New Testament Studies


Is P4, P64 and P67 the Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels? A Response to T. C. Skeat

a1 Tyndale House, 36 Selwyn Gardens, Cambridge CB3 9BA, England

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In 1997 T. C. Skeat, at 90 years of age, published an important article entitled ‘The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?’ in New Testament Studies. a In this article Skeat put forward a number of important arguments concerning the papyrus fragments P64 and P67 (which have long been recognised as fragments of Matthew's Gospel from the same original manuscript) and P4 (which comprises material from Luke's Gospel). Skeat argued that all these fragments came from the same original manuscript – a position already advocated by some other scholars; he went further, to argue that this original manuscript was a single-quire codex containing Matthew, John, Luke and Mark (probably in that order, although this is not a central feature of the argument) dating from late in the second century, and thus indeed was ‘The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels’.


a T. C. Skeat, ‘The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?’, NTS 43 (1997) 1–34. This article has recently been reprinted in J. K. Elliott (ed.), The Collected Biblical Writings of T. C. Skeat (NovTSup 113; Leiden: Brill, 2004) 158–92. Skeat was born on 15 Feb 1907, so I suppose there is a chance that the first issue of the year may have been published when he was but 89. He died on 25 June 2003. For an obituary by J. K. Elliott (reprinted from The Independent of 8 July 2003), see TC 8 (2003):