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TI-IE BIBLE TEXT AND RECENT DISCOVERIES SIR FREDERIC I(ENYON T HE last few years have been stirring ones for . those who are concerned with the text of the Bible. Several discoveries of remarkable interest have been made, and new light has been thrown on the history of the Bible text both by these discoveries and by the intensive work of scholars on the materials previously available. The ultimate common object of these studies is to discover, if we can, the history of the Septuagint text before the time of Origen and his Hexapla (about A.D. 240), and that of the New Testament before ' the recognition of Christianity by Constantine and the production of the two great codices, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, on which our knowledge ,of the Greek text principally rests (about A.D. 325). The reconstruction of this history must proceed by way of provisional hypotheses based upon the material available at _any given time; hypotheses which must be modified, or abandoned if necessary, as new evidence comes to light, but the ' formation of which is the only method of progress. It may be _ of interest, therefore, to consider how matters seem' to stand _ in the Ught of the latest discoveries, though always with the proviso that our knowledge is still far from complete, and that conclusions must be provisional and tentative, to be tested by further study and (it rnay be hoped) by discoveries yet to come. The most important of recent discoveries is that of the Chestel' Beatty papyri, first announced in the autumn of 1931 and now in process of publication. This affects both Old and New Testaments. ' It is a group of papyrus codices, believed to ,have been found among the ruins , of a church or cemetery in Egypt, which seem to have 303 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY formed the Biblical library of a Christian commtinity about the fourth century. The manuscripts themselves range in date from the .:first half of the second century to the fourth, and are thus for the most part con?iderably earlier than the great vellum codices on which we have hitherto depended. All are imperfect, though further portions of the find have COlne to light since the original announcement, and others may still be in the hands of dealer'$. The following books are' represented: Genesis, Numhers, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ecclesiasticus, all four Gospels, Acts, all the Epistles of St. Paul (including Hebrews) except 2 Thessalonians and the Pastorals, and Revelation, together with a part of the apocryphal book of Enoch and a homily by Melito of Sardis. (The identification of the homily is due to Professor Campbell Bonner of the University of Michigan, which University owns SOlne portions of the find.) Most of the MSS. appear to belong to the third century, but that of Numbers and Deuteronomy seems certainly to be of the first half of the second, and the Enoch and one of the two Genesis manuscripts probably of the fourth. The importance of such a find of early manuscripts is obvious. The conclusions to be derived from it will be discussed later. Of these manuscripts, the Gospels and Acts, a small part of the Pauline Epistles, Revelation, Genesis, Numbers and Deuteronomy have already been edited by the present writer. A highly important addition has, however , been made to the Pauline manuscript, for in addition to the ten leaves of the original Beatty .find, the University of Michigan has acquired thirty more leaves of the same man.uscript, which have been edited by Professor H. A. Sanders; and it has recently been announced that Mr. Beatty has acquired forty-six more leaves, so that we now possess ejghty-six leaves out of an original total of one 304 THE BIBLE TEXT AND RECENT DISCOVERIES hundred and four of which the Codex was composed. A con1plete edition of the whole is now in hand, and it is hoped that it lnay be published shortly. The others have all been prepared for the press, and will be issued as fast as -the printers can deal with them. The first publication of the Enoch and the Melito is in the hands of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 303-317
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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