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Papyrus Bodmer

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Papyrus Bodmer

The Bodmer Papyri are a group of twenty-two papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. They are named after Martin Bodmer who purchased them. The papyri contain segments from the Old and New Testaments, early Christian literature, Homer and Menander. The oldest, P66 dates to c. 200. The papyri are kept at the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, in Cologny, Switzerland outside Geneva. In 2007 the Vatican Library acquired two of the papyri, P74 and P75, which are kept at the Vatican Library.


The Bodmer Papyri were found in 1952 at Pabau near Dishna, Egypt, the ancient headquarters of the Pachomian order of monks; the discovery site is not far from Nag Hammadi, where the secreted Nag Hammadi library had been found some years earlier. The manuscripts were covertly assembled by a Cypriote, Phokio Tano of Cairo, then smuggled to Switzerland,[1] where they were bought by Martin Bodmer (1899–1971). The series Papyrus Bodmer began to be published in 1954, giving transcriptions of the texts with note and introduction in French and a French translation. The Bodmer Papyri, now conserved in the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, in Cologny, outside Geneva,[2] are not a gnostic cache, like the Nag Hammadi Library: they bear some pagan as well as Christian texts, parts of some thirty-five books in all, in Coptic[3] and in Greek. With fragments of correspondence, the number of individual texts represented reaches to fifty.[4] Most of the works are in codex form, a few in scrolls. Three are written on parchment.

Books V and VI of Homer's Iliad (P1), and three comedies of Menander (Dyskolos (P4), Samia and Aspis) appear among the Bodmer Papyri, as well as gospel texts: Papyrus 66 (P66), is a text of the Gospel of John,[5] dating around 200CE, in the manuscript tradition called the Alexandrian text-type. Aside from the papyrus fragment in the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, it is the oldest testimony for John; it omits the passage concerning the moving of the waters (John 5:3b-4) and the pericope of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11). P72 is the earliest known copy of the Epistle of Jude, and 1 and 2 Peter. Papyrus 75 (P75) is a partial codex containing most of Luke and John. Comparison of the two versions of John in the Bodmer Papyri with the third-century Chester Beatty Papyri convinced Floyd V. Filson that "...there was no uniform text of the Gospels in Egypt in the third century."[6]

There are also Christian texts that would become declared apocryphal in the fourth century, such as the Infancy Gospel of James. There is a Greek-Latin lexicon to some of Paul's letters, and there are fragments of Melito of Sardis. Among the works is a Christian Vision of Dorotheus, son of "Quintus the poet" assumed to be the pagan poet Quintus Smyrnaeus, written in archaising Homeric hexameters, the earliest Christian hexameter poem (P29). The earliest extant copy of the Third Epistle to the Corinthians is published in Bodmer Papryri X.

The collection includes some non-literary material, such as a collection of letters from the abbots of the monastery of Saint Pachomius, raising the possibility that the unifying circumstance in the collection is that all were part of a monastic library.[7]

The latest of the Bodmer Papyri (P74) dates to the sixth or seventh century.[8]

Vatican acquisition

Plans announced by the Foundation Bodmer in October 2006[9] to sell two of the manuscripts for millions of dollars, to capitalize the library, which opened in 2003, drew consternation from scholars around the world, fearing that the unity of the collection would be broken.

Then, in March 2007 it was announced the Vatican had acquired the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV (P75), which is believed to contain the world's oldest known written fragment from the Gospel of Luke, the earliest known Lord's Prayer, and one of the oldest written fragments from the Gospel of John.[10]

The papyri had been sold for an undisclosed "significant" price to Frank Hanna III, of Atlanta, Georgia. In January 2007, Hanna presented the papyri to the Pope. They are kept in the Vatican Library and will be made available for scholarly review, and in the future, excerpts may be put on display for the general public. They were transported from Switzerland to the Vatican in "An armed motorcade surrounded by people with machine guns."[11]

Bible related manuscripts


  • Papyrus Bodmer II (\mathfrak{P}66)
  • Bodmer V — Nativity of Mary, Apocalypse of James; 4th century
  • Papyrus Bodmer VII-IX (\mathfrak{P}72) — Epistle of Jude, 1-2 Peter, Psalms 33-34
  • Bodmer X — Epistle of Corinthians to Paul and Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians; 4th century
  • Bodmer XI — Ode of Solomon 1; 4th century
  • Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV (\mathfrak{P}75)
  • Papyrus Bodmer XVII (\mathfrak{P}74)
  • Bodmer XXIV — Psalms 17:46-117:44; 3rd/4th century
  • Bodmer XLVI — Daniel 1:1-20
  • Papyrus Bodmer L — Matthew 25-26; 7th century


  • Bodmer III — John 1:1-21:25; Genesis 1:1-4:2; 4th century; Bohairic
  • Bodmer VI — Proverbs 1:1-21:4; 4th/5th century; Paleo-Theban ("Dialect P")
  • Bodmer XVI — Exodus 1:1-15:21; 4th century
  • Bodmer XVIII — Deuteronomium 1:1-10:7; 4th century
  • Bodmer XIX — Matthew 14:28-28:20; Romans 1:1-2:3; 4th/5th century; Sahidic
  • Bodmer XXI — Joshua 6:16-25; 7:6-11:23; 22:1-2; 22:19-23:7; 23:15-24:2; 4th century
  • Bodmer XXII (Mississippi Codex II) — Jeremiah 40:3-52:34; Lamentations; Epistle of Jeremiah; Book of Baruch; 4th/5th century
  • Bodmer XXIII — Isaiah 47:1-66:24; 4th century
  • Bodmer XL — Song of Songs
  • Bodmer XLI — Acta Pauli; 4th century; sub-Achmimic
  • Bodmer XLII — 2 Corinthians; dialect unknown
  • Bodmer XLIV — Book of Daniel; Bohairic

See also



  • Anchor Bible Dictionary 1:766-77 "Bodmer Papyri".
  • Robinson, James M. 1987. The Story of the Bodmer Papyri, the First Christian Monastic Library (Nashville) Includes an inventory of the Bodmer Papyri.

External links

  • Category:Bodmer Papyri on Commons
  • A folio of Bodmer codex containing parts of Luke and John
  • The Anchor Bible Dictionary (Doubleday 1992) Volume 1, 766-767
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