Oxyrhynchus Papyri

The result is an extraordinary and unique picture of everyday life in the Nile Valley between Alexander the Great in 300 BC and the Arab conquest a thousand years later.


Oxyrhynchus Papyri

In 1897 two Oxford archaeologists began digging a low sand-covered mound a hundred miles south of Cairo. When they had finally finished, ten years later, they had uncovered 500,000 fragments of papyri. Shipped back to Oxford, the meticulous and scholarly work of deciphering these fragments began. It is still going on today. As well as Christian writings from totally unknown gospels and Greek poems not seen by human eyes since the fall of Rome, there are tax returns, petitions, private letters, sales documents, leases, wills and shopping lists. What they found was the entire life of a flourishing market-town – Oxyrhynchos ( the city of the sharp-nosed fish’ ), on a side branch of the Nile – encapsulated in its waste paper. The total lack of rain in this part of Egypt had preserved the papyrus beneath the sand, as nowhere else in the Roman Empire. We hear the voices of barbers, bee-keepers and boat-makers, dyers and donkey-drivers, plasterers and poets, weavers and wine-merchants, set against the great events of late antiquity: the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of Christianity, as well as the all-important annual flooding of the Nile. The result is an extraordinary and unique picture of everyday life in the Nile Valley between Alexander the Great in 300 BC and the Arab conquest a thousand years later.


  • 5/14/5: 666 Wrong Number for Prophetic Beast? – WND “This adds weight to those who believe that it is a reference to Caligula’s attempt to desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem, by having his statue erected there as part of the cult of emperor worship.  “There may be a reference to it in Mark [13:14], where he refers to the ‘the abomination of desolation.’ But this was overlaid by the Neronian persecutions. People believed that you could get from ‘666’ to Nero because in Greek he is the emperor Neron Caesar. And 666 is one number less than the perfect 777. The text [showing 616] is quite legible to the naked eye. It was published in 1999, but it has taken people time to catch up.”
  • 5/15/5: 666 Not So Evil? ‘616’ Revelation Might Bedevil Metalheads – MTV.com “Both Greek and Hebrew letters have numeric values that can be added up to arrive at a total. One common explanation of 666 is that it comes from the numerical value of “Nero” transliterated into Hebrew letters. A small change in the transliteration can result in 616.”
  • 5/7/5: AntiChrist Discounted – “So sorry to all the “666” tattoo wearers out there … its 616 that’s the goin’ number. Time to head back to the parlor for an update.” (Blog)
  • 5/4/5: Beast’s Real Mark Devalued to 616 “Dr. Aitken said, however, that scholars now believe the number in question has very little to do the devil. It was actually a complicated numerical riddle in Greek, meant to represent someone’s name, she said. “It’s a number puzzle — the majority opinion seems to be that it refers to [the Roman emperor] Nero.”
  • 5/3/5: Revelation!  666 is not the Number of the Beast (It’s a devilish 616) – “This is an example of gematria, where numbers are based on the numerical values of letters in people’s names. Early Christians would use numbers to hide the identity of people who they were attacking: 616 refers to the Emperor Caligula.”  | “satanists responded coolly to the new “Revelation”. Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, based in New York, said: “By using 666 we’re using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we’ll start using that.”
  • 4/25/5: Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World – National Geographic News “..the Oxyrhynchus collection holds a lot of information about the rise of Christianity during the Roman period. (Egypt became part of the Roman Empire after Cleopatra’s fleet was defeated at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.). “[Christianity] starts out as a small social phenomenon, then just takes over everything,” Obbink said. “You can see other cultural sea changes taking place—changes in taxes, changes in rule. It’s all reflected in the papyrus.”
  • 4/20/5: Classical Holy Grail or Unholy Hype? “So as of right now, the rest of the papyrological community is waiting to hear Dirk Obbink at Oxford either back up for disavow the claims made in the article. At the very best, the Independent’s reporters are covering some kind of new imaging breakthrough in an extremely hyperbolic fashion. And at the worst, they’re trying to make a major story out of 20-year-old news. ” |
  • Brautigan and Oxy – “I’m sure Brautigan wouldn’t have wanted his spoof to be treated this seriously, but I like this idea of the fragments, and falling in love with the sound of them, and with the ghost of what was lost. In this case, and in that of the Oxyrhynchus materials, so little remained that the words could be nothing more than tantalizing. With the discovery of more text for things that were incomplete, some of that mystery will disappear, some of the possibilities will be closed off. “
  • 4/20/5: Oxy Online P.Oxy. LVI 4499  The newest volume of Oxyrhynchus Papyri contains a fragmentary papyrus of Revelation which is the earliest known witness to some sections (late third / early fourth century). A detailed discussion of its place in the MS tradition is given in the printed volume.  One feature of particular interest is the number that this papyrus assigns to the Beast: 616, rather than the usual 666. (665 is also found.) We knew that this variant existed: Irenaeus cites (and refutes) it. But this is the earliest instance that has so far been found. The number – chi, iota, stigma (hexakosiai deka hex) — is in the third line of the fragment shown below. But why does it matter what the number is? For that, we have to turn to ancient Greek ideas about numerology.
  • 4/17/5: Decoded at last: the ‘classical holy grail’ that may rewrite the history of the world – “In the past four days alone, Oxford’s classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.” | Apocalypse of Baruch Discovered at Oxyrhynchus


The Gospel of the Savior
“roughly 125-150 A.D.”

Date: 14 Jun 2009
Time: 19:52:43

It seems unreasonable that a human record would have been made of a Levite priest and the Savior outside of the bible, but the story of cleansing seems very reasonable. Does your paprius really state what you say?



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