Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Reading for the Spirit of the Text: nomina sacra and πνεῦμα Language in P46*

  • Joel D. Estes (a1)

This study examines every reference to πνεῦμα in NT Papyrus 46 (P. Chester Beatty ii / P. Mich. Inv. 6238) and whether or not it is contracted as a nomen sacrum. Against expectations, the scribe does not always use nomina sacra to designate the divine Spirit, nor are other kinds of spirits always written out in full. This discovery destabilises the assumption that we can access the scribe's understanding of πνεῦμα simply by identifying where nomina sacra do and do not occur. At the same time, such scribal irregularity itself may illustrate wider theological ambiguities among some early Christian communities concerning the status and role of the Holy Spirit.

Hide All

This article began as a project for a doctoral seminar on ‘Canon Formation and the Sociology of Reading’ with AnneMarie Luijendijk at Princeton University. I am grateful for her perceptive comments on an earlier draft of this essay, as well as for the feedback from my colleagues in that seminar: Philip Michael Forness, Jonathan Henry, Alex Kocar, George Rambow and Geoffrey Smith. A version of this article was presented in the ‘Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds’ section of the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Baltimore, Maryland. I am thankful for the insightful comments, questions and constructive criticism I received there that pushed me to refine this project further. Many thanks, as well, to the anonymous reader who suggested several improvements, and who directed my attention to a recent thesis on P46 by Edgar Battad Ebojo. Any errors that remain are my own.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E. B. Ebojo , ‘When Nonsense Makes Sense: Scribal Habits in the Space-Intervals, Sense-Pauses, and Other Visual Features of P46’, The Bible Translator 64.2 (2013) 128–50

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 45 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 134 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.