(P45): Four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles and (P46): The Letters of Paul
ca. AD 200 – 250
BP I and BP II, fragments
At the beginning of the 20th century, only a few small pieces of papyrus containing portions of the New Testament were dated to before AD 313 when official toleration had been granted to Christianity by the Emperor Constantine. It was feared that substantial numbers of manuscripts created before the fourth century had been destroyed during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian from AD 303-313. Around forty fragments of papyri containing New Testament texts had been discovered, but most of these were too small to be of significant use to scholars. At this time, the earliest and most important evidence concerning the text of the Greek New Testament came from the vellum codices of the 4th century, especially Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.