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The physical features of the earliest LXX papyri provide clues to their provenance, ownership and intended functions. Additionally, we can approximate the production costs of these rolls on the basis of the dimensions of these papyri and papyrus prices and copying tariffs in documentary papyri. Early LXX manuscripts were priced from 27 to 103 drachmas in Egypt, depending on the length of the book and the spaciousness of the layout. Freight rates probably averaged around 30 per cent for transport from Alexandria to Jerusalem in the first century CE, making papyrus more expensive in Palestine. The incorporation of Egypt and Palestine into the Roman Empire reduced freight rates, so that papyrus became available to new circles in Palestine. For economic reasons, it is likely that Greek biblical papyri were copied in Palestine. A comparison with consumption baskets shows that only the elite and the ‘retainer class’ could afford these manuscripts.

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Published In

Journal of Jewish Studies
Volume 72Number 11 April 2021
Pages: 1 - 22


Published in print: 1 April 2021
Published online: 25 January 2024


  1. Second Temple period
  2. Hellenism
  3. Roman Empire
  4. scribes
  5. papyrus
  6. materiality
  7. Septuagint
  8. Dead Sea Scrolls
  9. economy



Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Protestant Theological University, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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