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.