a horizontal strip, c.100mm. by 20mm., from the upper edge of a leaf from a codex with part of 2 lines of text on each side in a skilful and monumental Greek uncial, or 'biblical majuscule', with parts of 13 words, edges defective, worn and rubbed, probably recovered from a bookbinding, in a conservation mount
A fragment from an extremely early codex of Mark. This is Gregory-Aland 0313, one of a small group of early Christian manuscript fragments identified in an English collection about five years ago, first reported by P.M. Head in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (8) 2003, and cited by Dr Head in Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies 36 (2003), esp. p. 28, n.1, and in the Tyndale Bulletin (56) 2005, esp. p. 61, n.1. It is written up more fully in the current issue of the Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 59 (October 2008). The text was originally identified by Dirk Jongkind, and the dating of the fragment is credited to the advice of Professor Herwig Maehler. It has also been photographed for the website of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, Frisco, Texas.
The text on the recto is 'ο εχων ωτα ακουει[ν] ακουετω' ('whoever has ears to hear, let them listen'), which occurs in Mark 4:9 and also in Luke 8:8 and most manuscripts of Matthew 13:9. However, the words on the verso here are unique to Mark 4:15, 'την οδον. οπου ςπειρε[ται] ο λογος: και οτ[α]ν [ακου...]' ('these are the ones on the path where the word is sown; whenever they hear ...'), identifying both passages as being from Mark 4:3-20, the parable of the sower, in which Jesus describes seed being scattered on different grounds, but only that which lands on fertile soil would flourish like the kingdom of God.
The second word on the recto 'εχων', rather than the more usual 'εχει', is a reading shared with a number of early manuscripts, including Alexandrinus and the Codex Ephraemi but not Vaticanus or the Codex Beza. The text omits the (probably spurious) addition 'και ο συνιων συνιετω' found in the western biblical tradition (in the Codex Beza for example), and rendered into the Old Latin and Vulgate versions.
The fragment is from the top of a page, with most of its blank upper margin, and was clearly a single column manuscript. Between the end of the recto and beginning of the verso 373 letters of the Greek text are missing. There is negligible word division, but some spacing for punctuation. It appears that the scribe wrote about 18 letters to a line. Thus the manuscript had between 21 and 24 lines per page, and the page size must have been about 160mm. by 130mm. This is a page layout shared by a number of very early Greek Gospel Books, including a leaf of John in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, P. Oxy. 847 (fourth century, 19 lines, 162mm. by 146mm.), and a leaf of Luke in Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Pap. G. 39778 (fourth- to fifth-century, 26 lines, 153mm. by 136mm.).
The script is a superb biblical uncial of very high class, spacious and graceful, with a marked difference between thick and thin strokes. There are three types of punctuation, low dot, middle dot and blank space. The script is close to that of the Cotton Genesis (second half of the fifth century), and is not dissimilar to that of the Codex Alexandrinus (first half of the fifth century).
A total of 318 uncial manuscripts and fragments of the Greek New Testament are now recorded in the Gregory-Aland census, and 118 fragments of papyrus. The Gospel of Mark is unexpectedly rare. It was often the fourth text in volumes of the four Gospels. Only three recorded papyri include any words of Mark at all (P.45, 84 and 88), and none includes the present text before the sixth century (Louvain, Univ. Bibl. P.A.M. Khirbet Mird 4, 11, 27, 27). At the widest interpretation of dating, the present fragment is the seventh earliest witness to these words of Mark's Gospel in their original language, preceded only by the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus themselves, both of the fourth century; the Freer Gospels in Washington (fourth- to fifth-century); and only three manuscripts of the fifth century, the Codex Alexandrinus in London, the Codex Beza in Cambridge, and the palimpsest Codex Ephraemi in Paris.
Even tiny fragments of the New Testament in Greek uncials are almost unknown in private hands. Only three pieces have appeared at public sale in the last century. They were: the papyrus leaf from John (see previous lot); a small vellum fragment of Romans, third or fourth century (sale in our rooms, 21 June 1988, lot 47, £95,000); and an even smaller vellum fragment of a few words of John, third century (sale in our rooms, 19 June 1990, lot 78, £42,000).
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