p52 is by no means the only ancient manuscript of the New Testament which has survived. There are literally thousands of Greek manuscripts, as well as tens of thousands of manuscripts in other languages, like Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, and many others. This compares unbelievable favorably with the preservation of ancient writings in general. Take the Plato, for example. No more than 15 copies of any single work of Plato have survived, not to mention the fact that the gap between the time he wrote (c. 360 BC) and those surviving copies is well over 1000 years! The most copied ancient work is Homer's Iliad, which bears some 600 copies. Yet, once again, the gap between the time the copies were made and the date of Homer is enormous. In the case of the Bible, the gap is not many centuries, rather just a few short generations!'and the number of manuscripts is gigantic!
Two very important codices (a codex is a manuscript in book form) are Codex Sinaiticus (א) and Codex Alexandrinus (A), which are housed in the British Libary in London. Sinaiticus dates from around 325 AD, and is the oldest complete NT in the original Greek. When I conduct manuscript tours of the British Museum and British Library, Sinaiticus is my favorite "stop" along the way!
Do you live near an ancient biblical manuscript?
In fact biblical manuscripts -- ancient witnesses to the integrity of the Bible -- may be found all over the world. For example, here in Washington we have Codex W, housed in the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian. It is a 4th century copy of the four gospels. (Interestingly, Mark comes before Matthew -- but then that is another story!) Kept behind three security doors, you have to have an appointment -- or know the curator -- to see it! But there she lay: proof positive that the Bible has been transmitted faithfully. The only "changes" worth mentioning are minor: spelling variations, the occasional slip of the pen, writing "Christ Jesus" instead of "Jesus Christ," and so forth'nothing that affects a single biblical doctrine.
Do you live near an ancient biblical manuscript? Here is a short list of some rather interesting viewing opportunities. Most were copied in the first few centuries of Christianity. Remember, "p" means papyrus; the other notations designate codices. Some codices are divided between different libraries/museums. American cities are indicated by the binary state code; other cities, mainly European, lack any further designation. All are Greek NT manuscripts.
Allentown PA -- p21
Ann Arbor MI -- p38, p53
Athos -- H, Y , W
Barcelona -- p80
Basel -- E
Berkeley CA -- p28
Berlin -- p8, p25, p63, p79
Cairo -- p15, p16
Cambridge -- p17, D
Cambridge MA -- p9, p10