Gospel of John (P39; P.Oxy. 1780)

Collection ID





ca. AD 250–350


Oxyrhynchus, now al-Bahnasā, (Egypt)




Ink on Papyrus


10 1/16 × 3 3/8 in. (25.5 × 8.5 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

Papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verses 14–22 in Greek. These verses are about Jesus defending himself after he says that he is the light of the world. This fragment was part of a codex (early book) and shows the page number ΟΔ (74) on one side. It was excavated at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in the early 1900s. Grenfell and Hunt published the piece in 1922 as P.Oxy 1780. Later, it was given a Gregory-Aland number of P39, which identifies it as a New Testament papyrus manuscript.

Codex created in Egypt, ca. AD 250–350.[1] Fragment discarded at Oxyrhynchus at an uncertain date.[2] Excavated in early 1900s by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt;[3] owned by the Egypt Exploration Fund until 1922; Gifted to Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA (later Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, NY);[4] Purchased at auction in 2003; Ownership assumed in 2003 by William Noah. Acquired before 2010 by Michael Sharpe Rare & Antiquarian Books, Pasadena, California; Acquired in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Gifted in 2012 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] Scholarly attempts to date this fragment on the basis of paleography have ranged from as early as AD 150 to as late as 400. See Pasquale Orsini and Willy Clarysse, “Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88/4 (Peeters, 2012), 443–474, especially pages 462 and 470 for P39. [2] For the disposal of this fragment in the papyrus dump at Oxyrhynchus see A.M. Luijendijk, “Sacred Scripture as Trash: Biblical Papyri from Oxyrhynchus,” Vigiliae Christianae 64 (Brill, 2010), 217–254, especially page 247. [3] Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, “The Oxyrhynchus Papyri,” v. XV (Egypt Exploration Society, 1922), 7–8. [4] Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, “The Oxyrhynchus Papyri,” v. XVI (Egypt Exploration Society, 1924), 279.

Selected References:

Lincoln H. Blumell and Thomas A. Wayment, eds., "P.Oxy. XV 1780 (P39) John 8:14–22," in “Christian Oxyrhynchus: Texts, Documents, and Sources” (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015), 57–60.

Philip W. Comfort, “A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament” (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).

Roberta Mazza, “Papyri Ethics, and Economics: A Biography of P.Oxy. 15.1780 (P39),” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 52 (2015): 113–142.

AnneMarie Luijendijk, "Sacred Scripture as Trash: Biblical Papyri from Oxyrhynchus," Vigiliae Christianae 64, no. 1 (2010): 217–54.

Peter M. Head, “The Habits of New Testament Copyists: Singular Readings in Early Fragmentary Papyri of John,” Biblica 85 (2004): 399–408.

Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, eds., “P39 (P. Oxy. 1780),” in “The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts,” (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 147–149.

Kenneth Clark, “A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937).

Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, eds., “1780. St. John’s Gospel viii,” in “The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Part XV,” (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1922), 7–8.

Museum of the Bible Publications:

Roland S. Werner, “Unser Buch: Die Geschichte der Bibel von Mose bis zum Mond (Our Book: The Story of the Bible from Moses to the Moon)” (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht GmbH & Co. KG, 2017).

Bethany Jensen and A. Josiah Chappell, “The Legacy of Christian Egypt: 11th International Congress of Coptic Studies” (Oklahoma City, OK: Museum of the Bible, 2016).

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