Early Bible

Pictures of The New Testament Papyri

To the left is a menu of the earliest and oldest copies of the New Testament—the New Testament Papyri.

About the New Testament Papyri:

Many of these papyri show signs of being part of what is known as a codex, especially Papyrus 46. A codex consists of multiple papyri with writing on both sides and then bound together in what we might call a book. This was a novel invention that came to replace scrolls. Scrolls were large, fragile, expensive. Codicies were less expensive to produce, less fragile (you didn't have to worry about crushing them!) and easier to navigate through, as they could be flipped through quickly, page by page, unlike a scroll which had to be rolled back and forth.

Some interesting features to notice while looking through these papyri are the scribal habits of marking the end of a work with a line accross the page, or the scribal noting of how many lines were written. Regarding this counting of lines, it is interesting that the numbers noted in p46 are inflated. This may raise eyebrows, but it was not uncommon for a scribe to intentionally miscount his work, as scribes were paid by the line. Another interesting feature is the presence of headers on each of the epistles in p46. For instance, while p46 is often used as an example of the lack of the words "in Ephesus" in the opening of the epistle, you can clearly see written across the top of the page "προς εφεσιους," or "TO THE EPHESIANS." This evidence is something that could be missed if one consulted only a critical aparatus but did not actually look at the papyrus itself. Click here to see the page for yourself.

We hope that with these papyri you will find answers to your textual questions, certainty of the accuracy of your transcriptions, as well as experience some excitement exploring ancient copies of the Bible, some of which are nearly two millenia old.