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Artefact ID462
TM IDTM 64581
Findspot (DEChriM ID)-   ()
Writing mediumCodex
Text contentLiterary
LanguageGreek, Coptic

Bell / Skeat (1935) : 56-60 (papyrus no. 4); P. Egerton 5; P.Lond.Christ. 4 (in VanHaelst)

Papyrus fragment (19 x 6.8 cm) from a folio containing liturgical text. The text was eventually repurposed, and contains Coptic marginalia containing a list of sprigs.

The fragment contains 17 verses on both sides, and exhibits decorated alphabetical numerals in the top margins of recto and verso (the verso contextually precedes the recto). These numbers (A and B) appear to indicate the sequence of the prayers, rather than the number of the pages (as is suggested by the occurrence of a numerical beta in l. 13 recto); see ed. pr.

The Biblical content of the liturgy is scant; only line 8 quotes four words from Psalm 78:13. The ed. pr. notes that the vocabulary is heavily influenced by the Epic language (see e.g. τέκος l. 26, ἄφθιτος l. 20, and ἄδεκτος l. 12). The text is at times marked by the diple aand a long horizontal line (probably lectional aids, see l. 5 verso and 26 recto), and contains an unknown sign in l. 27 (recto).

The Coptic marginalia are written in red ink. The text contains a list of sprigs, and probably presents part of a magical recipe; see ed. pr.

There has been debate about whether the liturgical text belongs to a Christian or a Jewish context, the latter of which is argued in, i. a., Wahrhaftig 1939:  376-381 and Van der Horst 1998: 173-182. 

Selection criteriaSubliterary genre (Liturgical)
Date from350
Date to450
Dating criteria

Palaeography. The ed. pr. places the text in the 4/5 c. This time frame has been slightly narrowed (to end of 4th / beginning of 5th) in an article by Van Der Horst (see Van Der Horst 1998: 173).

Absolute/relative dateRelative date
Archaeological context

Findspot and provenance are unknown.

Purchased on the 28th of July 1934 as part of a lot (containing Egerton Papyri 2-31) from Maurice Nahman on behalf of the British Museum. The purchase was made using the Bridgewater fund.

Accession number

London, British Library, Egerton Pap 5.


Editio princeps

∙ Bell, Harold Idris and Theodore Cressy Skeat, eds. 1935. "Leaf from a liturgical book". Fragments of an unknown gospel and other early christian papyri . London. 56-60, papyrus no. 4.

Additional bibliography

∙ Bickerman, E. J. 1962. "The Civic Prayer for Jerusalem". The Harvard Theological Review 55. 163-185 and 169 n. 28.

∙ Lattke, M. 1991. Hymnus. Materialien zu einer Geschichte der antiken Hymnologie. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 265.

∙ Marmorstein, A. 1943/1944. ‘The Oldest Form of the Eighteen Benedictions". Jewish Quarterly Review 34. 137-159.

∙ Roberts, C. E. 1979. Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt. London: Oxford University Press. 78.

∙ Turner, E. G. 1977. The typology of the early codex. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 142 and passim.

∙ van der Horst, Pieter W. 1998. "Papyrus Egerton 5: Christian or Jewish?". Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 121. 173-182 and plate no. 2.

∙ ———. 1998. "Neglected Greek Evidence for Early Jewish Liturgical Prayer". Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period 29. 278-296.

∙ ———. 2002. Japheth in the tents of Shem: studies on Jewish Hellenism in antiquity. Leuven: Peeters. 39-54.

∙ van Haelst, Joseph. 1976. Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens. Description no. 921.

∙ Wahrhaftig, Joseph. 1939. "A Jewish Prayer in a Greek Papyrus". JTS 40. 376-381.

Sofia Heim, 2021
Suggested citation
Sofia Heim, 2021, "Artefact ID 462", 4CARE database - Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt,