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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

The Greek Fragments (P. Oxy. 1, 654, 655)

It is convenient to group these three fragments together before introducing them separately. All three were discovered by Grenfell and Hunt at the same site: P. Oxy. 1, containing sayings of Jesus, was found in 1897 and published as the “ΛOΓIA IHΣOY”. P. Oxy. 654 has similar characteristics and is also from a sayings document: this was found in 1903 and published as ‘The New Sayings of Jesus’. P. ‘Oxy. 655, found at the same time, was somewhat different in style: it contains a longer passage and was thought to be a fragment of a lost gospel. Evelyn White and Grenfell and Hunt, considered P. Oxy. 1 and 654 together as both coming from the same book. The heading to P. Oxy 654 attributes the collection to Thomas, and obviously a connection with a Gospel of Thomas known from ancient testimony was made. But it was only with the discovery of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas at Nag Hammadi in 1945–6 that parallels to the Oxyrhynchus fragments were noted. All three Oxyrhynchus fragments in fact, and not only 1 and 654, were found to resemble certain of the logia in ‘Gnostic’ Thomas, and as all three Greek fragments came from three different documents of varying dates this would seem to indicate the degree of popularity of the work. This Coptic text enabled scholars, who had long debated over the various reconstructions of the Oxyrhynchus fragments, to solve many of the problems. Hofius, Fitzmyer, Puech, and Kraft all took clues from the Coptic text to reconstruct the Greek fragments. Differences between the Greek and Coptic may be seen in H. Attridge, ‘The Greek Fragments’, in B. Layton (ed.), Nag Hammadi Codex II 2–7 (Leiden, 1989), 99–101 (= Nag Hammadi Studies 20).

The discovery of the papyri generated a vast literature, some of which has been listed in Fitzmyer's article noted below in the bibliography. Many of the earlier articles were concerned with the originality of the sayings attributed to Jesus. Although this question of authenticity is still raised, both in connection with the Oxyrhynchus fragments and some of the sayings in Thomas, since the discovery of the Coptic text more attention has been given to that of the original language of these logia. The Oxyrhynchus sayings and the Coptic sayings are obviously related although one is not a direct translation of the other. The general consensus is that Coptic Thomas was originally in Greek although in a different recension from that found in the Oxyrhynchus fragments. Many of the arguments are set out by Garittte and by Guillaumont.

Another preoccupation of many of the earlier writers on the Oxyrhynchus texts was the source of the sayings, and links were presumed to exist with some of the ‘missing’ gospels such as the Gospel of the Egyptians (e.g. Harnack, Taylor, Preuschen) and the Gospel of the Hebrews (e.g. Grenfell and Hunt, Lagrange, Batiffol, Evelyn White, Bartlet). Here too, as with the problems of the links between the Greek texts, the discovery of Coptic Thomas has succeeded in eliminating previous speculation. Nevertheless, it is still acknowledged that the first saying in P. Oxy. 654 is attested by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 5. 14. 96 ed. O. Stählin, GCS 52 (15) (4Berlin, 1985, rev. L. Früchtel and U. Treu) p. 389) and attributed to the Gospel of the Hebrews, but this merely indicates that a floating oral tradition of sayings attributed to Jesus sometimes came to ground in more than one place. Many of the Oxyrhynchus sayings are secondary constructions or variants of sayings already familiar in the synoptic Gospels.

My translations are based on the texts as printed by de Santos Otero and checked against H. W. Attridge, ‘The Greek Fragments’ in B. Layton (ed.), Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2–7, i. 112–18.

General on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1 References to older literature may be found in B. Pick, Paralipomena (Chicago, 1908), 135–42.

Preuschen, 22–6, 151 f.

  • C. Bruston, Fragments d'un ancien recueil de paroles de Jésus (Paris, 1905), esp. 1–27.

  • C. Taylor, The Oxyrhynchus Sayings of Jesus found in 1903 with the Sayings called ‘Logia’ found in 1897 (Oxford, 1905).

  • V. Bartlet, ‘The Oxyrhynchus “Sayings of Jesus’ ”, Contemporary Review 87 (London, New York, 1905), 116–25. [Views developed in id., ‘The Oxyrhynchus “Sayings of Jesus in a new Light’ ”, Expositor VIII. 23 (London, 1922), 136–59.]

  • C. Taylor, ‘The Oxyrhynchus and other Agrapha’, JTS 7 (1906), 546–62, esp. 546–53.

  • E. Jacquier, ‘Les Sentences du Seigneur extracanoniques (les Agrapha)’, Rev. Bib. 15 (1918), 93–135, esp. 110–19.

  • R. Dunkerley, ‘The Oxyrhynchus Gospel Fragments’, HTR 42 (1949), 19–27.

  • R. M. Grant and D. N. Freedman, The Secret Sayings of Jesus (London, 1960), 44–51.

  • J. Jeremias, Unknown Sayings of Jesus (London, 21964). [Treats the sayings in the wider context of the agrapha.]

An important study is:

  • J. A. Fitzmyer, ‘The Oxyrhynchus Logoi of Jesus and the Coptic Gospel According to Thomas’, Theological Studies 20 (1959), 505–60 (a major reconstruction of the Oxyrhynchus logoi based on the parallels in Coptic in ‘Gnostic’ Thomas, with a fairly complete bibliography in rough alphabetical order) repr. J. A. Fitzmyer, Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament (London, 1971), 355–433).

Prior to Fitzmyer's study, and antedating the discovery of Coptic Thomas, a major publication on the papyri is:

  • H. G. Evelyn White, The Sayings of Jesus from Oxyrhynchus (Cambridge, 1920). [Edits P. Oxy. 1 and 654 with his own reconstructions.] 2 Review JTS 23 (1922), 293–300 (V. Bartlet).

Texts reproduced in:

  • C. Wessely, ‘Fragments de collections de prétendues sentences de Jésus’, in Les plus anciens monuments du Christianisme écrits sur papyrus (Paris, 1908), 151–72 (= PO 4).

  • Klostermann, Apocrypha, ii. (2)16–21 (with reconstructions of P. Oxy. 654 according to Grenfell and Hunt, Swete, Deissmann).

On the original language of the Oxyrhynchus fragments and of Thomas see:

  • G. Garitte, ‘Les “Logoi” d'Oxyrhynque et l'apocryphe copte dit “Évangile de Thomas’ ”, Le Muséon 73 (1960), 151–72, 219–22; id., ‘Les “Logoi” d'Oxyrhynque sont traduits du copte’, ibid. 335–49.

  • A. Guillaumont, ‘Les Logia d'Oxyrhynchos sont‐ils traduits du copte?’, Le Muséon 73 (1960), 325–33.

Reconstructions of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri in the light of the Gospel of Thomas may be seen in:

  • O. Hofius, ‘Das koptische Thomasevangelium und die Oxyrhynchus‐Papyri Nr. 1, 654 und 655’, Evangelische Theologie 20 (1960), 21–42, 189–92.

  • Hennecke3, i. 199–223 (H.‐C. Puech) and 61–72 (W. Schneemelcher and J. Jeremias).

  • Hennecke5, i. 98–100, 103–6 (B. Blatz).

  • Hennecke3 (English), i. 278–307 and 97–113.

  • Hennecke5 (English), i. 117–18 and 121–3.

The original identification of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and Thomas is in H.‐C. Puech, ‘Un logion de Jésus sur bandelette funéraire’, Bulletin de la société E. Renan 3 (Paris, 1954), 126–9. [This is acknowledged by G. Garitte, Le Muséon 70 (1957), 59–73.]

(a) P. Oxy. 1. ‘Sayings of Jesus’

This papyrus leaf is dated c.200 and is part of a codex.

Editio Princeps:

  • B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, ΛOΓIA IHΣOY: Sayings of Our Lord from an Early Greek Papyrus (London and New York, 1897); 1 Review by G. Heinrici, ThLitZ 22 (1897), cols. 449–55. cf. id., OP 1 (London, 1898), 1–3.

Early reactions may be seen in:

  • W. Lock and W. Sanday, Two Lectures on the Sayings of Jesus recently discovered at Oxyrhynchus (Oxford, 1897). [The Bibliography (p. 5) gives references to early reaction to the discovery of P. Oxy. 1.]

  • P. Batiffol, ‘Les logia du papyrus de Behnesa’, Rev. Bib. 6 (1897), 501–15.

  • C. Taylor, The Oxyrhynchus Logia and the Apocryphal Gospels (Oxford, 1899).

  • A. von Scholz, ‘Zu den Logia Jesus’, ThQ 82 (1900), 1–22.

Among attempted reconstructions of parts of P. Oxy. 1:
  • R. Reitzenstein, ‘Ein Zitat aus den ΛOΓIA IHΣOY’, ZNW 6 (1905), 203.

Modern Translations

(In addition to references given under ‘GENERAL’, above)


  • James, 26–8.


  • Bonaccorsi, i. 52–7.

  • Erbetta, i.1, 100–1.

  • Moraldi, i. 442–3.


  • de Santos Otero, 87–91.

(b) P. Oxy. 654. ‘New Sayings of Jesus’

This is a piece of a papyrus roll and is of the third century. The text appears on the back of a survey list of various pieces of land. There is an introductory title and five separate sayings. Before the connection with the Coptic Gospel of Thomas was known, those who published P. Oxy. 654 and P. Oxy. 1 together generally placed the sayings in 1 in a numerical sequence following those in 654 (hence the first saying in P. Oxy. 1 is often numbered Logion 6).

Editio Princeps:

  • B. H. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, New Sayings of Jesus and Fragment of a Lost Gospel (London, 1904); cf. id., OP 4 (London, 1904), 1–22. 1 Reviews: ZWT 48 (1904–5), 343–53; cf. ibid. 47 (1904), 414–18, 567–73 (A. Hilgenfeld).

Early reactions may be seen in:

  • P. Batiffol, ‘Nouveaux fragments évangéliques de Behnesa’, Rev. Bib. NS. 1 (1904), 481–93 (incl. P. Oxy. 655).

  • H. B. Swete, ‘The New Oxyrhynchus Sayings’, ExpT 15 (1904), 488–95.

  • A. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (Eng. trans. by L. R. M. Strachan), Appendix II: ‘On the text of the Second Logia Fragments from Oxyrhynchus’.

Among attempted reconstructions of P. Oxy. 654:
  • H. G. Evelyn White, ‘The Fourth Oxyrhynchus Saying’, JTS 14 (1912–13), 400–3.

  • —‘The Second Oxyrhynchus Saying’, JTS 16 (1915), 246–50.

  • —‘The Introduction to the Oxyrhynchus Sayings’, JTS 13 (1912), 74–6.

  • W. Schubart, ‘Das zweite Logion Oxyrhynchus Pap IV 654’, ZNW 20 (1921), 215–23.

  • M.‐J. Lagrange, ‘Une des paroles attribuées à Jésus’, Rev. Bib. 30 (1921), 233–7.

  • —‘La seconde parole d'Oxyrhynque’, Rev. Bib. 31 (1922), 427–33.

Modern Translations


  • James, 26.


  • Bonaccorsi, i, pp. xix–xx, 48–53.

  • Erbetta, i.1, 99–100.

  • Moraldi, i. 440–1.


  • de Santos Otero, 91–5.

(c) P. Oxy. 655. ‘Fragment of a Lost Gospel’

The eight pieces that make up this mutilated text all come from a papyrus scroll. Two pieces are now lost, and two have too little text to be identified. There have been various attempts at reconstructing the text, and links with Coptic Thomas 36–40 have been helpful guides. Usually P. Oxy. 655 is dated second—third century.

Editio Princeps:

  • B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, New Sayings of Jesus and Fragment of a Lost Gospel (London, 1904); cf. id., OP 4 (London, 1904), 22–8.

Among attempted reconstructions of parts of P. Oxy. 655:

  • T. C. Skeat, ‘The Lilies of the Field’, ZNW 37 (1938), 211–14.

  • R. A. Kraft, ‘Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 655 Reconsidered’, HTR 54 (1961), 253–62.

  • T. F. Glasson, ‘Carding and Spinning: Oxyrhynchus Papyrus No. 655’, JTS 13 (1962), 31–2.

Modern Translations

(In addition to references given under ‘GENERAL’, above)


  • James, 28–9.


  • Bonaccorsi, i. 34–6.

  • Erbetta, i.1, 101–2.

  • Moraldi, i. 435–6.


  • de Santos Otero, 76–8.


1 References to older literature may be found in B. Pick, Paralipomena (Chicago, 1908), 135–42.

2 Review JTS 23 (1922), 293–300 (V. Bartlet).

1 Review by G. Heinrici, ThLitZ 22 (1897), cols. 449–55.

1 Reviews: ZWT 48 (1904–5), 343–53; cf. ibid. 47 (1904), 414–18, 567–73 (A. Hilgenfeld).

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