Friday, 16 February 2007

Ancient Papyrus Gospels donated to the Vatican

Benedict XVI received as a gift to the Holy See one of the most ancient manuscripts of the Gospels, an artifact that demonstrates Scripturés historical actuality.

Pope Benedict XVI in conversation with Frank Hanna, his wife Sally and his daughter Elizabeth. View full size image

The Pope was presented the 14-15 Bodmer Papyrus (P75), dated between A.D. 175 and 225, by Frank Hanna and his family on behalf of their family foundation and the Solidarity Association.

"The papyrus contains about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John. It was written in Egypt and perhaps used as a liturgical book," explained Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, during the audience.

The manuscript previously belonged to the library of the Bodmer Foundation in Cologny, Switzerland, and is now in the Vatican Apostolic Library.

"The Popés library possesses the most ancient testimony of the Gospel of Luke and among the most ancient of the Gospel of John," added the cardinal.

The Bodmer Papyrus contains 144 pages and is the oldest manuscript that contains the text of the two Gospels in one papyrus.

The Lord́s Prayer

ĹOsservatore Romano commented that "almost certainly it was destined for a small community, a Greek-speaking Egyptian ́parish́ that, as is habitual in all Christian liturgies, read the Gospel during the Eucharistic celebration."

The oldest transcription of the Our Father, as recounted by Luke, is found in this papyrus.

Participants in the meeting explained that experts see the joining of Luke and John in one papyrus as a demonstration that for the first Christians communities, the Gospels formed a unity.

The document agrees with the Codex Vaticanus,
The Holy Father takes a close look of the ancient papyrus. View full size image
a fourth-century edition of the Bible. The Bodmer Papyrus demonstrates, therefore, that the oldest versions of the New Testament that are preserved in their totality correspond with the Gospels that already circulated among the Christian communities centuries earlier.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, Bishop Raffaele Farina, prefect of the Vatican Library, Gary Krupp of the Pave the Way Foundation, Fr. Richard Donohoe of the Birmingham Diocese, and Pat Cipollone were present when the papyrus was presented to the Vatican.