The Present State of P46

P46 consisted originally of 104 leaves, of which 86 survive today. While it might seemthat a significant portion has been lost, this is in fact a remarkably well-preserved and complete codex, given its age. Many comparable examples of New Testament papyri exist in a very fragmentary state, with only portions of a handfull of leaves surviving.

Conservation / Preservation

Individually, the pages of the codex are fairly well preserved, though not entirely complete. Typically 3 or 4 lines are lost at the bottom of each page, although the top and side margins are preserved. To the right is an image of a typical leaf; you can observe that the damage is worst at the unbound corners of the page (on the right), while the bound edge is mostly intact. Although the top margin of the leaf is intact (note that the page nubmer is also visible), the bottom margin is lost, along with a portion of the written text. Most leaves are missing 2-3 complete lines at the bottom, as well as a certain amount of text lost from the ends of some of the incomplete lines that are preserved.

While some leaves were originally still physically joined together by the process that had created the codex, each leaf at Michigan is now housed separately, sandwiched between sheets of glass. The photograph to the right illustrates such a glass-mounted leaf. This type of mounting allows researchers to easily handle the papyrus and view both sides without risking damage to the artifact itself.

The Michigan collection is not generally open for public display, but for those interested in seeing P46 in person, the Special Collections department of the University Library regularly features this manuscript in their annual exhibition "From Papyri to King James: The Transmission of the English Bible." This exhibit runs every year from December-January at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library in Ann Arbor, MI.

The Chester Beatty portions of this manuscript are at least partially on permanent display at the Chester Beatty Library.

The Digitization of Papyri

The portion of P46 that exists in Michigan has been digitally scanned as part of the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS). Like all published Michigan papyri, images and records of these leaves are freely available online through the APIS website. Simply search by inventory number for Michigan inv. 6238, or follow this link to see the Michigan leaves of P46 via APIS.

Since the Michigan papyrus collection is a research library, not a display gallery, electronic resources such as APIS and these web pages are the ideal way to share the treasures of the collection with the public.

<< Back: About P46