Textual Studies in the Bodmer Manuscript of John, Part I -- By: Marchant A. King

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 117:466 (Apr 1960)
Article: Textual Studies in the Bodmer Manuscript of John, Part I
Author: Marchant A. King

Textual Studies in the Bodmer Manuscript of John, Part I

Marchant A. King

Richard Patterson

[Marchant A. King is Professor of New Testament at Los Angeles Baptist Seminary, Los Angeles, California.]

[Richard Patterson is a senior student at Los Angeles Baptist Seminary, Los Angeles, California.]

[Editor’s Note: This article is the first of two on this subject.]

The appearance of a New Testament manuscript of any considerable size coming from the second or very early third century is an event of such significance that only the spectacular discoveries of the Qumran material have kept marked attention from being given to the Bodmer manuscript of John’s Gospel, designated in textual study P66. That it should include nearly the whole of the gospel is particularly advantageous not only because of the importance of this gospel but also because John is the most poorly represented of the Gospels in the Chester Beatty papyri, which have been our only considerable source of third-century testimony as to the New Testament text. The Bodmer manuscript has the Gospel complete through 14:26 except for the loss of one sheet (two leaves) in the sixth chapter. Fragments of all the later pages give a considerable proportion of the rest of the gospel, with a promise from the Bodmer library of the recovery of even more fragments.

The material of the manuscript is, of course, papyrus and the writing so clear that there has arisen, as far as we can discover, not one question as to the identity of any letter. The date of about A.D. 200 has been accepted generally as indicated by the listing of the manuscript by Erwin Nestle and G. D. Kilpatrick in the 1958 British and Foreign Bible Society’s Greek N.T. (p.x.) as “c. A.D. 200” and Kurt Aland’s listing as “about 200 (beginning of 3rd cent.?)”.1 We believe that such a date is confirmed by a study of the textual phenomena, as we shall seek to show. Futhermore, we are convinced that as a witness to the text of the Fourth Gospel this manuscript is second only to Vaticanus.

In view of the fact that the original work2 on the text of

P66 used only the critical apparatus of Souter and appeared in French we felt these studies might not be amiss. Using the critical apparati of Nestle, Westcott and Hort, and Tischendorf3 as well as that of Souter, we have made a detailed collation of this manuscript and have sought to analyze the results in as clear a way as possible...

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