Hurtado on the Hullabaloo About the Purported ‘Earliest Copy of Mark’

Via the observant and wise TM Law of Oxford U–  Each point Hurtado makes is absolutely correct- ESPECIALLY the last-

  • The identification and palaeographical dating of manuscripts requires huge expertise specific to the period and texts in question.  Let’s wait and see whose judgement lies behind the claims.
  • Palaeographical dating can ever only be approximate, perhaps as narrow as 50 yrs plus or minus.  Expert palaeographers often disagree over a given item by as much as a century or more.  It’s never wise to rest much upon one judgement, and confidence will be enhanced only when various experts have been given full access to the items.
  • It is particularly difficult to make a palaeographical dating of a fragment, the smaller it is the more difficult.  For such dating requires as many characters of the alphabet as possible and as many instances of them in the copy as possible to form a good judgement about the “hand”.
  • Although it rachets up potential sales of a publication to make large claims and posit sensational inferences about items, it doesn’t help the sober scholarly work involved.  It also doesn’t actually accrue any credit or greater credibility for the items or those involved in handling them.

It’s, to me, a bit surprising that Wallace seems to be doing exactly that. Koestenberg, of course. Wallace, just a bit of a surprise.