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Friday, May 1, 2020

Coptic Papyrus Fragment

Let us start off fresh this month with a post that might be of interest to many of my readers here at Wonders of the Bible: a fragment of Coptic papyrus.

I obtained this wonderful piece of history from a relative caring for the estate of Dr. and Mrs. G. Dekle Taylor, of the Jacksonville, Florida region. Dr. Taylor, born 1918, passed away in 2015 at the age of 96. He was a very highly repsected regional physician. In the late 1960s, he served as staff president at Duval Medical Center. His father, Marshall Taylor, has a doctors building in the Baptist Health complex named after him.

Dr. and Mrs. were world travelers, and this is where the aforementioned papyrus fragment eventually comes into my collection.

Here is a photo of Dr. Taylor speaking at a local event (Thomas G. Carpenter Library; Duval Medical Center, University Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida Collection of University of North Florida):

Duval Medical Center Medical Staff dinner, January 21, 1969

And one more photo showing Dr. Taylor during his retirement years (Florida Times-Union):

I would be remiss if I did not point out that this fragment has been reviewed, and has been found to be non-Biblical -- although it is a "legal document ... most likely a loan, in which money changes hands, and an oath by the Almighty is taken."

I would also like to thank a good friend, Dr. Gerald Culley, PhD Classics, associate professor (emeritus) at the University of Delaware, for his assistance in having one of the top papyri scholars in the United States review it.

As one can read in the top photo, the date is set between AD 200 and 700. This is because the actual piece of papyrus was identified in its display frame as being from the year AD 200. However, the scholar that so kindly reviewed the piece for me gave an estimate of AD 700. So, in repect to both persons -- who certainly deserve the respect that they get -- I included both dates.

This beautiful example is now on display at my Wonders of the Bible exhibit, which had to close right after we cut the ribbon for its opening (due to Covid-19 emergency guidelines). It will serve as a wonderful opportunity for folks of all ages and backgrounds to be able to see an actual piece of papyrus close-up. It is the first piece that people see when they come into the exhibit room. It sits on a table, directly underneath a small engraving print of Christ on the Cross by Rembrandt.

I will close with a few more extraordinary photographs, taken before it was re-framed for display. It is truly a magnificent piece of communication technology history:

One day soon, I hope you will come and see this wonderful piece for yourself, and enjoy all that the Wonders of the Bible exhibit has to offer: Proclaiming Jesus Christ through Visual Arts, Science, and Communication Technologies: Past, Present, and Future.

-- Frank DeFreitas