JERUSALEM, Israel -- Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum is displaying one of the earliest manuscripts from the Gospel of John in its Book of Books exhibit.
Known as Papyrus 39, the manuscript, dated around 150 BCE, was discovered in a rubbish pile outside the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, about 80 miles southwest of Cairo, which is also an archaeological site. Researchers say the fragment comes from the second earliest copy of John's Gospel.
The Book of Books exhibit, which traces the Bible's history and the development of monotheism, includes rare fragments from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), the Cairo Geniza and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible (the first major edition made with movable type, rather than hand copied, heralding the mass production of books).
Scholars believe the translation was intended for Egyptian Jews who used Greek as the everyday language.