Books and Authors, Christianity, New Testament

First-Century Manuscript of the Gospel of Mark

It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

On February 1, 2012, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, made a claim in a debate with Dr. Bart D. Ehrman that went something like this:  “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! 

Please take a moment a read the last sentence again.  Here Dr. Wallace states emphatically that a first-century manuscript of Mark’s Gospel exists.  The problem with Dr. Wallace’s claim is that he can’t seem to provide this manuscript.

“In the Q & A, Bart questioned the validity of the first-century Mark fragment.”

Wallace responded with:

 “a world-class paleographer, whose qualifications are unimpeachable, was my source.”

(I just had a flashback of the Jordon Lead Codices)

This is the type of argument that one regularly sees from Christian apologists: anonymous sources and claims of evidence, without actual evidence.

Wallace’s claim has caught the eyes of folks that dig this kind of stuff, so it will now be up to Wallace to provide this “first-century manuscript” which has now become a “first-century fragment”, that New Testament students are anxious to see..

Will Wallace provide this supposed fragment of a manuscript that can be reliably dated to the first century and that can be proved to be from GoMark?

Will Wallace try to defend a baseless claim, without evidence, perhaps hoping to sell a few books.

Will he admit his mistake and cease misleading people if the field does not accept his “evidence”?

Will this be a very important piece of the history of Christianity or will this “first-century manuscript of Mark’s Gospel” be chalked up as yet another fraud in the long, long line of Christian frauds?

It’ll be fun.




7 thoughts on “First-Century Manuscript of the Gospel of Mark

  1. Like most people who are not involved in the publication of the fragment I await its publication in a year or so but it is a concern that people appear to have pre-judged both the fragment and Wallace. You ask “Will Wallace provide …” “Will Wallace try …” “Will he admit …” but you don’t know if Wallace’s claims are baseless and you don’t know how people in the fields of biblical studies, textual criticism, papyrology, palaeography and related fields will react when the fragment is published

    If the fragment is not forthcoming or it is clearly to be dated well after the 1st century Wallace will need have much to explain. But what if is dated 1st-2nd century, or if some scholars date it 1st century while others date it 2nd century? Will this give you wriggle room to not have to retract your accusations? And what if it is clearly dated 1st century?

    As for referring to the Jordan Lead Codices – what has this got to do with anything? I don’t know of any reference by Wallace that these were evidence of anything, nor do I know of any significant Christian scholar who thought they were genuine. Is this not an attempt at guilt by association?

    Posted by Matthew Hamilton | February 9, 2012, 10:43 pm
    • Thanks for the reply, Matthew.

      Here are two simple questions that readers should be able to answer with a yes or a no.

      1; Did Wallace claim to make the following statement of fact during his debate with Ehrman? (The link is at the top of this page if one needs to check)

      ”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! “

      ”We have …. a first-century manuscript of Mark’s Gospel!“


      2. Did he say that “we may have” or “some believe” that we have a first century manuscript of Mark’s Gospel?

      I think that Jim Davila said it best:

      “At this point all we have is an extraordinary assertion, presented with no evidence and on the authority of a “world-class specialist” who, very oddly, is not named. (Wouldn’t he want his name to be associated with any announcement of such an important find?) As always with such things, I remain skeptical until I see compelling evidence, but I would be delighted to be convinced.”

      Well shucks, Matthew, it’s alright with me that the Christian apologist’s unsubstantiated claim doesn’t remind you of the Jordon Lead Codices. It’s also alright with me that you infer whatever you like. Those are your issues to deal with.

      Posted by Xcntrik | February 10, 2012, 12:00 am
  2. I have a special file in which I save your emails.

    Posted by Teri | February 7, 2012, 7:49 am


  1. Pingback: Is this the fragment of Mark’s Gospel? | timothymichaellaw - February 20, 2012

  2. Pingback: WOW! EARLIEST GOSPEL OF MARK FOUND? | American Freedom - February 19, 2012

  3. Pingback: The Oldest Manuscript of Mark? « Euangelion Kata Markon - February 16, 2012

  4. Pingback: Gospel of Mark « - February 10, 2012

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