Chester Beatty Papyri

Portions of three NT manuscripts, designated P45, P46, and P47, which comprise 126 leaves, partially mutilated, and afford valuable additional early textual evidence utilized in more recent critical editions of the Greek NT. Said to have been found near Memphis, on the banks of the Nile, these papyri were acquired by Mr. Chester Beatty from a dealer in Egypt about 1930. Most of the material is now housed in Dublin, but one page of P45 is in Vienna, part of P46 is in Michigan. P45 (third century) contains gospel fragments and Acts; P46 (about 200) has most of the Pauline epistles. P47 (late third century) gives the earliest extant text of the Apocalypse, chapters 6-17. These documents, part of a considerable stream of newer textual evidence, must be evaluated in the exegesis of particular passages.

CHESTER BEATTY PAPYRI. The Chester Beatty Papyri are a group of twelve Gr. MSS on papyrus acquired by the late A. Chester Beatty in about 1930. They are thought to have come from the Fayum. At the same time some other parts of the same collection found their way to the University of Michigan and to the John H. Scheide papyrus collection in Princeton University. By generous collaboration between the various owners the papyri have been published as units. They range in date from the early 2nd cent. to the late 4th, and include examples of Biblical, apocryphal and early Christian homiletic writings. They played an important part upon their discovery and publication, showing that the use of the codex form for the Christian book antedated the 4th cent. and the introduction of parchment on a wide scale. Their content and significance are as follows: their number among the Chester Beatty papyri is stated, and an indication of any other location of any part.

Originally contained the four gospels.

However, it is now fragmentary, large parts of Mark and Luke and less of the others remaining. A small fragment of Matthew is at Vienna. The text of Mark here found confirmed the existence in Egypt in the 3rd cent. of a text-type already known from Origen’s quotations.

Third century.

Contains the Pauline epistles Romans 5 to 1 Thessalonians 5 with lacunae. Much of the MS is at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Its text agrees closely with that of B and the important Athos MS 1739 which give a good text with a low proportion of corruptions, the product of Christian scholarship.

Late third century.

Contains Revelation 9-17. Its text agrees closely with the quotations of Origen and that of Aleph. This text, though early, is corrupt and bears marks of simplification and abbreviation.

Early fourth century.

Contains Genesis 9-14; 17-42. With the Chester Beatty papyrus V and the Berlin Genesis they form a distinct textual group, akin to the important uncial Codex Colberto-Sarravianus.

Late third century.

Contains Genesis 24; 25; 26-35; 39; 41; 42, with rather less loss by accidental mutilation than in MS IV.

Second century, perhaps early part.

Contains parts of Numbers and Deuteronomy, part of which is at Ann Arbor, Michigan. It has no notable new readings but is significant because of its early date.

Early third century.

Contains parts of Isaiah much fragmented, akin in text to A and Codex Marchalianus. It has an interesting series of Coptic marginal glosses.

Third century.

A fragmentary single leaf of Jeremiah, with parts of chapters IV and V, IX and X. Originally treated as two MSS, it later became clear that these were parts of one. Late 3rd cent., containing parts of Ezekiel, Daniel and Esther. Part of the Ezekiel it attests a text in close agreement with B, together the most important pre-Hexaplaric witnesses. The portion of Daniel is yet more important and epoch-making in giving the true LXX text, previously known only in one minuscule and the Syro-Hexaplar version. Esther agrees with Aleph and B.

Fourth century.

Parts of chapters 36, 37, 46, 47 of Ecclesiasticus. Too small for significance.

Fourth century.

Partly at Michigan. Contains latter part of 1 Enoch (chs. 97-107) and the Homily of Melito, bishop of Sardis (mid 2nd cent.) on the Passover, typologically understood. Neither work was previously known in Gr.


F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri (1933); C. Bonner, The Last Chapters of Enoch in Greek (1937); A. C. Johnson, H. Gehman, E. H. Kase, Jr., eds., The John H. Scheide Biblical papyri: Ezekiel (1938); C. Bonner, The Homily on the Passion of Melito, Bishop of Sardis (1940).