Ok...so maybe P26 was never really lost, but its image has been missing in action from some of the most up-to-date, exhaustive manuscript lists that I am aware of on the internet:
- Wieland Willker's list
- Mark Goodacre's list
- Rodney Decker's list
- K.C. Hanson's list
- David Palmer's list
- Biblical Manuscripts Project list
Why do I care? Well, I care for two reasons really.
One, I think those who are keeping the lists mentioned above are providing an invaluable resource for scholars and laymen alike, and I'd like to see those lists as complete as possible.
Two, I happen to live in a suburb of Dallas, where P26 resides, and have had the opportunity to hold the 6th/7th century manuscript with my own hands (the manuscript being sandwiched between plates of glass, of course). So, I simply have an interest in it.
It is kept in Special Collections at the Bridwell Library on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus and, on rare occasions, is placed in public view during an exhibition.
P26, a.k.a. P.Oxy 1354, is one of the many papyri discovered at Oxyrhynchus and is discussed by Grenfell and Hunt in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Volume XI. It and 11 other Oxyrhynchus manuscripts, 2 classical (Homer and Sophocles) and 9 non-literary, were presented to SMU by the Egypt Exploration Society of London, through Dr. A.V. Lane. They were kept in the SMU museum until 1950 when they were transferred to the Bridwell Library.
Verses 1-16 of the 1st chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans are recorded on P26, though they are quite difficult to read today due to the ravages of time. The manuscript has a few points of interest, such as Nomina Sacra (ΙΥ, ΧΥ, ΔΑΔ, ΥΥ, ΘΥ, ΠΝΑ, and ΚΥ), a high stop in line 29 (verso), and a paragraphus below line 33 (verso). However, Grenfell and Hunt remarked that "Textually the fragment is of slight interest."
Regardless, I hope this sparks at least a minor interest in the manuscript and leads to the inclusion of a link to its image in the above mentioned lists.
And now, what you've been continuing to read for...
Images of P26 (high-resolution images of recto and verso)
More information on P26
Click on the 'full image' button in the upper left corner to see larger views. Click on the 'other views' button to switch between recto and verso. The images are found in the Advanced Papyrological Information System, University of Michigan.
It appears to me that the images are incorrectly labled. The recto should be the verso and vice versa. Is it just me?
It's exciting that more and more images of ancient New and Old Testament manuscripts are coming online all the time. I have to wonder how many other manuscript images might already be out there somewhere on the web just waiting for interested viewers.
Update (May 26, 2005): Wieland Willker's website now has a link to P26. That was fast! If you've never visited Wieland's Bible pages and are interested in textual criticism, then go take a peek. You won't regret it.