Papyrus 115, P115

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First Composed: 20 April 2000

Last Updated: 6 November 2004


Papyrus 115 (P.Oxy. 4499), P115


3rd / 4th Century CE.


Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.


About 6.2 cm. x 6.3 cm. Click here to see the image.

The extant fragments come from nine different leaves. There are 26 fragments.


Revelation 2:1-3,13-15,27-29; 3:10-12; 5:8-9; 6:5-6; 8:3-8,11-13; 9:1-5,7-16,18-21; 10:1-4,8-11; 11:1-5,8-15,18-19; 12:1-5,8-10,12-17; 13:1-3,6-16,18; 14:1-3,5-7,10-11,14-15,18-20;15:1,4-7.

Textual Character

P115 aligns with A and C in its textual witness, which are generally regarded as providing the best testimony to the "original" text of Revelation. According to Comfort and Barrett, the P115 has superior testimony to that of P47 which aligns with and together form the second-best witness to the Book of Revelation.


This papyrus is the earliest known witness of some sections of the Book of Revelation. An important characteristics of this papyrus is that it assigns to the Beast number 616, rather than the usual 666.

The number - chi, iota, stigma (hexakosiai deka hex) is in the third line of the fragment.

The number 666 for the Beast has led to many speculations about who this could character be. Scholars now believe that it is related to ancient Greek ideas about numerology (for Greek numerology, please click here). The letters of a name were ascribed numerical value and added up to give a number; in the case of 666, it is the name of Emperor Nero that adds up to that number. Historians believe that Nero's persecution of Christians in Rome made him a bête noire among the early Christians.

Bur what about the number 616 for the Beast? Working on the principles of numerology, scholars work out 616 indicates the Emperor Caligula, Nero's predecessor. Caligula had had a statue of himself erected in the Temple, the Holiest of the Holies, in Jerusalem which had greatly offended Jews. If the alleged author of Revelation was indeed "John" and a Jew from Palestine, he would have known this.

It should be added that even the number 665 had been ascribed to the Beast in the Book of Revelation. Also, the significance of the number 616 was known to Irenaeus in the second century.


The codex is written in a medium size, right sloping (sometimes upright), rather informal hand, rapidly but regularly written.


Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, United Kingdom.


[1] N. Gonis et al., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, LXVI, 1999, 10 ff. (No. 4499).

[2] P. W. Comfort & David P. Barrett, The Complete Text Of The Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, 1999, Baker Books, Grand Rapids (Michigan), United States of America, p. 665.

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The New Testament Manuscripts