On the cover is a reproduction of a folio (page) from Papyrus 46, often called P46. P46 is one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts, dated between AD 175 and 225. It was purchased on the antiquities market in Cairo, Egypt in the early 1930s. It is part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri collection at the University of Michigan. Each page measures roughly 11” by 6”—a little narrower than a standard sheet of paper. P46 is one of the earliest examples of a codex, which is similar to books as we know them. Early Christians preferred them to scrolls as they made navigating through Scripture far easier and safer for the manuscript as turning pages caused less damage than rolling and unrolling a scroll.
P46 contains most of the apostle Paul’s letters, with some sections missing, and the book of Hebrews. The leaf on the cover shows the beginning of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. It contains Galatians 1:1-8.
Galatians was a letter written to a group of churches in the mid-first century about a specific problem. It is a deeply personal letter, showing the apostle’s confusion at their behavior as well as his anger and surprise at their willingness to turn to “another gospel,” which is no gospel at all.
Rather than just an academic appeal for the truth of the gospel, this letter shows the all encompassing importance of the good news that is Jesus.