Dating of p46
Since handwriting styles change steadily over time, it is possible to give a papyrus a rough date (accurate to within 50 years) by comparing its handwriting to that of other papyri.
Using this method, scholars date P46 to the third century AD.
As a result, no two copies of the same book could be expected to contain exactly the same text.
When modern editors wish to reconstruct a text as accurately as possible, it is often beneficial to consult the oldest manuscript available, on the presumption that the older the manuscript, the closer it is to the original text.
Nevertheless, there are more letters in the back outer leaves than the front outer leaves, showing that at least some compression did take place.
And this seems to suggest that the scribe was aware of the problem he had created for including the pastorals and he began to compensate upon realizing his mistake. The scribe seemed to understand to some extent how much space it would require to produce his codex.
What is extant are nine ‘Pauline’ letters: Romans, Hebrews (almost always included in the Pauline corpus as far as ancient manuscripts are concerned), 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians.He may have been working from a manuscript that had already indicated the number of lines, and thus would have known how many leaves he needed for his manuscript.Of course, the fact that his words were more compressed at the end of the codex seems to show that as careful as he was in his calligraphy (and he was), this tells us nothing about his math skills.P46 is an example of one of the earliest forms of the New Testament; the papyrus codex.While the canon of the New Testament was gradually being formed, different Christian writings were being copied and collected into volumes written on papyrus, such as this codex containing the Epistles of Paul.
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This week I had the privilege of examining P46 in the flesh.