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Artefact ID42
TM IDTM 107779
Findspot (DEChriM ID)41   (Kūm Awšīm)
Writing mediumCodex
Text contentLiterary

Browne 1979: 2-8. Fragmentary leaf from a papyrus codex containing Job 30:21-25 (recto) and 30:26-30 (verso) in a northern variety of Coptic. The dialectal categorisation of the fragment has been the subject of several discussions. For R. Kasser, P.Mich. Inv. 5421 constitutes the unique witness of the "karanite" mesodialect K (Kasser and Satzinger 1982; Kasser 2006: 418), a dialectal group between dialects B (dominant) and V (Fayyumic without lambdacism) (Kasser and Satzinger 1982: 18-19), while W.-P. Funk sees in it essentially Bohairic with Mesokemic features (Funk 1980). P. Van Minnenʼs label "early Sahidic" is baseless (Van Minnen 1994: 72).

Selection criteriaLiterary genre (Biblical), Coptic language
Date from300
Date to450
Dating criteria

Dated 4/5th c. in "Both codex typology and individual letter forms place the text early", probably in the 4th c. The absence of dialectal standardisation supports a date in the 4th c. According to Van Minnen 1994, the archaeological context could even suggest a date in late 3rd c.

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

Karanis, Excavations, House B168 [28-B168L-B].

The fragment was discovered during the 1928/1929 excavation season at Karanis, in the structure B168, in association with documents dated in the 3rd or 4th c. (see for instance SB XIV 11458). According to the stratigraphic data, it should be from the end of the 3rd or the 4th c. (Fournet 2019: 7n8, after van Minnen 1994: 72). Nevertheless, whether it was found in a sealed context remains an open question (see discussion in Nongbri 2018).

Accession number

Ann Arbor, Michigan University, Library P. 5421 [P.Mich. Inv. 5421]


Editio Princeps

• Browne, G.M. 1979. Michigan Coptic Texts. Studia et Textus. Barcelona: Papyrologica Castroctaviana, 2-8.

Additional Bibliography

• Fournet, Jean-Luc. 2019. The Rise of Coptic. Princeton, 7, n. 8.

• Funk, W.-P. 1980. "Eine frühkoptische Ausgleichsorthographie für Unter- und Mittelägypten?" Bulletin de la Société dʼégyptologie de Genève 4: 33-38.

• Kasser, Rodolphe. 2006. "KAT’ASPE ASPE. Constellations d’idiomes coptes plus ou moins bien connus et scientifiquement reçus, aperçus, pressentis, enregistrés en une terminologie jugée utile, scintillant dans le firmament égyptien à l’aube de notre troisième millénaire." In Coptica – Gnostica – Manichaica. Mélanges offerts à Wolf-Peter Funk, Bibliothèque copte de Nag Hammadi, Section “Études” 7, edited by L. Painchaud and P.-H. Poirier. Québec, Louvain, Paris: Presses de l’Université Laval, Peeters, 389-492.

• Kasser, R., and H. Satzinger. 1982. "Lʼidiome du P. Mich. 5421 (trouvé à Karanis, nord-est du Fayoum)." Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 74: 15-32.

• Nongbri, Brent. 2018. "A Manuscript of Job in Coptic from Karanis." Variant Readings, August 16, 2018.

• van Minnen, Peter. 1994. "The Roots of Egyptian Christianity." Archiv für Papyrusforschung 40: 70-85.

Mary Jane Cuyler, Valérie Schram, Victor Ghica, 2020-21, 2021
Suggested citation
Mary Jane Cuyler, Valérie Schram, Victor Ghica, 2020-21, 2021, "Artefact ID 42", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,