Finally, a Photo of the ‘Earliest Fragment of Mark'(?????)

Via our friends at ‘almost to Emmaus‘.

My gut reaction?  It looks fake.  Look how crisp the papyrus is.  The letters are excessively ‘sharp’.  If you’ve ever seen a really old manuscript they never (in my experience) look like that.  It looks like something hatched in someone’s tourist trinket workshop.

They need to test the material in a lab and they need to examine the ink.  I’d trust Yuval Goren to do it.  Until someone of his caliber says ‘yes, it is indeed ancient’ I think it’s a fraud.

UPDATE:  If this is the manuscript Wallace is talking about, it’s junk.  If it’s some fake being passed around (doubtless in hopes of selling it), it’s just plain unethical junk.

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.

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.