The University of Michigan Library’s most famous papyrus, known to scholars as Papyrus 46 (or P46), is now widely available in the form of an app for iPhone and iPad. Users of “PictureIt: EP” can flip through high-resolution images of the 3rd century codex—the oldest known copy of the Letters of St. Paul—as though through pages of a book.
“This gives an idea of what it was like to read an ancient book, with no capitals, no spaces between words, and no punctuation,” explains Arthur Verhoogt, Acting Archivist of the Library’s Papyrology Collection. The app reveals a translation from the Greek into English with a touch of a finger, either word-by-word or by the page. Readily accessible annotations explain where the papyrus differs from the Standard Version that people know from their New Testament. They also point out scribal errors, which were common in an era when books were copied entirely by hand.
The codex in its entirety was originally made up of 104 leaves (pages), of which 86 survive. The University of Michigan purchased thirty leaves in the 1930s from antiquities dealers in Egypt, and the remaining 56 leaves (which are not included in the app) reside in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.
To download the free app onto your iPhone or iPad, go to the iTunes Store and search for “PictureIt: EP.” The app has not yet been optimized for the iPhone 5.
Who knew… Via Tommy Wasserman on the twitter.
UPDATE: I’ve played around with it and it’s fantastic! I recommend it. Highly.