Papyrus 46

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Papyrus 46
New Testament manuscript
A folio from 𝔓46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33–12:9. As with other folios of the manuscript, text is lacunose at the bottom.
A folio from 𝔓46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33–12:9. As with other folios of the manuscript, text is lacunose at the bottom.
NameP. Chester Beatty II; Ann Arbor, Univ. of Michigan, Inv. 6238
TextPauline epistles
Datec. 175–225
Now atDublin, University of Michigan
CiteSanders, A Third Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul
Size28 cm by 16 cm
TypeAlexandrian text-type
NoteAffinity with Minuscule 1739
Bifolio from Paul's Letter to the Romans, the end of Paul's Letter to the Philippians and the beginning of Paul's Letter to the Colossians

Papyrus 46 (P. Chester Beatty II), designated by siglum 𝔓46 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), is an early Greek New Testament manuscript written on papyrus, and is one of the manuscripts comprising the Chester Beatty Papyri. Manuscripts among the Chester Beatty Papyri have had several provenances associated with them, the most likely being the Faiyum.[1] It has been paleographically dated between 175 and 225,[2] or early 3rd century CE.[3] It contains verses from the Pauline Epistles of Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Hebrews. Some leaves are part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, and others are in the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection.[4]

In November 2020, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) in conjunction with Hendrickson Publishers released a new 1:1 high-resolution imaged facsimile edition of 𝔓46 on black and white backgrounds, along with 𝔓45 and 𝔓47.[5]


The codex is made from papyrus in single quire, with the folio size approximately 28 by 16 centimetres (11.0 in × 6.3 in). The text is written in single column, with the text-block averaging 11.5 centimetres (4.5 in), between 26 and 32 lines of text per page, although both the width of the rows and the number of rows per page increase progressively. Lines containing text at the bottom of each page are damaged (lacunose), with between 1–2 lines non-extant in the first quarter of the codex, 2–3 lines non-extant in the central half, and up to seven lines non-extant in the final quarter. Though unusual for ancient manuscripts, 𝔓46 has each page numbered.[6]

Throughout Romans, Hebrews, and the latter chapters of 1 Corinthians, small and thick strokes or dots are found, usually agreed to be from the hand of a reader rather than the initial copyist, since the ink is always much paler than that of the text itself.[7]: 17  They appear to mark sense divisions (similar to verse numbering found in Bibles), and are also found in portions of 𝔓45, possibly evidence of reading in the community which held both codices. Edgar Ebojo made a case that these "reading marks" with or without space-intervals were an aid to readers, most likely in a liturgical context.[8]

Nomina Sacra[edit]

𝔓46 uses an extensive and well-developed system of nomina sacra.[2] It contains the following nomina sacra in abbreviated form (nominative case): ΚΣ (κυριος / Lord) ΧΣ or ΧΡΣ (χριστος / anointed) ΙΗΣ (Ιησους / Jesus) ΘΣ (θεος / God) ΠΝΑ (πνευμα / Spirit) ΥΙΣ (υιος / Son) ΣΤΡΟΣ (σταυρος / cross).[9]: 208–334 

The use of nomina sacra has featured in discussions on the dating for 𝔓46, with Bruce Griffin arguing against Young Kyu Kim, in part, that such an extensive usage of the nomina sacra system nearly eliminates any possibility of the manuscript dating to the 1st century. He admitted, however, that Kim's dating cannot be ruled out on this basis alone, since the exact provenance of the nomina sacra system itself is not well-established.[2]

On the other hand, Philip Comfort (preferring a date c. 150–75) notes indications the scribe's exemplar made limited use of nomina sacra or none at all.[10]: 131–39, 223, 231–38  In several instances, the word for Spirit is written out in full where the context should require a nomen sacrum, suggesting the scribe was rendering nomina sacra where appropriate for the meaning but struggling with Spirit versus spirit, without guidance from the exemplar. The text also inconsistently uses either the short or the long contracted forms of Christ.[10]: 231–237, 223 


𝔓46 contains most of the Pauline epistles, though with some folios missing. It contains (in order): the last eight chapters of Romans; Hebrews; 1–2 Corinthians; Ephesians; Galatians; Philippians; Colossians; and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. All of the leaves have lost some lines at the bottom through deterioration.[11]

(CB = Chester Beatty Library; Mich. = University of Michigan)

Folio Contents Location
1–7 Romans 1:1–5:17 Missing
8 Rom 5:17–6:14 CB
9-10 Rom 6:14–8:15 Missing
11–15 Rom 8:15–11:35 CB
16–17 Rom 11:35–14:8 Mich.
18 (fragment) Rom 14:9–15:11 CB
19–28 Rom 15:11–Hebrews 8:8 Mich.
29 Heb 8:9–9:10 CB
30 Heb 9:10–26 Mich.
31–39 Heb 9:26–1 Corinthians 2:3 CB
40 1 Cor 2:3–3:5 Mich.
41–69 1 Cor 3:6–2 Corinthians 9:7 CB
70–85 2 Cor 9:7–end, Ephesians, Galatians 1:1–6:10 Mich.
86–94 Gal 6:10–end, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:3 CB
95–96 1 Thess 2:3–5:5 Missing
97 (fragment) 1 Thess 5:5, 23–28 CB
98–104 Thought to be 1 Thess 5:28–2 Thessalonians, and possibly Philemon; as for 1–2 Timothy, and Titus (see below) Missing

Missing contents[edit]

The contents of the seven missing leaves from the end is uncertain as they are lost. Kenyon calculated that 2 Thessalonians would require two leaves, leaving only five remaining leaves (10 pages) for the remaining canonical Pauline literature — 1 Timothy (estimated 8.25 pages), 2 Timothy (6 pages), Titus (3.5 pages) and Philemon (1.5 pages) — requiring ten leaves in total (19.25 pages). Thus Kenyon concluded 𝔓46 as originally constructed did not include the pastoral epistles.[12]

Overall, Kenyon was open to different possibilities regarding the contents of the lost leaves at the end of the codex. He entertained the idea that the last five leaves could have been left blank or that additional leaves could have been added to the quire to create space for the pastoral letters.[13] In 1998, Jeremy Duff vigorously argued in favor of Kenyon's second suggestion, emphasizing that the scribe of 𝔓46 was increasing the number of letters per page in the second half of the codex. Duff argued that this indicated that the scribe intended to include all of the traditional 14-letter collection and would most likely have added extra leaves if the original quire lacked sufficient space. Duff also pointed to several ancient codices that he considered as good evidence for the attachment of additional leaves to codices to allow for the inclusion of more material.[14] The relevance of the ancient evidence that Duff presented has been challenged, but a survey of surviving examples of ancient single-quire codices does show evidence for the practice of leaving some blank pages at the end of a codex.[13] However, this survey also showed that single-quire codices sometimes had more inscribed pages in the second half of the codex than in the first half (due to, for example, blank front fly-leaves). This leaves open the possibility that the original quire may have contained the traditional 14-letter collection after all. Brent Nongbri summarizes:

We still have much to learn about early single-quire codices and what constituted 'normal' practice for the makers of these books. Duff’s article performed a service by challenging a complacent and largely unreflective consensus with regard to the contents of the Beatty-Michigan Pauline epistles codex. Duff’s positive hypothesis about the addition of extra folia as an afterthought is, however, impossible to prove. And as we have seen, the material comparanda he adduced did not support his case. Yet, Duff’s argument serves as a good reminder that we cannot simply assume the contents of the missing folia. We cannot say, for instance, that the Beatty-Michigan codex is secure evidence for the circulation of a ten-letter collection of Paul’s letters, as has occasionally been argued. In fact, as we have seen, we must be cautious about assuming the contents of the missing folia at the end of the quire because we may have had too much confidence about our knowledge of the number of missing folia at the end of the quire. ...By tying his estimate of the size of the quire to the numbering of the pages, Kenyon may have created a false problem that has needlessly frustrated subsequent generations of scholars.[13]

The question of the contents of the codex as originally constructed thus remains open.


The text of the codex is considered a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. The text-types are groups of different manuscripts which share specific or generally related readings, which then differ from each other group, and thus the conflicting readings can separate out the groups, which are then used to determine the original text as published; there are three main groups with names: Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine.[15] Biblical scholar Kurt Aland placed it in Category I of his New Testament manuscript classification system.[4] Category I manuscripts are those "of a very special quality, i. e. manuscripts with a very high proportion of the early text... To this category have also been assigned all manuscripts to the beginning of the fourth century, regardless of further distinctions which should also be observed[.]"[4]: 335 

Some notable readings

Romans 8:28

παντα συνεργει ό θεος εις αγαθον (God works all things together for good) - 𝔓46 A B 81 sa eth
παντα συνεργει εις αγαθον (all things work together for good) - Majority of manuscripts[16]: 551 

Romans 16:15

Βηρεα και Αουλιαν - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
Ιουλιαν, Νηρεα - Majority of manuscripts[16]: 575 

1 Corinthians 2:1

μυστηριον (mystery) - 𝔓46 א* Α C 88 436 ita, r syrp bo
σωτηριον (salvation) - 598 593 599
μαρτυριον (witness) - אc2 B Ψ Majority of manuscripts[16]: 581 

1 Corinthians 2:4

πειθοις σοφιας (plausible wisdom) - 𝔓46 G
πειθοις σοφιας λογοις (plausible words of wisdom) - Majority of manuscripts[16]: 581 

1 Corinthians 7:5

τη προσευχη (prayer) - 𝔓46 𝔓11 א* Α B G Ψ 6 33 81 104 181 629 630 1739 1877 1881 1962 it vg cop arm eth
τη νηστεια και τη προσευχη (fasting and prayer) - אc2 0150 256 365 Majority of manuscripts[17]: 450  [16]: 591 

1 Corinthians 12:9

εν τω πνευματι (by the Spirit) - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
εν τω ενι πνευματι (by one Spirit) - A B 0150 33 81 104 436 459 1175 1881 220 2464 vg[16]: 605 

1 Corinthians 15:47

ανθρωπος πνευματικος (spiritual man) - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
ανθρωπος (man) - א* B C G 0243 33 1739 it vg bo eth
ανθρωπος ο κυριος (man, the Lord) - אc2 A Ψ 81 104 181 Majority of manuscripts[16]: 616 

2 Corinthians 1:10

τηλικουτων θανατων (deadly perils) - 𝔓46 630 1739c itd, e syrp, h goth
τηλικουτου θανατου (a deadly peril) - Majority of manuscripts[16]: 622 

Galatians 6:2

αποπληρωσετε - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
αναπληρωσατε - Majority of manuscripts[16]: 661 

Ephesians 4:16

και ενεργειας - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
κατ ενεργειαν - Majority of manuscripts[17]: 509 

Ephesians 6:12

μεθοδιας - 𝔓46 (singular reading)
αρχας προς τας εξουσιας - Majority of manuscripts[17]: 513 


The provenance of the papyrus is unknown. Kenyon believed this codex and the other Beatty Biblical Papyri came from the region of the Fayyum.[18] The coptologist Carl Schmidt was told that the books were found in "‘Alâlme, a village on the east bank of the Nile in the area of Aṭfiḥ, ancient Aphroditopolis."[19]: 105  However, the archaeologists who bought the University of Michigan's portion of the codex believed that it had come from Asyut (ancient Lykopolis).[19] Thus, there is no consensus on the precise find spot.


As with all manuscripts dated solely by palaeography, the dating of 𝔓46 is uncertain. H. A. Sanders, the first editor of parts of the papyrus, proposed a date possibly as late as the second half of the 3rd century.[7]: 13–15  F. G. Kenyon, editor of the complete editio princeps, preferred a date in the first half of the 3rd century.[12]: xiv–xv  The manuscript is now sometimes dated to about 200.[20] Young Kyu Kim[a] has argued for an exceptionally early date of c. 80.[22] Kim's dating has been widely rejected.[23][24][10]: 180ff.  [25] Griffin critiqued and disputed Kim's dating,[2] placing the 'most probable date' between 175 and 225, with a '95% confidence interval' for a date between 150 and 250.[26]

Comfort and Barrett have claimed 𝔓46 shares palaeographical affinities with the following:[9]: 204–6 

  • P. Oxy. 8 (assigned late 1st or early 2nd century),
  • P. Oxy. 841 (the second hand, which cannot be dated later than 125–50),
  • P. Oxy. 1622 (dated with confidence to pre-148, probably during the reign of Hadrian (117–38), because of the documentary text on the verso),
  • P. Oxy. 2337 (assigned to the late 1st century),
  • P. Oxy. 3721 (assigned to the second half of the 2nd century),
  • P. Rylands III 550 (assigned to the 2nd century), and
  • P. Berol. 9810 (early 2nd century).

They conclude this points to a date during the middle of the 2nd century for 𝔓46. More recently, in a wide-ranging survey of the dates of New Testament papyri, P. Orsini and W. Clarysse have assigned 𝔓46 "to the early third century," specifically "excluding dates in the first or the first half of the second century."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A thorough search of Google Books and the internet found nothing else from or about this author, except a 2015 thesis[21][dead link] implying he was a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  1. ^ See main Chester Beatty Papyri page for full info.
  2. ^ a b c d Griffin, Bruce W. (1996), "The Paleographical Dating of P-46"
  3. ^ a b Orsini, Pasquale; Clarysse, Willy (2012). "Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates: A Critique of Theological Palaeography". Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses. Leuven: Peeters. 8 (4): 462. doi:10.2143/ETL.88.4.2957937.
  4. ^ a b c Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1.
  5. ^ CSNTM, CSNTM and Hendrickson Publishers to Publish Third-Century New Testament Papyri Facsimiles
  6. ^ Wallace, Daniel B (8 June 2013). "Some Notes on the Earliest Manuscript of Paul's Letters". Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  7. ^ a b Sanders, Henry A. (1935). A Third-Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul. University of Michigan Studies: Humanistic Series. Vol. 38. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-1498232029.
  8. ^ Ebojo, Edgar B. (2013). "When Nonsense Makes Sense: Scribal Habits in the Space-intervals, Sense-pauses, and Other Visual Features in 𝔓46". The Bible Translator. 64 (2): 128–150. doi:10.1177/2051677013491868. S2CID 145102069.
  9. ^ a b Comfort, Philip W. and Barrett, David P (2001) 'The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts', Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
  10. ^ a b c Comfort, Philip Wesley (2005). Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism. Nashville: Broadman & Holman. ISBN 978-1-4336-7067-1.
  11. ^ Michael Marlowe, Papyrus 46, Bible researcher.
  12. ^ a b Kenyon, Frederic G. (1934). The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: Descriptions and Texts of Twelve Manuscripts on Papyrus of the Greek Bible, Fasciculus III - Pauline Epistles and Revelation (Text). London: Emery Walker Limited.
  13. ^ a b c Nongbri, Brent (2022). "The Construction and Contents of the Beatty-Michigan Pauline Epistles Codex (𝔓46)". Novum Testamentum. Leiden: Brill. 64 (3): 388–407. doi:10.1163/15685365-bja10024. S2CID 250027659. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  14. ^ Duff, Jeremy (1998). "𝔓46 and the pastorals: A Misleading Consensus?". New Testament Studies. University of Cambridge: Cambridge Core. 44 (4): 578–90. doi:10.1017/S0028688500016738. S2CID 146255194. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  15. ^ Metzger, Bruce Manning; Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 204–230. ISBN 0-19-516667-1.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Aland, Kurt; Black, Matthew; Martini, Carlo Maria; Metzger, Bruce Manning; Wikgren, Allen, eds. (1983). The Greek New Testament (3rd ed.). Stuttgart: United Bible Societies. ISBN 9783438051103. (UBS3)
  17. ^ a b c Aland, Kurt; Black, Matthew; Martini, Carlo Maria; Metzger, Bruce M.; Wikgren, Allen, eds. (1981). Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (26 ed.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung. ISBN 3-438-051001. (NA26)
  18. ^ F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: I. General Introduction, (London: E. Walker), 1933, p. 5
  19. ^ a b Brent Nongbri, "The Acquisition of the University of Michigan’s Portion of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri and a New Suggested Provenance," Archiv für Papyrusforschung 60/1 (2014) 93-116
  20. ^ Willker, Wieland "Complete List of Greek NT Papyri" Archived 2014-03-12 at the Wayback Machine Last update: 17.04.2008. Retrieved 26/08/2008.
  21. ^ Inhalt und Leseproben (PDF), p. 11 – via V-R.
  22. ^ Kim, YK (1988), "Palaeographical Dating of 𝔓46 to the Later First Century," Biblica, 69:2, p. 248
  23. ^ Royse, J.R. (2007). Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri. New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents. Brill. p. 199ff. ISBN 978-90-474-2366-9. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  24. ^ Barker, Don (5 September 2011). "The Dating of New Testament Papyri". New Testament Studies. Cambridge University Press. 57 (4): 578f. doi:10.1017/s0028688511000129. ISSN 0028-6885. S2CID 40609406.
  25. ^ Evans, C.A. (2011). The World of Jesus and the Early Church: Identity and Interpretation in Early Communities of Faith. Hendrickson Publishers. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-59856-825-7. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  26. ^ See email from Griffin added in 2005 to Griffin's 1996 paper.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]