Skip to comments.1st-century New Testament fragment: more details emerge
Posted on 02/29/2012 11:27:27 AM PST by SeekAndFind
DALLAS (BP) -- The seminary professor who surprised the academic world by saying a first-century fragment of Mark's Gospel had been found has released new information along with two new claims -- an early sermon on Hebrews and the earliest-known manuscripts of Paul's letters also have been discovered.
Details about the finds will be published in an academic book in 2013, says Dallas Theological Seminary's Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor. Wallace started the buzz on Feb. 1 when, during a debate with author and skeptic Bart Ehrman, he made the claim about the Mark fragment, which would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament.
Wallace provided a few more details on his website and then a few more during a Feb. 24 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, saying the fragments and manuscripts were found in Egypt.
The significance of all the manuscripts, Wallace said, would be on par with the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Mark fragment is "a very small fragment, not too many verses, but it's definitely from Mark," Wallace said. "... To have a fragment from one of the Gospels that's written during the lifetime of some of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection is just astounding."
To date, the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament is from John's Gospel and dates from around 125 A.D.
The Mark fragment, Wallace said, will affirm what is already written in that portion of Mark's Gospel.
The paleographer who dated it, Wallace said, is "one of the world's leading paleographers." Wallace previously said the paleographer is certain it's from the first century. Still, Wallace told Hewitt, several more paleographers will look at the Mark fragment before the book is published.
The Mark fragment will be published in a book along with six other manuscripts, Wallace said. One of those will be a second-century sermon on Hebrews 11. The significance: It shows Hebrews -- whose author is unknown -- was accepted early by the church as Scripture.
"What makes that so interesting is the ancient church understood by about A.D. 180 in what's called ... the Muratorian Canon, that the only books that could be read in churches must be those that are authoritative," Wallace said. "To have a homily or a sermon on Hebrews means that whoever wrote that sermon considered Hebrews to be authoritative, and therefore, it could be read in the churches."
Also among the finds are second-century fragments from Luke and from Paul's letters. Wallace did not state which letters were found.
"Up until now, our oldest manuscript for Paul's letters dates about AD 200, [known as] P-46," Wallace said. "Now we have as many as four more manuscripts that predate that."
Read the transcript of the interview online at http://bit.ly/w7s2qe.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. To read Baptist Press' initial story about the Mark fragment, which includes a Q&A with a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=37197.
I thought P-46 had been paleographically dated to the first century based on more recent carbon-dated manuscripts that were used for paleographical comparison.
It’s been a while since I studied all that though, so I might be confusing the manuscript. But if I’m not, P-46 has almost all of Paul’s non-pastoral writings plus Hebrews.
I have to ask; however in the world do you find this stuff! Its great, but I don’t know how you come up with this kind of thing.
Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that it was found in Egypt. If I were a gambling man, I’d suggest its highly likely that a fair number of the Jerusalem Jewish Christians ended up having to flee to Egypt to preserve their lives. I’m unsure why Egypt but we do know that after Christ was born, Joseph was told to flee and he obeyed and fled with Mother and Child to Egypt. (That had to be a pretty tough trip, especially with a new mother and infant child).
Interesting thing about that trip; it was prompted by a second Angelic visit to Joseph. And on both occasions, and apparently without question, he acted upon orders from on-High! Joseph must have been a very special kind of guy; or those were peculiarly powerful Angelic visits. Or both!
Still, the Gospel of Mark is probabaly the most "accepted" book in the NT according to the textural critics (and by extension theological liberals, both Protestant and Catholic). As cool as this find is, I'd rather have a first-century fragment of the Gospel of John...or even better Paul's Epistle to the Romans.
I hope these artifacts are strongly guarded. There are many folks who would love to see them meet with an "accident."
One reason so many of the earliest manuscripts are found in Egypt is due to the climate. The more humid areas of Asia Minor and Syria have long destroyed the oldest in those parts of the world.
Exactly. Early Christians continued the Jewish tradition of burying worn-out manuscripts. Had they not done so, we would almost certainly have no pre-fourth-century manuscripts. Manuscripts that weren’t buried would eventally fall into the wrong hands and be destroyed or would simply disintegrate from age and use.
I only have one question. Why are these in the hands of a Baptist professor rather than in the hands of the Vatican? Or has the Vatican already seen them?
” rather than in the hands of the Vatican? “
Why would the Vatican have them?
I read some other articles about this a while back. Several ancient Greek language experts had taken a gander at this fragment and come to one singular conclusion:
The fragment was written in a style of Greek writing that wasn’t used until very late 2nd through the 3rd centuries. Therefore the chance that the fragment is a real 1st century (i.e. 50ad, 60ad, or 70ad, etc) clip of a “Book of Mark” is slim to negative zilch.
From what I understand some people don’t just look at the carbon dating of something .they also look at other aspects of it to confirm or deny the postulation.
Can you provide a reliable source for this please? A link or the title of the article and the publication?
Expert palaeographers often disagree over a given item by as much as a century or more. Its never wise to rest much upon one judgement, and confidence will be enhanced only when various experts have been given full access to the items.
Professor Wallace is not a careless man and does not base his conclusions on “faith”.
In an e-mail to John Farall, a Forbes Magazine contributor, he writes:
Paleographers use a variety of means for ascertaining the dates of manuscripts. For Greek manuscripts (which this fragment was written in), the closest date-range that paleographers can determine is about 50 years, and this more so with ancient manuscripts than with medieval ones (where the range is broader still). The single most important key to dating is usually the handwriting, since it evolved over the centuries in discernible patterns. The handwriting is not as subjective as it sounds, Even non-experts today recognize that the Declaration of Independence was not written in the 20th century. Ligatures (the joining of two letters like a and e in the older British spelling of archaeology), size and shape of letters, the position of the letters in relation to the lines, etc. were not stable features. By comparing undated manuscripts with dated ones, we are able to pinpoint more exactly when certain characteristics were in vogue. The cumulative evidence then suggests the range.
But that author is a dimwit:
Again, I see no reason from a paleographical analysis of this small fragment alone to push its date into the first century, especially since it certainly could be from the second, third or later centuries and since there is no evidence that the canonical gospel of Mark as we have it existed at that time. Indeed, none of the canonical gospels clearly emerges into the historical record until the end of the second century.
No evidence of Mark till the end of the 2nd century, genius? It wasn't mentioned by Papias around 130? Or Irenaeus in 160-170? And Justin Martyr who died in around 165 didn't mention "Boanerges" which is only found in Mark?
Skeptics. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
First of all, you have an awful strange view of what “as we have it” means. We know about these variants because we HAVE New Testaments with them. I’m not sure why you think that any modern text is claimed to be THE perfect NT.
Second of all, look over these variants.
It’s an abbreviated list, granted. But where’s Mark 5? What are the variants in THIS passage?
If among all the NT manuscripts we have, this passage has few if any variations, then there’s a darn good chance that a putative first century document *would* look exactly like the NT as we have it.
Not the most detailed story, and you’ve seen earlier versions if I recall correctly, but I think it’s still a GGG story.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
About 40 years ago, a liberal Anglican bishop, John Robinson, decided to make an experiment. He decided to look at the available evidence with fresh eyes and see what conclusion he could come to with respect to the dating the New Testament. His conclusion: all late dating was speculative. Mischieviously he even speculated that Johns Gospel was the first. Not the form we we read now, but as it gave probably the best chronology, even if not strictly chronological. Pauline Fredericksen, the Jewish scholar also holds to the view that this most theological” of the Gospels is also the most historical and shows how Jewish really was.
Given that the first Christians were Jews and gentiles strongly influenced by Jews, I doubt there would be as much messing with the text as there would be in later times. Given that the Dead Sea scrolls are virtually the same as the texts dating from about 1000, and given the authority attached to writing, the copiers were be very careful. mistakes would come from maybe including short commentaries on the page that were hard to distinguish from the original, or from the very speed with which these men worked.
I read the text critics at length and found that most of their output was rank speculation with ill intent, even to the extent of relying on known forgeries and inventing undiscovered proto-gospels (”Gospel Q”) out of whole cloth. They have all the credibility of the Jesus Seminar.
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