The Johns Rylands Fragment P52

January 23, 2014

One of the most significant biblical manuscripts is but a fragment measuring only 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, and containing only a few verses from John (18:31-33, 37-38). It is the oldest known copy of any portion of the New Testament, dating back to Hadrian’s reign (AD 117-138). Biblical scholar and textual expert Bruce M. Metzger (deceased, 2007) wrote:

Although it had been acquired in Egypt by Bernard P. Grenfell as long ago as 1920, it remained unnoticed among hundreds of similar shreds of papyri until 1934. In that year C. H. Roberts, Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford, while sorting over the unpublished papyri belonging to the John Rylands Library at Manchester, recognized that this scrap preserves several sentences from John’s Gospel. Without waiting to edit the fragment along with others of a miscellaneous nature, he immediately published a booklet setting forth a description of the fragment,its text, and a discussion of its significance.

On the basis of the style of the script, Roberts dated the fragment in the first half of the second century. Though not all scholars are convinced that it can be dated within so narrow a range, such eminent palaeographers as Sir Frederic G Kenyon, W. Schubart, Sir Harold I. Bell, Adolf Deissmann, Ulrich Wilcken, and W. H. P. Hatch have expressed themselves as being in agreement with Roberts’s judgment.

Although the extent of the verses preserved is so slight, in one respect this tiny scrap of papyrus possesses quite as much evidential value as would be the complete codes. Just as Robinson Crusoe, seeing but a single footprint in the sand, concluded that another human being, with two feet, was present on the island with him, so p52 proves the existence and use of the fourth Gospel during the first half of the second century in a provincial town along the Nile, far removed from its traditional place of composition (Ephesus in Asia Minor). Had this little fragment been known during the middle of the past century, that school of New Testament criticism which was inspired by the brilliant Tubingen professor, Ferdinand Christian Baur, could not have argued that the Fourth Gospel was not composed until about the year 160. (The Text of the New Testament, 3rd edition, pp. 38-39).

As stated above, the fragment p52 is in Manchester, England, encased in a climate controlled cabinet.

John Rylands Papyrus p52. Photo by wikimedia-commons.

John Rylands Papyrus p52. Photo by wikimedia-commons.


William Ramsay on the Halys River and North Galatia

January 17, 2014

Sir William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), archaeologist, scholar, and author, was a champion of the South Galatia position (i.e., the N.T. letter to the Galatians was addressed to Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe) at a time when the North Galatia theory had been accepted for centuries. In his book, A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, he deals with the geography of north Galatia, giving evidence to eliminate that as the area intended in the book of Galatians. He was seeking to understand the geography of Galatia especially and specifically in the mid 1st century AD.

In that portion of his historical introduction, Ramsay mentions the Halys River and how it divided Galatia into two parts.

The country afterwards called Galatia was in primitive time divided ethnographically and politically into two parts, eastern and western: the division was made by the river Halys, which in this part of its course runs in a northerly direction towards the Black Sea. Galatia east of the Halys seems to have been originally reckoned to Cappadocia, though part of it was probably sometimes described as included in Paphlagonia; but the bounds of those countries were so indeterminate, and the ancient writers themselves were so ignorant of the geography of those lands, that it is quite impossible to say anything positive and certain on the subject. . .

Eastern Galatia lies mostly in the basin of the Halys (Kizil-Irmak, the “Red River”). The Halys itself has very few and quite insignificant tributaries. In Eastern Galatia the Delije-Irmak (whose ancient name is unknown) is the only tributary of any consequence; and most of the country lies in its basin; but the river, though it looks large on the map, carries very little water except in flood, when it becomes a broad and raging torrent, exactly as its name indicates, the “Mad River”. . .

Galatia west of the Halys, which was much larger than the eastern country, was the most important and the most typical part of the country; most of our scanty information relates to it; and in general, when any statement is made about North Galatia, the writer has the western part of it in his mind. This western region was originally part of the vast land called Phrygia; and, clearly, the population of the country in the early part of the fourth century were known to the Greeks as Phrygians (Φρύγες). (Ramsay, W. M. (1900). A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (pp. 15–17).

Halys River near the Black Sea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Halys River near the Black Sea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sir Ramsay referenced the Halys as the Kizil-Irmak. Note the sign here at the bridge crossing the river.

Halys River/Kizil-Irmak. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Halys River/Kizil-Irmak. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click images for larger view.

God Will Send the Hornet

January 3, 2014

I have been thinking today about the hornet. There are three biblical references.

Ex. 23:28: And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you.

Deut. 7:20: Moreover the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until those who are left, who hide themselves from you, are destroyed.

Josh. 24:12: I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow.

Each of these passages refer to God’s intervention on behalf of Israel during the conquest of Canaan. There is no doubt that when hornets pursue you, that you get out of their path asap.

This afternoon I brought down a hornet’s nest that was situated perhaps 20 feet up in a tree. The nest is fascinating, and a testimony to the work of a wonderful Creator Who has well equipped His creation.

Hornet's nest. Photo by Linda Mauldin.

Hornet’s nest. Photo by Linda Mauldin.

BTW I did not climb the tree. I shot the limb in two at that point just above my thumb.

The Five Day Bible Reading Schedule

January 1, 2014

A Bible reading schedule which we have used and highly recommend is the one arranged by Mark Roberts. It is free. It takes the reader through the Bible in one year. Mark writes:

Are you looking for a reading plan for 2014? Consider the Five Day Bible Reading Schedule. It makes it much easier to complete the Bible in one year because you only have to read five days a week, not seven. This gives you time to catch up if you fall behind. Many Christians have successfully read the Bible with this plan and you can too!
With the Five Day Schedule you can read the entire Bible in 2014 or just the New Testament reading five days a week.
Best of all, it’s FREE. You can download your copy here:
May the Lord bless us all to know Him better through His Word.

Samaritan Pentateuch at Mt. Gerizim. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Samaritan Pentateuch at Mt. Gerizim. 

Photo shows Husney W. Cohen, a Samaritan priest and director of the Samaritan Museum, with Samaritan scroll, along with Ferrell Jenkins (center) and Leon Mauldin (right). The Samaritans accept only the first five books of the Old Testament.

I am so thankful for the easy access to the scriptures, and to the proliferation of good translations!

%d bloggers like this: