Hanna Papyrus

The year 1952 brought forth from the sands of Egypt a remarkably-intact 144-page papyrus containing the oldest manuscripts ever found of portions of the Gospels of Luke and John. Written between A.D. 175 and 225, the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV (P75) gives us the very oldest transcription of the Lord’s Prayer. Translation of the papyrus showed that the versions of the Gospels of Luke and John found in our Bibles today reproduce almost exactly the words of those Gospels as transcribed just over a century after they were first written: God’s words to us have come down to us intact. Owned until 2007 by the Bodmer Foundation in Switzerland, the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV (P75) was obtained by the Vatican Library in 2007 through the efforts of Frank Hanna and with funds provided by Solidarity Association. It has subsequently been renamed the Mater Verbi Papyrus.  

Pope greets Frank Hanna and family

Catholic businessman Frank Hanna and his family were present in the Pope's library January 22, 2008, when Pope Benedict got his first look at pages from the famous Bodmer XV papyrus (subsequently renamed the Hanna Papyrus). Frank Hanna is the Atlanta-based chief executive officer of Hanna Capital, LLC, and the former chairman of President George W. Bush's Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's archivist and librarian, presented both the papyrus and the Frank Hanna family to the pope. The Bodmer XV, handwritten in Greek around the year 200, contains "about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John," Cardinal Tauran explained. "With this new precious papyrus, the library of the pope possesses the most ancient witness of the Gospel of Luke and among the most ancient of the Gospel of John," he 

Vatican exhibits ancient Gospels

For the first time in history tourists can now stroll through the halls of the Vatican library and sit quietly to read an ancient manuscript thanks to a new exhibition. “Understanding the Vatican Library: a History Open to the Future,” shows how the library works and toward putting an end to the idea of its mysteriousness and inaccessibility. For the event the Vatican will hold a conference to publicize the library, which has already signed more than 350 experts to participate. 

Frank Hanna interviewed about Hanna Papyrus

In January 2007, Frank Hanna received media attention when his organization, Solidarity Association, graciously presented the Bodmer Papyrus, the oldest known copy of the Gospel of Luke in existence, to Benedict XVI. Subsequently renamed the Hanna Papyrus, It is now housed in the Vatican Library. In this interview with ZENIT, Frank Hanna discusses the significance of the Hanna Papyrus, as well as the importance of giving back to one's community, and balancing work with charitable activities.


 ZENIT: You were instrumental in securing the Hanna Papyrus, oldest known text of the Gospel of Luke, for the Vatican Library and presented it to Benedict XVI In January 2007. In a recent speech at Christendom College, you stated, "We are spiritual, but we live in this physical world, and thus physical evidence of that which has happened is important. Defending that physical evidence is important. Defending that physical evidence is not a substitute for faith, but it can enhance it." Do you think physical evidence is as important to devout Catholics as to those who are struggling with their faith?

Hanna discusses Hanna Papyrus

"When I was a child and I thought of defending the faith, I thought of some cruader on a horse going against the invaders of the Holy Land," author and entrepreneur Frank Hanna told the students and faculty of Christendom College during his address on September 27. "Now, that is defending the faith, but defending the faith is a lot broader than that." In his talk, entitled Defending the Faith, Defending the Word of God, Hanna related how he established the Hanna Papyrus Trust, which sought to acquire for the Vatican sections 14 and 15 of what was then known as the Bodmer Papyrus from the Martin Bodmer Foundation. The Bodmer Papyrus is a set of papyri which were discovered in 1952 at Pabau, Egypt. Dating back to A.D. 175, the papyri contain the oldest copy of the Gospel of Luke—and the oldest copy of the Lord's Prayer—in the world. Subsequent to its presentation to the Pope, the Vatican Library renamed it the Hanna Papyrus.

Hanna Papyrus connects us with first Christians

 As one might imagine, Benedict XVI receives gifts regularly, and not only on his birthday or on the anniversary of his papal election. While the Holy Father undoubtedly appreciates the gestures, few have been as universally and personally significant as the gift of the Bodmer Papyrus 14-15 (P75), which, in gratitude to its donor, has subsequently been renamed the Hanna Papyrus.

Dated around the year 175, the Hanna Papyrus is the oldest extant copy of parts of the Gospels of John and Luke. Discovered in Egypt 

Ancient papyrus given to the Vatican

Bodmer PapyrusBenedict XVI received as a gift to the Holy See one of the most ancient manuscripts of the Gospels, an artifact that demonstrates Scripture's historical actuality. The Pope was given the 14-15 Bodmer Papyrus (P75), dated between A.D. 175 and 225, on Monday by Frank Hanna and his family, of the United States. Subsequent to this event, the Vatican renamed the papyrus the Hanna Papyrus in honor of its donor.

"The papyrus contains about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John. It was written in Egypt and perhaps used as a liturgical book," explained Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, during the audience.

The manuscript previously belonged to the library of the Bodmer Foundation in Cologny, Switzerland, and now, through the help of Frank Hanna and the Solidarity Association, is in the Vatican Apostolic Library. "The Pope's library possesses the most ancient testimony of the Gospel of Luke and among the most ancient of the Gospel of John," added the cardinal. The Hanna Papyrus contains 144 pages and is the oldest manuscript that contains the text of the two Gospels in one papyrus.

The Lord's Prayer

L'Osservatore Romano commented that "almost certainly it was destined for a small community, a Greek-speaking Egyptian 'parish' that, as is habitual in all Christian liturgies, read the Gospel during the Eucharistic celebration."

The oldest transcription of the Our Father, as recounted by Luke, is found in this papyrus. Participants in the meeting explained that experts see the joining of Luke and John in one papyrus as a demonstration that for the first Christians communities, the Gospels formed a unity.

The document agrees with the Codex Vaticanus, a fourth-century edition of the Bible. The Hanna Papyrus demonstrates, therefore, that the oldest versions of the New Testament that are preserved in their totality correspond with the Gospels that already circulated among the Christian communities centuries earlier.

In addition to Frank Hanna and his family,Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, Bishop Raffaele Farina, prefect of the Vatican Library, and Gary Krupp, founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, which worked to bring about this gift, were present when the papyrus was donated to the Vatican.

Vatican City, January 24, 2007 (zenit.org)