According to Professor Kurt Aland, whose task it is to keep track, there are now 4,678 known manuscripts of the New Testament. With microfilm more than a hundred manuscripts can be placed at our disposal at one time. An expedition to Mount Sinai in 1949–1950 brought back more than 150 New Testament manuscripts, photographed and microfilmed in the St. Catherine Monastery. In the midst of this volume of manuscripts comes a single papyrus manuscript of the Gospel of John, published toward the end of 1956 by Professor Victor Martin, chairman of the Association Internationale des Papyrologues. It is called papyrus 66, and we immediately ask, what is the special significance of this new manuscript?

Age And Text Significant

Its significance and value lie in the following:

This manuscript is a papyrus, and there are only 68 papyri known, with fragments of the Greek text of the New Testament.

It is extraordinarily well preserved, by far the finest and most intact papyrus manuscript I have known. Letter for letter, all 108 pages of the fine Greek handwriting are very readable.

For a papyrus manuscript, it is extensive. With the exception of 20 verses of chapter 6, virtually 14 chapters of the Gospel of John are in the publication. This is two-thirds of the chapters and about 70 per cent of the whole text. This is next to the largest papyrus manuscript of the Greek New Testament in our possession. When we recall that our smallest fragment of biblical papyri totals only 32 words or fragments of words and that most papyri dating from the third century give us a good deal if they offer two chapters in more or less damaged pieces, we may understand the enthusiasm of the experts over papyrus 66.

The manuscript is old. More than 1700 years ...

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