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Papyrus 46

Papyrus 46
New Testament manuscript
A folio from <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33–12:9. As with other folios of the manuscript, text is lacunose at the bottom.
A folio from <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33–12:9. As with other folios of the manuscript, text is lacunose at the bottom.
Name P. Chester Beatty II; Ann Arbor, Univ. of Michigan, Inv. 6238
Sign <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46
Text Pauline epistles
Date c. 175–225
Script Greek
Now at Dublin, University of Michigan
Cite Sanders, A Third Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul
Size 28 cm by 16 cm
Type Alexandrian text-type
Category I
Note Affinity with Minuscule 1739

Papyrus 46 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by siglum <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46, is one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts in Greek, written on papyrus, with its 'most probable date' between 175 and 225.[1] Some leaves are part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, and others are in the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection.[2]


<math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 contains most of the Pauline epistles, though with some folios missing. It contains (in order) "the last eight chapters of Romans; all of Hebrews; virtually all of 1–2 Corinthians; all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians; and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. All of the leaves have lost some lines at the bottom through deterioration."[3]

Folio Contents Location
1–7 Romans 1:1–5:17 Missing
8 Rom 5:17–6:14 CB
9-10 Rom 6:14–8:15 Missing
11–15 Rom 8:15–11:35 CB
16–17 Rom 11:35–14:8 Mich.
18 (fragment) Rom 14:9–15:11 CB
19–28 Rom 15:11–Hebrews 8:8 Mich.
29 Heb 8:9–9:10 CB
30 Heb 9:10–26 Mich.
31–39 Heb 9:26–1 Corinthians 2:3 CB
40 1 Cor 2:3–3:5 Mich.
41–69 1 Cor 3:6–2 Corinthians 9:7 CB
70–85 2 Cor 9:7–end, Ephesians, Galatians 1:1–6:10 Mich.
86–94 Gal 6:10–end, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:3 CB
95–96 1 Thess 2:3–5:5 Missing
97 (fragment) 1 Thess 5:5, 23–28 CB
98–104 Thought to be 1 Thess 5:28–2 Thessalonians, and possibly Philemon; 1–2 Timothy, and Titus were probably not included (see below) Missing


Folio size is approximately 28 × 16 cm with a single column of text averaging 11.5 cm. There are between 26 and 32 lines (rows) of text per page, although both the width of the rows and the number of rows per page increase progressively. Rows of text at the bottom of each page are damaged (lacunose), with between 1–2 lines lacunose in the first quarter of the MS, 2–3 lines lacunose in the central half, and up to seven lines lacunose in the final quarter.

Missing contents

From the page numbers on existing pages, we know that seven leaves have been lost from the beginning of the codex, which accords perfectly with the length of the missing portion of Romans, which they undoubtedly contained. Since the codex is formed from a stack of papyrus sheets folded in the middle, magazine-style, what is lost is the outer seven sheets, containing the first and last seven leaves of the codex.

The contents of the seven missing leaves from the end is uncertain. There would be enough space for 2 Thessalonians and possibly Philemon, but not for the Pastoral epistles. Kenyon calculates[4] that 2 Thessalonians would require two leaves, leaving only five remaining leaves (10 pages) for the remaining canonical Pauline literature — 1 Timothy (estimated 8.25 pages), 2 Timothy (6 pages), Titus (3.5 pages) and Philemon (1.5 pages) — totaling ten required leaves (19.25 pages).

Recently, Alessandra Peri[5] has proposed that the final folios could contain the first three chapter of Apocalypse.

The consensus that only seven pages were missing at the back of the codex was challenged by Edgar Ebojo and counter-proposed that, based on actual copying practices of its scribe in the extant pages, only six pages were missing, leaving enough space for the both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.


Throughout Romans, Hebrews and the latter chapters of 1 Corinthians are found small and thick strokes or dots, usually agreed to be from the hand of a reader rather than the producer of the manuscript since the ink is always much paler than that of the text itself.[6] They appear to mark sense divisions (similar to verse numbering found in Bibles) and are also found in portions of <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>45, possibly evidence of reading in the community which held both codices. Edgar Ebojo made a case that these "reading marks" with or without space-intervals were an aid to readers, most likely in a liturgical context.[7]

Nomina Sacra

<math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 uses an extensive and well-developed system of nomina sacra.[1] Griffin argued against Kim, in part, that such an extensive usage of the nomina sacra system nearly eliminates any possibility of the manuscript dating to the 1st century. He admitted, however, that Kim's dating cannot be ruled out on this basis alone, since the exact provenance of the nomina sacra system itself is not well-established.[1]

On the other hand, Comfort (preferring a date c. 150–175) notes indications that the scribe's exemplar made limited use of nomina sacra or none at all.[8] In several instances, the word for Spirit is written out in full where the context should require a nomen sacrum, suggesting that the scribe was rendering nomina sacra where appropriate for the meaning but struggling with Spirit versus spirit without guidance from the exemplar. Further, the text inconsistently uses either the short or the long contracted forms of Christ.


The Greek text of the codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Kurt Aland placed it in Category I.[2]

In Romans 16:15 it has singular reading Βηρεα και Αουλιαν for Ιουλιαν, Νηρεα.[9]

In 1 Corinthians 2:1 it reads μυστηριον along with א, Α, C, 88, 436, ita,r, syrp, copbo. Other manuscripts read μαρτυριον or σωτηριον.[10]

In 1 Corinthians 2:4 it reads πειθοις σοφιας (plausible wisdom) for πειθοις σοφιας λογοις (plausible words of wisdom), the reading is supported only by Codex Boernerianus (Greek text).[10]

In 1 Corinthians 7:5 it reads τη προσευχη (prayer) along with <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>11, א*, A, B, C, D, F, G, P, Ψ, 6, 33, 81, 104, 181, 629, 630, 1739, 1877, 1881, 1962, it vg, cop, arm, eth. Other manuscripts read τη νηστεια και τη προσευχη (fasting and prayer) τη προσευχη και νηστεια (prayer and fasting).[11][12]

In 1 Corinthians 12:9 it reads εν τω πνευματι for εν τω ενι πνευματι.[13]

In 1 Corinthians 15:47 it has singular reading reads δευτερος ανθρωπος πνευματικος for δευτερος ανθρωπος (א*, B, C, D, F, G, 0243, 33, 1739, it, vg, copbo eth); or δευτερος ανθρωπος ο κυριος (אc, A, Dc, K, P, Ψ, 81, 104, 181, 326, 330, 436, 451, 614, 629, 1241, 1739mg, 1877, 1881, 1984, 1985, 2127, 2492, 2495, Byz, Lect).[14]

In 2 Corinthians 1:10 it reads τηλικουτων θανατων, along with 630, 1739c, itd,e, syrp,h, goth; majority reads τηλικουτου θανατου.[15]

Galatians 6:2 — αναπληρωσατε ] αποπληρωσετε[16]

Ephesians 4:16 — κατ ενεργειας ] και ενεργειας.[17]

Ephesians 6:12 — αρχας προς τας εξουσιας ] μεθοδιας[18]


The provenance of the papyrus is unknown, although it was probably originally discovered in the ruins of an early Christian church or monastery.[19][20] Following the discovery in Cairo, the manuscript was broken up by the dealer. Ten leaves were purchased by Chester Beatty in 1930; the University of Michigan acquired six in 1931 and 24 in 1933. Beatty purchased 46 more in 1935, and his acquisitions now form part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, eleven codices of biblical material.


As with all manuscripts dated solely by palaeography, the dating of <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 is uncertain. The first editor of parts of the papyrus, H. A. Sanders, proposed a date possibly as late as the second half of the 3rd century.[21] F. G. Kenyon, editor of the complete editio princeps, preferred a date in the first half of the 3rd century.[22] The manuscript is now sometimes dated to about 200.[23] Young Kyu Kim has argued for an exceptionally early date of c. 80.[24] Griffin critiqued and disputed Kim's dating,[1] placing the 'most probable date' between 175–225, with a '95% confidence interval' for a date between 150–250.[25]

Comfort and Barrett[26] have claimed that <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46 shares affinities with the following:

  • P. Oxy. 8 (assigned late 1st or early 2nd century),
  • P. Oxy. 841 (the second hand, which cannot be dated later than 125–150),
  • P. Oxy. 1622 (dated with confidence to pre-148, probably during the reign of Hadrian (117–138), because of the documentary text on the verso),
  • P. Oxy. 2337 (assigned to the late 1st century),
  • P. Oxy. 3721 (assigned to the second half of the 2nd century),
  • P. Rylands III 550 (assigned to the 2nd century), and
  • P. Berol. 9810 (early 2nd century).

This, they conclude, points to a date during the middle of the 2nd century for <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>46.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Griffin, Bruce W. (1996), "The Paleographical Dating of P-46"
  2. ^ a b Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1. 
  3. ^ Michael Marlowe, Papyrus 46
  4. ^ F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri. III.1 Pauline Epistles and Revelation. Text, London: E. Walker, 1934
  5. ^ A. Peri, "Il codice più antico delle Epistole paoline: un’ipotesi" in Sit liber gratus quem servulus est operatus. Studi in onore di Alessandro Pratesi per il suo 90 compleanno, Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, Città del Vaticano 2012, pp. 9–20
  6. ^ H. A. Sanders, A Third Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul, (Ann Arbor, 1935), <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>17
  7. ^ Edgar Ebojo, "When Nonsense Makes Sense: Scribal Habits in the Space-Intervals, Sense Pauses, and other Visual Features in P46," The Bible Translator August 2013 64: 128–150
  8. ^ Comfort, Philip W. (2005) Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism, Nashville: Broadman & Holman, pp. 131–139, 223, 231–238.
  9. ^ UBS3, p. 575.
  10. ^ a b UBS3, p. 581.
  11. ^ NA26, p. 450.
  12. ^ UBS3, p. 591.
  13. ^ UBS3, p. 605.
  14. ^ UBS3, p. 616.
  15. ^ UBS3, p. 622.
  16. ^ UBS3, p. 661.
  17. ^ NA26, p. 509.
  18. ^ NA26, p. 513.
  19. ^ F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: I. General Introduction, (London: E. Walker), 1933, <math>\mathfrak{P}</math>5
  20. ^ C.H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, p. 7
  21. ^ H. A. Sanders, A Third-Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul (Ann Arbor, 1935), pp. 13–15.
  22. ^ F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, part 3 (London, 1936), xiv–xv.
  23. ^ Willker, Wieland "Complete List of Greek NT Papyri" Last Update: 17.04.2008. Retrieved 26/08/08.
  24. ^ Kim, YK (1988), "Palaeographical Dating of P46 to the Later First Century," Biblica, 69, p. 248
  25. ^ See email from Griffin added in 2005 to Griffin's 1996 paper.
  26. ^ Comfort, Philip W. and Barrett, David P (2001) 'The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts', Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, pp. 204–206.

Further reading

External links