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Rylands Library Papyrus P52, recto, part of the Rylands Papyri

The Rylands Papyri are a collection of thousands of papyrus fragments and documents from North Africa and Greece housed at the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, UK. The collection includes the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St John's fragment, a fragment from a papyrus codex, generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text.[1][2][3]


The collection

The Rylands Papyri collection held by the John Rylands University Library, is one of the most extensive and wide-ranging papyrus collections in the United Kingdom. It includes religious, devotional, literary and administrative texts. The collection includes 7 hieroglyphic and 19 hieratic papyri which are funerary documents dating from the 14th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. It also holds 166 demotic papyri, mostly dating from the Ptolemaic period, including the famous Petition of Petiese (pRylands 9)[4] from the reign of Darius I of Persia.[5]

The collection also houses about 500 Coptic papyri, and around 800 Arabic papyri consisting of private letters, together with tradesmen's and household accounts. Among the roughly 2,000 Greek papyri are the famous fragments of the Gospel of John and Deuteronomy, the earliest surviving fragments of the New Testament and the Septuagint (Papyrus 957, the Rylands Papyrus iii. 458)[5][6] respectively, Papyrus 31, a fragment of a papyrus manuscript of the Epistle to the Romans, and Papyrus 32, a fragment of a papyrus manuscript of the Epistle to Titus. Also held in the collection is Papyrus Rylands 463, a copy of the apocryphal Gospel of Mary in Greek, and John Rylands Papyrus 470, a prayer in Koine Greek to the Theotokos written in about 250 CE in brown ink, the earliest known copy of such a prayer. It was acquired by the library in 1917.[7]

See also


  1. ^ See 7Q5 for an alternate candidate.
  2. ^ [1] List of Ancient New Testament Manuscripts
  3. ^ [2] \mathfrak{P} 52 on the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies website
  4. ^ Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae, G. Vittmann ed., P. Rylands 9, Demotische Textdatenbank, Akademie für Sprache und Literatur Mainz
  5. ^ a b [3] The Rylands Papyri on the John Rylands University Library website
  6. ^ 'The Septuagint' by Jennifer Mary Dines and Michael Anthony Knibb Published by Continuum International Publishing Group, (2004) pg 5 ISBN 0567084647
  7. ^ [4] John Rylands Papyrus 470

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