Research society of Egypt in the last volume Axirinci papyri (volume LXXXIII) published a phototype copy and reconstruction with commentary on the papyrus fragment that contains a partial text of a few verses of the 1st Chapter of the gospel of Mark 7-9 and 16-18, according to the website of the society, writes the Week.
In the published volume, this papyrus fragment is listed under the number P. Oxy. 5345. In the classification of new Testament papyri, this fragment is called P137. The original manuscript is preserved in the Ashmole Museum at Oxford.
British papyrology, who published the fragment of Professor Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink on the basis of the paleographic data date it to the period from 150 to 250 year ad
The manuscript, or rather what is left of it, is a piece of papyrus the size of 4.4 x 4 cm Line with fragmentarily preserved verses of the gospel of Mark are located on both sides of the manuscript indicates that it was likely the first worksheet code, and not scroll with the text. The code could enter, except the gospel and other new Testament writings.
Studies of archaeological finds, are placed in a storage box with a fragment of the gospel was not conducted until 2011 and Only then for him to prepare papyrus for publication came from the already mentioned papyrology from Oxford Colomo and Obbink. Thus according to the testimony of a renowned expert on the New Testament Craig A. Evans, the fragment was found in the burial mask of papyrus.
In Egypt, the Roman-Hellenistic period was the practice to impose on the head of the mummified body of the dead mask. Gold masks were not available to all, so is widely used masks of the papyrus sheet or canvas. Like a painted mask, pasted together from several papyri, and were subjected to “vivisection”: by dissolving the glue, the researchers have identified a fragment of it with the text from the gospel of Mark, but also hundreds of fragments of papyrus manuscripts of different content, from classic Greek texts (Homer, philosophical treatises) to business receipts and private correspondence.
After it was found that the fragment contains text of the second canonical gospel, sparked a heated debate about the Dating of the papyrus. He was investigated by different methods, including by means of radiocarbon Dating and by comparison with the Dating of the other documents were with him in the mask. First, there were assumptions, based on inaccurate data about the early origin of the document – the end of the first century ad, But soon, as a result of clarifying research and measurements, most scholars agree on the Dating of the II or III century. On a similar, rough, and the Dating stopped and publishers Axirinci texts.
Thus, despite the desires of many, especially the religious scholars (mainly evangelicals), Evangelical fragment P137 became the oldest manuscript with the text of the New Testament, although he was expected to surpass antiquity прославленныйР52 (the Rylands Papyrus, approx. 125 g). However, today in the scientific community of this papyrus has been recognized as the earliest manuscript with the text of the gospel of Mark. In this respect, R 137 overtook oldest known surviving papyrus fragments of the Chester Beatty (P45), which contains numerous excerpts from the 4th, 5th, 6th and other chapters of this gospel, and which date from the mid-IIIB.
Today discovered, studied and published either in full or partially preserved about 5 300 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, which were created in the period from the 1st quarter of the II century to the middle of the eighth century. Such a variety of ancient manuscript material allows researchers to reconstruct the new Testament texts with a very high degree of certainty.