Monday, November 23, 2015

The Willoughby Papyrus of John 1:50-2:1

          Earlier this week at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, Tommy Wasserman reported about a lecture that Dr. Geoffrey Smith (from the University of Texas) gave at the Society of Biblical Literature’s gathering in Atlanta.  Smiths lecture is about the Willoughby Papyrus, a small piece of papyrus which appeared for sale on eBay for $99 in January of 2015.  Brice Jones gave an early report about this item in January of 2015, and it was noticed by Wieland Willker as well.  It was mentioned at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, with comments, before disappearing from eBay. 
Harold R. Willoughby
(Univ. of Chicago Archive
         Fortunately, as reported at the New York Times, it has not vanished into obscurity, and is receiving some scholarly attention.  This tiny scrap of papyrus contains text from John 1:50-2:1.  (See Brice Jones’ description for a transcript and brief discussion of its contents.)  It appears to be from the mid-late 200s or early 300’s.  At one time, it was the property of Harold R. Willoughby, who was a professor at the University of Chicago in the 1900’s.  (He was also instrumental in the acquisition of the Gangsters’ Bible (also known as the Argos Lectionary), a lectionary which is part of the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection.)  The papyrus has text from the Gospel of John on one side, but something else is written on the other side, upside-down. This suggests that this fragment is from a scroll.

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