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A Notice of Corrections in Standard Editions of Two Johannine Manuscripts

Charles E. Hill

Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando

1. On two days in August 1999, I had the opportunity to examine two fragments of Johannine manuscripts, P90 (P. Oxy. 3523) and 0232 (P. Antinoopolis 12), at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. This short notice will report three minor errors in standard printed editions of these texts. All of these corrections were confirmed at the time by Revel Coles, though I take full responsibility for the accuracy of the descriptions and the proposals here.

2. 0232 (P. Antinoopolis 12) is an early parchment uncial of the late third or early fourth century containing parts of 2 John 1-9. Both the editio princeps (Roberts et al. 1950: 24-26), and at least one more recent edition (Comfort and Barrett 1999: 648-649), print alhqeia at 2 John 2, where the word should be in the accusative and end with nu. The manuscript does in fact have the nu (line 5 of the recto, the page numbered 164). There is also a misprint in verse 8 in the latter edition (p. 649). The tau in miston should of course be a theta, as it in fact is in line 12 of the verso of the manuscript. 0232 (P. Ant. 12) for some reason was not included in Comfort and Barrett's revised edition (Comfort and Barrett 2001).

3. P90 (P. Oxy. 3523) is a fragment of a second-century codex which contained at least John's Gospel. Its importance derives mostly from the fact that it is, besides P52, probably the earliest fragment of the Fourth Gospel we now have, and one of only a handful of acknowledged second-century productions. The correction has to do with the nomen sacrum in John 19:5 (verso, line 12). The modern editions, including the editio princeps, print iota sigma (with the horizontal superscript line). But the text is damaged at the point between the two letters, and there is obviously enough room for another letter. Using the high-powered microscope in the papyrology room at the Ashmolean, one can in fact clearly see the remnants of the left hand stroke of an eta. That is, the reading is iota eta sigma, not simply iota sigma, as printed in all the editions (Grenfell and Hunt 1983: 3-8, no. 3523; Aland 1986: 5; Llewelyn and Kearsley 1994: 243; Elliott and Parker, eds., 1995: 387). Sometime later this was brought to the attention of Philip Comfort, who had just published an edition of the fragment, and I am pleased to say that he has confirmed it and has incorporated it in the revised edition of New Testament manuscripts published by himself and David Barrett in 2001 (Comfort and Barrett 2001).

4. This is the only occurrence of the name Jesus still preserved in the fragment, but it means that the rest of them most likely (though not with absolute certainty) had that form as well.1 The text of P90 represents the earliest text of John 19:5 we have (P66 is damaged at that point, P75 ends in ch. 15; P45 ends in ch. 11) and quite possibly gives us our earliest nomen sacrum in a text of the Gospel according to John. It is of interest to point out that two other recently-published, early fragments of John's Gospel, both found at Oxyrhynchus, P106 (P. Oxy. 4445), a fragment of John 1 datable to the early or middle third century (Comfort and Barrett 2001: 645), and P108 (P. Oxy. 4447), a fragment of John 17 and 18 datable to around the year 200 (Comfort and Barrett 2001: 650), also have the long contracted forms (i8h8s8, i8h8u8, i8h8n8). This would seem to make it somewhat more likely that if P52 too had nomina sacra forms,2 the form employed for the name "Jesus" would also have been this long contracted form.

© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2002.


1All of the mss in Reuben Swanson's collation of the most important manuscripts of John (Swanson 1995) are listed as giving iota sigma at 19:5. Swanson's collation does not include the readings of P90.

2An argument that it did not has recently been made by Christopher M. Tuckett (Tuckett 2001). The form i8h8n8 in line 5 of the recto would add one more letter to that line than assumed by Tuckett (and indeed by Roberts in the editio princeps [Roberts 1935: 18], who also originally argued against the use of the nomina sacra forms), bringing it into somewhat better conformity with the other lines.


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Comfort, P. W., and Barrett, D. P. 1999. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Comfort, P. W., and Barrett, D. P. 2001. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale.

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Grenfell, B. P., and Hunt, A. S. 1983. Oxyrhynchus Papyri. London: Egypt Exploration Society. Vol. 50.

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Roberts, C. H. 1935. An Unpublished Fragment of the Fourth Gospel in the John Rylands Library. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Roberts, C. H.; Barns, J. W. B.; and Zilliacus, H. 1950. The Antinoopolis Papyri. Vol. 1. London: Egypt Exploration Society.

Swanson, R. 1995. New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus. John. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press; Pasadena: William Carey International University Press.

Tuckett, Christopher M. 2001. "P52 and Nomina Sacra." NTS 47: 544-548.