Introduction to Papyrus 66

A codex is a collection of papyrus bound together in a book like format. Papyrus itself is a material made from the stem of a water plant. Such a construction was used by Christians as early as the second century to record early versions of biblical texts within the canon. One particular example of an early codex is Papyrus 66.

An example of a New Testament Codex

An example of what a codex looks like. 

Papyrus 66 is one of the best preserved examples of an early Christian codex that we have today; it contains a large proportion of the gospel of John and is part of a wider collection of texts named the Bodmer Papyri. Of the gospel, P66 contains chapters 1:1-6:11, 6:35b-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, 22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. The manuscript was found in Egypt near the city of Dishna in 1952 and is currently on display in Bibliotheca Bodmeriana in Geneva, Switzerland. Through assessment of the handwriting style, experts have dated the text to approximately 200CE. There has been some conflict as to this date however; scholars such as Brent Nongbri prefer to assign the codex to the middle part of the 4th century due to certain features present in its format. Textual critics have identified it as Alexandrian.

Map of Dishna, Egypt, which Papyrus 66 was found near.

Map showing where Dishna is located within Egypt. Papyrus 66 was found near to this city.

Structurally, the text consists of 75 papyrus leaves (double sided pages), with the first 26 of these being remarkably well preserved. Each page contains between 15 and 25 lines of text. The page dimensions are 14.2cm x 16.2cm. In terms of the literary composition, scholars have suggested that the script was subject to a series of editors; in addition to the original scribe, the text was changed by two separate redactors. Many scholars, however, claim that the majority of the text was composed by a single author. 

Papyrus 66 John 1:1-14

Papyrus 66 showing John 1:1-14

Introduction to Papyrus 66