I find it really thrilling that such texts as this still exist! Papyrus 66 had been dated as around 150 A.D. and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. Photos of it are available online. It was written entirely in capital letters, and there are spaces between words or punctuation such as periods or question marks.
Here is the way the Greek letters of that time were written. I lifted them right out of Papyrus 66 in order to provide the Greek alphabet of the day.
Those who might be familiar with the way Koine Greek is written today might appreciate this alphabet (unfortunately a few of the letters got cut off):
Notice that the sigma looks like a “C” but is pronounced like an “S”. Perhaps that is why the “C” in English is sometimes pronounced like an “S” as, for example, in “face.”
Papyrus 66 contains John’s gospel, although some parts are missing. What can one expect after over 1800 years has passed?
The following page is the second leaf of Papyrus 66. It contains Chapter 1: 14-21, not exactly, of course, since the writer didn’t know about the chapter and verse divisions that would be made hundreds of years later. The second leaf begins with the 4th word in verse 14 and ends with 21st verse except for the final two words. Here is a photocopy of that very leaf from the middle of the second century!
Okay, the leaf is somewhat torn. But after more than 1800 years, isn’t it amazing that it is still this intact! Papyri wasn’t all that available. Writers had to save space. Sometimes they did that by writing only the first and last letter of common words and overlining it. This was done even with short words such as θεος (“theos” the word for “God”). Only four letters in the word, but yet space was saved by writing only the theta and the sigma and overlining these two letters. If you look carefully at the 8th and 9th characters in line 14, you will see a theta and then a sigma with a line over both letters. The ancient characters are the following two with overlining:
The fact that this is the word for “God” is very significant since line 14 is part of John 1:18. The NASB has it right (though I would have translated the final words as “He has revealed Him”):
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Textus Receptus upon which the Authorized Version and the New King James Version are based has “the only-begotten Son” but the early Christians pointed out that Jesus the Son of God was the only-begotten God since He was the Son of God and since the Father was unbegotten.