex, recto/verso, date, lines/width/height of columns, estimated length of roll and significant reading marks (accents, breathings, quantity marks, punctuation). Secondly, an edited Greek text, both diplomatic and transcriptional (with a short description of how multi-spectral imaging aided in this process, and finally, a section devoted to issues which require further treatment, including exegetical comment, notable paleographic details and collation with other extant manuscripts. Images of the papyri will be included in the presentation.

Ingrid Lilly, Emory University
Liturgical Function of p967: How Codicological Analysis Sheds Light on Textual Issues in Septuagint Ezekiel (30 min)
In this paper, I consider the role liturgical function played in Ezekiel's text tradition through study of the early 3rd century codex, p967. First, I conduct codicological analysis on p967 Ezekiel, arguing that the book functioned in a Christian liturgical setting. I examine p967's unique paragraphing, extra-textual marks, as well as a small number of Christian theological touches to the body of the text. Characteristics of neighboring Daniel and Esther support the conclusion that the codex was used in Christian liturgy. Second, I interrogate the textual history of p967 for liturgical function, agreeing with Thackeray"s early pronouncement that liturgy motivated late textual editing of the book.

John Granger Cook, LaGrange College
P50 and the Question of Its Function (30 min)
The purpose of P50, which comprises two selections from Acts (8:26-32, 10:26-31), has long been debated. The first editor, Carl Kraeling, believed that the text might have been for “missionary or homiletic purposes or both.” Subsequent scholars such as Joseph van Haelst and Kurt Aland have concluded that it was an amulet. The criteria used for evaluating texts as Christian amulets need to be reevaluated. One is left with the impression that some scholars after Kraeling have used the category “amulet” as a sort of panacea, when left in a quandary over what to do with texts such as P50. There are several indications that P50 may have had a function other than use as an amulet. One is the nature of folded documents in antiquity. The other is the use of the texts from Acts in ancient Christian literature.

Theodore de Bruyn, University of Ottawa
Criteria for Identifying Biblical Inscriptions as Amulets (30 min)
Scholars have differed in the criteria they employ to identify formularies and amulets containing Christian motifs. Van Haelst's catalogue of Jewish and Christian papyri included amulets consisting of prayers, acclamations, or citations from the Bible or the Christian liturgy (Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens, 1976, 414), whereas these were excluded from the more recent compilations of Brashear (ANRW II.18.5, 1995, 3492-3; cf. 3480 n. 486) and Daniel and Maltomini (Supplementum Magicum I, 1991, ix). Both approaches have their merits. While the latter focuses on the unique or specific features of magical texts, the former is more inclusive of the entire range of materials that were used as amulets. The more inclusive approach requires that one distinguish between inscriptions used as amulets and inscriptions used for some other private purpose. When the inscription consists only of a biblical passage, this judgment may be tentative or provisional. My paper will discuss criteria used to identify materials inscribed with one or more biblical passages as amulets, and will present a list of papyri, parchments, ostraca, and tablets from the 4th to the 8th century C.E inscribed with biblical passages in Greek and deemed to be amulet.

Dave Nielsen, Brigham Young University
The Question of Developing Canonicity: The Shepherd of Hermas as a Preliminary Case Study
The Shepherd of Hermas was the most popular noncanonical work in the first centuries of the Christian era. Indeed, only the Psalms and the Gospels of Matthew and John have more surviving manuscripts. It was widely quoted and accepted as scripture from Gaul to Egypt by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and others. Recent studies such as Hurtado's “Earliest Christian Artifacts” have shown that there is a demonstrable difference between Christian and non-Christian texts. The purpose of this paper is to test the possibility of taking his paradigm one step further. In certain instances, we know what the Church thought of a text based on how they used and commented on it. The question is whether or not we can distinguish between canonical and apocryphal in the eyes of the first Christians based on the manuscripts themselves. Using the Shepherd of Hermas as a preliminary case study, I propose that we indeed can, based on analysis of the historical, codicological, and paleographical data of the Greek papyri from the first five centuries.