(Maegan Gilliland, PhD Student) On 11 April, 2012, a group of New College postgraduates accompanied Professor Larry Hurtado to Dublin, Ireland to visit the Chester Beatty Library. The library houses the personal collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an American mining tycoon who developed a keen interest in collecting artifacts during the early-20th century. The library, known for its impressive Western, East Asian, and Islamic collections, has within its walls an extensive collection of Christian manuscripts. Our short time at the Chester Beatty Library was a reminder of the value of preserving and documenting these early Christian documents. It is fortunate that so many libraries and organizations have dedicated both time and resources to this painstaking task.
The curators at the Chester Beatty Library have done an excellent job of presenting their New Testament manuscript collection to the public. Some of these manuscripts are among the earliest extant witnesses we have of the New Testament. Two of the papyri in the collection were of particular interest to several in the group. The first, P45 (c. 250), is an early witness to the Gospels. The second, P46 (c. 200), is our earliest and (arguably) most important witness of the text of the Pauline Epistles. For those of us who conduct text-critical work, gaining access to these manuscripts (or high quality images of these manuscripts) is a crucial part of our research.
(Seth Ehorn, PhD Student) Because of my own work in the Pauline corpus, I took particular interest in the folios from P46 that we arranged to view. Among these were two sections from 1 Corinthians. The first intriguing reading came from the fascinating statement of Paul in 1 Cor 8.6. Here the variation was the addition of kai in the clause heis theos [kai] ho patēr, a reading not noted in NA27 (cf. pp. 47–48 in NA27’s introduction). Several of us discussed the reading and how a copyist may have simply added the καί, conforming the phrase to other similar Pauline expressions (e.g., Rom 15.6; 1 Cor 15.24; 2 Cor 1.3; 11.31).
A second point of interest came when we looked at a reading in 1 Corinthians 14. It is well known that 1 Cor 14.34–35 is a contested point of interpretation because of its harsh words about women not being permitted to speak. The controversy over the meaning of these verses, however, is not limited to modern, politically correct society. Even the manuscript tradition of 1 Corinthians demonstrates the scandalous nature of these verses because of their placement within two different locations (i.e., either at 14.34–35 or following 14.40). Whatever view one takes on the authenticity of these verses, I found the presence of this reading in P46 (at 14.34–35) to be a piece of early evidence that requires explanation. If these verses are inauthentic editions, we would have to posit that P46’s Vorlage already had them inserted (at least in the margin). Because P46 is among the earliest NT papryi (c. 200 CE), it provides an early glance into the reception of Paul.