When some months ago a report reached us here in Cambridge that
a discovery in Egypt had brought to light either the work of Papias or the Logia
of St. Matthew himself, the highest hopes were raised of a speedy solution of
some of the problems connected with the literary history of the first century.
These hopes have been disappointed by the publication of the single leaf which
proves to be the measure of our gains. There is some risk that the disappointment
may tempt us to undervalue what we have actually secured. Yet the value of the
find is considerable, if it is very far less than what report led us to expect.
It would be premature to attempt anything like a precise estimate. But it has
been suggested to me that the members of this meeting may be glad to carry away
with them some general ideas upon a subject which is exciting much interest,
and I shall therefore endeavour simply to place before them the impressions
which a first study of the fragment has left upon my own mind. It must be understood
that both the suggested restoration and the remarks
which I shall offer upon the interpretation of the fragment are tentative only;
fuller knowledge or consideration will doubtless lead to truer and better results.
Those among us who have been up the Nile will remember the
town of Abû Girgeh on the right bank, 119 miles south of Cairo, and 30
or 40 north of Minyeh. A ride of 7 miles N.E. from Abû Girgeh brings the
traveller to the wretched Arab town of Bêhnesa, which occupies the site
of Oxyrhynchus. The Greek name of the old city reveals its antiquity;
it was so called, as Strabo<Note 2> tells us, from the
worship of a Nile fish of the sturgeon class, with pointed head
In Christian times the place acquired a reputation as a stronghold of Egyptian
monasticism. Ruffinus<Note 3> describes its monastic
establishments in glowing colours. ‘No ones,’ he writes, translating
apparently /545/ the witness of some fervent pilgrim who had visited the city.
‘can worthily depict the religious life of the place; it is so manifold
and so delightful. The town is packed with monks, the neighbourhood teems with
them. Such public buildings as they have, and the old pagan temples, are now
in the hands of the monks, and in every part of the town the monastic cells
far outnumber the private houses. The city, being a large and populous one,
has twelve churches; but the monks, with their ceaseless hymns and lauds, which
rise night and day to heaven, make it, in fact, all one Church of God. There
is not a pagan or a heretic to be found there. All the citizens are Christians
and Catholics.’ He adds that the place had a population of 10,000 monks
and 20,000 virgins. This was perhaps in the last years of the fourth century,
but the history of Oxyrhynchus as a Christian city goes further back; a bishop
of Oxyrhynchus signed the Seleucian Creed of 359, and other bishops preceded
him in the see. There is no reason to doubt that Christianity was already active
in this nome and town in the third, and even the second, century<Note
I will not go over ground which the editors of the fragment
have covered in their preface; but I may remind you that they regard the leaf
as considerably earlier than a.d. 300, and probably not much later than the
beginning of the third century. Since it belongs to a codex, and not to a roll,
it can be hardly earlier. Dr. Sanday, in Studia Biblica, 3,234,<Note 5> has collected interesting evidence as to the use
of the book-form in the third century, adding, ‘Yet we cannot go beyond
the beginning of that century, for it is clear, from the language used by the
Roman lawyers, that at that date papyrus rolls were still the rule, and anything
else the exception.’ Assuming the soundness of these con-clusions, it will
be safe to place the fragment provisionally in the first or second decade of
the third century. It was written, let us say, while Origen was still a youthful
catechist at Alexandria, perhaps while the persecution of Septimius Severus
was still raging in Lower Egypt. Few Christian documents have reached us which
can claim so hoary an antiquity.
The editors<Note 6> have called their
book Λόγια Ἰησοῦ,
which they translate ‘Sayings of our Lord.’
‘It is difficult (they write) to imagine a title better suited to a series
of sayings, each introduced by the phrase λέγει Ἰησοῦς, than Logia.’
I fear that this sentence is likely to lead to misconception.
The word logia has come into general use in connexion with two different
works. Papias wrote five books, which bore the title ‘Exposition of the
Lord's Logia’. In this work, now, alas, no longer extant, or, let us rather
say, not yet rediscovered, Papias mentioned that `Matthew wrote the Logia in
the Hebrew tongue.' The word λόγιον, from Herodotus downwards, means
an oracle, a Divine or inspired utterance. It maintains this meaning in the
LXX, in Philo, and in the N.T. The appropriateness of the title
therefore, does not rest on the mere fact that the book consists of sayings.
The dicta of a philosopher or a poet, e.g., could not properly
be called his λόγια, they would be his ἁποφθέγματα
or ῥήσεις, or the like<Note 7>.
The Λόγια Ἰησοῦ
are the oracles of Jesus, or sayings in which He reveals the Divine
will. The book bears, I think, manifest tokens of its claim to possess this
character. It was written in the form of a codex, on leaves, not in successive
columns on a roll a form which seems to have been reserved among Christians
for sacred or ecclesiastical books. Each saying begins with a formula which
indicates its oracular authority. A writer in the Guardian of July 21
says that the use of λὲγει in preference to
ἔλεγεν or εἶπεν
stamps the book as ‘a collection of sayings having a present
living force.’ I assent to this; but I should like to add that the reason
why λὲγει is appropriate, is that we have before us a fragment of a collection of sayings which purport to be λόγια ζῶντα, living oracles of the living Lord. Λέγει, λέγει ἡ γραφή or τὸ πνεῦμα or [ὁ] Κύριος is a regular formula for the citation of an inspired utterance. That the speaker is described simply as Ἰησοῦς not as ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς or ὁ Κύριος, need not, I think, modify our conclusion; no Gospel uses the personal Name of our Lord so frequently as that of the θεολόγος.
We will now take the logia separately.
1. The first part of a canonical
saying reported by Matthew and Luke. Comparing what remains of the logion with the WH text of the Gospels, we /546/ find that the new text approaches
to that of Luke
| Matt (7,5) (WH).
|| Luke (6,42) (WH).
|| Logion 1.
|διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.
||διαβλέψεις τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου ἐκβαλεῖν.
||διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.
The editors say that the logion agrees exactly
with Luke. It does agree exactly with the R.T. of Luke, but not with WH,
who following B and some important cursives, place ἐκβαλεῖν at
the end of the sentence; nor with the ‘Western’ text, which has ἐν τῷ
ὀφθαλμῷ for τὸ ἐν τῷ
and thus assimilates Luke to Matthew. This is a point of no little interest,
and ought to be weighed before we infer a Lucan tendency in the new logia.
2. The second ‘saying,’
which is entirely new, presents at the outset a considerable difficulty. For
the phrase νηστεύειν τὸν κόσμον appears to be without parallel, and it is not easy to see what meaning it can have been intended to bear. When νηστεύειν is followed by an accusative in biblical Greek, it is either that of the cognate noun (νηστεύειν νηστείαν), or that of duration (νηστεύειν ... ἡμέρας). It would seem that if τὸν κόσμον is to stand here, it must be taken in the latter sense. The fast which the Lord prescribes is world-long; while the present order lasts, with its temptations to sin, His disciples must practise a perpetual abstinence. In this connexion we should have expected (εἰς) τὸν αἰῶνα (cf. 1 Cor. 8,13, οὐ μὴ φάγω κρέα εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα = לְעֹלָם);
but there may have been reasons why
τὸν κόσμον was preferred in the present context.
But, suspending judgment as to
to.n ko,smon, let us
try to understand the saying as a whole. There is a fast, our Lord is reported
to have said, which Christians must keep, and there is a Sabbath which they
must observe, under pain of exclusion from the vision of the Father in His eternal
kingdom. The saying may well have been an answer to a question of the Apostles.
Staggered by our Lord's teaching as to the Jewish fasts and the traditional
law of the Sabbath, they asked Him, as we may suppose, ‘Shall we then not
fast at all, neither keep Sabbath?’ Such a question might have come quite
naturally after the incidents of Mark 2,18-3,6 = Luke 5,33-6,11.
The form of the answer is surely very characteristic; cf. Matt.
5,20; 6,15; 18,3; Luke 13,3.5; John 3,3.5; 13,8; 15,4.
Further, the earliest post-apostolic literature of the Church supplies interesting
parallels which may suggest that some such answer was current in the second
century. The editors aptly quote Justin, Dial. 12 : σαββατίζειν ὑμᾶς ὁ καινὸς νόμος διαπαντὸς ἐθέλει, καὶ ὑμεῖς μίαν ἀργοῦντες ἡμέραν εὐσεβεῖν δοκεῖτε, ηὴ νοοῦντες διὰ τί ὑμῖν προσετάγη … εἴ τις ἐν ὑμῖν ἐπίορκος ἢ κλέπτης, παυσάσθω· εἴ τις μοιχός, μετανοησάτω, καὶ σεσαββάτικε τὰ τρυϕερὰ καὶ ἀληθινὰ σάββατα τοῦ θεοῦ. They might
have added that in Dial. 15 Justin quotes Isa.
58,1ff, and adds the comment: καὶ τὴν ἀληθινὴν οὖν τοῦ θεοῦ νηστείαν μάθετε νηστεύειν, ὡς Ἠσαίος ϕησίν. The idea of a true Sabbath to be
observed by Christians occurs frequently. Ignatius indeed writes, Magn. 9, οἱ ἐν παλαιοῖς πράγμασιν ἀναστραϕέντες εἰς καινότητα ἐλπίδος ἦλθον μηκέτι σαββατίζοντες ἀλλὰ κατὰ κυριακὴν ζῶντες, but the interpolator
has no doubt rightly interpreted his meaning when he makes him say: μηκέτι σαββατίζωμεν Ἰουδαικῶς … ἀλλ᾽ ἕκαστος ὑμῶν σαββατιζέτω πνεθματικῶς.
There are two ways in which this spiritual Sabbath can be kept, - either in
the future life, or by living a new life here. The former is in view in Heb.
4,9, ἄρα ἀπολείπεται σαββατισμὸσ τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ; and in Barn.
15,7 τότε καλῶς καταπαυσάμενοι ἁγιάσομεν αὐτὴν [sc. τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ἑβδόμην], ὅτε δυνησόμεθα αὐτοὶ δικαιωθέντες καὶ ἀπολαβόντες τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν, μηκέτι οὔσης τῆς ἀνομίας. Both views occur together
in Irenæus, who teaches, iv. 1, ‘Sabbata autem perseverantiam totius
diei erga deum deservitionis edocebant
consecrati et ministrantes omni
tempore fidei nostræ et perseverantes ei et abstinentes ab omni avaritia,’
though he adds, ‘manifestabatur autem et tanquam.
hoc est regnum, in quo requiescens homo ille qui perseveraverit Deo adsistere
participabit de mensa Dei.’<Note 8> On the whole,
however, the thought of the present rest form worldliness and sin prevails in
the patristic explanations of the true Sabbath; and it is this which seems to
be prominent in the new saying: ‘Keep the true Sabbath here, i.e. cease from evil and do good, if ye would attain to the sight of God hereafter.’
The editors are perhaps scarcely justified in saying that
σαββατίζειν τὸ σάββατον is the ordinary phrase in the LXX for observing
the Sabbath. The normal phrase is ϕυλάσσειν or ϕυλάσσεσθαι τὰ σάββατα. Σαββατίζειν σάββατα occurs, however, in Lev. 23,32
and 2 Chron. 36,21, and Aquila has σαββατίζειν σάββατον in Isa. 25,2. But σαββατίζειν τὸ σάββατον with
the emphatic article is, I think, unique, and points directly to an ideal Sabbath,
the ‘Sabbath indeed’ which Christ requires.
3. This logion, again is new.
It is imperfect at the end, and it is uncertain how much space intervened between
the last decipherable letters and the first words on the other side of the leaf.
The editors incline to the belief that a whole saying intervened, of which τὴν πτωχίαν was the end. But this hypothesis seems to be unnecessary, and a
reviewer in the Guardian of July 21 suggests that the third logion ended ἀμβλεῖς τῇ διανοίᾳ οὐκ οἴδασιν αὐτῶν τὴν πτωχίαν, referring
for illustration to Apoc. 3,17 (οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ … πτωχὸς καὶ τυϕλὸς). This is ingenious and not improbable;
on the other hand, ἀμβλύς is not a biblical word, and such an ending
as οὐ βλέπουσιν οὐδε γινώσκουσιν τὴν ἑαυτῶν πτωχίαν is
perhaps slightly preferable.
In the first part of the saying the reference to Baruch
3,38 may, I think, be regarded as highly probable. The words μετὰ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὤϕθη καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις συνανεστράϕη can hardly
be without connexion with our logion. But the verse in Baruch belongs
to the second part of that book, which is probably a later addition to the Hebrew
Baruch; and this particular verse has been regarded by some recent scholars
as a Christian interpolation. That is not perhaps a necessary inference from
its apparent anticipation of the doctrine of the Incarnation. But is clear
that the use of this uncanonical work, in a saying attributed to our Lord, raises
more than one question of some intricacy, and may suggests doubts as to the
genuineness of the logion. The words of Baruch are quoted by a succession
of Christian writers from Irenæus downwards in reference to the Incarnation,
and would have formed a tempting basis for an imaginary utterance of Christ.
If, notwithstanding this somewhat suspicious element, we
may refer the saying to our Lord, the question arises to what part of His life
it belongs. The aorists ἔστην, ὤϕθην, εὗρον have been thought to suggest
the forty days after the Resurrection, whilst πονεῖ, on the other hand,
seems to point to the ministry. But if we accept the connexion with Baruch,
the aorists may have been suggested by the prophecy; or they may be used in
a sense hardly distinguishable from that of the English perfect. The difficulty
will, however, be altogether overcome if we place this saying, where indeed
it may well stand, among the utterances of the Holy Week. Both aorists and present
will then have their natural force. The Lord looks back over His completed ministry,
but His sorrows are yet unhealed. Cf. John 17,4. 6. 12
ἐδόξασα, ἐϕανέρωσα, ἐϕύλαξα, for similarly retrospective aorists.
Πονεῖν is not a N.T. word, but it occurs as an intrans. in I
Regn. 22,8, οὐκ ἔστιν πονῶν περὶ ἐμοῦ, and as a trans. in Isa.
19,10, λυπηθήσονται καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς πονέσουσιν. The reference to the
Lord's human ψυχἠ is characteristic of the latter part of His ministry
(John 10,15; Mark 14,34). For μεθύοντες, ‘intoxicated
with pleasure of business,’ cf. Matt. 24,49, Luke
21,34; διψᾷν, ‘to thirst after spiritual truth,’ Apoc.
21,6; 22,17, and the agraphon in Origen on Matt.
t. 13:2, διὰ τοὺς διψῶντας ἐδίψων. The striking ἔστην ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ κόσμου need, I think, create no difficulty; it is in the style
of other genuine sayings, e.g. ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν· ἐγὼ δὲ ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν εἰμι; cf. αὐτὸς ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν (Luke 24,36) μέσος ὑμῶν στήκει (John 1,26). The thought is that of John 1,10, ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν.
Everything in this saying is appropriate and true, and the
saying, as a whole, is one of great beauty; whether it is a genuine saying of
our Lord, or the product of early meditation upon His true sayings and on the
miracles of His life, we shall perhaps never know.
4 (=5). It is not necessary at
present to make good the broken line with which this logion begins. As
a tentative restoration, I venture to place upon the black-board the words,
Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ὅπου ἐὰν ὦσιν πάντες μισόθεοι, καὶ πιστὸς εἶς ἐστιν μόνος, ἰδοὺ ἐγώ εἰμι μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ. But μισόθεοι is far from
probable in such a context. In any case the first sentence is a promise of Christ's
Presence with a solitary believer under circumstances of difficulty or danger.
We may assume that the believer is /548/ represented as working alone amongst
unbelievers and antagonists. Keeping this picture before us, let us look at
the second clause, which is happily complete.
The words have been taken to suggest either a revelation
of the immanence of God in nature, or (on the supposition that they are not
genuine) a docetic doctrine of the Person of Christ. The editors quote from
the Gnostic Gospel of Eve: Ὅπου ἐὰν ἦς, ἐγὼ ἐκεῖ εἰμι, καὶ ἐν ἅπασίν εἰμι ἐσπαρμένός καὶ ὅθεν ἐὰν θέλῃ;, συλλέγεις με. But
why is Christ to be found in particular under the stone, or in the heart of
a block of wood? The LXX seems to me to supply a clue to the meaning. In Eccl.
10,9 we read
Ἐξαίρων λίθους διαπονηθήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς·
σχίζων ξύλα κινδυνεύσει ἐν αὐτοῖς.
The writer is dealing with the toils and dangers inherent in the arts of life,
which are minimised by the gift of wisdom. In building, the raising of the great
blocks of which the temple or palace is constructed is a work of much labour;
the cleaving of the timber, a work of peril. The Lord, if this logion be really His, adapts the saying of Koheleth to the circumstances connected
with the spiritual building of His Church. His Apostles, scattered over the
world, alone amongst unbelievers, would incur much hard labour and many perils.
But it was just in such toilsome and dangerous work that they might expect the
promised Presence of Christ. ‘Raise the stone, do the uphill work of religious
pioneer, and thou shalt find Me. Cleave the timber, face the danger that lies
in the way of duty, and there am I.’ The Wisdom of God (Eccl.
10,10) pledges Himself to be with the Christian builder, and never more so than
when he builds alone, and with labour and peril. There is a true Christian Gnosis here, but no Gnosticism. It is a saying full of practical importance to the
first generation, and one which may help us in the work of to-day.
5 (=6). The first part of this logion appears to be another form of saying recorded in Matt. 13,57 = Mark 5,4, Luke
4,24, John 4,44. A comparison of the four forms reveals considerable differences
Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ.
σχίζων ξύλα κινδυνεύσει ἐν αὐτοῖς.
Οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ.σχίζων ξύλα κινδυνεύσει ἐν αὐτοῖς.
Προφήτης ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι τιμὴν οὐκ ἔχει.
Οὐκ ἔστιν δεκτὸς προφήτης ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ.
In form the new saying is cognate both to (1) and (2). Like
(1), it begins with Οὐκ ἔστιν; like (2) is substitutes δεκτός for ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ. Δεκτός in the N.T. is used only by Luke and Paul,
so that here, as perhaps in logion 1, we have a distinct inclination
towards the form which our Lord's sayings assumed in St. Luke. But there is,
of course, nothing to show that the compiler took either saying from the third
Gospel, nor does he follow exactly, in logion 5 at least, the Lucan text.
The second part of this logion is new. St. Luke, however,
represents the Lord as saying in the same context: Πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην· Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν· ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καϕαρναοὺμ ποίησον καὶ ὧδε. It seems quite likely that the words οὐδε ἰατρὸς ποιεῖ θεραπείας εἰς τοὺς γινώσκοντας αὐτόν are based on an imperfect report of this Lucan saying. Ποιεῖν θεραπείας
is not a Lucan or a biblical phrase; St. Luke uses θεραπεία in this
sense (9,11), but instead of ποιεῖν θ he writes
(13,32) ἀποτελεῖν ἰάσεις. But ποιεῖν it is worth observing,
occurs in the saying of Luke 4,23, in near proximity to
θεραπευσον, and in reference to the miraculous cures. Οἱ γινώσκοντες αὐτόν, ‘His acquaintances,’ is another unusual phrase; the N.T. prefers οἱ γνωσταί (Luke 4,44; 23,49). But compare
Ps(LXX) 86,4 = Ps. 87,4, τοῖς γινώ· σκουσί με (לְיֹדְעָי).
Have we not here a trace of the Aramaic origin of the logion?
6 (=7) Here, again is a saying which
may be based upon an inexact report of a canonical saying. Let us place this logion side by side with Matt. 5,14; 7,24.25 -
|Οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη .... ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν ... καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν, τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν.
||Πόλις οἰκοδομημένη ἐπ᾿ ἄκρον ὄρους ὑψηλοῦ καὶ ἐστηριγμένη, οὔτε πεσεῖν δύναται οὔτε κρυβῆναι.
I am unable to see the force of the argument which the editors
urge against the hypothesis of conflation, on the ground that there is no reference
to the rock. The rock is implied in ἐστηριγμένη.
The saying is, however,
not so much a conflation as an abbreviation which labours to collect the ideas
of two very distinct sayings, and /549/ produces in its present detached form
a somewhat confused result. At the same time, it is quite possible that such
a saying as this might really have been addressed by our Lord to the Apostles
who had heard the other two. One can imagine that some question or remark on
their part may have called forth this brief reference to the two utterances.
Some details require notice. The editors' remark that the
Syriac versions and Tatian agree with our logion in substituting ‘built’
for ‘set’ is interesting; I may add that Hilary on Matthew has the
same reading (‘non potest civitas abscondi supra montem ædificata’).
I must demur to οἰκοδομημένη being described as a serious error on the part of the scribe of the λόγια; the form is well supported by inscriptions,
and occasionally occurs in good biblical MSS. (Winer-Schmiedel, p. 100).<Note
9> Ὄρος ὑψηλόν is a N.T. combination (Matt.
4,8; 17,1, Mark 9,2); στηρίζειν, which occurs in Luke, Cath., Paul,
Apoc., is not used in the N.T. or apparently in the LXX of the foundation of
a building, for which Matthew has the proper word θεμελιοῦν. Ἐπ᾽ ἄκρον, again, is not biblical; the LXX has ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον or ἐπ᾽ ἄκρον, but not as the precise equivalent of ἐπάνω. The whole saying, notwithstanding its points of connexion with the Sermon on the Mount, stands apart from St. Matthew's Gospel in some important particulars; the words which it has in common with St. Matthew, πόλις, δύναται, κρυβῆναι, ὄρους, πεσεῖν, are such
as could scarcely have been replaced without a periphrasis. Nor does it show
any closer relation to Luke 6,48ff., where we have the
Lucan account of the saying about the man who built on the rock.
7 (=8). The last of the logia in the new fragment is imperfect, and the loss is the more to be regretted because it seems to have been, like 2, 3, and 4, quite new. The first three words are fairly clear: λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἀκούεις. For the next line the editors suggest εἰς τὸ ἐνώπιόν σου τό … Ἀκούειν εἰς τὸ ἐνώπιόν is an almost inconceivable phrase, and, since the ‘π’ is uncertain, it has been proposed to read ΕΙΣΤΟΕΝΩΤΙΟΝΣΟΥ, i.e. εἰς τὸ ἓν ὠτίον σου, ‘thou hearest in one of thine ears.’ If this is accepted, we may proceed with some probability: τὸ δὲ ἔτερον συνέκλεισας (or συνέσχες), ‘but the other thou hast closed,’ or other words to the like effect. Ἀκούειν εἰς οὖς is a N.T. phrase (Matt.
10,27),<Note 10> and the saying has a partial parallel in Mark
8,18, ὦτα ἔχοντες οὐκ ἀκούετε; and the frequent saying, ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω. But the idea of a man hearing with one ear only, i.e. paying apparent but imperfect attention to the message, is peculiar
to this new logion, and very striking.
We are now in a position to consider the character of this
collection, so far as it can be judged by a single leaf.
Let me say a few words as to the linguistic features of the
fragment. We have noticed that it does not keep strictly to the N.T. or even
biblical Greek. The phrases νηστεύειν τὸν κόσμον (if that is the true reading), σαββατίζειν τὸ σάββατον, πονεῖ ἡ ψυχή, ἔγειρον λίθον, ποιεῖ θεραπείας, οἱ γινώσκοντες αὐτόν for οἱ γνωσταί, στηρίζεσθαι for θεμελιοῦσθαι are instances. There is no clear evidence of dependence
on any of our present Gospels, even where the sayings approach to St. Matthew
or St. Luke, if we expect, except, perhaps, the first saying, which agrees verbally
with the St. Luke of the R.T. Nevertheless, the Greek has, I think, the true
ring of the evangelical style. It is marvellously simple and clear. Compare
it with the Greek of the Pseudo-Peter, and you will feel the difference; or
since the Gospel of Peter has only one, or at the most, two sayings assigned
to our Lord, place these sayings by the side of those in the Leucian Acts of
John lately edited by Dr. James. Not only the vocabulary, but the style, is
widely different. Everything in this present fragment points to the simple Palestinian
Greek of bilingual Jews, accustomed to render word for word the memoirs of the
original hearers of the Lord. I doubt if the second century or the soil of Egypt
could have produced anything of the kind. It is not necessary to rush to the
conclusion that all the sayings are genuine, still less that they preserve words
uttered by our Lord in their present form. I could imagine, e.g., that logion 3 might be a fragment of a primitive Christian hymn, putting words,
as many of our own hymns do, into the mouth of Christ, which in a very short
time would pass in the Church as His own. Again, it is quite possible, as I
have already /550/ hinted, that logia 5 and 6 (6 and 7) may be somewhat
distorted reports of similar sayings which have reached us in a purer form through
the Synoptic Gospels. But I find it difficult to believe, judging from the form
in which they are cast, that any of these sayings are later in their origin
than the first century, or that the collection which contained them was put
together after our canonical Gospels came into general use.
Both St. Luke's preface and the postscript to St. John speak
of books other than the Gospels which had been written, or might have been written,
to contain the Gesta Christi. We have now for the first time distinct
evidence of the existence of books which contained His sayings only, detached
from the narrative. While it is perhaps a little premature to entitle this fragment
Λόγια Ἰησοῦ, the probability is greatly increased that the Λόγια
which St. Matthew wrote was a collection of this sort. As the editors observe,
there is no reason for identifying this collection with St. Matthew's; it is
slightly against such an hypothesis that two of the sayings seem to follow the
Lucan rather than the Matthean tradition. But besides the Logia of St.
Matthew there may have been other collections of this kind compiled in the first
age by believers who had received them orally from the hearers of our Lord.
To the Palestinian Church more especially such compilations would have been
suggested by the custom of treasuring up the dicta of the Rabbis. If
it be asked why no collection of λόγια found its way into the canon of the N.T., or has survived as a whole to our own time, the answer may well be that the Church needed, above all things, histories of the Lord's Life and Passion and Resurrection, the facts upon which her faith was built, to which even His personal teaching was secondary. The sayings detached from the history were useful for the meditation of the faithful to whom the facts were known, but for ecclesiastical purposes the complete records were essential; and thus it may have come to pass that εὐαγγέλια only, and not λόγια,
gained an entrance into the canon of the New Testament.
Thus the special interest of this discovery consists in the
substantial proof it affords of the existence of a class of early Christian
writings of which we have hitherto had no certain example. It encourages the
hope that the other portions of this collection or other collections may come
to light in the course of further explorations. It opens a new view of the literary
activity, the devotion and faith, of the first generation of believers.
The direct gain to the Christian student from the new fragment
is the addition of six or seven new sayings to our stock of uncanonical sayings
attributed to our Lord. Most of us are aware that a considerable number of detached
sayings of our Lord have been collected from the fathers and early writers,
ecclesiastical or heretical. To this store our fragment contributes six new agrapha, of which four are unlike any sayings recorded in the New Testament.
I am not prepared to say that these sayings are more important than certain
of the agrapha which have long been before us, or that they have any
better claim on our attention. Beyond the fact that the present sayings form
part of an earlier collection, there seems to be no reason why the title λόγια – oracles – should be given to them, so long as it is withheld from
such sayings as ‘He that is near Me is near the fire,’ or ‘Prove
yourselves expert changers of coin.’ All that we can expect is that in
future collections of the uncanonical sayings of Christ editors will place side
by side of those time- honoured words the new sayings, ‘Except ye keep
the [true] Sabbath ye shall not see the Father’; ‘Lift the stone,
and there thou shalt find Me; cleave the wood, and there am I.’ None of
these detached sayings, however worthy, can ever perhaps acquire the full authority
which belongs to those which are embedded in the historical setting of the Gospels,
even though, as in the case of the new logia, they may be believed to
have descended to us from the Church of the first century.
On the other hand, in proportion as such sayings seem to
bear the characteristic stamp of the mind of Christ, they are of deep and living
interest for all Christians. We cannot use them to establish new articles of
faith or rules of conduct. But, in so far we can satisfy ourselves that we hear
in any of them the voice of the Master, they may be of practical value to us
who are for the instruction of the Church. I venture to hope that the Oxyrhynchus
‘sayings’ when they have been fully deciphered and interpreted, may
be found to supply help in both these directions.
For the convenience of readers I give the provisional restoration of the
Sayings to which reference is made in the Lecture. It will be found on page
‘Sayings of the Lord’
(Words or letters enclosed in square brackets
are conjectural and tentative.)
|[Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἔκβαλε πρῶτον τὴν δοκὸν ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου] καὶ τότε διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.
||[Jesus saith: ‘Cast forth first the beam out of thine eyes], and
thou shalt see clearly to cast forth the mote that is in thy brother's
|Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἐὰν μὴ νηστεύσητε τὸν κόσμον, οὐ μὴ εὕρητε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ· καὶ ἐὰν μὴ σαββατίσητε τὸ σάββατον, οὐκ ὄψεσθε τὸν πατέρα.
||Jesus saith: ‘Except ye fast the world [long fast], ye shall not
find the kingdom of God; and except ye keep the sabbath, ye shall not see
|Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἔ[σ]την ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ κόσμου καὶ ἐν σαρκὶ ὤφθην αὐτοῖς, καὶ εὗρον πάντας μεθύοντας καὶ οὐδένα εὗρον διψῶντα ἐν αὐτοῖς· καὶ πονεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐπὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅτι τυφλοί εἰσιν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶ[ν] καὶ [οὐ] βλέ[πουσιν οὐδε γινώσκουσιν ἑαυτῶν τ]ὴν πτωχίαν.
||Jesus saith: ‘Is stood in the midst of the world, and in the flesh
I appeared unto them, and I found all drunken, and none found I athirst
among them; and My soul grieveth over the sons of men, because they are
blind in their heart and s[ee not, neither know they their own] poverty.’
|[Λέγ]ει [Ἰησοῦς Ὅπ]ου ἐὰν ὦσιν [πάντ]ε[ς μισό] θεοι[,] καὶ [πι]σ[τὸς] ε[ἶς] ἐστιν μόνος[, ἰδου] ἐγώ εἰμι μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ· ἔγει[ρ]ον τὸν λίθον, κἀκεὶ εὐρήσεις με, σχίσον τὸ ξύλον, κἀγὼ ὲκεῖ εἰμι.
||[Jesus saith: ‘Wh]ere [all] are [haters] of God, and there is [one
believer] only, [lo], I am with him: raise the stone, and there thou shalt
find Me; cleave the wood, and I am there.’
|Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Οὐκ ἔστιν δεκτὸς προφήτης ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτ[ο]ῦ, οὐδε ἰατρὸς ποιεῖ θεραπείας εἰς τοὺς γινώσκοντας αὐτόν.
||Jesus saith: ‘A prophet is not acceptable in his own country, nor
doth a physician work cures for his acquaintances.’
|Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Πόλις οἰκοδομημένη ἐπ᾿ ἄκρον [ὄ]ρους ὑψηλοῦ καὶ ἐστηριγμένη, οὔτε πε[σ]εῖν δύναται οὔτε κρυ[β]ῆναι.
||Jesus saith: ‘A city built on the top of a high mountain, and established,
can neither fall nor be hidden.’
|Λέγει Ἰησοῦς Ἀκούεις [ε]ἰς τὸ ἕ[ν ὠτίον σου,] τὸ [δὲ ἕτερον συνέκλεισας.]
||Jesus saith: ‘Thou hearest in o[ne] of thine ears, but the [other
thou hast closed].’
Note 1: A few paragraphs have been rewritten, and some
passages slightly abridged.
Note 2: Strabo, Geographia (xvii,812): τιμῶσι δὲ τὸν ὀξύρυγχον.
Note 3: Ruffinus, Historia Monachorum sive de vita sanctorum
Note 4: Cf. Lequien, Oriens Christianus 2,577.
Note 5: Cf. E. Maude Thompson, Greek and Latin Palæography, 60ff.
LOGIOU, Sayings of our Lord from an early
Greek Papyrus, discovered and ed., with translation and commentary by Bernard
P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, New York 1897, later published in: B. P. Grenfell
& A.S. Hunt The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Part 1, London 1898, POxy 1.
Note 7: E.g. we read of the ἀποϕθέγματα ᾽Αναξαγόρου and the ῥήσεις Εὐριπιδου.
Note 8: Cf. Aug. de Gen. ad Litt. 13 : ‘Perpetuum
sabbatum iam observat qui spe futuræ quietis operatur quidquid boni operatur
quiescit a pristinis operibus suis ut iam in novitate vitæ ambulans.’
Oivkodomh/sqai is edited by WH in Luke 6,48.
Note 10: Cf. the LXX ἀκούειν εἰς ἀκοὴν ὠτἰου, 2 Regn. 22,45, Ps. 17(18),44. I owe the suggestion of ὠτἰον to the Master of St. John's; I had thought of ἐνώτιον = οὖς.