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Enoch 106:8–18 and Melito’s Homily 1–4

Enoch 106:8–18 and Melito’s Homily 1–4 - BP XII, f. 13r Zoom

Enoch 106:8–18 and Melito’s Homily 1–4

Book of Enoch and Homily of Melito
4th Century, Egypt
BP XII, f. 13r

Commentary:

Papyrus was the chief writing material in the Greco-Roman world and, grown primarily around the Nile, was one of Egypt’s main exports throughout Antiquity. Papyrus sheets, or rolls, were produced in varying quality; the best were called hieratica (sacred) in Egypt or regia (royal) in Rome. It was manufactured by laying thin strips of papyrus stalk in two perpendicular layers. These sheets were pressed together, allowing the plant’s natural juices to act as an adhesive, and dried in the sun. The Library’s collection of papyri includes both documentary and religious texts primarily dating to between the 1st and 6th centuries AD, although some of the Egyptian papyri date to as early as 1800 BC. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri is one of the most important collections of early Christian texts so far discovered. It includes manuscripts from as early as the 2nd century and highlights the Christian preference for the codex over the scroll.

The folio seen here contains the text of the Book of Enoch 106:8–18 and Melito’s Homily on the Passion 1–4. A decorative flourish marks the end of ‘The Epistle of Enoch’ and the beginning of the Passion homily of ‘Melito’, Bishop of Sardis (d.c. 180). This simple embellishment represents some of the earliest ornamentation of Christian codices and similar decorative devices are found in the Codex Sinaiticus. Incidentally, Beatty contributed toward the acquisition of the Sinaiticus manuscript for the British Museum.

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