Friday, July 22, 2016

News: Papyrus 75 Is Online

          Papyrus 75 was donated to the Vatican Library in 2007 by the Hanna family and the Solidarity Foundation.  It was formerly known as Bodmer Papyri XIV and XV; now it is called the Hanna Papyrus.  It contains text from the Gospel of Luke (from 3:18 onward, with damage) and the Gospel of John (from 1:1-15:10, with damage), and its production-date has been assigned to c. 225 (although researcher Brent Nongbri has proposed that the paleographical evidence allows a significantly later date).
          For details about the contents of P75, see the profile at the Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism website and the transcription at the Nazaroo Files.  Its contents can also be found in print in P. W. Comfort’s and David Barrett’s The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, although when using that book one should keep in mind the detailed review offered by Maurice Robinson in 2001.
   
      The format of the page-views of Papyrus 75 at the Vatican Library website is easy to navigate.  Although there is no index-page (as far as I can tell), the page-views can be selected from a scrolling menu at the bottom of the page, and when a page-view is selected, the viewer can easily zoom in on the handwritten notes alongside each page which identify the text on that page.  The page of Papyrus 75 upon which the Gospel of Luke ends and the Gospel of John begins is 2A.8r.  All of the new page-views are watermarked, but not in an interfering way.

          How important is this manuscript?  Well, how important are the following phrases in Luke 24? –

Luke 24:3:  “of the Lord Jesus.”
Luke 24:5:  “He is not here, but has risen.”
Luke 24:12 – the entire verse.
Luke 24:36 – “And said to them, ‘Peace be unto you.’”
Luke 24:40 – the entire verse, “And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.”
Luke 24:51 – “and was carried up into heaven.”
Luke 24:52 – “and they worshipped him.”

          When the Revised Standard Version was issued in 1946, and again in 1952, it did not contain those verses.  This is because the scholars responsible for the RSV New Testament’s base-text subscribed to Hort’s theory of “Western Non-Interpolations” – which is a technical way of saying that they did not believe that these verses and phrases were genuine.  The reason they did not think these verses were genuine is that these verses and phrases, despite being supported by a huge majority (over 99%) of Greek manuscripts, are absent from Codex Bezae.  Back in 1881, Hort had proposed that Codex Bezae’s text is typical of an early form of the text developed by copyists who tended to expand the text – adding extra words so as to clarify the meaning of sentences, turning references to “Jesus Christ” into “our Lord Jesus Christ,” and so forth. 
          Hort reasoned that since the Western form of the text is characterized by embellishment, making it longer, the testimony of the Western text has special importance, or weight, when it is shorter.  And at these points in Luke 24, it is shorter.  Hort thought that this implies that at these particular points, all the manuscripts that have these verses and phrases have been expanded (or, interpolated) and the Western Text alone has not been interpolated. 
          If Papyrus 75 had not been discovered, it is very likely that Hort’s theory about Western Non-Interpolations would have continued to be believed by the scholars responsible for compiling the Greek texts upon which modern New Testaments are based. 
          When Papyrus 75 was discovered and its text was published, it became clear that all of the passages in Luke 24 which were rendered suspect (or which were outright rejected) due to Hort’s theory of Western Non-Interpolations were present in the manuscript.  Some textual critics – most notably, Bart Ehrman – continue to believe Hort’s theory, not letting things like evidence get in the way of a good theory. 
          Most textual critics, though, were persuaded by the evidence, and it was for this reason that after the discovery and publication of Papyrus 75, subsequent English versions such as the New International Version, the New American Standard Version, and the New Revised Standard Version retained all those verses and phrases in Luke 24 which the RSV had relegated to the footnotes. 
          Advocates of the KJV in 1881 felt considerable consternation that Westcott and Hort had turned a single Greek manuscript (Codex Bezae, with a smattering of Old Latin allies) into the pivot upon which several verses and phrases in Luke 24 would either remain in the text, or be jettisoned.  Similarly advocates of the KJV, in the 1970’s, felt considerable vindication when the compilers of the predominantly Alexandrian Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies compilations, on the basis of the discovery of one manuscript, felt obligated to pivot back toward the text that the KJV’s translators had used at these particular points in Luke 24.  (For the most part, however, the text of Papyrus 75 has an Alexandrian text, agreeing (against the KJV’s base-text) with the manuscripts upon which the Nestle-Aland compilation heavily depends, especially Codex Vaticanus – which can also be viewed page-by-page at the website of the Vatican Library.)   



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