Among the Coptic Biblical fragments from Akhmim, acquired for the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris by G. Maspero in the early 1880s, were fourteen papyrus leaves in the Akhmimic dialect and seven in the Sahidic. These proved on examination to be the remains of two distinct codices. The texts were previously unknown, though undoubtedly of an apocryphal work or works. There was a considerable overlap between them so that it was frequently possible to restore gaps in the Akhmimic from the Sahidic and vice versa. The presumption, therefore, was that they were, at least in part, two versions in different dialects of the same original(s).
The first editor (U. Bouriant in 1885) took the view that only a single work was involved; and from the fact that Zephaniah appeared as the speaker on one of the Sahidic leaves he concluded that the work was the lost Apocalypse of Zephaniah, known to have existed from its mention in the List of Sixty Books. A similar view was taken by L. Stern in the following year. However, in 1888 a further eight leaves, recently acquired by the Berlin Museum, were identified as belonging to the same codex as the fourteen Akhmimic leaves in the Bibliothèque Nationale; and at the end of the text on one of these leaves (it would seem the last in the codex) was the colophon 'The Apocalypse of Elijah'. Consequently, the codex must have contained more than one work. The question was (and is), How many?
An answer depends partly upon the order in which the loose leaves from both codices are arranged, and partly upon what is presumed to be the relationship between the two codices. The codices certainly overlapped. But that does not necessarily mean that their contents were precisely the same. And Bouriant and Stern had each arranged the Paris leaves in a different order.
In the Introduction to his edition of the texts in 1899 G. Steindorff examined this question in detail and concluded that