In an article recently published in Novum Testamentum titled "The Earliest Manuscript Title of Matthew's Gospel (BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3/P4)," Simon Gathercole examines what he argues is a "flyleaf" containing the earliest title of the Gospel of Matthew. This leaf was part of a "wad" of papyri used for the "stuffing" in the leather cover of the famous Coptos codex of Philo. Among this "wad" of papyri was also P4, which consists of 6 early fragments of the Gospel of Luke. It is often stated that P4 was used as "stuffing" for the binding of the Philo codex (e.g., Roberts, Skeat, and others), but Gathercole sets the record straight by quoting the original editor on this (Scheil), who claims that sheets of papyri were glued together and placed in the leather codex cover—not binding—to fill up the space ("À la suite du quarante-quatrième feuillet, en guise de bourre, je pense, et pour remplir la capacité de la couverture, se trouvaient plusieurs fragments de feuillets collés ensemble"). In any case, the leaf Gathercole is interested in is one of these "space fillers." While there are some illegible traces of ink elsewhere on the papyrus (which he discuss), the main focus is the title written on the recto. He transcribes the title as follows:
See the photo above for comparison. Gathercole spends quite some time discussing the possible date of the papyrus, and comes to the conclusion that we are dealing with a late 2nd/early 3rd century "flyleaf" containing the oldest manuscript title of Matthew's Gospel. Gathercole is to be commended for not going any further in speculating on whether or not the papyrus might be related to the codex from which P4 came. That would be no more than a mere "possibility," and a mere possibility is where he leaves it. The idea that this papyrus is a "flyleaf" goes back to T.C. Skeat, who in an article claimed that since there is no writing on the verso, precisely where the opening of the text of Matthew would have begun, this is in all likelihood a flyleaf, or cover with a title:
"If this side [verso] did originally contain the commencement of Matthew, it would certainly be suitable since, as stated above, Matthew appears to have begun on the inside (cols. 3 and 4) of a leaf. But we should then have to assume that the whole of the original writing had been effaced, leaving no trace, which is very unlikely. The probability is therefore that the fragment comes from a fly-leaf at the beginning of the manuscripts" ("The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?" NTS 43 : 1-34, here 18).
Skeat is probably correct, given the absence of writing on the verso, that this is a cover sheet or flyleaf. On page 217 Gathercole states, "There are parallels to this sort of single-sided title flyleaf, such as the first page of P62" and he cites here the edition of P62 by Leiv Amundsen. But when I looked at Amundsen, I found that this does not seem to be the case. P62 (P.Osl. inv. 1661) does contain a flyleaf, but it is (as opposed to Gathercole's papyrus) blank on the outside pages (recto, in this case) and contains a title on the inside (verso). It is misleading when Gathercole says that a title occurs on "the first page of P62," since page 1 of P62 is the outside blank page (see Amundsen, "Christian Papyri from the Oslo Collection," Symbolae Osloenses : 121 and 129). As Amundsen records on p. 129 of his edition, "Page 1. No text...Page 2, the title." The flyleaf of P62, then, cannot be understood as the same kind of flyleaf that we find in Gathercole's papyrus and so does not serve as a good "parallel" to that fragment. The beginning of Matthew in Gathercole's papyrus (assuming that some portion of the Gospel did indeed follow the title page!) would have begun on the recto of another sheet.
Besides this confusion, I thought Gathercole's article was very interesting and well researched. Gathercole hopes that this papyrus will be included in the Nestle-Aland hand edition and be cited either 1) as part of the codex of P4 or 2) given a new accession number in the papyri. I highly doubt, however, that the flyleaf discussed here will be sufficient evidence to support the view that it is part of the codex of P4, and I am certain that it will not be registered with Münster as a new papyrus, since it is not a continuous-text manuscript. But I think this is a very important papyrus fragment which attests to an early title of Matthew's Gospel and thus should not be ignored. In the very near future, I shall say a lot more about what I think should be done with respect to important non-continuous-text manuscripts of the NT, so stay tuned! For now, Gathercole is to be commended for his research on this widely neglected fragment.