Dating of p46
Though Kim’s suggestion that Chester Beatty Biblical Papyrus II was written before the reign of Domitian (81–96 CE) has been refuted, the consensus continues that it was produced c. One curiosity of this papyrus is that, in its current state, it lacks the pastoral letters.
With 86 of the original 104 leaves still extant, scholars have a good amount of material to work with as to whether it would have originally contained the pastorals. This means that all the double leaves (or bifolia) were laid down on top of each other, then folded and sewn into the binding.
P46 is an example of one of the earliest forms of the New Testament; the papyrus codex.
While the canon of the New Testament was gradually being formed, different Christian writings were being copied and collected into volumes written on papyrus, such as this codex containing the Epistles of Paul.
As a result, no two copies of the same book could be expected to contain exactly the same text.
When modern editors wish to reconstruct a text as accurately as possible, it is often beneficial to consult the oldest manuscript available, on the presumption that the older the manuscript, the closer it is to the original text.
What is extant are nine ‘Pauline’ letters: Romans, Hebrews (almost always included in the Pauline corpus as far as ancient manuscripts are concerned), 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians.The publication of P46 in 1935–37––then, and now, the oldest extant manuscript of Paul’s epistles––has not ceased to pique the interest of biblical scholars.