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Title: The Gospel of the Savior : an analysis of P.Oxy.840 and its place in the Gospel traditions of early Christianity
Author: Kruger, Michael J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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In December 1905 an archaeological dig at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt uncovered a small fragment of a non-canonical story of Jesus which recorded a conversation between Jesus and his disciples and a confrontation with a Pharisaic chief priest in the temple. The initial discovery of this fragment, designated P.Oxy. 840, sparked a debate concerning the date of the fragment, the origins of the story contained therein, and the historicity of its references to first-century Judaism. After nearly 100 years, the fragment has received no substantial scholarly investment, leaving many of these questions unresolved, and leaving many other important issues unexplored. Thus, this study will offer the first full-scale evaluation of this text - from palaeographical, historical, and exegetical perspectives - in hopes of discovering its rightful place in the scope of early gospel traditions. Chapter one examines the codicology and palaeography of P. Oxy. 840, with special attention to its date, punctuation, scribal features, and possible function within early Christian communities. It is determined that P.Oxy. 840 is best understood as a miniature codex, not an amulet, and is plausibly dated 300-350 A.D. Chapter two offers a new reconstruction of the Greek text, along with a new English translation. In addition, there is a running commentary on the Greek text explaining key reconstructive choices, exegetical decisions, and interpretive conclusions. Chapter three provides a thorough re-examination of the historical problems that have plagued P.Oxy. 840 since its initial discovery. Such problems include the combination of Pharisee and chief priest, the viewing of the holy vessels in the tabernacle, bathing in a pool filled with dogs and pigs, and changing into white garments before entering the temple. Upon closer examination - particularly in light of new archaeological discoveries in the last century - it seems that P.Oxy.840 has substantial and accurate knowledge of first-century temple practices. Chapter four explores the relationship between P.Oxy.840 and the canonical gospels. Prior scholarship has only scratched the surface of this issue, with various suggestions here and there amounting to no more than a few paragraphs. A detailed textual comparison shows the author of P.Oxy.840 demonstrates awareness of (and is influenced by) five canonical passages; Luke 11:37-52; Matt 23:1-39; John 7:1-52; John 13:10; and Mark 7:1-23. Chapter five attempts to reconstruct the probable community and religious milieu hat would have given rise to P.Oxy.840. The theological interests and polemical thrust of our fragment suggest that it arose from within Jewish-Christian circles engaged in dispute over ritual purity practices. One possibility is that P.Oxy.840 arose from within the Jewish-Christian sect called the Nazarenes. Such a scenario would plausibly place the production of P.Oxy.840 in Syria between 125 and 150 A.D.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available