Gospel of John papyrus fragment on display at Ransom Center
A fragment of a manuscript scroll of the Gospel of John is now under the care of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.
Why it matters: The fragment — roughly the size of a credit card — is all that remains of the artifact written in Greek circa A.D. 250-350.
- The Center now will perform a technical analysis of the papyrus, which could provide further evidence to support the A.D. 250-350 timeframe, according to a University of Texas news release.
- Plus, scholars can learn more about the relationships between the papyrus, the text from the Gospel of John and an unidentified Christian text that's written on the other side.
The big picture: Geoffrey Smith, director of UT's Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies, spotted the artifact, known as the Willoughby Papyrus, in an eBay listing in 2015 and was able to acquire the piece with the support of a university alum.
What they're saying: "I couldn't let the papyrus slip into private hands," Smith said. "This fragment has much to teach us about Christianity's early centuries."
- The Willoughby Papyrus is the only example of an early New Testament manuscript written on an unused papyrus scroll, according to Smith.
- Other fragments are usually from a codex, or the book in its modern format. In some cases, New Testament texts appear on scrolls, but they were copied on the back of existing manuscripts.
How to see it: The fragment can be viewed at the Harry Ransom Center through Dec. 11.
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