Here’s a Gospel story about Jesus and a leper.  Does it sound familiar?

And behold, a leper approached him and said, “Teacher Jesus, while I was traveling with some lepers and eating with them at the inn, I myself contracted leprosy. If, then, you are willing, I will be made clean.”  Then the Lord said to him, “I am willing: be clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. Jesus said to him, “Go, show yourself to the priests and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded; and sin no more….”

This may sound like the Bible, but it’s not. This is one of the stories found in a document known to scholars as Papyrus Egerton 2. This papyrus consists of four small pieces of papyrus manuscript, written on front and back (so it comes from a codex, not a scroll). It contains four different stories:

(1) an exhortation by Jesus for his Jewish opponents to “search the Scriptures” (in terms similar to John 5:39-47 and 10:31-39);

(2) a foiled attempt to stone and then arrest Jesus (cf. John 10:31f) and then his healing of the leper cited above (similar to Mark 1:40-44);

(3) the question of whether it is right to pay tribute to the ruling authorities (as for example in Mark 12:13-17); and

(4) a highly fragmentary account that cannot be satisfactorily reconstructed – i.e., the scrap of manuscript has too many holes in it – that appears to be about some kind of amazing miracle Jesus did by sowing seed on the Jordan River (this story is unlike anything

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