In 1897, two archeologists stumbled upon the greatest cache of papyrus manuscripts ever discovered. B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt’s discovery of over two thousand manuscripts buried in a trash heap in the sands of Oxyrhynchus was a watershed event for New Testament and lexicography studies.
The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, as they’ve come to be known, date from as early as the first century CE all the way through the ninth century CE. They include literary works from Homer, Plato, and Sophocles, as well as other important works from antiquity. Also buried in the sands were some of the earliest manuscript witnesses to the New Testament writings. Among these discoveries were fragments of Matthew 1, Romans 1, and 1 John 4, parts of 1 Corinthians and Philippians, and a leaf from Revelation. These discoveries gave paleographers and lexicographers new manuscripts to analyze and compare with the thousands already at their disposal.
Why Is This Discovery Important for New Testament Studies?
Before the discovery of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, New Testament Greek was often called “Holy Ghost Greek.” This referred to the unusual style and syntax used by New Testament authors in their writings. Scholars like Adolf Deissmann and J. H. Moulton noted that the style of the New Testament was similar to that of personal letters, informal notes, and other non-literary documents found amongst the other Oxyrhynchus Papyri manuscripts. The discovery of the papyri put to rest the theory of a divinely inspired Greek language and allowed scholars to analyze the language of the New Testament alongside contemporary first-century writings.
Having the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vols. 1–15) in your Logos library allows you to do serious textual studies first-hand. For anyone engaged in textual criticism, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are an indispensable tool. Instead of doing research based on what other experts say, you can engage in critical research with the primary sources themselves! What’s more, included with the Greek inscriptions are discussions on particular examples, translations with line-by-line commentary and the reasoning behind textual reconstructions, and references to relevant parallels. So even if your Greek is not as good as it once may have been, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vols. 1–15) is still a valuable reference tool for contextual study of the New Testament.
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