P.Vindob. G 27290b (TM, Images) is a papyrus dated to AD 400–599 (5th–6th century). Treu and Diethart titled the papyrus “Osterlieder” (“Easter Songs”).
Treu, Kurt, and Johannes Diethart, eds. “39. Osterlieder.” Pages 74–75 in Griechische literarische Papyri christlichen Inhaltes II. Vol. 1 of MPER N.S. 17. Vienna: Hollinek, 1993.
P.Vindob. G 27290b verso, from the ONB
Treu and Diethart published the papyrus in the order verso then recto. This order is followed in the transcription below.
Suffering because of us, O Lord glory (be) to you.
He has risen from the dead, Savior, in three days … and all the unceasing forces of angels brought praise, saying, “You are blessed, O Lord, and praiseworthy!” and (were) singing forever †
The one who was raised from the dead and three days all the works …
(Sing the?) Trishagion together … the church … But you, the one who in holiness gives rest, guard all of us in faith. †
Several points can be deduced from the text.
- Jesus’ suffering was because “of us” and the author of the hymn ascribed glory to the Lord (κυριε, in the vocative) because of it.
- The hymn author testifies that the Savior rose from the dead “in three days.”
- One of my favorite lines: “… all the unceasing forces of angels brought praise … and [they] were singing forever!”
- The recto repeats the claim of being raised from the dead in three days.
- The use of τρισαγιος (“Trishagion” or “thrice-holy”) is a bit of a mystery.
- The rest-giver is asked to guard “all of us” in faith. Why “rest-giver”? Through his death and resurrection, Christ has provided eternal rest for us. He is the rest-giver, the rest was provided “in holiness,” and the prayer is to guard us all until we are able to enter the rest that was secured for us on that first Easter morning.
Christians in the first 500 years of Christianity were not all that different from us. Yes, they had access to some of the writings that later became NT canon. But they were also creative. They wrote and preached their own sermons based on their own understanding of the message of the gospel and the story of the Old Testament (the LXX for many). They composed their own hymns and own liturgical documents. They had an understanding of who God is and who Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in relation to God. They used the creative arts of writing, illustrating, composing, and singing to express their faith, much like we do today.
We are not all that different from them.
P.Berol. 21124 (aka BKT 9.24, TM, Images) is a papyrus that dates to AD 300–399. It is fairly fragmentary and small (not a lot of text, either) so it is difficult to translate in any sort of coherent manner. I’m using Kurt Treu’s transcription as basis for my translation.
Treu, Kurt. “Varia Christiana II.” AfP 32 (1986): 23–24.
My translation follows:
- […] who loosed tḥẹ body aṇḍ tḥẹ[…]
- […].[.]… to puniṣḥ light from heave[n…]*
- […]..[.]…. unbroken wall was .[…]*
- […]the F(ath)er . of us : Adam . having called [up…]
- […]and[.] . .[.]. the sons of [A]dam : that the f(ath)e[r…]
- […] ẉay out : … . […]..[…]
- […].̣… of the book : And I have found the .[…]
- […]..[..] summary with ….[…]*
- […]…. sun (and) the earth: ..[…]
Why is this seen as a hymn of Christ’s descent? The phrase “unbroken wall” in recto line 4 may have some relation with “gates of Hades” in Mt 16:18. That, set with light from heaven being punished, and other discussion of “Adam . having called up” and “the sons of Adam” may point to influence from the Acts of Pilate and Descent of Christ to Hades, a work classified as Christian Apocrypha (or New Testament Apocrypha) that puts forth a traditional view of what may have happened after Christ’s crucifixion that includes scenes in Hades of Old Testament luminaries telling stories about their lives and prophecies/looking forward to Christ’s triumph over death. Des. Hades 3 has Seth (Adam’s son) telling a story, at Adam’s behest, about when Adam died. In this section, there are occurrences of “Father” in close proximity to “Adam” and mention of “sons” and “Adam.”
P.Vindob. G 19931 (TM, Image) is a papyrus fragment dated to the 5th century (AD 400–499). It was originally published in 1924 by Carl Wessely.
Wessely, C. “5. Adoracion du sang de Jésus-Christ.” Page 435 in Les plus anciens monuments du Cristianisme écrits sur papyrus: Textes édites, traduits et annotés. Patrologia Orientalis 18.3. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1924.
P.Vindob G 19931 is a hymn about the blood of Jesus. Sort of an early Christian “Nothing but the blood of Jesus” type thing. And you can begin to understand the Christology of at least the hymn writer as well as those who found the hymn worth copying (this appears to be a copy, at least to me; reasons given further below).
When I run into stuff like this little fragment that has so much to say, I’m always a little amazed it hasn’t had more press. Here’s a translation of Wessely’s transcription.
⸓ because of us
† Blood of the one made into flesh ⸓ from the holy virgin, Jesus Christ.
† Blood of the one who was born from the holy mother of God, Jesus Christ.
† Blood of the … being made to appear … Jesus Christ.
† Blood of the one who was baptized in the Jordan by John the forerunner, Jesus Christ, amen.
† Blood of the one who brought himself as a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus Christ, amen.
There are several theological assertions made in this tiny scrap.
- Jesus Christ was made into flesh and had blood. He was incarnated as a human from some other (deity, though the hymn is not explicit about this) state.
- The flesh is from the “holy virgin”
- Jesus Christ was born (so, not made). And born from the “holy mother of God.”
- It’s a pity this line is so fragmented. Is “being made to appear” in support of docetism, or is there text missing that would make this statement be an explicit refutation of docetism? I’d guess refutation because the blood of Jesus is so important in this material, but that’s just a guess.
- “John the forerunner” baptized Jesus in the Jordan.
- Jesus “brought himself” as a sacrifice for our sins. He actively did it, it did not just happen to him.
Now, why do I think this is a copy and not an original?
The very first line with the metobelus-like symbol appears to me to be a correction. The symbol on line 1 matches the symbol on line 2 and (to me, anyway) indicates a correction by addition. The scribe skipped the text inadvertently and made an addition note about it. So the first line is really: “Blood of the one made into flesh +because of us+ from the holy virgin, Jesus Christ.”
1500 years ago this material was used in some sort of Christian context. The blood of Jesus was (and is) important and crucial to the efficacy of his sacrifice.
PSI inv. 535 (TM, Image) is a papyrus fragment dated to a fairly narrow window, 450–499 AD. It might be better to extend that window to a hundred-year window, something like 425–524 AD, as I didn’t note any external information that would support a 50 year window. The papyrus was originally published by Naldini:
Naldini, Mario. “Nuovi papiri cristiani della raccolta fiorentina.” Aegyptus 38 (1958): 138–146.
The papyrus is not small; it is around 17.6cm by 12cm. And the letters are fairly legible outside of the places where the papyrus itself is damaged.
My draft translation is below.
- ḥearing̣ .[…]
- of judgment in the …. … […]*
- now For in thẹṃ have become a murderer tḥị[s one …]*
- [who] worked so that t[h]ey ḍịṣplay because the same […]*
- against But th(e) S(av)i(o)r shouting “Away! Away! Crucify ḥ[im!” …]*
- and since the cross going glory(?)[… king-]*
- ḍom to change the tribes in insolence …[…]
- [hav]ing confessed while suffering but king .[…]*
- ḥẹ was doing [abo]ve steadying himself, he for ..[…]*
- […]…. ** wanderi[ng] about he coverṣ[…]*
- […]… and the indeed he urgẹḍ ẉḥọṃ […]
Lines 5–6 are the primary lines that clue us in to a context regarding Christ’s crucifixion. The translation above largely keeps the word order of the papyrus, but a less restrictive translation could be like: “But shouting against the Savior, ‘Away! Away! Crucify him!'” This has some sort of relation with the first part of John 19:15:
Then those shouted, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests replied, “We do not have a king except Caesar!”
Line 3 perhaps points to those in the crowd being considered murderers of the crucified one, Christ.
So there you go. A late 5th century sermon that uses “Savior” immediately previous to describing the one condemed to crucifixion.
P.Berol. 21143 (TM, Images) is a 4th–5th century papyrus fragment with writing on the recto (front) and verso (back). It is approximately 10cm by 10cm, so it is not huge. It contains what may be two different writings (one on the verso, one on the recto). The editio princeps is:
Sarischouli, Panagiota. “1. Zwei christliche Text.” Pages 5–18 in Berliner Griechische Papyri. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1995.
Sarischouli’s transcription and my draft translation are available via my “Stuff Early Christians Read” project, but I reproduce the recto translation here:
- […rem]ẹmbering denial of Pet[er…]*
- […con]c̣ẹṛning the faith he found[…]*
- […]. the burning heat of the .[…]
- […it ]ẉịṭhered. // For the …[…]*
- […] making payment of the fo[r]mer proceeḍṣ*
- […so that ourse]lves we must cry out, “patience!”*
- […]..[….] ọf̣ a master trụṭ[h]
- […].[…..]. in the one to deny
- […]…. in rememb[rance…]
- […]. in misfortune. Alle[leuia]
- […]..[..]..he will wash the .[…]
- […]. Master G[od…]
- […]., my of̣ [sins/sins/misfortunes]
For our purposes here, the interesting portion is the recto as it has a reference to “remembering the denial of Peter,” an obvious allusion to New Testament material (Mt 26:69–75 and parallels). There is too much missing text to do much more, though some phrases available elsewhere in the NT (“concerning the faith,” cf. 2Ti 3:8; 1Ti 1:19; 6:21; Ac 24:24) with the “he found” very possibly referring to Peter. Was there mention of him being restored? And what was withered by the burning heat?
The verso side of P.Berol. 21143 also has some phraseology reminiscent of Easter:
- […]. fleec(e) .. be(comes) .[…]*
- [was bor]n of a virgin a(nd) became li[ght? ]*
- [the pain of death] having ended a(nd) having ris[en the third day from the dead]*
- Giṿẹṛ ọf̣ Ḷịg̣ḥṭ, Ch(ris)t, the unapproach[able light]
- the e[y]ẹs in the mị[nd having opened]
- …. praise.[……..]. .[…]
- …. F(ath)er of the wor[ld…]*
- […]. .[.].. we glorify dai[ly…]
- […in the] temple of hoḷy glor[y … Jesus Christ who]
- [from the dead r]ọse up. We sin[g into all the ages…]
- […so that we] may worship the one who ṛọ[se up…]
- […] J(esu)s, tḥe stone rọḷḷẹḍ [away…]*
Here we have further doctrinal testimony: Jesus (likely the subject of the clauses at the start) being born of a virgin and becoming light. How he ended “the pain of death” and rose from the dead on the third day. Christ, equated with “Giver of light” and testimony about the “eyes in the mind” opening “the unapproachable light” (cf. 1Ti 6:16). While the easy place to go is to a gnostic reference of some sort, I’m not so sure because I think NT folks are to easy to paint stuff with a gnostic brush when the situation was likely more complicated. Following this, there is testimony of Jesus Christ rising from the dead, that the one risen from the dead is worshipped, and reference to “the stone rolled away.”
This is incredible stuff!
We’re listening in on either a sermon or a hymn from the fourth or fifth century. This is 1500 years ago, at least. And people were testifying to the same story of Jesus’ death (complete with Peter’s denial) and his resurrection (with worship of the resurrected one).
Hi folks. As many of you know, I’ve been researching early Christian papyri (dated from the 5th century AD and before) for awhile. As Easter approaches, I noticed that some of the papyri I’ve translated describe some of the traditionally-held events of Holy Week.
I thought it would be good to write about some of these Easter-related papyri and their contents throughout the week. I think there will be four or five posts, starting on Thursday if all goes well.
from The Hague Medieval illuminated manuscripts, The Hague, KB, 78 D 38 II Gospels Fol. 186v
This past winter, I published the second volume (of three planned volumes) of the Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, this one being the volume on Second Timothy.
Now the good folks at Logos Bible Software (note: I work for Faithlife, the producer of Logos Bible Software) have decided to make Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy available on prepub, to go along with the volume on First Timothy that was released in Logos format in 2017.
I’m stoked about this! Preorder yours in Logos format now!
Here’s the description on Amazon:
To responsibly exegete the text of Second Timothy, one must become familiar with the vocabulary. But examination of word meanings involves more than simply looking up words in a lexicon and choosing a gloss that seems appropriate.
Rick Brannan evaluates the vocabulary of the Second Timothy in light of the New Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), the Apostolic Fathers, the works of Philo, the works of Josephus, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, and other material. Many commentaries and other works of exegesis mention material from these sources to provide background information or examples of word usage, duly noting references to such works in footnotes or endnotes. Brannan’s work, however, provides full quotations (in translation) of the relevant references. Instead of relegating these citations to footnotes that are seldom if ever looked up, the cited text itself is reproduced for the reader to evaluate.
Please note: All proceeds from sale of books published by Appian Way Press, in print or Logos format, go directly to offset costs incurred in the adoption of our third child, Josiah. He’s now 2, and doing well! But domestic infant adoption is expensive, and we’ll be paying bills for a long time, so help us out with some book purchases!
It’s almost March, and I haven’t blogged much — mostly because I’ve been gathering transcriptions of papyri and translating them in my spare time. I think the count is now over 60 transcriptions, with a large proportion of them translated as well. This is all research and preparation for a larger book project that I’m just about ready to chart out and try to see if I can get it written, somehow, in the next year.
And I’ve also been writing my weekly email newsletter, (forthcoming), in bits of time between transcribing and translating (and fixing rabbit hutches, and playing with kids, and of course working at Faithlife, and sometimes even sleeping).
So it’s been busy and productive, but I haven’t really blogged much about it all. If you want to keep up, the best thing to do is to subscribe to (forthcoming).
What’s happening next? I’m torn because I really, really, want to keep digging into the early fragmentary Christian papyri. They are so interesting, and there is so much work to be done there. But I also need to start writing a paper on commands in Titus for a conference in Germany this September. But before that I need to write two papers for BibleTech — again in Seattle on April 11 and 12. And it may have been foolish, but I just submitted a proposal for a paper at SBL (in San Diego this November!) which I can talk about more after I hear whether or not it gets accepted.
So, yes, I’ve been busy!
From January 21, 2019 through January 28, 2019, I’ll be running a giveaway!
I’ll be giving away two Greek Readers from Appian Way Press:
To win these books, you’ll need to enter the raffle and accomplish at least one of the tasks. Some tasks (sharing a status on Twitter) can be done daily.
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Part of the reason I have this blog is for experimentation. Another part is to raise interest in and disseminate information about my publication projects.
For both of those reasons, I’m going to start a newsletter (sign up here). I’m tentatively titling it (forthcoming), and it will include excerpts from books I’ve published, material from things I’m researching (e.g. Stuff Early Christians Read), and updates on whatever else I find interesting. I plan to use the newsletter to announce when new stuff is available as well.
I’m presently thinking there will be 2–3 newsletters per month, and they shouldn’t be more than a page or two in length. I don’t want to do more than one newsletter per week, at most. I’m not sure exactly when the newsletters will start, but probably sometime in the next two weeks.
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