A SAHIDIC PARCHMENT FRAGMENT OF ACTS 27.4-13
AT THE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA
(E 16690 Coptic
ROBERT A. KPAFT
PENNSYLVANIA, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19104
consultation with James M. Robinson) \*/
This article appeared originally in the Journal of Biblical Literarure
94 (1975), 256-265 plus plates of both recto and verso. It has received
minor editorial adjustments in its electronic form, which was initially
scanned and proofed by Laura Ng (July 2006).
The following parchment/vellum fragment of Acts in Sahidic was rescued from a neglected box of unflattened papyri in the basement of the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.\1/ It is part of a heterogeneous mass of inscribed materials (mostly papyrus, but some leather and paper), in various languages (especially Greek, Coptic, and Arabic), that came into the possession of the Museum through W. Max Müller in the year 1910, possibly acquired by him from a dealer in Cairo.\2/ Over the years, much of this material has remained virtually in the same condition as it was when it arrived - unflattened and thus unavailable for examination by interested specialists - until R. A. Kraft requested and received permission to begin to humidify and flatten the numerous fragments in 1966.
\1/ This material is published with the
kind permission of the University Museum and the associate curator of
its Egyptian section, David O'Connor. The generous advice and
assistance provided by John Turner at various stages of the preparation
of this article for publication is also gratefully acknowledged.
biographical information about Müller (1862-1919), see the Dictionary
of American Biography 13 (1934) 320-21. The trip to
Egypt in 1910 was Müller's third and last expedition for the Carnegie
Institution of Washington, DC; he spent most of that summer at the
island of Philae in the upper Nile, but had long since established
strong contacts at Cairo and Thebes. See the three volumes of his
Egyptological Researches (Washington: Carnegie Institution,
1906-1920). Further details on the history of the collection of
papyri at the University Museum have been compiled by Patricia L. Crown
as part of a project to preserve and catalogue the materials under the
direction of R. A. Kraft. [Crown's work was further developed by John
R. Abercrombie in his "A HISTORY OF
THE ACQUISITION OF PAPYRI AND RELATED WRITTEN MATERIAL IN THE
UNIVERSITY (OF PENNSYLVANIA) MUSEUM" (1980) as well as in his
earlier article on "The University Museum's collection of
Papyri and related Materials"
One of the boxes (numbered E 16690) contained, among hundreds of other pieces, a parchment scrap that had shrivelled up like a closed fist so that it was holding several papyri in its brittle clutch, After humidification, the parchment was carefully separated from the papyri for preliminary flattening, and was seen to be part of a neatly written Coptic codex containing references to "Paul." [] A rough transcription was prepared and was distributed privately to a few scholars known to be engaged in Coptic studies, but so little of the transcription could be read with confidence that the fragment was not identified immediately. Meanwhile, the work of flattening the other Museum materials continued as time permitted. Then in the summer of 1968, James M. Robinson examined the transcription and was successful in identifying it as part of the account in Acts 27. This led to a fresh attempt at flattening and reading the poorly preserved fragment, which was now relatively easy to reconstruct on the basis of continuous text provided by the other preserved MSS of Acts in Sahidic (see below).
The text of this fragment is written in very neat Coptic letters of the "biblical uncial" type,\4/ with two columns per page and approximately 9-11 letters per line, 19 lines per column. The original codex was in "petit format," with its pages at least 15 cm. tall and 12 cm. wide, and margins of 2 cm. at the top, 1.5 cm. on the inside, and 1 cm. between the columns (each of which was 4 cm. wide); the outer margin was at least 1 cm. wide, but is especially badly preserved, as is the lower margin.\4a/
C. H. Roberts, Greek Literary Hands
330 B.C.-A.D. 400 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1955; 2d
ed., 1956), for a characterization of the Greek "biblical uncial"
(regularity of size and shape, use of thick and thin strokes) and for
some early examples (pls. 16a, 22b, 24b). Examples of early
Coptic "Bibelstil" (4th through 6th centuries) are presented in V.
Stegemann, Koptische Paläographie
(Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums und
des Mittelalters, 1; Heidelberg: Bilabel [privately], 1936), esp. pls.
2-5 and 8-9.
\4a/ [[add note to Turner, Codex]]
leather was of fine quality but is now badly shrunken and torn in
spots, as well as discolored by deterioration. The first portion
of preserved text is written on the more polished, hair side of the
parchment; the reverse is on the paler, flesh side. No traces are
evident of how the lines were ruled in preparing the codex. The
writing is in pale brown ink, with letters approximately 2.5 mm. tall,
and closely resembles other biblical MSS from the 4th to 7th centuries, including the "great Greek
uncials" like B, S (Aleph), A, C, G, and Θ (Washington MS 1). It is tempting to date the fragment towards the earlier
part of that period -- perhaps in the 5th century, or even the 4th.\5/ The forms of the special
Coptic letters seem to suggest a relatively early date, and this is
supported by the fact that the letters a and m are not in the "Coptic style"
that came to be used widely in the 6th and 7th centuries, and
e, th, o, s (see also ō
and [] š) are neatly rounded (not oval).\6/ There is no evidence of
enlarged or colored letters at the beginning of the preserved lines,
but miniature letters sometimes are used at the end of lines (see
verso, col. ii, line 2). Punctuation is frequent, and some lines
conclude with an arrowhead-like mark (pointing to the right; see recto,
col. i, line 3; verso, col. i, lines 8, 12, 13; col. ii, line 7), which
seems to function like a modern hyphen. The supralinear
horizontal stroke familiar in Coptic (to indicate the e sounds) is also frequent, and on
recto, col ii, line 8, an apostrophe is used between consonants of a
proper name (Sal'mōn).
The preserved margins reveal no trace of page numbers.
Acts fragment is especially similar to the Berlin Sahidic Psalter
edited by A. Rahlfs (Abhandlungen der königlichen Gesellschalt der
Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, philologisch-historische KI. ns 4/4
[Berlin: Weidmann, 1901]), which is dated ca. 400 by him (pp. 12-13),
but "somewhat earlier" (4th century) by Stegemano (p. 12b); see the
photofacsimiles at the end of RahIfs’s article,
and the sample in Stegemann, pl. 2. For Stegemann's discussion of
characteristics of 4th- and 5th-century Coptic "biblical style," see
pp. 12b-14b of his treatment. Of the materials incorporated in
Maria Cramer's Koplische Paläographie
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1964), the Acts fragment is most
similar to no. 12 (= British Museum Ms
Or 6695, on pl. 43), dated to the 5th-6th century, and itself a NT Ms.
\6/ On the "Coptic style" and the move from round towards oval forms in Coptic, see the detailed discussion by J. Irigoin, "L'onciale grecque de type copte," Jabrbuch der österreichischen byzantinischen Gesellschaft 8 (1959) 29-51. On the development of the six special Coptic letters, see V. Stegemann, Koptische Paläograpbie, 10-11.
Sahidic witnesses to the text of Acts
27.4-13 are not numerous. To the materials listed by A. Joussen,\7/ we must now add the Berlin
codex recently published by F. Hintze and H.-M. Schenke.\8/ The resultant list of
witnesses is as follows. For purposes of notation, we have
employed the sigla assigned by the Münster Institut für
neutestamentliche Textforschung (as listed by Hintze-Schenke), but have
also indicated below the symbols used earlier in the critical
apparatuses of the editions of Sahidic Acts by G. W. Horner\9/ and H. Thompson.\10/ No attempt has yet
been made to determine whether other fragments of this same MS are preserved among the materials listed in the
\8/ Die Berliner Handschrift der sahidischen Apostelgeschichte (P. 15926) (TU 109; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1970). Fragments of Acts 27.3-6 and 12-16 from the middle part of a page of the codex are preserved. In no instance do the preserved letters differ from what is preserved of the fragment published here.
\9/ The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect otherwise called Sahidic and Thebiac, with critical apparatus, literal English translation, and register and notes of fragments, vol. 6 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1922).
\10/ The Coptic Version of the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles in the Sahidic Dialect (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1932).
4 (Horner's a; Thompson's Bm) = British Museum Or 7594, a papyrus codex from ca. 300 ("not later than mid-4th century," Hintze-Schenke), edited by E. A. T. W. Budge in 1912 \11/
\11/ Coptic Biblical Texts in the
Dialect of Upper Egypt
(London: British Museum, 1912).
(unknown to Horner; Thompson's Be)
= Chester Beatty parchment codex of Acts and John in Sahidic, from the
late 6th century (so []
Hintze-Schenke) or the 7th century, published by Thompson in 1932
(see n. 10).
43 (unknown to Horner and Thompson) = P. Berlin 15926, a fragmentary papyrus codex of Acts from the 4th century, edite6 by Hintze and Schenke in 1970 (see n. 8).
449 (Horner's 17, Thompson's Bal) = Vatican 78, a fragment of Acts 27:11-27 from a 9th-century parchment codex, first published by P. J Balestri in 1904.\12/
451 (Horner's 19; Thompson's Wess) = Vienna 154 K 9152 pp. 151-52, a fragment of Acts 27:9-21 from an 1lth-12th-century parchment cortex, published by C. Wessely in 1913.\13/
468 (Horner's lectionary 3) = Paris 129.19 f. 61, an unpublished lectionary containing Acts 27:1-4. (Its readings have not proved significant for our reconstruction.)
-- (Thompson Ost; Joussen C) = a Cairo ostracon (8137) or the 7th century which contains Acts 27:9-11 and was published by W. E. Crum in 1902.\14/
\14/ Coptic Ostraca from the Collection of the Egypt Exploration Fund (London: Egyptian Exploration Fund Committee, 1902).
The textual variations noted
below are drawn from the editions of Horner, Thompson, and
Hintze-Schenke. Occasionally, reference is made to the Bohairic
NT (= Bo), based on Horner's edition (Oxford: Clarendon, 1905).
Recto (hair side)
||column I||line||column ii||ref.
||We put out
|of that place,
||in sailing and
|and sailed under
||since the winds did not favor
||opposed us. And
||us, we made sail
|when we had made sail
|in the deep sea
|of Cilicia and Pam-
||But scarcely having
|phylia, we came to
||passed by, we came
|Myra of Lycia.
||to a place called
||And the cen-
|a ship of
||with a town
|Alexandria (Rakote) in that
|place about to
||Alasos. But when
|sail to Italy,
|(so) he put us aboard.
||time had passed (and) we
||And when we had continued
||had trouble sailing,
Verso (flesh side)
|because the fast
||to what Paul
|also was past,
||But since the harbor
|counsel with them
||was not convenient for
||(and) said to them:
||majority took counsel
|see that the
|sailing will become
||[(?) they would be able (?)]
|loss, not only
||to reach a harbor,
|of the ship and
||Crete, that they might
|our souls as well."
||moor in it
||But the centur-
||since it was facing
|ion was listening
||westward and south-
|to the helms-
||eastward. But after a
|man and the own-
|er rather than
||arose, we though|
Notes to Transcription
6 It is not
clear whether there was any punctuation after an.
with MS 16;
ehoue MS 449; enhouo MS 45 1; MS 4 omits it.
2 The supralinear line over the first m and the midpoint punctuation at the end of the line are clear; the final oo letters are in miniature.
3 emplimēn with MSS 4 and 451; empl- in MSS 16 and 449.
4 The slightly curved supralinear stroke above the first n is clear.
5 It is not clear whether this line ended with e or with u because the fragment is badly faded at this point; apeuhouo is read by MS 16 (see Bo), while MSS 4, 449, and 451 have apehouo.
7 It is not clear whether the m had a stroke above it, but it is followed by the same mark found in col. i, lines 8, 12, and 13.
8 A midpoint punctuation mark seems to end the line.
9 The lacuna does not seem to provide enough room for the expected reading enau je tenna (MS 16) or sena (MSS 4, 449, and 451). Some MSS of Bo omit je, which may agree with this fragment.
10 The two preserved portions of this line, consisting of two letters each -- possibly mo (or ne) and mč without any clear evidence of any supralinear stroke -- fall under the letters en and na of line 9, respectively. Thus they should be separated by at least three letters and should be followed by a letter or two. The other witnesses are of little aid in reconstructing this portion of the fragment -- MSS 16, 449, and 451 have (e) ščemčom etahe, while MS 4 has only eštahe.
12 Phoinix with MSS 4 and 451; phenix MS 449; phenix MS 16 (with seperate letters p and h, not Greek phi as in MSS 4, 449, and 451).
13 tetekrētē seems more likely (with MSS 4, 449, and 45f; also Bo) than -kritē (so ms 16).
15 The supralinear stroke above the t is visible.
16 It is not clear whether there was a stroke above the letters mn. For ete, ms 451 has te.17 The punctuation is clear in this fragment, as is the curved stroke above the n.