Archaeology

Oxyrhynchus 3522

Date: 1st century A.D.

 

Two scientists from Oxford, Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, were sent to explore Egypt towards the end of the 19th century. A place called Behnesa sounded promising to Grenfell because of the old Greek name that it bore - Oxyrhynchus. This city was the centre of Egyptian Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries. The explorers were hoping to find Christian literature, but their exploration of churchyards and ruined houses yielded nothing. Only the mountains of waste remained to be examined and some of them where nine meters high! Despite little hope, they tried. In January 1897 they did some exploratory drilling and within the hour they found old papyrus material. In just over 3 months, they had found almost 2 tons of papyri and in the years to come - they found much more.

Most documents were written by what would be considered the common people. This proves that the Koine-Greek, the common language, was used by ordinary men on the street. They also found fragments of Bible manuscripts without much decoration and of very poor quality - the Bible of the common man.

 

Facsimile made by B. Bonte

 

This fragment, Oxyrhynchus 3522, is dated from the first century A.D. The measures are 7 cm by 10,5 cm. The text is a portion from Job 42:11,12. It is interesting to note the use of the Divine Name. A long time held common opinion was that the name was not written in the Greek Septuagint, but fragments like this prove the opposite.

 

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