Harvard has created a new website devoted to the Gospel of Jesus' Wife here, which, among other things, gives free access to Harvard Theological Review's latest issue, featuring articles concerning the papyrus from a list of reputable scholars. It seems that the papyrus has proved to be ancient and that there is more evidence suggesting that the text itself may also be ancient. I have remained very quiet about all of this until now but will respond shortly to the website and HTR journal articles once I have had time to read them all.
A couple years ago, I announced that the the Insitute of Classical Studies in London was preparing a new edition of E.G. Turner's classic Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World (second edition, with Parsons). This week, I spoke with Richard Simpson, Director of Publications, and he informs me that a new edition of G. Cavallo and H. Maehler's Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period A.D. 300 – 800 (1987) is also in the works! These are two of the most important manuals on Greek palaeography to date and I am super excited to know that both are coming back in print. Simpson also informs me that there will be online editions of these volumes as well. If you were to buy them used from places such as Amazon, they will run you a couple hundred bucks or more. So, good news all around.
Yesterday, during my research on the McGill leaf from NT lectionary l 1663 (which I talked about previously), I came across l 192 and realized that these manuscripts are most probably written by the same scribe. There is the possibility that it is not the same scribe but that both manuscripts are products of the same scriptorium, but a close inspection of both manuscripts suggests that we are indeed dealing with the same scribe. This means that we need to return to the question of dating, since l 192 is dated to the 13th century and l 1663 to the 14th. My hunch is that both are to be dated to the late 12th/early 13th, since they are consonant with later hands in the codices vetusti category of minuscule manuscripts (i.e., mid-10th to mid-13th centuries).
I have put together some comparanda but please note that these were put together in haste: better comparisons certainly exist and the image quality of the samples is poor. The hands in both are fluid and the letter forms often change from one occurrence to the next. Please take a look yourself at complete images of l 192 here and an image of one leaf of l 1663 here. The pictures on the left are from l 1663 and those on the right are from l 192.
P.Oxy. 2 is a papyrus sheet (partial) that was folded in antiquity to create two codex leaves (i.e., a bifolium) on which the Gospel of Matthew was inscribed (complete high-res images: recto, verso). It is the the first papyrus in the Gregory-Aland system, designated "P1." Most of the first leaf is missing; the text of Matthew 1 is featured on the second leaf. The first, partial leaf is important, however, because it is a “flyleaf” or coversheet similar to what we find in other codices, such as BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3 (P4, Matthew). Surprisingly, most textual critics have ignored this flyleaf. Even Simon Gathercole in his 2012 article “The Earliest Title of Matthew’s Gospel” (published in Novum Testamentum) did not mention P.Oxy. 2 in his discussion of the flyleaf and title of Matthew’s Gospel in BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3/P4. It is also not found in INTF’s Virtual Manuscript Room’s transcriptions (http://ntvmr.uni-muenster.de/manuscript-workspace). Most people will have never heard of it. But this flyleaf appears to contain an unusual title(?) to Matthew’s Gospel:
Grenfell and Hunt, the editors of this papyrus, noticed that the text on the flyleaf was written in a different hand and suggested that the three lines “may have formed a title of some kind.” They provided the following transcription of the title:
Notice the extra material in the photo on the right (the title is on the back side). In any case, I suspect that the edge of the papyrus was damaged at some point resulting in the loss of the two letters εν at the end of line 1.
In 1971, José O’Callaghan proposed that these three lines are from Matthew 2:14: ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ [...]
Comfort and Barrett claimed that “it could be conjectured that it was not so much a title as it was a kind of subhead descriptor,” and proposed the following transcription:
We can only guess at what the papyrus read at this point, since we are working with only 8 letters. But I would like to offer another possibility (cf. 1:20):
ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ
Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου
“He was made flesh (=born)
by the Holy Spirit and
Mary, the Virgin”
Since the handwriting of the title (or “subhead descriptor”) of P.Oxy. 2 is likely later than that of the main text, which is dated to the 3rd century, we might say that the scribe or reader who inscribed the flyleaf was familiar with this creedal formula and decided to introduce his copy of Matthew in precisely this way. It also resonates with words and phrases we find in the opening chapter of Matthew ("born of the Holy Spirit," "his mother," "ἐγεννήθη"). That early Christians continued to recognize Mary as the one who gave birth to Jesus is evidenced in a variety of early Christian texts and artifacts. One example is the ΧΜΓ symbol, probably signifying Χ(ριστὸς ὁ ἐκ) Μ(αρίας) Γ(εννηθείς) ("Christ, the one born of Mary").
There are certainly other possibilities than what I have proposed (including trying to read παρθένος in the second line, among other things), but I think a highly reasonable conclusion is that the three lines probably communicated something about Jesus' being born by Mary.