Thursday, January 25, 2007

Early Gospel on Papyrus Donated to Vatican

The oldest existing copy of Luke's gospel and one of the earliest known copies of the Gospel of John have been presented to the Vatican library by American businessman Frank J. Hanna. The 144-page Greek manuscript known as Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV is believed to have been written c. 175-225 CE, and contains "about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John" according to Vatican archivist Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

Tauran officially presented several pages of the manuscript to Pope Benedict XVI in an audience with the Hanna family on Monday, although the papyrus was actually handed over to the Vatican back in November. In preservation work on the codex since then, Vatican experts have discovered "
new fragments from the external pages of the text itself" which had been subsumed into the rough binding.

"Claudio Piazzoni, vice prefect of the Vatican Library, told Catholic News Service Jan. 23 that the new acquisition includes the oldest existing copy of the Lord's Prayer, which is found in Luke 11:1-4."

Bodmer VIII, comprising
the First and Second Letters of St. Peter, was presented to Pope Paul VI by Bodmer in 1969. At his death in 1971, Bodmer's remaining manuscripts were willed to a foundation in Switzerland, from which Hanna acquired XIV-XV. The Bodmer papyri were discovered in Egypt in 1952.

(h/t William Klimon, Ex-Libris)