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Artefact ID279
TM IDTM 64398
Findspot (DEChriM ID)28   (al-Bahnasā)
Writing mediumCodex
Text contentLiterary

P.Oxy. VIII 1081; AP11

Three fragments containing the gnostic text of Sophia Jesu Christi.

The three papyrus fragments comprised a folio of a papyrus codex measuring approx. 20.3 x 10.7 cm. The text is presented in 24 lines (verso) and 26 lines on the recto. The verso precedes the recto.

The text presents a conversation between the disciples, among them Mary Magdalene, and the Saviour. The dialogue concerns itself with the acquisition of true faith, and presents the Saviour not as Father, but as a Forfather, and describes him to be as "old as the light before him" (l. 49-50: ἰσόχρονο]ς μὲν τοῦ | [ὄντος πρὸ αὐ]το[ῦ φωτός]).

The nomen sacrum "Father" (πατήρ) appears both as the more common πηρ as well as the more rare πρ and πρς. 

The text was formerly ascribed to various gospels, inter alia the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Truth and Sophia Pistis; see ed. pr. Following the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts, the gospel has been identified as part of Sophia Jesu Christi (see Puech 1950: 91-154). It has since been reconstructed on the basis of Coptic texts; see Attridge 1975.

There is no accentuation, punnctuation or other lectional aids. The text contains several nomina sacra.

Selection criteriaLiterary genre (Non-canonical), Nomina sacra
Date from300
Date to399
Dating criteria

Palaeography. Dated to the early 4th c. by the ed. pr. based on parallels with P.Oxy. III 406 (patristic text from the 3rd c.) and P.Oxy. VI 847 (Gospel of John from the 3/4th c.)

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

The fragment was found in al-Bahnasā (Oxyrhynchos) during the excavations of Bernard Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt.

Accession number

Cambridge, University Library Add. Ms. 5894.


Editio princeps:

· Hunt, Arthur S. 1911. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, part VIII. Published by the Egypt Exploration Society in Graeco-Roman Memoirs. London. 16-19, no. 1081.

Additional bilbiography:

· Aland, Kurt. 1976.Repertorium der griechischen christlichen Papyri: 1. Biblische Papyri: Altes Testament, Neues Testament, Varia, Apokryphen. Apokryphen 11.

· Attridge, Harold W. 1975. “P. Oxy. 1081 and the Sophia Jesu Christi”. Enchoria 5. 1–8

· Blumell, Lincoln H. and Thomas A. Wayment. 2015. Christian Oxyrynchus: Texts, Documents and Sources. Waco, Texas. 261-264, papyrus no. 72.

· Klauck, Hans-Joseph. 2003. Apocryphal Gospels: An Introduction. London. 147-152.

· Lührmann, Dieter and Egbert Schlarb, eds. 2000. Fragmente apokryph gewordener Evangelien. Marburger theologische Studien 59. Marburg. 96-101.

· Parrott, Douglas M. 1991. ‘Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1081: Greek Fragment of the Sophia of Jesus Christ (PO)’. The Coptic Gnostic Library. Robinson, James M, ed. Brill. 209-218.

· Puech, Henri-Charles. 1950. Les Nouveaux écrits gnostiques découverts en Haute-Egypte. Bulletin of the Byzantine Institute 2. Boston. 91-154.

· van Haelst, Joseph. 1976. Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens. Paris. Description no. 1064.

· Wayment, Thomas A. 2013. The text of the New Testament apocrypha (100-400 CE). London. 184-186.

Sofia Heim, 2021
Suggested citation
Sofia Heim, 2021, "Artefact ID 279", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,