The University of Michigan Papyrology Collection contains numerous Coptic biblical manuscripts that have been published over the years, not least of which is the famous Middle Egyptian Fayyumic codex of the Gospel of John (P.Mich. inv. 3521). There are, however, a number of Coptic fragments at Michigan that have never been published or identified. Just recently, for example, I edited P.Mich. inv. 546, a Sahidic parchment fragment of the Gospel of Luke, and P.Mich. inv. 547, some early Christian fragments with Gospel excerpts written in Fayyumic. The collection thus continues to reveal its contents. In March of 2013, I examined three unpublished Coptic papyrus fragments housed in the Michigan collection, inventoried with the description, “Christian text, not biblical.” After some checking, however, I securely identified all three fragments as copies of 2Timothy 1-4 and Titus, written in the Sahidic dialect. The papyri were purchased from the well-known Cairo dealer Maurice Nahman in 1925 and came to the University of Michigan in October 1926 as a gift of Oscar Weber and Richard H. Webber of Detroit. What is amazing is that they have sat at Michigan for nearly a century without even being noticed. G. Browne does not mention the fragments in his Michigan Coptic Texts (1979) nor are they mentioned in Worrell’s Coptic Texts in the University of Michigan Collection (1942). There are other papyri at Michigan bearing the inventory number “3535” (including 3535a, Galatians; ed. princ. Browne) but our fragments are codicologically unrelated to them. Professor Karlheinz Shüssler has brought to my attention the many striking similarities in handwriting between our 3535b and P.Mich. inv. 3992, another Sahidic papyrus codex housed in Michigan, which has been dated by Husselman (“written perhaps as early as the third century A.D. and certainly not later than the fourth”), Kahle, Schüssler and others to the 4th century CE. Taking a more cautious approach, I suggest that the fragments may be placed somewhere in the 4th-7th centuries (or pre-Arab Conquest), but this is admittedly a tentative judgment.
I shall limit myself to the introduction or “sneak peek” above and the images below. I am pleased to announce that my edition of these fragments has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Biblical Literature and is forthcoming, so please be on the lookout for it.