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.

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

  1. […] in a recent debate with Bart Ehrman is getting all kinds of cautions, skepticism, etc., from Jim West, James McGrath, Joel Watts, et al. Rightly so. Here’s what Wallace said: I mentioned […]

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  2. […] Watts, but it has apparently been getting around the Biblioblogosphere this morning (James McGrath, Jim West, and Brian […]

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  3. Steven Carr 6 Feb 2012 at 11:00 am

    See the manuscript? Don’t you know they are going to publish a book about it? What more could anybody want?

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    • Jim 6 Feb 2012 at 11:03 am

      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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  4. […] fragment of the gospel of Mark has recently caught alot of attention (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, add your link in the comments if I missed you).  First, I […]

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  5. […] An Early Copy of Mark’s Gospel? Color Me Skeptical (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintDiggLinkedInRedditStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  6. […] issued appropriate words of caution and (healthy) skepticism including, Jim Davila, James McGrath, Jim West, and most helpfully Larry Hurtado. Joel Watts issues his own cautions but also contributes […]

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  7. […] to say this all very, very suspicious. And some bloggers (Mark Goodacre, Jim Davila, James McGrath, Jim West, Joel Watts, Peter Head, Stephen Carlson, Larry Hurtado) have started to note their own suspicions. […]

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  8. […] Jim West’s blog, Zwinglius Redivivus “We need to see the manuscript.  The paleographers have to do their work.  The text needs […]

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