Letter from Plutarchos to Theoninos. (P.Oxy. 1775)

Collection ID





ca. AD 300–400


Oxyrhynchus, now al-Bahnasā, (Egypt)




Ink on Papyrus


9.25 × 5 in. (23.5 × 12.8 cm)

Exhibit Location

On View in The History of the Bible, Bibles for Everyone

In this letter, a man named Plutarchos writes to his brother Theoninos to let him know that he has accomplished tasks that Theoninos set for him, despite the many bad things his father did to him. It is unclear from the letter whether Plutarchos was writing from Alexandria, although he mentions the city. Grenfell, Hunt, and other twentieth-century scholars thought that Plutarchos might have been Christian due to the words “to the master (or lord) god” in the fourth line. More recently, scholars have argued that the reference is ambiguous at best, and so Plutarchos may actually have been a pagan.

Created in the 4th century AD in Egypt, perhaps in Alexandria and sent to Oxyrhynchus. Excavated in the early 1900s by Bernard Grenfell (1869–1926) and Arthur Hunt (1871–1934);[1] Acquired by the Egypt Exploration Fund until 1915–1922; Ownership assumed between 1915–1922 by Bonebrake Theological Seminary, later renamed United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio;[2] Acquired in 2009–2010 by Dirk Obbink, Oxford, England; Privately purchased in 2010 by the Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Gifted in 2013 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, v. XIV (Egypt Exploration Society, 1920), 187. [2] Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, v. XVI (Egypt Exploration Society, 1924), 279. The Egypt Exploration Fund, which sponsored Grenfell and Hunt’s work, began distributing papyri as gifts to supporting institutions in 1900. By 1922, it had gifted approximately three thousand items to 103 institutions, including United Theological Seminary. See 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.

Selected References:

Lincoln H. Blumell, Lettered Christians: Christians, Letters, and Late Antique Oxyrhynchus (Brill, 2012).

Giuseppe Ghedine, Lettere cristiane dai papiri greci del III e IV secolo (Aegyptus, 1923).

Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, v. XIV (Egypt Exploration Society, 1920).

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