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Biblical Archaeology Review 49:2, Summer 2023

First Fragments: Biblical Papyrus from Roman Egypt

Titled First Fragments: Biblical Papyrus from Roman Egypt, the latest exhibition at the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin explores early Christian book and scribal culture through the lens of authors, scribes, bookbinders, translators, readers, and collectors.

In the center of the exhibit are the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, a group of 11 Greek papyrus codices that contain texts from both the Septuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew scriptures) and the Christian New Testament. Dating from the second to fourth centuries CE, these are among the earliest surviving Christian manuscripts that Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875–1968) acquired in the 1930s in Egypt. They are presented alongside several biblical fragments in Coptic and other objects illustrating early Christian book culture and scholarship.

This presentation of some 80 artifacts from Roman-era Egypt highlights issues of transmission and preservation of ancient texts, book construction and repair, and scribal practices, such as text formatting, corrections, glosses, and use of sacred names. Also on display is this parchment manuscript containing the monastic rules of Basil the Great. Written in Coptic and dating from the ninth or tenth century, the above leaf features an image of the church father himself.

Through September 3, 2023
The Chester Beatty
Dublin, Ireland
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