Friday, 31 August 2012

First published photograph: Our earliest manuscript title for any gospel found? Simon Gathercole in NovT 54

Remember the days when some Bible critics claimed with almost absolute certainty that the titles of the gospels (e.g. "Gospel according to Matthew") were added very much later by the institutional church?
Novum Testamentum, one of the leading international journals devoted to the study of the New Testament, has just published an article by Simon Gathercole, Senior lecturer in New Testament at Cambridge University, with the title: "The Earliest Manuscript Title of Matthew's Gospel (BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3 / P4)".

I suppose it is an under statement to say that New Testament textual critics will / should study it very carefully.

The flyleaf bearing the title of Matthew's gospel, found with the Luke fragments of P4 (henceforth P4), has been neglected in studies of P4 as well as in the Greek New Testament. This article publishes for  the first time a photograph of the flyleaf, and seeks to provide an accurate transcription of the often misspelled title. It also discusses the various factors impinging upon the date of the fragment, such as the Philo codex in which it was found and the apostrophe in the middle of Matthew's name. A date in the late second or  early third century makes best sense of the evidence, making this neglected flyleaf the earliest manuscript title of Matthew's gospel. 

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