Shown here are the front and back of the Papyrus Rylands 457 (P52) fragment, a very early copy of a portion of John’s Gospel. Housed at the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England, it was acquired in Egypt in 1920. It preserves a portion of Joh 18:31-33 on one side and a portion of Joh 18:37, 38 on the other. The presence of writing on both sides of the papyrus is clear evidence that it was part of a codex. The fragment measures 9 by 6 cm (3.5 by 2.4 in.). Many scholars consider it to be the oldest extant Greek manuscript of the Christian Greek Scriptures, dating it to sometime in the first half of the second century C.E. The Gospel of John was written about 98 C.E., so this copy was likely made just a few decades later. The text of this fragment agrees very closely with later more complete Greek manuscripts that form the basis for modern translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
© The University of Manchester. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Derivative work based on images: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/whats-on/exhibitions/rylands-gallery/