The incredible discovery and acquisition of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri was first made public in The Times on 19 November 1931. Before this find, the earliest and most important manuscripts of the Greek New Testament were parchment codices from the fourth and fifth centuries.
Only a few small fragments of papyrus with portions of the New Testament from an earlier date were known, and most of these were too small to be of much significance.
The discovery of the Chester Beatty New Testament papyri caused a sensation because they were at least 100 years older than the most important parchment codices at that time.
By acquiring these papyrus manuscripts, including the earliest surviving codex containing all four gospels and acts in one book, the earliest copy of the collection of Saint Paul's Letters and the earliest copy of the Book of Revelation, as well as many other early or unique versions of homilies, epistles or pseudo-canonical texts, Chester Beatty's Library became one of the major centres in the world for the study of early Christian texts.
Kenyon, Frederic G. (1933-58), The Chester Beatty biblical papyri