An Early Copy of Mark’s Gospel? Color Me Skeptical

James McGrath, following a couple of others, ( Joel Watts and Brian LePort) writes

… a manuscript of the Gospel of Mark has been found which has been dated on paleographical grounds to the first century.

I’m skeptical for a couple of reasons.  First, paleographic grounds alone don’t prove anything.  Second, in spite of the wishes of some that this text is as close as we’ve ever gotten to the autograph, this manuscript, even if authentic, could just be a rubbish copy of a rubbish copy of a rubbish copy.

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.

Announcing ‘an early manuscript of Mark has been found and it might be very close to the autograph’ is inappropriate.  It’s just unfounded potentially misleading speculation.

10 thoughts on “An Early Copy of Mark’s Gospel? Color Me Skeptical

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    • to see the manuscript. to hear from the epigraphers. to know, without a doubt, where it came from. nothing less is acceptable.


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