The Nash Papyrus Online

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Nash PapyrusThe Cambridge Digital Library has published The Nash Papyrus online.  This is a famous fragment containing the Ten Commandments and the Shema. This document was discovered in 1898 and likely dates to 150-100 B.C. F. C. Burkitt described the text in a 1903 article in the Jewish Quarterly Review as a “Hebrew document based upon a text which is not the Masoretic text, but has notable points of agreement with that which underlies the Septuagint” (399).  After providing a plate of the manuscript, a transcription and translation, Burkitt says “I greatly rejoice to learn from the Nash Papyrus that the ancient Greek translation was even more faithful to the Hebrew which underlies it than some of us dared hope” (403).

Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, this fragment was the oldest example of Hebrew writing.  It is interesting to read Burkitt’s article since he writes well before the DSS were discovered.  He is elated at being able to study pre-Herodian biblical Hebrew.  This make me think how rich biblical scholarship is 100 years later.  Not only do we have the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, but much of this material is available in extremely high resolution.

While photographs of this text have been available for over a century, the Cambridge site allows the scholar see the manuscript in high resolution.  The site provides a brief description along with a bibliography.  There are hundreds of other manuscripts of interest on the Cambridge site, well worth spending an afternoon browsing!