Christianity, New Testament

Update: First-Century Manuscript of the Gospel of Mark


Here are a few links to folks discussing Dan Wallace’s apologetic misstep in his debate with Bart Ehrman.  My original post is here.  This experience is a good example of the difference between Biblical Studies and Christian Apologetics.

Let me first add that it would be absolutely fantastic if a fragment of a first-century manuscript of the Gospel of Mark were to be, or has been discovered.  It is not fantastic when a Christian apologist makes an empty claim as an attempt to rebut a factual statement made by a credible scholar.  Without evidence, Wallace has debunked himself instead, and now his credibility in question.

This seems to be the overall best response and approach, in my opinion, from Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica.com.

“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.”

From Euangelion Kata Markon:

“…caution is the order of the day until more scholars are able to independently examine the manuscript, though from the initial report at least it does not appear to be just a repeat of some apologetic claim such as the one that still circulates around sometimes about the discovery of Mark among the Dead Sea Scrolls”

From Mark Goodacre’s NT Blog:

“it is worth noting that Wallace remarked that the “world-class paleographer” in question had “no religious affiliation” and this does not appear to be the case with Carroll, who is advertised as an expert on, among other topics, “the Authenticity of the Bible”.”

From Jim West’s blog, Zwinglius Redivivus

“We need to see the manuscript.  The paleographers have to do their work.  The text needs to be subjected to stringent tests.  And most of all, the provenance of the manuscript has to be fully disclosed.  In these days when frauds and fakes flood the market and claims of authenticity are bantered about with ease and aplomb, everyone should be especially cautious.”:

Madonna and the Manuscript of Mark’s Gospel (Watch this!  The entire post is great)

“It is really frustrating when people spill ‘news’ of a manuscript discovery to score a point for themselves (e.g., in a debate) but then can only say, ‘Trust me. I got my info from a ‘world-class paleographer; and oh, by the way, he’s entirely unbiased because he’s not a fundamentalist.”

For a good time, read the commentators enjoying the spectacle at Evangelical Textual Criticism.  It’s hilarious.  Here’s my favorite:

“I think we can tell from this that it lacks the long ending, but has the pericope adulterae.”   *snarf*

Then Wallace takes another well deserved hit:

” I sure hope that readers understand that it’s possible that his text-critical scholarship and debating skills might not be the best that American Christians have to offer.”

2-10-11 – Dan Wallace has now updated his story.  Watch the backpedaling.

The original:

“He (Ehrman) answered the second question by saying that we really don’t have any early manuscripts. But this again is a huge overstatement. 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!”

LOL @ “huge overstatement”.  Talk about irony, eh?   Now check out the updated, backstrokin’ version.

” I mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first.”

He closes like this; apparently not quite as sure of himself as he was during the debate:

“But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection!”

Eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection?   What eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection?  We don’t have any eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

One more quick comparison and we’ll be done.  Notice the exclamation mark.

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

“if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century”

DOINK !

I wonder if Ehrman’s been sittin’ back, laughing as this explodes on the interwebs.

Advertisements

Discussion

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

  1. “I wonder if Ehrman’s been sittin’ back, laughing as this explodes on the interwebs.”

    I know. I know! Ehrman believes Christ really lived! Can you believe that? Guess why? He trusts that those forged fragments prove the dude actually existed as a flesh and blood human being!! I’m dying here folks!

    Posted by Bill Matthews | April 10, 2017, 6:35 am
  2. No one has any fragments of copies originating some time before the copies were made. That’s what “copy” means=original! Duh!! Plus, fragments discovered from the “2nd century” common era were scattered by Harry Fufnicklebottom who created created Christianity and forged the manuscripts on September 19, 1943. He tore them up and littered them throughout downtown Jerusalem on Christmas in ’44. I saw the whole thing.

    Fragments? Lol! No one wrote down nothin back in the day. Jesus was a used car salesman. A bunch of friends pulled a prank on the guy, claiming he was superman and you morons bought the whole thing. The Whole Thing!

    Posted by Bill Matthews | April 10, 2017, 6:28 am
  3. replica watches are amazing reproduction of original authentic swiss
    luxury time pieces.

    Posted by Photography | January 13, 2015, 11:57 am
  4. I have to take issue with you how you’ve represented things, XCNTRIK. First you said, “This experience is a good example of the difference between Biblical Studies and Christian Apologetics.” The implication is that I’m an apologist, not a biblical scholar–and you explicitly called me an apologist later. No, I’m not an apologist. I take offense at that term being used of me. My realm is biblical studies.

    Second, you said, “It is not fantastic when a Christian apologist makes an empty claim as an attempt to rebut a factual statement made by a credible scholar. Without evidence, Wallace has debunked himself instead, and now his credibility in question.” Really? I think I would be debunked if it was demonstrated that what I said was NOT based on good authority; that’s what debunking means–that I was definitely speaking with hollow words. But as I said in the debate, the book on this manuscript and other new finds will appear in about a year. And it’s to be published by E. J. Brill, a scholarly publisher with an exceptionally good reputation.

    You also quoted someone who said, “It is really frustrating when people spill ‘news’ of a manuscript discovery to score a point for themselves (e.g., in a debate) but then can only say, ‘Trust me. I got my info from a ‘world-class paleographer; and oh, by the way, he’s entirely unbiased because he’s not a fundamentalist.” Here’s the situation: I learned about the MS a couple of weeks before the debate. I got it from a good source. I was told not only that the paleographer was sure that it was from the first century but also that this fragment, along with the other six fragments, all confirm the general stability of the New Testament. Are you saying that it would be right for me not to mention this in the debate? I know the paleographer and consider him to be an excellent scholar. But I was also asked not to reveal his name yet, and I kept my word on that. And I explicitly added in the Q&A time that we will all have to wait to see what the evidence is for this in the book next year. Now, how is that scoring a point for myself?

    As for backpedaling, here’s what I said at Chapel Hill: “The oldest fragment of the NT is now a fragment from Mark’s Gospel that is from the first century! How accurate is the dating? Well, my source is a papyrologist who worked on this MS—a man whose reputation is unimpeachable. Many consider him to be the best papyrologist on the planet. His reputation is on the line with this dating, and he knows it. But he is certain that this MS was from the first century. This papyrus fragment—just like the other new discoveries that we are preparing for publication—strongly confirms what most scholars have already said is the original text.” A careful reader will note that I am hinging the date on the paleographer’s reputation, not mine. But since some did not see it that way, I have softened the language subsequently because I’m just the messenger, not the paleographer. I will make comments on the date of the MS when it is published, but for now–as I said in the debate–we will all have to wait and see. I really don’t think that that’s overstatement, nor did I backpedal.

    It may be enjoyable to some to poke holes at a scholar who offers information that would be relevant for biblical studies–with the caveat that the book is not yet out but will be. Others have dismissed what I’ve had to say by linking it to the fantastic claims of Carsten Peter Thiede on the identification of 7Q5 as from Mark’s Gospel or his dating of P64+67, or to claims by Young Kyu Kim that P46 was written before the reign of Domitian. These manuscripts are not what I am talking about. I have gone into print about 7Q5 and P46, and argued that the former was not from Mark and the latter’s date should still considered to be c. 200 CE. That some would think that I was resurrecting a minority position that has been soundly rejected by biblical scholars is incredible to me, especially since I published TWO articles against Thiede’s identification!

    But I understand the natural skepticism of some who are unfortunately tempted to turn their skepticism into potshots instead of taking the sober position that “We need to see the manuscript. The paleographers have to do their work. The text needs to be subjected to stringent tests. And most of all, the provenance of the manuscript has to be fully disclosed. In these days when frauds and fakes flood the market and claims of authenticity are bantered about with ease and aplomb, everyone should be especially cautious.” I agree with that assessment fully. All I can say is, “wait and see.” Is that too much to ask?

    Posted by Dan Wallace | February 13, 2012, 11:43 pm
    • Thanks for the response Dan,

      I like to keep things simple, ’cause I’m a simple-minded guy. So let’s cut the shit.

      You’re a professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. “Dallas Seminary stands unequivocally committed to the Bible as God’s inerrant, infallible, and authoritative written revelation. Members of the school’s boards and faculty subscribe to the Seminary’s doctrinal statement”, from the DTS Mission Statement @ http://www.dts.edu/about/missionstatement/

      Don’t fool yourself, Dan. You are not fooling me. You are a Christian apologist. I never stated that you did not possess scholarly credentials. I understand your frustration. I would be frustrated too had I stuck my neck out like that and gotten caught. I have greatly enjoyed all the talk that your empty claim has generated. I also enjoyed your backpedaling in the rewrite on the DTS site, retreating to a safer “probably” position. I am certainly looking forward to the response when this fragment is reviewed by the field.

      You stepped in it, now your reputation depends on this one little elusive fragment that may or may not be from the Gospel of Mark and may or may not be from the first century, a fragment which interested scholars are asking for, but have yet to see. Without evidence, it is an empty claim. It happens; live and learn.

      Let me make a quick example for you. You can try it in your next debate.
      We have the original manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew, signed by Matthew himself. My source is an anonymous papyrologist who worked on this MS—an anonymous man whose reputation is unimpeachable. Many consider him to be the best papyrologist on the planet. The reputation of this anonymous person is on the line with this dating, and he knows it, even though the poor guy has not actually made a public claim. But he is certain that this is the original manuscript. However, I can’t show you this manuscript or give you the name of this impeccable authority that can verify my claim. In other words, I really don’t have anything. You’ll just have to trust me because I’m a professor of NT studies at an evangelical Christian seminary. *cough* bullshit *cough*

      It is a damn fine argument, when you’re trying to convince another Christian who desperately wants to believe what you tell them, because you’re an “authority”.

      Why should I be concerned with you taking exception to what I wrote? That’s your problem, bro. I was just responding to your very public screw-up. For that, we thank you.

      Let me close with this from a recent post by Jim Davila @ paleojudaica.

      “… as others have already pointed out, paleographic analysis generally can’t pinpoint a date more precisely than about a fifty-year range at best. That means that if we start with the generally accepted date of composition for Mark of 70 CE, we would be hard-pressed to distinguish a late first century script from one from the early second century, especially if the sample is small. Which, of course, would be impressive enough.

      “But I maintain an open mind about the precision of the dating until the manuscript is published and numerous Greek paleographers have been able to evaluate it. Meanwhile, I am still baffled as to why “one of the world’s leading paleographers” would be happy to have his “certain” paleographic judgment made public, but would be unwilling to attach his name to it. Come on, who is he? I double dare him to come forward.”

      I bet you a quarter that your anonymous buddy is wishing that he had never said anything to you.

      Posted by Xcntrik | February 14, 2012, 3:42 am
      • XCNTRIK,
        It might be worth you reading back through what you have posted. In your original post you commented on Dan Wallace speaking about a first-century manuscript and then it becoming a “first-century fragment”. That is misleading. All the early manuscripts are fragments. So the manuscript referred to by Wallace did not “become a first-century fragment”. Those listening to the debate DW was having with Bart Ehrman, Ehrman himself and, I would suggest, anyone who knows anything at all about the early manuscripts would have understood Wallace to mean a fragment in the first place.

        Again, you claim that Wallace has a “baseless claim” to defend. This is not correct. He has been clear from the very beginning that the details on the fragment from Mark as well as the others will have to wait until the book from Brill. That is a bit frustrating, but it makes sense. When that book comes out we can all see the evidence properly.

        As things stand your two posts just come across as a bit of a rant against Wallace.

        Posted by alancossey | January 11, 2013, 3:34 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: