Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fourth-century Philemon: P139

           This past May, along with the release of the small fragment formerly known as “First Century Mark,” (P137) two other New Testament papyri were released:  a fragment with text from the Gospel of Luke (P138), and a fragment with text from Paul’s Epistle to Philemon (P139).  The Egypt Exploration Society kindly provided interested persons with access to images of the fragment of Mark, and a picture of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 5347 – the fragment from Philemon – is on the same page.  The images show text from verses 6-8 and 18-20.
             Without consulting the transcription offered by the editor of P139 (Notre Dame professor Dr. David Lincicum), I have attempted a transcription of it.   For the official transcription, made by someone who could study the papyrus directly, you will need to consult Volume 83 of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri – Graeco-Roman Memoirs, a publication of the Egypt Exploration Society.  The script is consistent with a production-date in the 300s, which means that this papyrus is one of our three earliest Greek manuscripts of Philemon (ranking behind P87 and more or less tied with Codex Sinaiticus).
Here are some thoughts and observations about the text of this newly published witness to the text of Philemon that was read in Egypt in the 300s:
● v. 6 – υμειν confirms the reading εν υμιν (with an inconsequential spelling-difference), and this might tilt the balance of evidence away from εν ημιν, the reading that is presently read in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.

● v. 6-7 – My reconstruction of the second line is very tentative.  Somewhere in the non-extant text,  space-considerations seem to support the non-inclusion of Ἰησουν (even contracted as a sacred name). 

● v. 7 – P139 definitely supports πολλην εσχον, not εχομεν πολλην. 

● v. 7 – There may be a raised dot between σου and οτι. 

● v. 8 – Where there should be an ο in πολλην, P139 appears to have an ε.

● v. 18 – τουτο appears to have been written as τοουτο.

● v. 19 – The last visible letter in the fourth line could be an ε or a smudged ι.

● v. 19 – Instead of the usual reading σεαυτόν, P139 reads αυτον, and ε has been added above the α, so as to support εαυτόν. 

● v. 19 – A slight orthographic variant, ι instead of ει in προσοφείλεις, is supported by P139.  This spelling (without the ε) is also supported by Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, and by Codex Claromontanus (which doesn’t have the ε after the λ, either; a corrector has inserted it).

● v. 20 – A new reading appears to be attested by P139:  after ἐγώ σου, one would expect ὀναίμην ἐν Κω (i.e., Κυρίω) – part of the phrase, “Let me have from you joy in the Lord.”  Instead, only a smidgen of ink has survived where ὀναίμην ἐν would be, and at the beginning of the next, last line, instead of Κω or Κυρίω, we see the letters χρ.  Over these two letters χρ and extending into the left margin there is a paragraphos, a horizontal line that was used by copyists to separate paragraphs.  The letters χρ appear to be followed by the remains of a sloping ω, in which case we have here a three-letter form of a sacred-name contraction (with the paragraphos to be construed as serving a dual purpose); however the last letter could also be a ε, which would imply that the copyist wrote the word χρειστω in full (which would be highly unusual); either way, P139 thus supports a form of the text of the middle of verse 20 which reads “in Christ” rather than “in the Lord.” 

            This is of course only a preliminary reading based on a black-and-white photograph.  After completing my own transcription, I checked it against the transcription in Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 83, and although there are some disagreements between my work and that of Dr. Lincicum, I was satisfied with how my transcription turned out.  Readers are encouraged of course to consult the official transcription.



Unknown said...

James, where did you get a copy of Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 83 from to check your transcription against?

James Snapp Jr said...

Alan Bunning,
That's classified!