Renowned Oxford papyrologist Peter J. Parsons describes the process of editing papyri from Oxyrhynchus:
"The pleasures of the [Oxyrhynchus] project have been threefold. First, there is the pleasure of the chase: open a box of unpublished papyri, and you never know what you will find — high poetry and vulgar farce, sales and loans, wills and contracts, tax returns and government orders, private letters, shopping lists and household accounts. Then, there is the pleasure of comprehension: as you decipher the ink, still black after two thousand years, you begin to make words out of letters and then sentences out of words; the eye looks for shapes, and the mind looks for sense, and the two in alliance will (all being well) turn a string of symbols into intelligible text. Thirdly, your new text finds its place within larger structures. A fragment of Greek Comedy may add a new scene to a play already known from other fragments; an edict of the governor of Egypt may join other documents to hint at reform and politics; the lease of a vineyard will contribute evidence about price-inflation and consumer preference. Throughout the process, the researcher becomes aware of a unity. Every fragment of every kind in every box belongs in one historical and geographical context — the reading, writing and working citizens of Oxyrhynchus, the City of the Sharp-nosed Fish."
Excerpt from: Parsons, P.J. City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish: Greek Lives in Roman Egypt. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, xxvi-xxvii.
Several months ago, I blogged about an event called "Discover the Evidence" that took place on 5-6 December 2013. Readers may remember that it was at this event that hundreds of papyrus fragments were apparently extracted from mummy masks by Scott Carroll, a controversial American collector of antiquities. It was reported that "each attendee actually participated in the extraction of papyri fragments [sic] from ancient artifacts." [This last quote was taken from Christian apologist Josh McDowell's website before it was later quietly deleted.]
A reader of this blog has brought to my attention a booklet titled "Discovering a Living Treasure," which has now been made available through Josh McDowell's website. For those who are following my posts about the Green Collection, Scott Carroll, mummy masks, cultural artifacts and heritage, ethical practices in the acquisition and use of papyri and other antiquities, and so on—this piece will be of interest to you. The booklet, authored by Josh McDowell, gives many more details about the "Discover the Evidence" event, the artifacts handled there, and those who were involved (note especially McDowell and Carroll's involvement). We learn that Josh McDowell is now the owner of Christian papyri. We also learn more about how he intends to use them. Readers can take it from here. I think everyone knows how I feel about these issues already.
This NT manuscript is interesting for a variety of reason, one of which is the cursive note at the bottom. This is not a continuation of the NT text above, nor has it been deciphered given its ungrammatical characteristics. So, which NT manuscript is this? And does anyone want to take a stab at the meaning and function of the scribbled note?
Update: As several people have pointed out on Facebook, via email, and through the comments here, this is indeed P.Oxy. II 209 (P10). The most exhaustive study of it is the recent article by AnneMarie Luijendijk, "A New Testament Papyrus and Its Documentary Context: An Early Christian Writing Exercise from the Archive of Leonides (P.Oxy. II 209/P10)," JBL 129.3 (2010): 575-596.