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Artefact ID386
TM IDTM 61861
Findspot (DEChriM ID)28   (al-Bahnasā)
Writing mediumSheet/roll
Text contentLiterary

P.Oxy. IV 657 + PSI XII 1292; Gregory-Aland P13; 𝔓13; NT13

Extensive fragments from a papyrus roll containing Paul Letter to the Hebrews 2.14 -5.5; 10.8-22, 10.29-11.13, 11.28-12.17. This is one of the larger surviving New Testament fragments.

The text is an opistograph, i. e., the text has been written on the back of a repurposed papyrus roll. The roll, which was probably a privately made copy and discarded as a whole (see Luijendijk 2010: 251-252), originally contained the latin text of Livius Ab urbe condita 37-40 and 47-055 (P.Oxy. IV 668, early 3rd c.) on the recto. The recto, presumably before the Hebrews was written on the verso, has been patched and strengthened with papyrus strips from 3rd c. documentary papyri; see ed. pr. It has been suggested that the original text had been brought to Egypt by a Roman soldier, and then discarded; see Comfort / Barrett 2001: 85.

The fragment contains parts of approx. 12 wide columns that probably ranged from 22 to 27 lines in height. The pagination has been preserved and indicates pages 47-50, 63-5 and 67-9; see ed. pr. An estimate based on the length of Hebrews suggests that the book roll began with another work before Paul's letter. Blumell and Wayment, drawing a parallel with P46 (early 3rd c.), suggest a sequence in which the work Romans preceded Hebrews in the book roll; see Blumell / Wayment 2015: 120.

The scribe used double and single points for punctuation, which possibly coincides with a longer formation of stikhoi than in the extant MSS; see ed. pr. There are several corrections and errors, as well as diaereses, diastole and a few instances of rough breathings (e.g. l. 22 οὑ). At line end, the nu is sometimes abbreviated as a superlinear horisontal stroke.

The text seems to prefer brevity and agrees with the Codex Vaticanus in several omissions and variants, but the fragment also contains a substantial amount of unique readings.

Selection criteriaLiterary genre (Biblical), Nomina sacra
Date from250
Date to350
Dating criteria

Palaeography as well as the archaeological context. The fragment must post-date the Latin text of the verso, which is dated to the early 3rd c. by G. Cavallo; see Cavallo 1967: 6.

The fragment was dated to 300-325 (or 350) by the ed. pr. on account of its coarse uncials resembling the script of P.Oxy. III 404 (late 3rd/early 4th c.). The date was also influenced by the excavational context, as the fragments were found among several 3rd c. documents; see ed. pr.

The fragment was otherwise placed in the early 3rd c. by Comfort and Barrett (see Comfort / Barrett 2001: 83) and Jaroš (Jaroš 2006: no. 2.47). For the most recent date, see Clarysse / Orsini 2012: 469.

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

P.Oxy. IV 657 was found among 3rd c. documentary papyri in the ancient trash sites of Oxyrhynchus (al-Bahnasā) by Grenfell and Hunt during their extensive excavations that took place at the end of the 19th /beginning of the 20th c. 

PSI XII 1292 was found by E. Breccia in 1934, also in al-Bahnasā (Kôm Abu Teir).

Accession number

Cairo, Egyptian Museum, SR 3796 25/1/55/2 (11) Vo / PSI 1292 + London, British Library, Pap 1532 Vo.


Editio princeps:

• Bartoletti, Vittorio and M. Norsi. 1951. "PSI 12 1292". Papiri greci e latini XII. Florence. 209-220.

• Hunt, Arthur S. and Bernard Grenfell. 1904. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, part IV. Published by the Egypt Exploration Society in Graeco-Roman Memoirs. London. 36-48, no. 657.

Additional bibliography:

• Aland, Kurt. 1976. Repertorium der griechischen christlichen Papyri: 1. Biblische Papyri: Altes Testament, Neues Testament, Varia, Apokryphen. Neues Testament 13.

• Blumell, Lincoln H. and Thomas A. Wayment. 2015. Christian Oxyrynchus: Texts, Documents and Sources. Waco, Texas. Papyrus no. 32.

• Cavallo, Gugielmo. 2008. La scrittura greca e latina dei papiri: una introduzione. Pisa. 112. 

• Cavallo, Gugielmo. 1967. Ricerche sulla maiuscola biblica. Florence. 6.

• Clarysse, Willy and Pasquale Orsini. 2012. "Early new testament manuscripts and their dates: A critique of theological palaeography". Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88. 443-474.

• Crisci, I. 1970. “The collection of papyri of Florence”. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Papyrology (American Studies in Papyrology, VII). Samuel, D. H, ed. Toronto. 93.

• Head P. M. and M. Warren. 1997. "Re-Inking the Pen: Evidence from P. Oxy. 657 (P13) Concerning Unintentional Scribal Errors". NTS 43. 466-473.

• Jaroš, Karl. 2006. Das Neue Testament nach den ältesten griechischen Handschriften (CD-Rom). 4265-4373, no. 2.47.

• Luijendijk, AnneMarie. 2010. "Sacred Scriptures as Trash:Biblical Papyri from Oxyrhynchus". Vigiliae Christianae. 64. 251-252.

• Milne, H. J. M. 1927. "P. Lond. Lit. 218". Catalogue of the Literary Papyri In the British Museum. London: Published by the Trustees. 

• Comfort, Philip W. 1999. "New Reconstructions and Identifications of New Testament Papyri". Novum Testamentum 41 (3). 214-230.

• Comfort, Philip W. 2005. Encountering the manuscripts: an introduction to New Testament, paleography & textual criticism. Nashville: Broadman & Holman. 166.

• Comfort, Philip W. and David P. Barrett. 1999. The complete text of the earliest New Testament manuscripts. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 73-82. 

• Comfort, Philip W. and David P. Barrett. 2001. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts: A Corrected, Enlarged Edition of The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. Wheaton: Tyndale House. 83-92.

• Roberts, C.H. and T.C. Skeat.The Birth of the Codex. London. 39 n. 2.

• Royse, James R. 2012. "The early text of Paul (and Hebrews)". The early text of the New Testament. Hill, Charles E., and Michael J. Kruger, eds. Oxford. 175-203.

• van Haelst, Joseph. 1976. Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens. Description no. 537.

Sofia Heim, 2021
Suggested citation
Sofia Heim, 2021, "Artefact ID 386", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,