'Last Supper' Papyrus May Be One of Oldest Christian Charms

Image: Papyrus dating back some 1,500 years refers to Jesus' Last Supper and manna from heaven
A Greek papyrus dating back some 1,500 years from an ancient Egyptian city refers to Jesus' Last Supper and manna from heaven. University of Manchester, John Rylands Research Institute

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A 1,500-year-old fragment of Greek papyrus with writing that refers to the biblical Last Supper and "manna from heaven" may be one of the oldest Christian amulets, say researchers. The fragment was likely folded up and worn inside a locket or pendant as a sort of protective charm, according to Roberta Mazza, who spotted the papyrus in the library vault at the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The fragment likely originated in a town in Egypt. The text is a mix of passages from Psalm 78:23-24 and Matthew 26:28-30, among others, said Mazza, who is a research fellow at the institute. It reads:

"Fear you all who rule over the earth.Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord's immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins."

Mazza presented the discovery at a conference on papyri at the university's research institute.

— Jeanna Bryner

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