In the summer of 2013, while examining various manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University, I came across P.CtYBR inv. 4641, a previously unpublished Coptic parchment codex leaf, and identified it as a copy of the Gospel of John in the Sahidic dialect containing portions of chapter 3. I further realized that this manuscript contains ἑρμηνεῖαι on both the flesh and hair sides, arranged in the same tripartite structure as all other Johannine ἑρμηνεία manuscripts. Among the registered manuscripts containing the Greek text of the Gospel of John, there are a total of five papyrus fragments (P.Vindob. G 26214 [P55], P.Ness. 2 3 [P59], P.Berlin 11914 [P63], P.Vindob. G 36102 [P76], P.Monts. Roca 83 [P80]) and three parchment fragments (lost parchment from Damascus , P.Berlin 3607 + 3623 , and P.Berlin 21315 ) known as ‘hermeneia’ manuscripts, that is, fragments containing a certain passage from the Gospel of John, below which occurs the word ἑρμηνεία (Gk. "interpretation, explanation"), centered on the page, which is then followed by a kind of comment or note on the biblical citation. All of these manuscripts follow precisely this tripartite pattern: 1) some text of John, 2) the word ἑρμηνεία, and 3) a brief comment. P.CtYBR inv. 4641 also follows this tripartite pattern, as these snippets show:
As such, P.CtYBR inv. 4641 represents the first-known example of a Coptic-only manuscript with both the text of John and the ἑρμηνεῖαι in Coptic; the other examples that do contain Coptic comments are bilingual. Thus, the Yale fragment has much significance for discussions about the ἑρμηνεία manuscripts, their origin, influences, and functions.
I am happy to announce that my edition of P.CtYBR inv. 4641 has been accepted for publication in New Testament Studies (NTS) and is forthcoming in the April 2014 issue (60.2). In the meantime, I thought I would announce the publication and say a little bit about this interesting manuscript fragment. Stay tuned for more!