Newly Discovered Manuscript Fragment on Hebrews
Baylor University is hosting a King James Bible conference this weekend. Concurrent with the conference is an exhibit showcasing ancient manuscripts and Bibles through the Middles Ages and Reformation and beyond. One of the manuscripts is a newly-discovered (three weeks ago!) papyrus fragment containing a portion of Hebrews 11. It was discovered in a funerary mask and is dated to the second century! I have pictures but I cannot post them here since the manuscript has been assigned to someone for study and publication.
Apparently, it seems to be Scott Carroll, Research Professor of Manuscript Studies and the Biblical Tradition at Baylor, who is the scholar in charge of this collection to which I assume the early papyrus belongs. On his webpage we read about Carroll that "He is presently directing the research of some of the earliest-known Greek literary papyri in the world which Dr. Carroll extracted from mummy cartonnage and some of the earliest biblical texts known to-date."
In the 1990's Carroll helped Robert van Kampen build the private Van Kampen Collection of Bibles and related material in Florida. Now he is working with another wealthy family, Green, to build up another great collection of bibles and manuscripts to be exhibited in a Bible museum in Dallas. More information about the Green collection in NY Times story here and here (slideshow). One of the MSS they acquired last year from Cambridge was Codex Climaci Rescriptus, which we reported about here (with further links). Apparently, Carroll himself is currently working on a publication of Codex Climaci Rescriptus.
In addition to the growing collection, there is the Green Scholars Initiative which has been organized allow scholars to research and produce scholarship around items in the Green Collection. Scott Carroll is Director and Principal investigator of the collection, whereas Jerry Pattengale is Director of the Green Scholars Initiative.
While we wait for a scholarly edition of the Hebrews papyrus, hopefully including images, and adequate information about the provenience, we have to be extremely cautious about the claimed second-century date. In the past there have been numerous claims from representatives of collections like these including the Van Kampen collection, and of course there is, coupled with a strong interest to promote the items in the collection, a real danger to through out sensational claims about "earliest biblical texts known to-date," etc (which media just loves). For a discussion of the the "early dating issue" raised by Roger Bagnall recently, see Peter Head's posts here and here.
The papyrus is on display at Baylor University until tomorrow. Perhaps some reader of this blog, who lives nearby Baylor could go there and take a peek for us? Any significant readings?
Conference schedule here
Conference and exhibition flyer here
Up-date: Some photos from the exhibition have been posted on the Baylor web-site (here) - image 13 has P39 and another papyrus text - probably the Hebrews text under discussion. (HT: MH)