Harvard Theological Review


Caveats to a “Righted Order” of the Gospel of the Savior

Charles W. Hedrick a1
a1 Southwest Missouri State University

Newly discovered ancient manuscripts of previously unknown texts found in a fragmentary, disordered, and incomplete state present challenges to modern scholars seeking to restore, conserve, and study them. The first order of business is the ordering of the disordered pages, if possible. Restoring page sequence is, in effect, reconstructing their original order in the ancient codex, from which sheets and leaves were detached, by accident or by design. Restoring page sequence cannot be accomplished apart from making a provisional transcrip-tion and translation of the fragments. A final critical transcription of the ancient text and its translation into a modern language, however, await the codicological reconstruction of the manuscript, for page sequence affects how a text is understood and hence translated. The process might popularly be described as trying to reconstruct a multilayered multisided jigsaw puzzle, lacking most of its pieces. The recently published Gospel of the Savior (P. Berol. inv. 22220, hereafter GSav) is one such previously unknown text, and its reconstruc-tion proceeded in precisely the manner described above.