First century fragment of Mark?

Thanks to Joel and Brian LePort for this…

According to Daniel Wallace, in debate with Bart Ehrman:

We have as many as eighteen second-century manuscripts (six of which were recently discovered and not yet catalogued) and a first-century manuscript of Mark’s Gospel! Altogether, more than 43% of the 8000 or so verses in the NT are found in these papyri. Bart had explicitly said that our earliest copy of Mark was from c. 200 CE, but this is now incorrect. It’s from the firstcentury. I mentioned these new manuscript finds and told the audience that a book will be published by E. J. Brill in about a year that gives all the data. (In the Q & A, Bart questioned the validity of the first-century Mark fragment. I noted that a world-class paleographer, a man who had no religious affiliation and thus was not biased toward an early date, was my source.

Daniel Wallace adds in the comments section:

Friends, let me clarify a couple of things. First, the Mark manuscript is just a small fragment. Second, I didn’t discover it; I make no claims whatsoever for having done so. Third, exact news of the fragment will have to await its publication about a year from now.

The way this is being described suggests we are not dealing with another 7Q5 – or at least I hope not – but something clear cut. On Joel’s blog Matthew Hamilton adds this:

From what I’ve been able to glean there are now in the Green Collection 7 unpublished NT papyri
1. 2nd century frg. with Hebrews 1
2. 2nd century frg. with I Corinthians 8-10
3. 2nd century frg. with Matthew
4. 2nd century frg. with Romans 8-9
5. 2nd century frg. with part of a Pauline Epistle, from what I know it is from Hebrews
6. 2nd century frg. with Luke
7. 1st century frg. with Mark

Rearding Mark Stevens question as to where they were found, iIt appears most of these have been recently extracted from mummy cartonnage, but I don’t know any details as to where these were found

Obviously, given the lack of information, it is difficult to know what to make of all this at the moment. So, can anyone shed more light…?


20 responses to “First century fragment of Mark?

  1. Thanks for the link.

    Can’t wait to see how large ‘small’ may actually be

  2. ‘ I mentioned these new manuscript finds and told the audience that a book will be published by E. J. Brill in about a year that gives all the data. ‘

    So the academic community can read about this manuscript in a book.

    Good idea.
    Saves them buying white gloves to examine the manuscript themselves.

  3. Seems to me that a world-class palaeographer should probably be circumspect enough to know that the best one could claim for any manuscript was that it was written in a script that either first appeared (in our sources anyway), or perhaps was most common (in our sources anyway), in the first century CE. Palaeography is not an exact science, and there really was nothing to stop a slightly later scribe using any script that was still in circulation. How exactly would you establish a first century dating over one for, say, 125CE? I look forward to seeing someone make the effort, but I really won’t be holding my breath. Plus unless you are completely fixated with late dates for these texts, why would you even care very much (interesting early indications of variants aside)? I don’t doubt that the NT texts were written in the first century CE. What do manuscripts give me that I don’t currently have? Perhaps I need to read more Bart Ehrman to fully understand…

  4. Steven: I don’t know what the status of these manuscripts is at the moment.

    John: yes, interesting in antiquarian terms I suppose but pretty much agreed. The interesting thing (with tongue fairly firmly in cheek) is if a date ‘between 1-50CE’ came up (though we’d surely have known about it by now…right?). 😉 Or, as Hugh Pyper pointed out (with tongue very firmly in cheek), what if it says ‘finally, with the Temple destroyed, I can finally write this Gospel I always wanted to write…’

  5. Pingback: The Oldest Manuscript of Mark? « Euangelion Kata Markon

  6. Matthew Hamilton

    NT papyri found in the Green Collection appear to have been recovered from cartonnage so the dating of the Mark frg. might not just be based on the palaeography of itself, but also the palaeography of the other papyri it was found with – its context. I hope that whoever edits the Mark frg. makes sure to note which other papyri it was found with, and I hope that whoever is the overall editor of the Green Collection papyri makes sure the other (non-biblical) papyri are published with the Mark frg. so the context may be fully studied

  7. Text reconstructed and more details on dates at the evangelical textual criticism blog.

  8. Pingback: Newly-Identified Early New Testament Fragments? « Larry Hurtado's Blog

  9. Hi George, I couldn’t see the reconstructed text on the ETCB. Do you have a direct link?

  10. Pingback: About the Supposed First Century Fragment of the Gospel of Mark « A 'Goula Blogger

  11. A few weeks ago, CNN reported that the Romans fragment was Romans 9-10, not Romans 8-9.

  12. Pingback: Earliest NT Manuscript Discovered??? :: Fundamentally Reformed

  13. Pingback: Max Doubt

  14. Reginald Rembrandt

    To clarify – we are talking about the Dan Wallace who is the author of Star Wars-inspired fiction, aren’t we?

  15. Pingback: Newly-Identified Early New Testament Fragments? « New Testament Scholarship Worldwide

  16. There is a photograph of the purported Mark fragment in D.M. Murdock’s latest article on freethoughtnation(dot)com. It doesn’t look too impressive to me.

  17. It’s a different Daniel Wallace.

    • Reginald Rembrandt

      I wouldn’t be too sure. Although out Western post-Enlightenment notions of individuality might distinguish Dan Wallace1 (the biblical studies writer) from Dan Wallace2 (the Star Wars writer), if we put aside these modernist presuppositions, couldn’t we view Dan Wallace 1&2 as a unity? Africans would do so.

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