… for the low low price of 200,000-300,000 GBP.
Early third century, folks. That’s early. And beyond important for the history of Christianity and understanding how the fourth gospel got to be in its “final” state and what that process might have included (and excluded).
If only I were rich, this would be a part of the Wofford collection…
Written almost certainly in Alexandria, and used in the important early Christian community at Oxyrhynchus, in the desert west of the Nile about 120 miles from Cairo, partly covered now by the modern village of Behnesa. Ancient Oxyrhynchus was principally discovered Bernard Grenfell (1869-1926) and Arthur Hunt (1871-1934), both of Queen’s College, Oxford, who devoted their lives to excavating it. The site furnished many of the finest and most precious records of early Christianity ever found, including the sensational ‘Sayings of Jesus’ (later known as the ‘Gospel of Thomas’), as well as notable classical texts, including Pindar and Menander. The present fragment was recovered by Grenfell and Hunt on 28 September 1922, and it was classified as P. Oxy. 1780. Most of the Oxyrhynchus finds are now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the British Museum. Some specimen pieces, however, were transferred by Oxford University to appropriate theological seminaries and colleges elsewhere, including the present piece which had been given by 1924 to the Baptist college, Crozer Theological Seminary, founded near Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1865. It was later the alma mater of Martin Luther King. In 1980 Crozer merged with the ecumenical Colgate Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York. The present manuscript was Inv. 8864 in the Ambrose Swasey Library in the combined Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, until their sale in our New York rooms, 20 June 2003, lot 97, $400,000, bought then by the present owner for what is still by far the highest price ever paid at public sale for any early Christian manuscript. Since 2004 it has toured American museums in the exhibitions Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book and Ink and Blood, where it has been seen by hundred of thousands of people. The bibliography below takes no account of the manuscript’s truly enormous presence now on Christian websites, DVDs and published videos.