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Washington Manuscript III - The Four Gospels (Codex Washingtonensis)
late 4th-early 5th century




Ink on parchment
H: 20.8 W: 14.3 cm
Egypt

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1906.274

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Variously known as Codex Washingtonensis or the Freer Gospels, this codex originally contained the complete text of the four canonical gospels in the Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark). Its careful layout suggests it was for public, liturgical reading. But it was apparently compiled from a number of different and probably fragmentary sources, perhaps caused by the Great Persecution when Diocletian ordered the destruction of Christian books. At the end of Mark (after 16:14) is a statement attributed to Jesus that occurs in no other manuscript. Called the Freer logion, it reads, in part:

And Christ replied to them, "The term of years for Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death so that they may return to the truth and no longer sin, so that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness that is in heaven."