Sunday, February 26, 2012

More About First-Century Manuscripts

You can watch the recent debate between Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace, in which Wallace mentioned the first-century Mark fragment, here. Start watching at minutes 13 and 48 of the second hour. Notice that Wallace says, in the second segment I just referenced, that the first-century dating has also been attested by "others", not just the one scholar in question.

Regarding the alleged photograph of the Mark fragment posted at D.M. Murdock's site, here's a Yahoo list where Daniel Wallace and other individuals comment on it. The consensus seems to be that the photograph is unlikely to be authentic.

Ben Witherington has made some comments about multiple first-century New Testament manuscripts, not just the Mark fragment that's been discussed so much. He refers to "evidence of a first century copy of a NT text", which could be taken as referring to something other than a first-century manuscript. It could be something else that suggests the existence of such a manuscript rather than the manuscript itself. His comments are somewhat unclear, but here's what he said:

The brief lecture by Scott Carroll at GCTS Charlotte last Friday night highlighted some of the most exciting aspects of the Green Collection. It is possible that a very early copy of the Gospel of Mark in Greek, possibly the very earliest is a part of this collection. An epigrapher from Oxford has already prepared to say that it is a first century copy! While I doubt this, and various eyes will need to go over the manuscript before any firm conclusion can be drawn, even if it were from the second-third century it would still be the earliest evidence of this size (it does not include the whole Gospel, sadly it does not include Mark 16) that we have....

One interesting point made by Carroll was that there is evidence of a first century copy of a NT text in codex form, whereas various scholars thought Christians probably didn’t use this practice before the second century....

Yes apparently there is more in this mss [of Mark than there is in P45] and no I am not talking about the Mark mss iun the comment about the codex.


  1. Thanks Jason. You can feel Witherington's excitement in that article. It's a wonderful time to be a Christian.

  2. I'm a little slow on the uptake regarding this news. Is there a plain and down to earth description of what's been found/discovered and why it matters?

  3. Reportedly, a stash of New Testament manuscripts, including the following:

    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 (or possibly Hebrews)
    6. 2nd century frg. with Luke
    7. 1st century frg. with Mark

  4. Thanks, John.

    Is this a case of 'reinforcing what we already know and believe to be true'? Or is it possible that this discovery may end up revising some dates of authorship? Meaning, is it possible we'll now regard any of the gospels to be authored earlier than 60AD, etc?

  5. Hi Crude -- I think it's largely going to be a case of "reinforcing what we already know to be true", although manuscript finds of this type seem to nudge the estimates of dates earlier and earlier.

  6. At 49 minutes and 25 seconds (to 50 min. and 10 sec.) Dan Wallace quotes either Metzger or Ehrman.

    "If all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, [the patristic quotations] would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament."

    Hasn't this been proven a myth?

  7. Pinoy,

    Looks like JP Holding has looked into that myth thing:

    looks like a myth replacing a myth!

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  9. Derek, thanks for the link. Holding's distinction of version A and B makes sense. To prevent these kinds of confusions, I think we all should make more popular terms like "Apostolic Fathers", "Ante-Nicene Fathers", "Nicene Fathers" and "Post-Nicene Fathers".

    If it doesn't already exist, I'd recommend using a term like "Post-Nicene II Fathers/Post-Nicaea II Fathers/Post-2nd Nicene Fathers". Or maybe call those writers after 787 A.D. the "Church Uncles" (heh).

  10. Or terms like "Early Church Fathers", "Middle Church Fathers", and "Late Church Fathers".