New Sayings of Jesus and Fragment of a Lost Gospel from Oxyrhyncus

9781590260524: New Sayings of Jesus and Fragment of a Lost Gospel from Oxyrhyncus

Oxyrhynchus was the Greek name of an ancient Egyptian town when Rome ruled over the region. The site was thoroughly Hellenistic; that is, those who lived there were deeply influenced by Greek language and culture. Between 1896 and 1906, the ruins of Oxyrhynchus were excavated. The result was the greatest collection of papyri unearthed at a single location—the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. The papyri they found were of all sizes, some written by skilled scribes, others from semi-literate to utterly incomprehensible scrawls. They date from the first millennium of the Common Era, and a number of biblical fragments are counted among the findings. The papyri were excavated by two young classical scholars of Queen's College, Oxford—B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt—who sorted and cataloged the collection. Included in it was a unique work called the "Sayings of Jesus" in seven fragments, each introduced with the phrase "Jesus says." They appear to be from the Gospel of Thomas and date from no later than 250 C.E.

Grenfell and Hunt published two brief treatises on the Sayings; the latter, more expanded treatment of the two is presented here. The discoverers introduce the fragments with a Greek text, translation, and notes, as well as an account of their 1897 discovery. Each saying is analyzed in detail followed by general remarks about the collection as a whole. It is fascinating to read their conclusions prior to the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, fifty years later. Since these fragments were uncovered, dozens of scholars had supplied articles and books about them. Grenfell and Hunt summarize these findings. They appended to this discovery another "lost" gospel fragment discovered in eight fragments. It represents a form of the gospel more closely related to the Synoptic type. The narrator speaks in the third person and presents a somewhat abbreviated form of the canonical accounts. These two works further demonstrate the number of traditions that circulated about Jesus during the early years of Christianity.

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About the Author:


Bernard Pyne Grenfell, born at Birmingham on December 16, 1869, was educated at Clifton College, and Queen's College, Oxford, where he was a fellow from 1894 until his death in 1926. He began excavating and acting as joint editor to the Greco-Roman branch of the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1895. In this capacity he edited numerous volumes on the papyri discovered in Egyptian rubbish heaps, including the incredibly important "Logia Jesu." He also edited a number of significant works: "Revenue Laws of Ptolemy Philadelphus" (1896), "An Alexandrian Erotic Fragment and other Greek Papyri, chiefly Ptolemaic" (1896), and "Uncanonical Gospel" (1907). In collaboration with A. S. Hunt, he published: "New Classical Fragments and other Greek and Latin Papyri" (1897), "Sayings of Our Lord" (1897) "The Oxyrhynchus Papyri" (1898-1907), "Fayum Towns and their Papyri" (1900), "The Amherst Papyri" (1902-07), "Greek Papyri in the Cairo Museum" (1903), "New Sayings of Jesus and a Fragment of a Lost Gospel" (1904), and "The Hitch Papyri" (1906).


Arthur Surridge Hunt, born in 1871, was a prominent English paleographer who spent most of his academic career engaged in the uncovering, identifying, studying, and publishing of the literary remains of Egypt. He did considerable research in Egypt from 1895 to 1907, while a sometime Craven fellow at Oxford and a fellow of Queen's College. Afterwards, Hunt became scholar of Queen's College and Senior Demy of Magdalen College, Oxford, before professor of papyrology at the University of Oxford from 1913 until his death (with four years off to serve in World War I, 1915-1919). He later became a fellow of the British Academy. Hunt collaborated with B. P. Grenfell as joint editor to the Greco-Roman branch of the Egypt Exploration Fund, as they rummaged through the literary remains of famous collections such as the Oxyrhynchus papyri, the Amherst papyri, Tebtunis papyri, and the Greek papyri in the Cairo Museum. After the death of Grenfell in 1926, Hunt continued his work as editor, beginning with series volume seventeen, until he died in 1934.

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