Christian scholars who attended last week’s Society of Biblical Literature conference in Chicago left with one more blessing to count over their Thanksgiving holiday—a newly discovered papyrus fragment containing Romans 9:18-21 and parts of Romans 10, which are thought to be from the early third century.
Scholars Grant Edwards and Nick Zola presented a report on the fragment at the annual conference and shared that the manuscript would be published in the first volume of a new series called Green Scholars Initiative: Papyrus Series, edited by Dirk Obbink and Jerry Pattengale. The fragment is a part of the Green Collection, assembled by the Green family, founders of the Hobby Lobby retail chain.
Edwards and Zola dated the papyrus fragment by comparing it to fixed-date manuscripts, said Daniel B. Wallace, a professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Based on its date, the fragment, which was written on a codex, as is customary for the earliest of Christian documents, is perhaps only the fifth known manuscript of Romans prior to the fourth century.
“The discovery of a third century papyrus fragment of Paul’s letter to the Romans should provide Christians with yet another reason they can trust the trustworthiness of the Bible we hold in our hands today,” said Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and the author of How Can I Know? Answers To Life’s 7 Most Important Questions,which addresses such findings. “No other work of antiquity has as much—or as early—manuscript support as the New Testament.”