Nash Papyrus

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NASH PAPYRUS , a second-century (c. 150) b.c.e. papyrus fragment written in square Hebrew script, containing the *Decalogue and the *Shema. The Nash Papyrus was the oldest biblical text known before the discovery of the *Dead Sea Scrolls. A single sheet, not from a scroll, was purchased from an Egyptian dealer by W.L. Nash, secretary of the Society of Biblical Archaeology in England, and published by S.A. Cooke in 1903. The papyrus is of unknown provenance, although allegedly from Fayyum. The text of the Decalogue accords closely with the Septuagint of Exodus (20:2ff.), and must resemble the Hebrew that underlay the Septuagint translation (see table of variants in article *Decalogue). The Shema follows (Deut. 6:4–5), including the Septuagint's preliminary to verse 4: "And these are the statutes and the judgments that Moses (so Nash; lxx, "the Lord") commanded [the Israelites] in the wilderness when they left the land of Egypt." The papyrus breaks off after the second letter of verse 5. The combination of the Decalogue and the Shema indicates that the text of the papyrus represents the Torah readings included in the daily morning liturgy of Second Temple times (cf. Tam. 5:1: "they recited the Decalogue, the Shema, etc.").


S.A. Cooke, in: psba, 25 (1903), 34–56; F.C. Burkitt, in: jqr, 15 (1903), 392–408; J. Mann, in: huca, 2 (1925), 283; W.F. Albright, in: jbl, 56 (1937), 145–76; idem, in: basor, 115 (1949), 10–19; M.Z.(H.) Segal, in: Leshonenu, 15 (1947), 27–36; Birnbaum, in: basor, 115 (1949), 20–22; F.M. Cross, in: JBL, 74 (1955), 148 n. 3.

[Moshe Greenberg]