Egypt Exploration Fund   [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1903-1904

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Geaeco-Eoman Egypt.


There are also several fragments of scientific texts,— medical, astrological,
athletic, mathematical, and grammatical.

Much more important are the new literary acquisitions in vol. iv. The
theological section opens with the already famous fragment containing new
" Sayings of Jesus," and a piece of a non-canonical Gospel, which have also
been published separately on account of their exceptional interest.2 The
" Sayings " are from the beginning of a collection, to which it can hardly
be doubted that those published in the first Oxyrhynchus volume likewise
belonged (though to a different copy of it, that being a codex, while this is a
roll). Unfortunately the new fragment is only a single imperfect column,
and the only Sayiug which can be restored with certainty is one already
known as a quotation by Clement of Alexandria from the Gospel according
to the Hebrews. The occurrence of an extract from this source is, however,
a fact of considerable importance ; and the introductory clauses throw some
light on the character of the whole collection. The association of it with
the name of Thomas is suggestive of a literary fiction such as we find in
the Apocryphal Gospels; and a collection of bare apopltthegmata, with little
or no narrative setting, implies that the authority of the Teacher to whom
they are ascribed was already established. These, however, are points on
which different views will be taken, and which cannot be adequately
discussed here. In any case, it may be observed, the collection must have
been made before the paramount authority of the four canonical Gospels
had been established, so that it is only a question of an earlier or a later
date within a very early period ; the authenticity of some of the Sayings is
guaranteed by their appearing, identically or substantially, in the canonical
Gospels; and for the rest, the decision as to their authenticity must be a
matter for individual feeling rather than for demonstration. The fragment
of a non-canonical Gospel is almost equally interesting, showing an
independent handling of materials most of which recur in the Sermon on
the Mount and the corresponding section in St. Luke, together with a new
Saying which recalls a quotation in the so-called Second Epistle of Clement.
These materials are rather incongruously assorted, but they have an
undeniably early appearance, and clearly belong to one of the first groups
of non-canonical narratives.

The Biblical texts are only two in number, but of exceptional import-
ance. One consists of four leaves from Genesis, in book form, but in a hand
which, to judge from the facsimile, must go very near the second century,
and has a Btrong claim to be considered the earliest extant Biblical fraa'-
ment; the text also is valuable, from the scarcity of uncial MSS. of this
book. The same maybe said of the other Biblical text, consisting of eleven
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