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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Repertorium der griechischen christlichen Papyri. Bd. II: Kirchenväter-Papyri. Teil 1: Beschreibungen . Im Namen der Patristischen Arbeitsstelle Münster hrsg. von K. AlandÝ u. H.-U. Rosenbaum.


Berlin-New York: de Gruyter 1995. CXXVIII, 580 S. gr.8° = Patristische Texte und Studien, 42. Pp. DM 338,-. ISBN 3-11-006798-6.


Henry Chadwick

This necessary, invaluable, and immensely informative volume properly begins by evoking memories of the leadership, energy, and exactitude devoted to the text of the New Testament and of early Christian writers by Kurt Aland, suddenly and unexpectedly taken from us on 13 April 1994. Author of more than 500 titles in books and especially articles, he commanded a wide range of church history, covering not only antiquity but also the Reformation, Pietism, American Lutheranism, and even the novels of Thomas Mann. As ’chef’ of the Münster Institute for the investigation of the NT Text, he inspired devotion in his team of assistants, and the numerous volumes produced under the aegis of himself and his wife Barbara, together with their successive editions of the Greek New Testament, constitute a massive statement of his domination of the enormous field.

He was particularly interested in Papyri. The series entitled Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung includes most useful volumes on the text transmitted by early papyri, and the first volume of his Repertorium (1976) critically surveyed the locations, editions, and value of the biblical fragments preserved through this medium in Egyptian rubbish-heaps. On principle ostraka and the many pieces preserved on parchment were not to be included, and the same sharp criterion has been followed in this second Repertorium, devoted to cataloguing 96 papyrus fragments of Christian writings from the ancient period. There is inevitably a degree of overlap with the 16 reports by the late Kurt Treu in Archiv für Papyrusforschung and also with the rich list given by J. Van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens (Paris 1976). In the Repertorium there are no Latin or Coptic texts. Nor in a list with the name ’Kirchenväter’ can Philo and Josephus be admitted under some honorary title, though all surviving papyrus fragments surely owe their existence to Christian scribes who found them congenial.

Restriction to the medium of papyrus has clearly limited the vast labour and, in hard times, the costs entailed by this substantial and weighty volume. Happily, generous support has come from the Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie. The two Repertoria are intended as the first realization of a greater dream, unlikely to be fulfilled in the lifetime of most readers of this Zeitschrift, namely to provide a comparable critical catalogue for all Greek manuscripts with ancient Christian matter.

There has been a further more delicate restriction: to exclude papyri of certainly Christian origin which are not, or not as yet, plausibly ascribed to a named author. Adespota are held over to volume 3. This volume does not, therefore, profess to guide the reader to unidentified pieces. The editors have wisely not kept rigidly to this principle, which is a cause for gratification. Two Festal Letters of uncertain authorship and the anonymous Alexandrian World Chronicle are fully recorded, the latter being included expressly to emphasize its importance to historians who have unreasonably neglected it, despite the fascination of the portrait of bishop Theophilus of Alexandria triumphing over the ruins of the Serapeum. Among speculative identifications, admitted here perhaps with hesitation, is the liturgical dialogue (KV 58, PBodmer 12) which Perler’s flair wanted to ascribe to Melito of Sardis, but only on the ground that the text is preserved on the verso of the last page with Melito’s Homily on the Pascha.

Again, although hagiographical and liturgical texts (numerous on papyrus) are planned to have their own volumes and cannot be sought here, the exclusion principle is relaxed in favour of the fifth century fragment of Palladius’ Dialogus de vita Chrysostomi (KV 82, PRylands III 508) first identified by M. Grönewald, ZPE 89 (1991) 33, and six centuries earlier than surviving medieval manuscripts, the reliability of which has been thus confirmed. The Apology of Phileas also slips through the net of rejection, though the author is unknown.

In each case there is a careful record of dates proposed by the editors, provenance, form (codex or roll), size, number of letters to a line and of lines on the page, nomina sacra. Full references are given to the editions, facsimiles, and major items of secondary literature other than detailed discussions of content. More than 30 authors are admitted to the list, and appear in alphabetical order: Aristides, Barnabas, Basil of Caesarea, Basil of Seleucia, Benjamin I, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, Didymus the Blind (8 items), Dioscorus of Aphrodito, Dorotheus (Visio and Ad Abraham), Ephraem, Eusebius of Caesarea (5 items), Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa, Ps. Gregory Thaumaturgus, the Shepherd of Hermas (16 items), Hippolytus, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Isaias, Chrysostom and pseudo-Chrysostom, Julius Africanus, Marcellus of Ancyra (?), Melito of Sardes, Origen (19 entries), Palladius of Helenopolis, Phileas (Apology), Romanus, Severus of Antioch, Sextus, Theonas, Theophilus of Alexandria.

The Tura find of 1941 naturally attracts a considerable discussion (467 ff.), both for Didymus and for Origen. Note is taken of the observation by P. J. Parsons (supported by other eminent palaeographers) that PIand I 4 at Giessen containing Hermas, Mand. XI 19-21, is written in a hand of the first half of the second century (here under KV 36). The popularity of Hermas in the early period of the Church is in contrast to the later lack of interest in his work. It is good to have the selections from the Sentences of Sextus in PPalau Rib (KV 88). But the polemic against Origen in the fifth century PBerolinensis 21277 published by Kurt Treu in Miscellania Roca Puig (1987) is not here. Nor is PKöln 174 with Pachomius’ seventh letter, published in 1982. The Easter Hymn in PKöln 173 is no doubt held over for the volume of Liturgica.

The editorial responsibility for the volume as a whole has been in the good hands of Hans-Udo Rosenbaum, who merits the salute and gratitude of all students of the ancient Church. The introduction runs to 128 pages containing many excellent observations, as for example on the origin of the codex form: it was not a Christian invention, but Christian scribes were responsible for its general use. A moving word of gratitude is included to the late Kurt Treu and to Gunter Pöthke who courageously obtained photos from Jena and East Berlin during a time when that action was not free of danger.