Papyrus 46

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Papyrus 46 (also referred to as simply Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png46) is one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts known to exist, with its 'most probable [creation] date' between 175-225.[1] It was part of the Chester Beatty Papyri. According to the website Bible Research, it contains (in order) "the last eight chapters of Romans; all of Hebrews; virtually all of 1–2 Corinthians; all of Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians; and two chapters of 1 Thessalonians. All of the leaves have lost some lines at the bottom through deterioration."[2]


Papyrus contents

Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png46 contains most of the Pauline epistles. Some folios are missing, and the others are currently to be found either in the Chester Beatty Library (CB) or at the University of Michigan (Mich.)

Folio Contents Location
1-7 Romans 1:1-5:17 Missing
8 Romans 5:17-6:14 CB
9-10 Romans 6:14-8:15 Missing
11-15 Romans 8:15-11:35 CB
16-17 Romans 11:35-14:8 Mich.
18 (fragment) Romans 14:9-15:11 CB
19-28 Romans 15:11-8:8 Mich.
29 Hebrews 8:9-9:10 CB
30 Hebrews 9:10-26 Mich.
31-39 Hebrews 9:26-1 Corinthians 2:3 CB
40 1 Corinthians 2:3-3:5 Mich.
41-69 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:7 CB
70-85 2 Corinthians 9:7-end, Ephesians, Galatians 1:1-6:10 Mich.
86-94 Galatians 6:10-end, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-1 Thessalonians 2:3 CB
95-96 1 Thessalonians 2:3-1 Thessalonians 5:5 Missing
97 (fragment) 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 23-28 CB
98-104 Thought to be 1 Thessalonians 5:28-2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon (see below) Missing

Page size

Pages size is approximately 28x16cm with one column of text (average 11.5cm). There are between 26 and 32 lines of text per page, although both the width of the lines and the number of lines per page increases towards the end. Lines at the bottom are damaged: 1-2 lines missing in the first quarter, 2-3 in the central half and up to seven lines in the fourth quarter.

Unknown content

The seven leaves lost from the beginning clearly contained the start of Romans. However, the contents of the seven missing leaves from the end is not certain. There would be enough space for 2 Thessalonians and possibly Philemon but not for the Pastoral epistles. Kenyon calculates [3] that 2 Thess would take 2 leaves, but that leaves five leaves (10 pages) for 1 Timothy (8.25 pages at this rate), 2 Timothy (6 pages), Titus (3.5 pages) and Philemon (1.5 pages) - 19.25 pages but only 10 available.

Reading marks

Throughout Romans, Hebrews and the later chapters of 1 Corinthians are found small and thick strokes or dots, usually agreed to be from the hand of a reader rather than the producer of the manuscript since the ink is always much paler than that of the text itself.[3] They appear to mark sense divisions (similar to verse numberings found in bibles today) and are also found in portions of Papyrus 45 Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png45 probably evidence of reading in the community which held both codices.


P46's provenance is unknown, although it was probably originally discovered in the ruins of an early Christian church or monastery.[5][6] Following the discovery in Cairo, the manuscript was broken up by the dealer. Ten leaves were purchased by Chester Beatty in 1930, Michigan acquired six in 1931 and 24 in 1933. Beatty purchased 46 more in 1935 and his acquisitions now form part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, eleven codices of biblical material.


As is the case with all manuscripts dated by paleography alone, the dating of this manuscript is uncertain. The first editor of parts of the papyrus, H. A. Sanders, proposed a date possibly as late as the second half of the third century.[7] A later editor, F. G. Kenyon, preferred a date in the first half of the third century.[8] The manuscript is now sometimes dated to about 200 [9] Young Kyu Kim has argued for an exceptionally early date of c. 80.[10] Griffin critiqued and disputed Kim's dating,[1] placing the 'most probable date' between 175-225, with a '95% confidence interval' for a date between 150-250[11]

Comfort and Barrett [12] have claimed that Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png46 shares affinities with the following:

  • P. Oxy. 8 (assigned late first or early second century),
  • P. Oxy. 841 (the second hand, which cannot be dated later than 125–150),
  • P. Oxy. 1622 (dated with confidence to pre 148, probably during the reign of Hadrian [117–138], because of the documentary text on the verso),
  • P. Oxy. 2337 (assigned to the late first century),
  • P. Oxy. 3721 (assigned to the second half of the second century),
  • P. Rylands III 550 (assigned to the second century) and
  • P. Berol. 9810 (early second century).

This, they conclude, points to a date during the middle of the 2nd century for Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png46. Thus, the manuscript may date from any time between the early second century and the late third century.

See also


  • 1. Griffin, B (1996), "The Paleographical Dating of P-46"
  • 2. Michael Marlowe, Papyrus 46
  • 3. F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri. III.1 Pauline Epistles and Revelation. Text, London: E. Walker, 1934
  • 4. H. A. Sanders, A Third Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul, (Ann Arbor, 1935), Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png17
  • 5. F.G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: I. General Introduction, (London: E. Walker), 1933, Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png5
  • 6. C.H. Roberts, Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, p7
  • 7. H. A. Sanders, A Third-Century Papyrus Codex of the Epistles of Paul (Ann Arbor, 1935), 13-15.
  • 8. F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, part 3 (London, 1936), xiv-xv.
  • 9. Willker, Wieland "Complete List of Greek NT Papyri" Last Update: 17.04.2008. Retrieved 26/08/08.
  • 10. Kim, YK (1988), "Palaeographical Dating of P46 to the Later First Century," Biblica, 69, p.248
  • 11. See email from Griffin added in 2005 to Griffin's 1996 paper.
  • 12. Comfort, Philip W and Barrett, David P (2001) 'The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts', Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Incorporated, Pages 204-206.

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