Update on Acts of Pilate: A Greek Reader

Here’s some more information on my Acts of Pilate Greek reader.

Appian Way Press

ActaPilati-sample-001 Sample excerpt

We hope to publish Rick Brannan’s The Acts of Pilate and the Descent of Christ to Hades: A Greek Reader in August, 2018. It will be the second volume released in the Appian Way Greek Readers series. It is projected to be a 155 page volume with a low price of $9.95.

Like the inaugural volume in the Appian Way Greek Readers series, the Acts of Pilate Greek reader will have the following features:

  • Greek Text: The Greek text of Tischendorf’s Acts of Pilate A and the Greek text of Tischendorf’s The Descent of Christ to Hades.
  • Reading Notes: Every word that occurs 20x or fewer in the Greek New Testament is noted with the form in the text, the lemma or dictionary form of the word, the part of speech, the number of NT instances, and a short gloss.
  • Section Heads: Section headings in English are inserted…

View original post 207 more words

I am appalled.


Photo from @AppalledStatue

I am appalled that government officials, acting in official capacity, are quoting the Bible to justify government policies. I don’t care if their interpretation is correct or incorrect; while acting in official capacity, they shouldn’t be using a religious document to justify a governmental policy. (Attorney General appealing to Romans 13; Press Secretary appealing to “biblical” positions to define legality.)

I am appalled (but not surprised) that celebrity “preachers” are totally misreading scripture to justify and support governmental positions. (Robert Jeffress, anyone? And Paula White’s anachronistic and wrong reading of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ status as refugees in Egypt — really Paula? And pretty much anything Franklin Graham, who has lost any future support I might ever throw Samaritan’s Purse’s way, says or does. These and those like them are sycophants and should be cut off.)

I am appalled at the state of public dialog on social media. For all sides, people.

I am appalled at the current political climate.

I am appalled at the state of racism in America today.

I am appalled at our degenerate two-party system, where every single issue is predictably binary. There is no way the populace of this country is so evenly and reliably divided. Think, people. Free your minds from MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and those crazy web sites that shall not be named. Think!

I am appalled at how one political party drapes themselves in a label of “pro-life” while enthusiastically supporting policies that have anything but a positive effect on life.

I am appalled at how the other political party drapes themselves in a label of “pro-choice” while damning babies to be killed in utero.

I am appalled that “pro-life” these days apparently means “pro-white-american-in-utero-life.”

I am appalled by the trauma inflicted on children through forcible separation from their parents. This needless policy scars these children for life. This is not a pro-life position — I don’t care what country they’re in or what country they are officially citizens of.

I am appalled at how the party of free trade has violated agreements and started trade wars on multiple fronts that suck life and finances from the people they purport to be representing.

I am appalled at how the party of Reagan appears to prefer standing with despots and dictators instead of standing against tyranny with trusted and reliable allies.

I am appalled at how the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy seems to be simply plugging their nose, holding their breath, and trying to wait this thing out until the election. Well, you know, except for saying inflammatory things on social media.

I am appalled with the legislative and executive branches of our government. Sometimes (most times), I think we should all just vote against incumbents at the federal level and hope for the best.

I am appalled that abortion is a litmus test for both major parties, and that anything but total victory for either party on this issue is off the table. I hate abortion, but I want it to decrease, not increase. Congress could muster support and pass a bipartisan law today on abortion, only allowing it in certain circumstances (rape, incest, harm to mother). I would support this. Why hasn’t it been done? Because for both parties it would hurt fundraising ability and hinder the ability to demonize the other side to cajole votes on the federal level.

An ending note: This is my blog, my platform. Comment what you want, but don’t expect it to be approved, and don’t expect me to respond.

Acts of Pilate Greek Reader: Status Update

I’ve made progress on the Acts of Pilate (A) and Descent of Christ to Hades Greek Reader (thoughts on shortening that title, anyone? Just “Acts of Pilate”?) but still have some work to do.

What’s left?

  • Review, edit, correct, and supplement intertextual notes
  • Compose chapter/section headings
  • Prepare revision of English translation (using Walker’s translation from Ante Nicene Fathers vol 8)
  • Final review

I would love for this to be available in late July, but it may creep into August.

Stuff Early Christians Read going on hold

Hi folks!

I’ve been having a ton of fun digging into the “Stuff Early Christians Read” material. I have scads of things I want to find transcriptions for, and I’m stumbling on new stuff all the time. I think I now have five or six series of papyrological stuff  to comb through (some German, some French; nothing English, of course.)


But, I’m putting that series on hold, at least for now. I will get back to it. But first, I want to finish up with creating a reader’s edition of Acta Pilati A + Descent of Christ to Hades. I have the Greek text pretty much together, I have a public domain English edition I can include, and I have the glossary pretty much together. So now it’s time to fight with Microsoft Word (O ye who deal with documents with hundreds and thousands of footnotes, you know the woes I will experience), get the draft together, and get something out that folks can use.


Once I get the reader out, I hope to split time between Stuff Early Christians Read (researching, transcribing, blogging) because I think there’s a book or two in there somewhere, I’m just not sure what yet. And I also hope to finish my Lexical Commentary on 2 Timothy, which has been halfway done for two years now, and really needs to cross the finish line.

So that’s the status, folks.

If you want to help, you can buy my books! Note: I do not get royalties from books published by Lexham Press (Greek Apocryphal GospelsThe Apostolic Fathers, or Anticipating His Arrival) but I do get royalties from books published by Appian Way Press (Lexical Commentary: First Timothy, Second Timothy: Notes, Building a Firm Foundation, First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John).

Stuff Early Christians Read: P. Iand. 5 69 (inv. 272), Part 2: Translation

I wrote yesterday about P. Iand. 5 69 (inv. 272), aka P. Giss. Lit. 5.2. I provided the transcription from Sprey, but noted that Kuhlmann had provided a transcription with an alternate reconstruction.

I think Kuhlmann makes more sense. Below is his transcription and reconstruction, followed by a short apparatus (essentially inverting the one in the previous post) as well as a translation. As with yesterday, these are not fully proofed or considered, but should be good enough to post here.

  1. […ἀλληγορικῶς γὰρ τὸ ἀδελφιδός μου λευκὸς ]
  2. [κ(αὶ)] π̣υρρὸς ἀντι τοῦ θ(εὸ)ς λέ̣[γεται τὸ λευκὸς μὲν]
  3. γὰρ φῶς ἐστιν, τὸ δὲ̣ πυρρὸς̣ [σημαίνει το χρῶμα]
  4. τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σ(ταυ)ροῦ· αὐτὸς̣ δ̣έ̣ [ἐστι πρὸ πάντων,]
  5. ῶς φησιν ὁ ἀπόστολ(ος), ὃν ὁ π(ατ)ὴρ ὑ̣π̣ε̣ρ̣ [ὐψωσεν ἑν δυνά-]
  6. μει αὑτοῦ, ἵνα γένηται ἐν π̣ᾶσι α̣ὐτὸς πρωτεύων,
  7. ὅθεν προτ̣ότ̣οκος γ̣έγ̣ο̣ν̣εν. διʼ ἀμ[αρτιῶν ἡμῶν ὁ πρω-]
  8. τότοκος τ̣ῶν νεκ̣ρῶν, ὡς ὁ ἀπόσ[τολός φησιν, ἀνέ-]
  9. βη εἴς οὐ(ρα)νούς, ἐγὼ ἀρέ<ι̣>σ̣κω θ<(ε)ῷ τ>ῷ δ̣[οξαστῷ, ὃς ἐστιν]
  10. κ(ύριο)ς τῶν δυνάμ̣εων· [οὗτ]ό̣ς ἐστιν ὁ [κ(ύριο)ς στρατιῶν. κ(αὶ) κ(ύριο)ς]
  11. σαβαὼθ ἑρμηνεύεται κ(ύριο)ς τῶν δυν̣[άμεων· ὑφʼ οὗ ὐψώ-]
  12. θη κ(αὶ) ὁ υ(ἱό)ς. ἀλλʼ αὐτός φησιν· πάντας ἐ̣[λκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν]
  13. κ(αὶ) πάντα τὰ ἐμὰ σά εἰ(σι) κ(αὶ) τὰ σὰ ἐμά· αὐτὸς γ[ὰρ εἰκών ἐστι(ν)]
  14. τοῦ π(ατ)ρ(ὸ)ς ἐν παντὶ κ(αὶ) ἐν̣ πάσῇ ἀρετῇ[. διὸ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ]
  15. τὸν οὐ(ρα)νὸν τοῦ οὐ(ρα)νοῦ, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐγένε[το ὐπέρτερος]
  16. [τ]ῶ̣ν ὅλων οὐ(ρα)νῶν κ(αὶ) πάλ̣ιν πρὸς τὸν [π(ατέ)ρα ἐπορεύθη.]
  17. [ὀπω]σοῦν δὲ ἐρω̣τᾶ̣ς παντὶ̣ κε̣ι̣.[…]


1: Kuhlmann supplies an introduction based on Song 5:10
2: κ(αὶ) ] Sprey τὸ | τὸ λευκὸς μὲν ] Sprey πνευματικῶς· ὁ θ(εὸ)ς
3: [σημαίνει το χρῶμα] ] Sprey τ[οῦ τε φωτὸς ἴδιον καὶ]
4: cf. Col 1:20 and Col 1:17
5: ὑπερ [ὐψωσεν ἑν δυνά-] ] Sprey ἔστει[λεν ἡμῖν τῇ δυνά-]
6: cf. Col 1:18
7: διʼ ἀμ[αρτιῶν ἡμῶν ὁ πρω-] ] Sprey διαμ[ένων(?). ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ πρω-]. Cf. Col 1:18.
9: ἐστιν ] Sprey καλεῖται
10: ὁ [κ(ύριο)ς στρατιῶν. κ(αὶ) κ(ύριο)ς] ] Sprey ὁ [παντοκράτωρ· τὸ γὰρ]. cf. 3Kg 3:14 [LXX]; Ps 24(23):10; also 1Kg 15:2; Is 2:12.
11: cf. 3Kg 3:14 [LXX]; Ps 24(23):10.
12: cf. Jn 12:32
13: γ[ὰρ εἰκών ἐστι(ν)] ] Sprey γά[ρ ἐστι οὐ μείων]. cf. Jn 17:10, also Mt 11:27; Lk 10:22; Jn 16:15.
14: διὸ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ ] Sprey διὸ καὶ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ
15: ἐγένε[το ὐπέρτερος] ] Sprey ἐγένε[το πολλῷ ἀνώτερος]. cf. De 10:14; 3Kg 8:27; Sir 16:18; Ps 68(67):34; Ps 115:16(113:24).
16: [π(ατέ)ρα ἐπορεύθη.] ] Sprey [π(ατέ)ρα αὐτοῦ ἐπορεύθη.]


[For allegorically, “my little brother/beloved (is) white and] red” instead of “God.” Now the white is called the light, for red denotes the blood of the cross. But he himself is before all things, as the apostle said, whom the Father has exalted even more in his power, so that in everything he may be first, from which he has become the firstborn. Through our sins he has become the firstborn of the dead, as the apostle said, he has gone up into the heavens. I am pleased with the glorious God, who is Lord of the Powers. This one is the Lord of Armies. And Lord Sabaoth, being translated “Lord of the Powers,” by which even the Son was lifted up. But he himself said he will draw everyone to himself. And all my things are yours and your things are mine. For he himself is the image of the Father in all things and all truth. For this reason he treads upon the heaven of heaven, instead he becomes higher than the whole of the heavens. And again he went to the Father. But in any way whatever are you asking all things …

I still have yet to fully digest all of Kuhlmann’s notes on the transcription (takes awhile with my Hogans-Heroes-influenced German skills), so the above translation will likely change. But the material itself is wonderful, interacting with Colossians 1 and reflecting on what it means to be firstborn of the dead.

Stuff Early Christians Read: P. Iand. 5 69 (inv. 272), a Christological Fragment

I stumbled across P. Iand. 5 69 (aka P. Iand. inv. 272, aka P. Giss. Lit. 5.2) while looking for P. Iand. 5 70. And I was immediately drawn to it. It is a fourth century papyrus, it has significant interchange with the Biblical text so reconstruction is possible, it has several nomina sacra, and it is just plain fascinating.

More fascinating is that after I found the ed. princ.  published by Sprey in 1931, I also found an edition published by Kuhlmann. And Kuhlmann’s reconstructions are very different than Sprey’s. It makes me wonder if there has been work done on comparing reconstructions, because this could be a case study (Ph.D. suggestion for those out there looking for Ph.D. topics in papyrology, epigraphy, or early Christianity).

I’m still working on translations (going to translate both Sprey and Kuhlmann) and will post on that stuff hopefully later this week, but in the interim, here is Sprey’s transcription and reconstruction. I’ve provided an apparatus beneath to compare Kuhlmann’s reconstructions. Note these have been hastily keyed, and not fully proofed.

  1. [τὸ] π̣υρρὸς ἀντι τοῦ θ(εὸ)ς λέ̣[γεται πνευματικῶς· ὁ θ(εὸ)ς]
  2. γὰρ φῶς ἐστιν, τὸ δὲ̣ πυρρὸς̣ τ̣[οῦ τε φωτὸς ἴδιον καὶ]
  3. τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σ(ταυ)ροῦ· αὐτὸς̣ δ̣έ̣ [ἐστι πρὸ πάντων,]
  4. ῶς φησιν ὁ ἀπόστολ(ος), ὃν ὁ π(ατ)ὴρ ἔ̣σ̣τ̣ε̣ι̣[λεν ἡμῖν τῇ δυνά-]
  5. μει αὑτοῦ, ἵνα γένηται ἐν π̣ᾶσι α̣ὐτὸς πρωτεύων·
  6. ὅθεν προτ̣ότ̣οκος γ̣έγ̣ο̣ν̣εν διαμ[ένων(?). ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ πρω-]
  7. τότοκος τ̣ῶν νεκ̣ρῶν, ὡς ὁ ἀπόσ[τολός φησιν, ἀνέ-]
  8. βη εἴς οὐ(ρα)νούς, ἐγὼ ἀρέ<ι̣>σ̣κω θ<(ε)ῷ τ>ῷ δ̣[οξαστῷ, ὃς καλεῖται]
  9. κ(ύριο)ς τῶν δυνάμ̣εων· [οὗτ]ό̣ς ἐστιν ὁ [παντοκράτωρ· τὸ γὰρ]
  10. σαβαὼθ ἑρμηνεύεται κ(ύριο)ς τῶν δυν̣[άμεων· ὑφʼ οὗ ὐψώ-]
  11. θη κ(αὶ) ὁ υ(ἱό)ς. ἀλλʼ αὐτός φησιν· πάντας ἐ̣[λκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν]
  12. κ(αὶ) πάντα τὰ ἐμὰ σά εἰ(σι) κ(αὶ) τὰ σὰ ἐμά· αὐτὸς γά̣[ρ ἐστι οὐ μείων]
  13. τοῦ π(ατ)ρ(ὸ)ς ἐν παντὶ κ(αὶ) ἐν̣ πάσῇ ἀρετῇ[. διὸ καὶ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ]
  14. τὸν οὐ(ρα)νὸν τοῦ οὐ(ρα)νοῦ, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐγένε[το πολλῷ ἀνώτερος]
  15. [τ]ῶ̣ν ὅλων οὐ(ρα)νῶν κ(αὶ) πάλ̣ιν πρὸς τὸν [π(ατέ)ρα αὐτοῦ ἐπορεύθη.]
  16. [ὀπω]σοῦν δὲ ἐρω̣τᾶ̣ς παντὶ̣ κε̣ι̣.[…]


1: τὸ ] Kuhlmann κ(αὶ) | πνευματικῶς· ὁ θ(εὸ)ς ] Kuhlmann τὸ λευκὸς μὲν
2: τ[οῦ τε φωτὸς ἴδιον καὶ] ] Kuhlmann [σημαίνει το χρῶμα]
4: ἔστει[λεν ἡμῖν τῇ δυνά-] ] Kuhlmann ὐπερ [ὐψωσεν ἑν δυνά-]
6: διαμ[ένων(?). ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ πρω-] ] Kuhlmann διʼ ἀμ[αρτιῶν ἡμῶν ὁ πρω-]
8: καλεῖται ] Kuhlmann ἐστιν
9: ὁ [παντοκράτωρ· τὸ γὰρ] ] Kuhlmann ὁ [κ(ύριο)ς στρατιῶν. κ(αὶ) κ(ύριο)ς]
12: γά[ρ ἐστι οὐ μείων] ] Kuhlmann γ[ὰρ εἰκών ἐστι(ν)]
13: διὸ καὶ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ ] Kuhlmann διὸ ἐπέβη ἐπὶ
14: ἐγένε[το πολλῷ ἀνώτερος] ] Kuhlmann ἐγένε[το ὐπέρτερος]
15: [π(ατέ)ρα αὐτοῦ ἐπορεύθη.] ] Kuhlmann [π(ατέ)ρα ἐπορεύθη.]

In this apparatus, the pipe (‘|’) separates different variant units on the same line. The right bracket (‘]’) separates the text from the transcription (left side) from the variation (right side). The source is always Kuhlmann, but I still note it (I may locate other reconstructions; who knows).

Transcription based on: Literarische Stücke und Verwandtes / bearb. von Josef Sprey. – Leipzig : Teubner 1931, pp. 165–169. (Papyri Iandanae ; 5) and apparatus based on: Peter Alois Kuhlmann, Die Giessner Literarischen Papyri und die Caracalla-Erlasse: Edition, Ubersetzung und Kommentar. Giessen Universitätsbibliothek: 1994, pp. 160–167.

Stuff Early Christians Read: P. Oxy. 406, “Theological Fragment”

Sometimes these fragments of papyrus can be really, really cool. Other times, you think they should be cool, but they end up being frustratingly difficult. What do I mean? I mean that we have scads of witnesses to the text of the Bible (Greek OT and Greek NT, especially). And we have scads of other papyri that we know must be Christian for one reason or another.

But on these Christian papyri, we can only realiably reconstruct those areas that have some correspondance with the Biblical text. That is, we can isolate and reconstruct citations of scripture, but we can’t really fill in the blanks between the scripture citations unless the material is something already so well known that the missing pieces are obvious.


P. Oxy. 406, verso

P. Oxy. 406, a “Theological Fragment,” (TM: 62336) is one of these semi-reconstructable yet frustrating pieces of papyri. I’ve come to think that labels like “Theological Fragment” are the equivalent of “We don’t really know what it is, but there’s a quotation of scripture we can reconstruct, so it must be theological.” There are also nomina sacra, and it probably comes from a codex, so we can be fairly sure it is Christian.

P. Oxy. 406 is from the third century (200–299). A decent chunk can be reconstructed, but that is only because it cites from (I’d guess) Mt 13:15, which itself is a citation of Is 6:10. The same exact text occurs in Ac 28:27.

But the rest of it can’t really be reconstructed, and it’s frustrating because the little we can decipher makes me want to know more about what was on this papyrus and what its context was.

Here’s the transcription (from Grenfell & Hunt, supplemented by Wessely). Verso is first, then recto.

  1. (ἐ)παχύν[θ]η γὰρ [ἡ καρδία τοῦ]*
  2. λαοῦ τούτου κ[αὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν]*
  3. βαρέως ἤκου[σαν καὶ τούς]*
  4. ὀφθαλμοὺς α[ὐτῶν ἐκάμ-]*
  5. μυσαν μήπ[οτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς]*
  6. ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐ[τῶν καὶ τοῖς ὠ-]*
  7. σὶν ἀκούσωσι[ν καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ]*
  8. συνῶσιν καὶ ἐ[πιστρέψωσιν]*
  9. κα[ὶ] ϊ[ά]σομαι α[ὐτούς …]*
  10. τ̣[…]εχ[.] . [.]οιε̣[…]*
  11. […]ει̣[…]ον[…]*
  12. […]σι[…]*
  1. […]φησῑ(ν)
  2. […]..οσ…κω*
  3. […].α̣*
  4. […]συ.[.]..[.]σανυ*
  5. […].ἄλλοθεν λαλῶ
  6. […] αὐτῶν γάρ
  7. […] .. ρ […]*
  8. […]ω̣που υϊος θ(εο)υ
  9. […]ος εστ(αυ)ρ(ωμε)νος Χ(ριστο)ς*
  10. […]σ̣[…]ρο*

Here’s a translation:

  1. (ha)s become [d]ull for [the heart of the]*
  2. people this a[nd with their ears]*
  3. with difficulty they h[ear and the]*
  4. eyes of t[hem they ha-]*
  5. ve shut tha[t not they would see with the]*
  6. eyes of t[hem and with their e-]*
  7. ars hea[r and with the heart]*
  8. understand and t[urn]*
  9. an[d] I w[i]ll heal t[hem …]*
  10. *
  11. *
  12. *
  1. […]he sai(d)
  2. *
  3. *
  4. *
  5. […].in another place I say
  6. […] of them for
  7. *
  8. […].̣… son of G(o)d
  9. […].. one hav(in)g (been crucif)ied C(hris)t*
  10. *

With the translation you can see there are places that are quotations or elaborations on something, but there isn’t enough text to reconstruct anything. There seems to be something attributed to someone else, (“he said …”) with some sort of possible refutation or other interaction, (“but in another place I say”). What was going on, and how did Mt 13:15/Acts 28:27, from Is 6:10 relate to it? And then that crazy nomina sacra, εστ(αυ)ρ(ωμε)νος Χ(ριστο)ς, which (according to Wayment & Blumell, p. 294) does have some similar 2nd/3rd century witnesses.

While is isn’t certain, what we can probably take from this text is the citation of scripture (from the NT, which cites a similar form from the LXX) and also some interaction possibly between disagreeing parties who use scripture in their argumentation. So even at this date (third century), people are appealing to scripture as authoritative while they dispute what it means.

Stuff Early Christians Read: P. Egerton 3 + PSI inv. 2101, A Commentary or Homily of Origen


P. Egerton 3, Frags. 1&2, recto, from Bell & Skeat (plate III)

This has taken awhile to get together. But I do finally have data for P. Egerton 3 + PSI inv. 2101 (TM: 62337) based on the published transcriptions and interaction among scholars regarding the material. There are a few relevant articles:

  • H.I. Bell and T.C. Skeat, eds., Fragments of an unknown Gospel and Other Early Christian Papyri (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1935) no. 2, pp. 43–51, with plate III. Note that this papyri is the second papyri in the publication, but it’s inventory number is 3. To reduce any confusion with the well-known P. Egerton 2 (item 1 in this publication) which, combined with P. Köln 255, provide textual evidence of an early apocryphal gospel, I will refer to it as P. Egerton 3.
  • R.M. Grant, “More Fragments of Origen?,” VigChr 2 (1948) 243–247.
  • R. Leaney, “The Authorship of Egerton Papyrus no. 3,” VigChr (1955) 212–217.
  • H. Chadwick, “The Authorship of Egerton Papyrus No. 3,” HThR 49 (1956) 145–151.
  • M. Naldini, “Nuovi frammenti origeniani,” Prometheus 4 (1978) 97–108. MS data and images.
  • M. Naldini, “Ancora sui nuovi frammenti origeniani (PSI inv. 2101),” Prometheus 6 (1980) 80–82.
  • R. Yuen-Collingridge, “Hunting for Origen in Unidentified Papyri: The Case of P. Egerton 2 (= inv. 3)” in T.J. Kraus and T. Niklas, Early Christian Manuscripts: Examples of Applied Method and Approach (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 39–57.

Bell and Skeat initially suggest and then rule out Origen as the source of this material due to the dating of the fragment (“early third century”) being almost too early for Origen to be considered the author. They only will say that it could be a homily or a commentary, and settle on commentary for the title of the article without restricting themselves to it in the analysis of the material.

Grant comes along in 1948 and makes a forceful argument that the material is, in fact, an early commentary of Origen, likely on Genesis, despite the seemingly early date ascribed to the fragment. Leaney expresses indebtedness to Grant, makes a few more proposals and contests one of Grant’s readings. Chadwick, among other discussion, quashes Leaney and says Grant is where it’s at.

Naldini, in the ed. princ. of PSI inv. 2101, proposed that it and P. Egerton 3 are both fragments of the same codex, and his proposal has been accepted fairly universally.


This work has significant interchange with biblical material, which makes reconstruction of some portions of the fragments possible. Here’s a breakdown of the cited/quoted/alluded material (references extracted from above cited material). Note that P. Egerton 3 has consecutive line numbering through both fragments, recto and verso (and their columns); PSI inv. 2101 follows a more traditional scheme of numbering each fragment starting with line 1.

  • P. Egerton 3, Fragment 1
    • recto
      • lines 4–8, Mt 4:5
      • lines 9–12, Mt 27:52–53
      • lines 13–15, Mt 25:34
      • lines 16–18, Php 3:20
    •  verso
      • lines 44–46, Mt 5:8
      • lines 54–58, Ps 11:7
  • P. Egerton 3, Fragment 2
    • recto
      • lines 64–65, Jn 1:14
      • lines 68–71, Jn 1:29
      • lines 72–74, Jn 16:27ff
      • lines 75–77, Jn 6:55
      • lines 84–87, Php 2:6
    • verso
      • lines 132–133, 2Ti 2:19
  • PSI inv. 2101, Fragment A
    • recto col. 2
      • line 20, Col 3:9–10; Gen 1:27
      • lines 22–23, John 20:22
      • lines 26–28, 1Co 12:31
      • line 29–33, 1Co 13:9–10
    • verso col. 1
      • lines 10–16, 1Jn 3:2–3
      • lines 25–27, Col 1:15
      • line 30, cf. Didache 11.1
      • lines 31–32, 1Co 13:12
      • line 34, Eph 2:10
    • verso col. 2
      • lines 1–4, Eph 2:10
  • PSI inv. 2101, Fragment 1
    • recto
      • line 6, Gen 1:26
  • PSI inv. 2101, Fragment 2
    • recto
      • lines 3–5, Gen 2:25
      • lines 9–11, Jn 3:20
    • verso
      • lines 3–7, Gen 1:28; 9:1
  • PSI inv. 2101, Fragment 3
    • no discernable intertextual material

There are several points in the extant text where the author (Origen) refers to authors of Scripture (e.g. Paul) and the writing the reference comes from (e.g. Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, John’s first letter, the Psalmist).

Grant and Naldini both propose the writing as focused on the book of Genesis. But the citations (above) don’t really focus on Genesis. Once you dig into both P. Egerton 3 and PSI inv. 2101, though, you see that the citations/quotations are (apparently in typical Origen style, according to Grant) grouped and focused. PSI inv. 2101, especially, focuses on the phrase “according to the image” and could be a homily or extended discussion on being created in the image of the divine, as an image-bearer of God.

Whether Origen was the author or not (likely so), this tells us that even in the early third century (so, early 200s) and even earlier, there was discussion going on as to what it meant to be made in the image of God. And Origen mined the scriptures to understand and explain this concept and others; from Johannine material (gospel and first letter) to the creation mandate (Gen 1:26–28; 9:1) to Matthew, to Pauline material (Eph 2:10; 1Co 12, 13;  2Ti 2:19) and other stuff.

This is deep discussion, and it should help us discard the notion that early Christians somehow lacked sophistication and were dull or dim-witted, or unaware of theological nuance, or unable to appreciate the complex issues their developing theology was revealing.


Stuff Early Christians Read: P. Oxy. 925, Christian Prayer about a Journey

P. Oxy. 925 (TM 35312) is a short Christian prayer dating somewhere between 400–599 AD. It is a simple prayer asking for discernment on whether or not one should go on a journey.

This prayer is doubly interesting because there are several pagan counter-examples to it. The pagan (read: non-Christian) version would be to petition a god as to whether or not something was in the will of said divine being. These written-out prayers would then typically be left in the pagan god’s temple for fulfillment (cf. P. Oxy. 923). P. Oxy. 925 is a Christian example of something similar. It reflects Christians adapting their lives and practice from pagan to Christian. Here’s the simple prayer, the transcription is from P. Oxy. volume 6 (p. 291), but even the thumbnail in this post above is fairly readable (try it, compare transcription to the image, you might be surprised):

  1. + Ὁ θ(εὸ)ς ὁ παντοκράτωρ ὁ ἅγιος
  2. ὁ ἀληθινὸς φιλάνθρωπος καὶ
  3. δημιουργὸς ὁ π(ατ)ὴρ τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ (καὶ) σω(τῆ)ρ(ο)ς
  4. ἡμῶν Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ φανέρωσόν μοι τὴν
  5. παρὰ σοὶ ἀλήθισν εἰ βούλῃ με ἀπελθεῖν
  6. εἰς Χιοὺτ ἢ εὑρίσκω σε σὺν ἐμοὶ
  7. πράττοντα (καὶ) εὐμενῆν. γένοιτο, στθ.*

And here’s a translation:

O God, almighty, holy, true, friend of people and creator, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, reveal to me your truth, if you wish me to go to Chiout or if I will find you aiding me and gracious. May it be so, amen.

As with others of these papyri, this is a simple act, and it shows the humanity of the one writing the prayer. “Should I go to [place], and will you help me?” The short introduction to the papyrus in the P.Oxy. volume notes:

The writer asks whether it was the divine will that he should make a certain journey and whether success would attend him. Presumably this prayer was to be deposited in some church, just as the similar pagan documents were left in the temples ….

Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, eds., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vol. VI; Egypt Exploration Fund: Graeco-Roman Branch; London; Boston, MA; New York; Berlin: The Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.; Bernard Quaritch; Asher & Co.; Henry Frowde, 1908), 291.

We ask questions like this of God all the time. Now, we might not write them down and leave them in churches, but we think these thoughts. The author of this prayer approached it the same way others in his day approached it: Write a prayer to your god, leave it in his temple, and hope something happens to make the answer to the question clear.

We ask these things of God: Should I take that job? Should we move? How should we handle that situation with that friend or relative? So did Christians of earlier eras. There are no foolproof ways for quick answers. but we do need to bring these things to God (more than just once!) as one step in arriving at an answer. Early Christians did that too. They were much like us in many ways, and we do well to remember that.

Stuff Early Christians Read: PSI III 208, another Transfer of Church Membership

PSI III 208 (TM 33228), another letter regarding transfer of individuals from church to church, is dated somewhere between 250–330. I came across it (again) in Goodspeed & Colwell’s  Greek Papyrus Reader (item #10), but (again) Luijendijk has a more recent and fuller treatment in her  Greetings in the Lord: Early Christians and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (if you dig the stuff I’m writing in these posts, you’ll enjoy Luijenkijk’s work as well).

I earlier wrote about PSI IX 1041, a letter regarding transfer of church membership. It was sent from Sotas to Paul. Well, that wasn’t a one-off situation. The (very probably) same person, Sotas, sent a very similar letter to a guy named Peter, and today we know it as PSI III 208. The handwriting is different (Luijendijk 84) but the letter is fairly similar. First the Greek, then the translation.

  1. Χ̣αῖρε ἐν κ(υρί)ῳ, ἀγαπητὲ
  2. [ἄδ]ελφε Πέτρε, Σώτ̣[ας]*
  3. σε προσαγορεύω.
  4. τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν
  5. Ἡρακλῆν παράδεξαι
  6. [κ]ατὰ τὸ ἔθος, διʼ οὗ σὲ
  7. καὶ τοὺς σὺν σοὶ πάν-
  8. τας ἀδελφοὺς ἐγὼ*
  9. καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοι
  10. προσαγορεύομε(ν)
  11. ἐρρῶσαί σε
  12. ἐν θ(ε)ῷ εὔχομαι.

And the translation.

Greetings in the Lord, beloved brother Peter.
I, Sotas, greet you.

Accept our brother Heracles according to custom, through whom I and all the brothers and sisters with me greet you and those with you.

Farewell, I pray you in God.

The basic form of the letter is the same. Note that Heracles is described as a “brother” instead of as a “catechumen.” So these letters serve both as introduction and also transfer status within the church. Heracles doesn’t have to go through the “New Believers” class at the church Peter oversees, but the catechumens mentioned in PSI IX 1041 do have to continue in the “New Believers” class at the church Paul oversees.

This is all so very ordinary. All of these guys — Sotas, Paul, and Peter — probably wrote and received several letters like this. People moved around, and needed some method to transfer their status in the church with them as they moved. We do similar things. We may not require letters, but I have been to churches that, as part of their membership course, wanted information on previous churches attended. If a particular body requires completion of a course or class before becoming a member, it isn’t a stretch to think we might want to get out of taking that class if we’ve done something similar before.

While the formality and the use of particular vocabulary like “brother” and “catechumen” leads us to think more was going on in the instances with Sotas (and it probably was) the underlying motives and thoughts are familiar to us.

Early Christians weren’t that different from us.