First-Century Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Found!?

At my debate with Bart Ehrman (1 Feb 2012, held at UNC Chapel Hill) over whether we can recover the wording of the New Testament autographs, I made the announcement that a probable first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel had been recently discovered. I noted that a world-class paleographer had dated this manuscript and that he was pretty darn sure that it belonged to the first century. All the details will be coming out in a multi-author book published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013. Several newspapers and magazines have covered the story already. John Farrell, writing for Forbes, wrote a brief article on it, followed up by an update (now incorporated with the first article). He is working on a third article that will discuss new technology that may help us to be more precise in our dating of the manuscript. In particular, there is a newly developed carbon-14 dating method that does not destroy the object it is dating. That’s always a good thing when it comes to ancient manuscripts! The inventor is Professor Marvin Rowe of Texas A & M. His assistant, Dr. Karen Steelman, wrote her dissertation on this new procedure. I met with both of them recently and discussed the possibilities of using this technology for dating ancient manuscripts.

You can see the Forbes article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2012/02/27/fragments-of-marks-gospel-may-date-to-1st-century/. Stay tuned for follow-ups! In the meantime, the best attitude for all to have is “wait and see.” Über-exuberance or dismissive skepticism are both unwarranted responses based on the information supplied so far. But when the fragment is published along with six other early New Testament papyri (all from around the second century), the scholarly vetting will do its due diligence. It should be fun!

256 thoughts on “First-Century Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Found!?

  1. Pingback: First-Century Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Found!? « Daniel B. Wallace | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

  2. Amateur Paleographer

    Dr. Wallace,

    Could you comment on the photo of “Markan manuscript” that someone claimed that it was the one you’re referring to during your debate with Ehrman?

    See:
    http://nearemmaus.com/2012/02/20/the-earliest-markan-manuscript/

    In my opinion, this “Markan manuscript” is a practical joke made by someone who thinks that Christians are gullible who would believe anything. Hence, the practical joke. It originated from someone with the forum username “GodAlmighty.” This person claims that his friend posted the photo on Facebook. Quote:

    “A Facebook friend of mine posted a pic. He knows his Koine pretty well and he says it’s definitely from Mark 5:15-18. (GodAlmighty)

    Like

  3. christianface

    I just heard about this from a friend of mine and so I’ve started researching it. I see many people on other blogs questioning who this “world-class paleographer” is….and casting skepticism because of the person’s name not being cited. Also questioned is where the fragment was found. I’m happy to wait for the book for all the details to surface, but certainly a discovery of this magnitude would be well served by citing at least the basics…who discovered it, where it was discovered, and who dated it with such certainty. Otherwise, your silence casts more doubt on it. So, any more basic info you care to share on this?

    Like

    1. As I said in the blogpost, dismissive skepticism is uncalled for. If people choose to act that way I can’t stop them. Trying to put pressure on me to reveal a name won’t work with me either. After all, this is not like the supposed Ark of the Covenant in some Ethiopian church where all they say is, “Trust us–it’s here!” If this papyrus would never get vetted by the scholarly community, only then would it (and I) be subject to deserved ridicule.

      Like

      1. Jouras

        I don’t get it. Why the mystery?

        Just state what your facts are.

        Simple.

        Unless, of course, you are up to something.

        Like

    1. christianface

      Daniel, I think what we’re all wondering is why you would take the time to answer “Joiras, that’s…” instead of something like “the paleographer was xyz”. Or it was found at abc”. When asked simple questions that are met with avoiding answers, it creates doubt and skepticism. It also seems highly unorthodox to announce such a find during a debate. What are you up to? Possibly trying to create future demand for a book you plan to sell? That would make sense. And if that is the reason, just say so. “hey guys, i’m going to sell a book…buy the book for the story”. Maybe you are under contract to not release the facts? Say so. Maybe you think answering one question will simply lead to another? Say so. I’m trying to take a wider view:-).

      I’m a fellow Christian, and i would love for this to be true. However, since you wont state even the basic facts, it forces those of us out here to speculate “a narrow view” of things. You could really help us out here by giving us THE view that is correct, instead of deflecting and avoiding the questions…that you caused by making the announcement.

      Like

      1. Christianface, no, I disagree. This is how scholarship is often done: an announcement comes ahead of time, but the complete work and all the details must await the fully vetted scholarly tome. If you choose to take the narrow view of things, that’s your business. But as I have said repeatedly, in interview after interview, the proper attitude for those on the outside of this work needs to be ‘wait and see.’ Not too skeptical, not too gullible.

        Like

  4. Russ

    Dr. Wallace,

    What are your thoughts on the manuscripts found by Jose O’ Callahan years back? Supposedly, they had strong reason to believe them to be from the first century (Passages in Mark, I believe).There are some,such as Geisler, that still currently point to these as possibly possessing strong value (apologetically and historically) yet, if so persuasive, why does one really never hear anything concerning them except from a select few apologists?

    (Yes, I am the same one that also asked your stance on Anglicanism/joining their ranks a week or so back)

    Blessings

    Like

    1. Dr. Wallace I understand how frustrating it is to debate with Skeptics, I believe I heard you say the Manuscript would be revealed in Feb 2013. Is this true? Is it about to be revealed?

      Like

  5. Mrs. Joe C.

    Dr, Wallace,

    Can you tell me about the location where the manuscript was found?

    According to what I have read, this fragment proved that the Bible text is pretty accurate. Am I correct?

    Mrs. Joe C.

    Like

  6. Russ, I believe you are referring to 7Q5, the postage-stamp sized Greek fragment that made a huge sensation when O’Callaghan in 1971 (ten years after it was published) claimed that it was from Mark 6. This was later followed by Carsten Peter Thiede who argued the same. This has been debunked time and time again by NT scholars. I wrote a couple of articles on it myself: “7Q5: The Earliest NT Papyrus?” Westminster Theological Journal 56 (1994) 173–80; “A Review of the Earliest Gospel Manuscript? by Carsten Peter Thiede,” Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (1994) 350–54. It’s not from Mark, but is most likely identified with 1 Enoch, if memory serves.

    Like

  7. Pastor Chad

    VERY excited to read this book. Mr. Wallace is absolutely correct. The scholars must have their time to pour over all the data. To reveal too much before the proper time leaves everyone with egg on their face if it proves false. Once the data is published, other scholars will have their chance to weigh in. I personally hope it all comes out authentic. Keep up the good work.

    Like

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  9. Paul Lindquist

    Mr. Wallace,
    How will the “average joe” student of the Bible like myself get notified when the findings are published? Do you have an email list? Thanks much, Paul from Ft. Collins, CO

    Like

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  11. jacck

    i wanna be sure about the gospile of mark ending is it added or no as a result with some information.,,,,,,, please send it to my email for sake of jesus

    Like

  12. Joe Thomas

    I understand that scholars need time to publish. I get that. I just wish it would be a bit faster. I know Dr Wallace is faster than the DSS writers, some of whom have taken decades. Please, Hurry up! I want to read about this!

    Also to Jacck – Dr Wallace is publishing about a fragment of Mark, not a complete gospel. It is very unlikely his work will have any bearing whatsoever to the discussion regarding the ending of Mark 16. Nearly everyone agrees that the passage after verse 8 was added. Liberal scholars believe it does NOT reflect the original ending, conservative scholars believe it is very close to the original ending. Clearly, the gospel did NOT end with verse 8. That would make no sense whatsoever.

    Like

    1. sp1ke

      Actually Joe, it would make sense, if Mark is trying to dramatize the Resurrection.
      If he is trying to get people’s attention and get them to start talking about it. The ending accomplishes an important literary goal: Make the reader curious. Raise questions.
      The key question is who was Mark’s audience and what was he trying to tell them.
      In this context we might want to ask what debates were going on within his audience.
      If Mark’s audience already accepted the Resurrection, then Mark would not need to state what to them was the obvious ending. Could emphasizing the empty tomb the way he did, be an effort to underscore the resurrection?
      The only way it “would make no sense whatsoever” is by insisting that their has to be an ending of some kind. I’m not sure why that would need to be so.

      Like

      1. Joe Thomas

        Spike, I can’t imagine that Mark was writing to believers only. Nearly everyone agrees it was the first gospel, and the first verse states the purpose – Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I find it inconceivable that the audience did not include unbelievers.

        He is setting out to tell the story of the Son of God. 5 times Mark’s gospel says Jesus will rise from the dead (8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:34, & 14:28) and in 16:6 it states he HAS risen. I respectfully completely disagree that Mark would have any reason to leave the resurrection out of the narrative. 16:8 as a final verse is completely incongruous with the theme of the entire book.

        Most believing scholars agree there was some ending originally (unbelievers don’t have that problem). But at the end of the day, we probably will never know for sure.

        thanks for the dialog.
        JT

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  14. MJ

    Dr. Wallace,

    Thank you for all your work. It has been a year and I have been checking the internet frequently. Any updates on the the published work coming out this year?

    MJ

    Like

  15. Jeremy

    Have there been any updates on this? I know you said last year in the debate that you were sworn to secrecy, but is there a place you can point us to for further info? Thanks!

    Like

      1. William Butler

        Daniel, can you at least tell us if the fragment really does exist? There has been some speculating that you were mistaken about this announcement.

        Like

      2. Devin

        It will be funny to see who’s skeptical of people like Bill and Joe when the information is finally released. I guess after nearly 2000 years, a couple of months of waiting is just rough, huh? Dr. Wallace, we support you and your team’s work, due diligence, and ethics. Keep up the good work.

        Like

      3. Joe Thomas

        Devin, I don’t doubt the authenticity of Mark’s gospel. It is already well-attested. I certainly hope we have an earlier fragment that could be dated to the first century.

        My skepticism is about this particular fragment. There have been plenty of claims over the years that turned out to not be legitimate. The legitimacy of the NT documents is more than well attested, but an earlier copy would be great. If the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls is a model, we might not hear about this fragment of Mark for decades.

        As for non-believers, we have a fragment of John’s gospel dating to approximately AD 130, only a few decades after it was written, and still many atheists claim ridiculous things like the NT was written in the 4th century and edited by Constantine, and that Jesus did not even exist. An older copy of Mark won’t change their minds.

        But it would mean a lot to biblical scholars and students like those of us commenting here.

        Please… hurry up! We really want to examine the evidence you have! I am getting old! I’m certain that Herschel Shanks will give you some prime space in his magazine to get the word out. Thanks!

        Like

      4. Jeremy

        Thank you Dr. Wallace. I understand that you’re sworn to secrecy and that you “signed a non-disclosure agreement”. But obviously there are some things that you were given permission to disclose:

        (1) A fragment of Mark was discovered.
        (2) It is believed to be from the first century.
        (3) The details about this specific fragment will be coming out in a book published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013.

        So, since it has been over a year, can you at least verify that the above mentioned things that you were given permission to disclose are still accurate (especially #3)? Just curious.

        Thanks for everything you do!

        Like

  16. Joe Thomas

    Dr Wallace, I mean no disrespect, by the way. Just a pointy stick to encourage you to hurry up and publish. Again, thanks.

    Like

  17. david

    In regards to the alternate endings of Mark and early proof for the long ending:

    Doesn’t iraneus quote mark 16:19 in his book, “against heresies”? I am baffled how often this is overlooked, especially because Iraneus says “at the end of Mark’s Gospel” and then quotes it in the year 177.

    Therefore I believe we already have enough proof for the long ending of Mark that is in our Bibles today.

    Like

    1. Joe Thomas

      David, thanks for sharing that. I just read chapter 10 of against heresies (book 3) and you are correct – he does quote mark 16:19. I was not aware of that – thanks for sharing that. I have believed that the long ending was probably the original ending, or at least a close proximity to the original ending, having come from a different line of copies. Obviously the original had an ending beyond verse 8 – the only question in my mind is what did it say. Iranaeus (AD177) precedes vaticanus and sinaiticus.

      To me, one of the best evidences for the NT documents is the fact that you can reconstruct about 99% of the NT from quotations from ante-nicene writings.

      thanks.

      Like

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  19. Nigel

    Hi Daniel, Can you comment on ending of Mark and what David just said about Iraneus. And If translators always say the Earliest And Most Reliable Manuscripts do not contain this ending,why do they include it in our modern bible translations like niv ,nasv?

    Thank you for your ministry,you really help us not look stupid for being a christian.

    Like

    1. Most scholars believe that Mark 16.9-20 was added later. But virtually all acknowledge that it would have been added in the second century, perhaps even early in the second century. When Eusebius in the early fourth century says that he knows of very few MSS that have the longer ending, and Jerome at the end of the fourth century claims that he knows of almost no Greek MSS that have it, their testimony must be taken very seriously. Eusebius had at his disposal the MSS that Origen used a century earlier, as well as numerous others because of being commissioned by Constantine to produce fifty Bibles for the churches. And Jerome had the backing and funding of Rome. Thus, these two scholars represent the best available evidence in the east and the west over the range of the whole fourth century, yet what was the majority in their day has become a very small minority today.

      The reason that these verses show up in our Bibles is due to a tradition of timidity. But some Bibles mark them out to show that they are most likely not authentic. The NIV 2011 puts the words in italics. The NET puts them in brackets, with a very large footnote, and uses smaller font for 16.9-20. Still, much more needs to be done to reflect honestly where scholars are concerning these verses.

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  24. Nick Laarakkers

    Dear Mr Wallace, I read this blog yesterday and I am curious which text-type the Mark fragment represents? Does it confirm the scholary work of the past two centuries concerning the recreation of the Critical Text, or does it represent a Byzantine textual reading, or maybe a totally new textual type? Kind regards, Nick Laarakkers, student of theology, the Netherlands.

    Like

    1. Nick Laarakkers

      Dear David,

      I don’t think we will know very soon whether the fragment is from the first century A.D., it will probably take several decades. (Of course the preliminary results will be published this year, or maybe next year.) Dozens of scholars have to exam the fragment, etc. I do think it is possible that the fragment is from the first century A.D., since the Gospel of Mark was written somewhere in the first century (I even believe a quite early date is possible for [proto-]Mark).

      Like

  25. João Dias

    Dear Dr. Wallace

    In your debate with Dr. Ehrman (1 Feb. 2012) you announced that a frament of Mark from the first century had been found, and you said that it would be revealed within about a year. It’s past almost two years, and tha manuscript hasn’t been revealed yet. Will it be revealed anytime soon, or will it be revealed at all?
    Thank you very much.

    Like

      1. D. Thomas

        Under what circumstance would an oath of secrecy regarding an important biblical discovery be of benefit to the scholarly and religious communities? What sort of benefit would accrue from such an oath?

        It’s been almost two years since you announced this “discovery.” At what point does the shelf life of an unsubstantiated claim of this kind expire and begin smelling up the room? At what point is the claimant (yourself, in this case) properly subject to “deserved ridicule”?

        Like

      2. To D Thomas – These scholars make their living publishing. if they get “scooped” they lose money. It stinks that it works this way. We had to wait for decades for many of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the same reason.

        Scholars need to be responsible and publish quickly (at least as quickly as possible). 2 years seems like way too long to me. Especially for a claim this important. A first century Mark MSS, if true, would be huge.

        Like

  26. Darrell

    These sort of discoveries take time for publication. Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long as some of the DSS. In April of this year I was attending a Green Collection event and was delighted to see their (yet to be published) 2nd century fragment of 1 Corinthians 8:10-9:3 and 10:1-6. While photography was prohibited, I was able to easily transcribe the letters on the side visible within the display case (10:1-6). I have since learned that Mike Holmes was assigned to study this fragment back in 2011. There still has been no publication of this fragment and the INTF has not issued it a GA number. From what I transcribed, I can see no textual value to what was found in the 10:1-6 side of the fragment. So unless there is something on the reverse side of great significance, it remains to just guess why it takes so long to publish this fragment. I say all this to point out that if this small 2nd century Corinthians fragment has languished, how much more a 1st century Mark fragment.

    Like

  27. David

    “All the details will be coming out in a multi-author book published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013.”

    Has such a book been released? Was this an uninformed statement? 2013 ends in less than two months.

    Like

  28. Darrell

    David, a search of Brill’s website shows nothing regarding a new book on these discoveries for upcoming releases, either in late 2013 or early 2014.

    In all likelihood there has been a delay. These things can be painfully slow to roll out.

    Like

  29. Guess what? Nobody can see this manuscript.

    It was useful for a debate with Ehrman, and I’m sure other people will forget that these brave words by Wallace were never backed up with facts.

    But I won’t forget.

    Like

    1. Steven, it often takes a Loooonnnng time for publication. It was DECADES for many of the dead sea scrolls. This is annoying, but not unusual.

      It may or may not turn out to be a genuine 1st century artifact. But a delay in publication does not mean it does not exist. Remember, these guys make their living via publication, so if they let out photos prior to publication, they lose their exclusivity and therefore a lot of ability to sell books.

      also, Wallace is not the person who is doing the writing. He was reporting that another source claims to have a first century MSS. So chill, dude.

      Like

  30. Darrell

    If I recall correctly, the whole thing with this Mark 1st century fragment started with a social media post by Scott Carroll, formerly a scholar with the Green Collection. This led many to believe that the fragment was associated with the Green Collection. But there has been no confirmation that the Green Collection has the fragment. I am actually encouraged by the fact that Dr. Wallace continues to confirm that he cannot talk about it, as this is further confirmation that it does exist. If he did not know whether or not it existed, he would say so. There would be no point in saying he committed himself to secrecy and therefore cannot talk about it.

    Like

  31. D. Thomas

    Prof. Wallace is certainly fortunate to have so many avid supporters willing to make excuses for him. My questions seen worthy of an answer by Prof. Wallace himself. Until those answers are forthcoming, it’s fair to assume one of the following: 1) the fragment he referred to does not exist, 2) it exists but is of doubtful authenticity and therefore of little significance. Regardless, in the absence of full disclosure, it appears that DW has been sold a bill of goods and is stalling in hopes that it will “go away,” and the identity of the perpetrator will remain secret.

    Like

    1. Dude, he is not the one with the fragment, and he is not the one publishing it. He reported that SOMEONE ELSE claimed to have the fragment, was doing the research, and was going to publish it.

      He has NO CONTROL over when it will be published, and he has no obligation to answer you. If he had said that HE had a first century Mark fragment, then you would have a point.

      Your issue is not with Wallace but with the person who made the claim to Wallace (unless Wallace made the whole thing up, which would make no sense at all. To what end?) Perhaps the guy who told Wallace he had the fragment was wrong, lying or exaggerating. Unless Prof Wallace got to examine it himself, he has no idea of its authenticity.

      it may turn out that upon peer review, the fragment won’t be first century. But just like the DSS, it seems that we will have to wait. That stinks. But we have no choice.

      I am not a supporter of Wallace – I don’t know him from Adam (or Mark). But the attacks on him are not warranted. I hope this turns out to be a real first century manuscript. But it will probably take years to know. Even once the secret scholar publishes, it may take years for others to examine his claims and make rebuttal claims. Thus is the frustrating field of ancient texts.

      Like

      1. D. Thomas

        Joe wrote: “Perhaps the guy who told Wallace he had the fragment was wrong, lying or exaggerating. Unless Prof Wallace got to examine it himself, he has no idea of its authenticity.”

        If indeed Daniel Wallace had “no idea” of the item’s authenticity, he exercised very poor judgment when he cited it in a public debate. As a scholar, he has an ethical obligation to exercise due diligence to ensure he is not misleading the scholarly and religious communities.

        If Dr. Wallace learns that he was basing his statements on false or questionable information, he has an responsibility to make a public retraction and to apologize to Dr. Ehrman.

        (A comparable situation would be the recent 60 Minute report on Benghazi. When 60 Minutes realized their informant had misled them, they retracted the report and apologized to the public. Having not done so would have been a violation of journalistic ethics and further jeopardized the credibility of 60 Minutes and its correspondent, Lara Logan, as well as that of others responsible for vetting the report.)

        It’s specious to compare the massive DSS find with what has been described as a small fragment of Mark. Not only did DSS consist of a huge amount of material, many factors made it extremely difficult to simply organize, let alone publish, the scrolls.

        You have a rather strange notion of how peer review works. Obviously, peer review is impossible if the artifact and the particulars of its provenance are not shared with the scholarly community.

        At this point, Dr. Wallace should either reassure the community that he feels confident that the discovery is authentic, or, if he has misgivings, he should admit that he spoke prematurely and apologize to Dr. Ehrman for having done so.

        By the way, Joe, I’m well beyond the “dude” demographic and would appreciate being called “Thomas” or “Tom.” Thanks.

        Like

      2. Tom, I apologize for calling you “dude.” Just trying to be friendly.

        I don’t know who his source is, and I also think you and I are not going to agree here. You make some good points, but we have a difference of opinion here. I don’t think the onus is on Wallace, but on the owner of the fragment.

        As you know, the DSS were not all assigned to one scholar. Many scholars had only a small manuscript and still took years, sometimes decades to publish.

        Look, I am not defending the supposed scholar. Maybe it is real, maybe not. But Wallace apparently has enough confidence in the person to say he claimed to have a first c fragment of Mark. Wallace can’t make him publish, and he can’t bring out the fragment that he doesn’t possess.

        As for Ehrman, he is one of the most biased “Scholars” I have run across in my 35 years of apologetics study. I don’t find him to be a particularly credible scholar. Since I know virtually nothing of Wallace, I can’t defend him. He might be brilliant, or a complete hack. I just don’t know.

        I understand that there can’t be any peer review until the MSS is made available. But most scholars won’t do that until AFTER they publish. Like everything else, it is unfortunately all about the money to be made.

        anyway, perhaps one day we’ll get to see this supposed artifact and have a more fruitful discussion. Thanks for some interesting discussion in the meantime.

        Like

      3. Nick Laarakkers

        Ehrman is a very good scholar in the field of textual criticism, probably one of the best. He is quoted a lot in Dutch scholary books, although I think that he is not a particularly “neutral scholar”. But I often ask myself the question: are there any neutral theologians/textual scholars etc.?

        Like

      4. Joe Thomas

        Nick, you are correct. We’re all biased, myself included, to some degree. I have found Dr Ehrman’s bias, however, to color his view of the evidence more than necessary for good scholarship.

        J.Green – yes, it was Wallace who made the claim. Yes, Thomas, Wallace needs to own his words. Yes, if he made the statement, and he knows the fragment to be fake or not first century, then he would be a liar.

        The fragment may be 100% legit, and he knows it. BUT – he does not have the right to usurp the publication rights of the (future) author of the paper. He can’t publish a photo of the fragment, and he can’t leak the paper. He doesn’t possess the fragment. All he said was “there is a guy I know who purports to have a first century fragment of Mark, and I am sworn to secrecy until he publishes as to giving you an more details.”

        Tom, why assume it is a false claim? At this point it is an unsubstantiated claim. there’s a difference. and I agree – this guy seems to have put Prof Wallace in a bad spot. But then again, it is not his fault Wallace leaked the info – unless he asked him to – which is not a bad marketing technique, but is not a very good scholarly practice, in my opinion. Since we are all talking about it, it has generated interest. Maybe that was their goal the whole time. If so (and I am NOT saying it was) then I would tend to agree with you guys.

        thanks for the input guys.
        JT

        Thomas – Most scholars won’t release the source materials and/or their work in progress until they are ready to publish. These guys have books to sell, etc. Forgive me for writing incoherently. Do you remember that Biblical Archaeology Review (and editor Hershel Shanks) was sued for a LOT of money for publishing photos of DSS manuscripts. By whom? By the guy tasked with publishing them. Guess who won? the plaintiff.

        I suppose you guys think Wallace should not have spoken until the author published. Perhaps. Certainly if he had no more knowledge than rumor, you would be correct. But why assume all he has is a rumor?

        What do you want Wallace to do? Hold the guy at gunpoint until he publishes? I think some of the commenters here (who I am assuming do not want to ascribe an early date to Mark) want Wallace to say “I give up. Mark is a second century document. Never mind.”

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      5. Nick Laarakkers

        D. Thomas – I appreciate Dr. Ehrman’s contributions on the field of textual criticism, for example his excellent studies on the corruption of scripture, but I don’t always agree with his interpretation of the evidence, which is sometimes to speculative to my taste.

        Like

      6. D. Thomas

        joe wrote: ” I don’t think the onus is on Wallace, but on the owner of the fragment.”

        Wallace may not be the owner of the fragment, but he IS the owner of HIS OWN WORDS!

        So the onus was not on 60 Minutes? Are you saying they had no obligation to fact-check their story? The fact that they apologized and retracted the story tells it all.

        Scholarly ethical standards should be at least as rigorous as the media’s. Wallace repeated a rumor – for all we know, it may be a complete fabrication – as fact. He should either stand by his statement (and stop with the “sworn to secrecy” sham) or apologize for making claims he is unable to support with facts.

        (One wonders what sort of person would leave Wallace in such an awkward and embarrassing position for nearly two years.)

        joe wrote: “I understand that there can’t be any peer review until the MSS is made available. But most scholars won’t do that until AFTER they publish. Like everything else, it is unfortunately all about the money to be made.”

        Eh? This statement lacks coherence and substance. Most scholars won’t do WHAT until after they publish? How do you know this is “all about the money to be made”? Do you have inside information that Wallace is involved in a financially-motivated conspiracy to withhold historically significant information? Gosh, this is going from bad to worse!

        Your feelings about Bart Ehrman are irrelevant. It was not Ehrman who made what appears to be a false claim. It is Wallace, not Ehrman, who owes the scholarly/religious community either full disclosure or an apology.

        Like

      7. J.GREEN

        Joe it was Dr.Wallace who made the claim publicly in a debate.
        If he has no idea of it’s authenticity he should not have made the claim in a debate.
        That is a misdirection ,in some circles called lying.

        Like

  32. D. Thomas

    Joe, you asked what do I want Wallace to do. I believe I’ve made it clear what steps I think he is ethically bound to take. For starters, he should answer the questions I asked in my initial post. An academic setting is supposed to foster free and open exchange of information. In an academic environment, an “oath of secrecy” is a highly dubious proposition that raises questions of propriety. It demands an explanation.

    And, as I said, if Dr. Wallace still believes a) the fragment exists, b) is authentic, and c) has been authoritatively dated to the first century, he should reaffirm his convictions regarding those points of fact. If he has had misgivings since the debate, he should admit that he used poor judgment in speaking prematurely. In the latter case, he also owes Dr. Ehrman an apology.

    Given that Dr. Wallace used “insider” information to gain advantage in a pubic debate setting, that’s not really asking much. Under those circumstances, many would say that by using the information, he has obligated himself to fully disclose his sources and everything else he knows about the alleged discovery.

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  33. So 2013 came and went. If the dating had already been made when you made this public nearly two years ago, why on earth can’t something this important get published in a timely matter? Has it been vetted by peer review and found wanting? Why the need to be sworn to secrecy for something such as this that calls for open academic transparency?

    Like

    1. Joe Thomas

      Eric, I agree with your sentiment. 2 years is too long to wait for publishing after an announcement of that magnitude.

      However, this is very common in the archaeological community. It took some scholars DECADES to publish their parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In this circle, 2 years is not a really long time.

      My opinion is – if you are not close to being ready to publish your findings – shut up! Keep quiet until you are close to publishing. Of course, the anticipation will increase sales of the author’s book, which is the point, right?

      If Wallace spoke without the author’s permission, then shame on Wallace. If he spoke with the (so far unknown) author’s permission, then shame on the author.

      I will not be surprised if it is 2 more years before we hear anything.

      Like

  34. Steven Carr

    People can relax.

    Brill have indeed released a book on the status of New Testament manuscripts.

    The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, Second Edition, eds. B. D. Ehrman & M. W. Holmes (Leiden: Brill, 2013)

    Daniel Wallace promised us a book by Brill about the status of the text.

    It has appeared.

    O ye of little faith!

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    1. Nick Laarakkers

      At the website of Brill it is stated that the book was published in 2012 (it’s rather expensive to my taste). Does anybody actually read the book? There is no essay included concerning the first century fragment of Mark. Wallace seems to have written about the Majority Text. It contains however (as it seems) some information about P.Oxy. 76.5073, an amulet with the words of Mark 1:1-2 (without the “Son of God” phrase), but this amulet is from the late third or early fourth century.

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      1. Nick Laarakkers

        That was not the meaning of my reply, only that the 1st century Markan fragment isn’t in the book (or to say: it is not mentioned in the reviews of the book on the internet. One would think that such a discovery as the 1st century fragment, should be mentioned in the reviews?) So the fragment is probably not mentioned in the book, which was ready to be published back in 2012. Maybe it will be mentioned in a 3rd edition.

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      2. D. Thomas

        And maybe it won’t.

        I look forward to Dr. Wallace’s explanation for the omission. The ethical aspect looms larger as he continues to duck his obligation to make a full disclosure regarding his association with the fragment and with those who claimed to have discovered it.

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    1. Nick Laarakkers

      So it’s actually disputed that P52 is from the early second century, it could be younger. Dear Darrell, how old is P. Ryl. 463? Is it from the second century? Is it older than P52? I have read some stuff about the Green Collection and Dr Carroll. He is the guy that tries to extract texts from paper mummy masks. If there is a first century old Markan fragment, it is likely to be part of the Green collection.

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  35. D. Thomas

    In the absence of a shred of evidence to substantiate Dr. Wallace’s statement, and in light of his refusal to elucidate further on it, I’ve reached the tentative conclusion that the fragment story is a hoax.

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  36. Darrell

    Nick, I would have to go back and review the back and forth on this, but I think the Green Collection denied possessing the Mark fragment. If this is true, then there appear to be two questions, 1) who has the Mark fragment? and 2) what was the meaning of the Carroll tweet that p52 was about to be eclipsed by an older fragment? I suppose another possibility is that Carroll’s tweet was about the Mark fragment, but it was something he was working on outside of his work done for the Green Collection.

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    1. joe thomas

      Darrell I would love to see your transcription of the 1 cor fragment (what is the passage? has an estimated date been established besides “2nd c”?) joespamjoe@yahoo. I understand publication takes time (just look at the decades it tooks for the DSS) – BUT piecing together the DSS was a long and laborius process. How long does it take to publish one fragment? Also, I couldn’t find any evidence that the Green collection possesses this. thanks. Joe

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    1. Nick Laarakkers

      Thank you. I read the article. Although I am not an expert on apocryphal gospels, it’s always interestingly to see that Christianity in it’s beginning was not a heterogenous religion as was thought in the old days. You had the “orthodox” group (probably the largest group with the four oldest, canonical, gospels, attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the gnostic group with there gospels of Thomas, Mary and Judas etc., the Jewish Christian group, with there gospels of the Ebionites, Nazarenes, Hebrews, the Aramaic/Hebrew Matthew, the Clementine literature, partially preserved in the works of the Church Fathers and the Marcionites with there altered gospel of Luke and some epistles of St. Paul. And of course al these groups had there own “oral tradition”, preserving words of Jesus (the Agrapha – I actually wrote a small book about the Agrapha back in 2010) and stories about the apostles.

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  37. Beau Quilter

    Dr. Wallace?

    Any word on your debate claim of a first century Mark manuscript? Don’t you think you owe Bart Ehrman an apology? Even if a manuscript turns up at this point, how appropriate was it to introduce “evidence” into a debate that has failed to be substantiated over two years later?

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  38. D. Thomas

    Since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, it’s been common knowledge that the second century produced many non-canonical, mostly gnostic gospels and letters. But what’s that got to do with the mysterious 1st century fragment of Mark that Dr. Wallace cited during his debate with Bart Ehrman more than two years ago?

    According to DW, the alleged fragment was scheduled to be published by Brill in 2013. That didn’t happen. In the interim, he’s been stalling for time, telling us that he’s taken an oath of silence – an oath that he apparently prioritizes over his collegial obligations to the academic community.

    This red herring’s shelf life has long since expired, and the odor of scandal is beginning to sear the nostrils.

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  39. Darrell

    These new discoveries can be painfully slow to roll out and publish. Like I said above, textual scholar Mike Holmes was able to study the Green Collection’s 1st Corinthians fragment dated possibly to the 2nd century. This was three years ago. This fragment has also not been published. I was able to see this same fragment at a Green Collection event and I transcribed the side of it visible in the display case. There was nothing of textual value on the visible side. But a portion of this fragment covers a verse that is lacunose in p46, meaning this fragment preserves the oldest witness to a portion of 1 Corinthians. But it has languished now for three years. It has not been published, and has not been issued a GA number. Now I realize that Mike Holmes didn’t use this fragment in a debate, but I think at this point Dr. Wallace should be given the benefit of the doubt. It is very reasonable to conclude that normal delays have slowed the process of getting this fragment published. I would be glad to send to any of you my transcription of this Corinthians fragment, if your thirst for something new must be satisfied.

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    1. Beau Quilter

      Sure, we could give Dr. Wallace the benefit of the doubt … but there’s no reason to give his apologetic “evidence” the benefit of the doubt.

      Like

  40. I am extremely hesitant to post this and no one here knows me from Adam, but.I’ve been following this for a few months now. The other day I accidently came across another party who is familiar with the situation and verified Dr. Wallace’s statements. I know this seems like little information from just another poster who has no reputation. However, when all this plays out, Dr. Wallace’s good reputation will be intact.

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    1. Steven Carr

      I see.

      So an unknown person verified Wallace’s statement that a book on this manuscript would be published bu Brill in 2013.

      How?

      Like

      1. I’m sorry, I should have been more specific about which parts this other person verified. It was simply the existence of the fragment and it’s potential early date, nothing to do with it’s eventual publication.

        Of course, you are getting this third hand. Which is why I was very reluctant to post in the first place.

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      2. D. Thomas

        Why aren’t you revealing your source? Are you also “sworn to secrecy”? What harm would be done by revealing the specifics of this discovery?

        Two years ago, almost to the day, Dr. Wallace wrote: “If this papyrus would never get vetted by the scholarly community, only then would it (and I) be subject to deserved ridicule.”

        NEVER? When might that be? Ten years? Twenty? When do we reach the point when Dr. Wallace’s statement refusal to support his words with facts becomes the subject of well-deserved ridicule?

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  41. I was not sworn, but I was asked.

    I see now that I should have stayed out of this discussion. My only purpose was to give some reassurance as to a few particulars, hoping that would invoke more patience.

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  42. D. Thomas

    Secrecy about evidence is out of place in most academic settings, but apparently not in this one. The lack of concern about unfettered exchange of information is very revealing about the standards of collegiality and intellectual integrity that prevail in Christian colleges – they seem more like pharmaceutical companies than institutions of learning.

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  43. Darrell

    snelldl, your comments confirm what I suspected. This is why I tried to appeal for patience by referencing the Green Collection fragment from 1 Corinthians. This could be as early as a 2nd century fragment. As potentially valuable as this Corinthians fragment might be, it would be nowhere near as valuable as a 1st century Mark fragment, and yet this Corinthians fragment has languished since 2011 when Mike Holmes examined it.

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    1. Beau Quilter

      Nothing is being hidden in secrecy from your Green collection example. You know what has been studied so far and can even see it on display. No one has used it as “evidence” in a public debate against an academic colleague. A poor analogy to what Dr. Wallace has done.

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    2. Joe Thomas

      Beau, your comment is a valid one. To make a statement as extreme as “we have a first century fragment of Mark” when there is no timetable for it being published and nobody else has seen it is questionable from an ethics standpoint. I think it is fair to say that Prof Wallace probably should not have mentioned it.

      the other commenters who are saying “see, they are just liars” are NOT adding value to the discussion. Anyone who follows archaeology and those who study ancient texts knows that publication is often glacially slow. Many of the DSS took decades to publish. All of us would love to know the following:

      1. Does the Green collection really have the fragment?
      2. Has anyone dated it?
      3. When will it be published?
      4. has there been any peer review?
      5. Can we see a photo? (ok, I KNOW that won’t happen until it is published, because there is money to be made in publishing a book on the find, but hey, we can hope…)

      JT

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  44. Darrell

    Beau, I agree its not an exact analogy, but the question core to this discussion is the timetable for the publication of the Mark fragment. My point of comparison to the Green Collection Corinthians fragment was only on the fact that it has not yet been published either, and in reality is probably not as valuable as the Mark fragment.

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    1. Beau Quilter

      The real question here is whether it is academically ethical or appropriate to make extreme claims about a piece of evidence such as this purported 1st century Mark fragment (especially in the context of a public debate point) years before one is even willing to reveal one’s sources, much less publish actual findings.

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    1. Beau Quilter

      Apparently, a complete amateur evangelical apologist, Josh McDowell is claiming that he is working on this Mark fragment. He is joking about his lack of professional care in unwrapping the fragments from a mummy, using bare hands and risking tears. He then carelessly tosses out early dates for a variety of fragments with no methodology whatsoever.

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      1. Darrell

        It sounds like Scott Carroll might be the scholar McDowell refers to, and no doubt McDowell didn’t have anything to do with the dating. But as I reviewed the story, I just wanted to shout “drop what you are doing and step away from the artifacts!”

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      2. Nick Laarakkers

        I am quite annoyed by these amateurs that try to prove the historicity of the Bible. These people have no knowledge whatsoever and should be kept away from these artifacts. If there is any fragment of Mark’s gospel from the first century, than this fragment should serve science and not as so-called “the Bible is right after all” evidence. You can’t prove the Bible or the stories it contains. (You can for example prove Jesus lived in the first century, that He was a teacher and was crucified, but you can not prove that He was the Son of God or that He had Messianic pretentions, that is something you can choose to believe – I and believe that He is my Lord – but I don’t except any fabricated or disputed “evidence” or attemps to rationalize faith. Faith is precious to me, but not science or things you can prove, it’s more than that.)

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  45. Darrell

    and one of the images in the above link is of the Green Collection fragment of 1 Corinthians that I mentioned above in this thread. It shows exactly what I saw in the display case, the side of the fragment that contains portions of 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, and was dated tentatively to the 2nd century.

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  46. Darrell

    and its sort of funny too, because when I saw that fragment in the display case, they warned me that if I took a picture of it, they would confiscate my camera. But here on their own they release the image of it.

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  47. Darrell

    David, it sounds like the chances are good that there does exist a fragment that someone believes to be 1st century, but we will have to wait until how this claim stands up against the intense scrutiny that will follow once the images are published.

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  48. Nick Laarakkers

    It’s still possible that such a fragment exists. I hope it’s in the hands of scolars and not of apologists or amateurs.

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      1. Nick Laarakkers

        No, of course not. I completely agree with your definition of a mircale, and I believe in miracles. But we should not call everything that can be explaned perfectly on rational grounds “miracles”. We should be careful with the word miracle, especially scholars. It is impossible to explain a miracle (such as raising a dead person). If it’s possible to explain it, it is no longer a miracle.
        These mss can be genuine, I do think they are, but I wish they could be examined by more scholars, not just by people with a specific agenda.

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  49. Pingback: First-Century Mark Fragment: Possible News | Earliest Christianity

  50. Darrell

    back to the 1 Corinthians fragment:

    Here is how I see it

    μαι ου θελω (v. 9:27, 10:1)
    νεφελην η (v. 1)
    η εβαπτι (v. 2)
    ευματικον (v. 3)
    ν γαρ εκ π (v. 4)
    εν τοις πλ (v. 5)
    ω ταυτα δ (vv. 5-6)
    κακων κ (v. 6)

    There is a reflection on the glass blocking some of the fragment on verse 4, but I supplied what was missing from the transcription I did when I saw this fragment in person a year ago.

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  51. Nick Laarakkers

    “God used our frail inabilities and worked with us. This isn’t the Quran! See, this is the Bible, God working graciously through fallen people to protect his word. So you don’t need to create or continue far-fetched stories that don’t match the evidence.”
    Are these the words of a scholar??? This is probably somekind of an apologist mixing his religious conviction with science. http://bricecjones.weebly.com/1/post/2014/05/more-on-the-private-collecting-of-the-indiana-jones-of-biblical-archaeology.html
    I want you to compare the statement above with a statement from Biblical scholar Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the book “De Dode Zeerollen” (The Dead Sea Scrolls), page 153 in which he writes that the Hebrew text of the Bible is perfectly preserved from the time of Dead Sea Scrolls till the Medieval Leningrad Codex, he calls it “a miracle. NOT A MIRACLE FROM GOD, but a HUMAN MIRACLE”, because of the system developed by the Masoretes. So, which one is the true scientist, the adventurer Carroll, or the eminent Professor Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University?

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    1. joe thomas

      Nick, technically, a miracle would be when God does something that violates the laws of nature, such as raising a dead person. Finding old manuscripts might be an answered prayer, but not technically a miracle. Many people call things miracles that may indeed be God working, but we can never say for sure.

      Just because Carroll is not a scholar does not mean his MSS are bogus. right?

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      1. Nick Laarakkers

        No, of course not. I completely agree with your definition of a mircale, and I believe in miracles. But we should not call everything that can be explaned perfectly on rational grounds “miracles”. We should be careful with the word miracle, especially scholars. It is impossible to explain a miracle (such as raising a dead person). If it’s possible to explain it, it is no longer a miracle.
        These mss can be genuine, I do think they are, but I wish they could be examined by more scholars, not just by people with a specific agenda.

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      2. Joe Thomas

        Nick I agree completely with your comment that the fragments should be examined by others who have a different viewpoint than McDowell. If my faith can’t be challenged, then it is not a very solid faith. Similarly, if his claims about the dates of these MSS can’t be verified, then his claims are not that solid. I think peer review and other viewpoints strengthen our knowledge. I enjoy listening to people who have a different viewpoint than me.

        As much as I would like to have first century bible MSS, if they are not genuine, what is the point? I have no interest in tricking folks to have faith.

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  52. Nick Laarakkers

    I have no problems with apologists. If someone wants to defend his or her faith on rational grounds, they are free to do so. Personally I don’t believe it is possible to defend your faith on rational grounds. What is rational about most dogma’s? If you rationalize them, they become ridiculous.

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    1. Joe Thomas

      Nick, your comment makes your bias clear. “I don’t believe it is possible to defend your faith on rational grounds. What is rational about most dogma’s? If you rationalize them, they become ridiculous.” (by the way, you meant dogmas, not dogma’s)

      I invite you to consider the evidence as a jury would. Examine the evidence without your preconceptions and biases. As a former atheist, that is what I had to do.

      If you have an open mind, I could refer you to some rational evidence, including things I have written and spoken on (which are online). Have a good day.

      Like

      1. Nick Laarakkers

        If the evidence is so overwelming, why are there so many atheists in the western world? Because Christians try to make there religion rational. But religion is not only rational, it is faith, trust in a Higher Power, which we Christians describe as God the Father (a very Personal God) who has a Son, Jesus Christ, the Lord (and who is enriched by many other sons and daughters, those who have accepted the faith) and illuminates the world through his Holy Spirit. Christianity (and also Judaism and Islam) is a religion of stories, of pratical living, not a static, rational, religion of philosophers. Of course religion has its rational aspects. For example it is just as rational as believing in a God as not to believe in a God. For me, believing in God makes sense. But do I believe in God because it’s rational? No, I believe in God because I trust in Him. I can’t give any rational explanation why I believe in God. He somehow “touched” me, I can’t describe it (I don’t mean that I had an Evangelical experience or something of the kind). In the Netherlands we call this “Ethisch Christendom” (Ethical Christianity). Ethical means that religion is concerning your whole person, is does not only concern your ratio, but also your hart, your mind, etc.

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      2. Joe Thomas

        Nick I think we are misunderstanding each other here. I thought that you were saying there is no God. My mistake. I apologize.

        Faith is rational. You can’t PROVE it, because an invisible God is unprovable. But God has given us tons of evidence, and we need to judge the evidence in the same way as a jury would. Weigh it, and determine what makes the most rational sense. Yes, at the end of the day, it still takes FAITH to believe, but god never asked people to check their brains at the door.

        The greatest commandment is to love the lord your god with all your heart, soul, strength and MIND. The OT says “come let us REASON together.”

        The scientific evidence points so strongly toward God (not necessarily the god of the bible, but a God) that a rational person must commit intellectual suicide to be an atheist, if he/she honestly looks at the evidence. . The fact is that well over 90% of Americans do believe in God. According to a Rice Univ study, 61-69% of scientists believe in God and multiple studies have shown that 40% of scientists believe in a personal God who answers prayer.

        There is quite a bit of evidence that the bible is the inspired word of God, and incredible evidence that Jesus Christ was who he said he was – God in the flesh, risen from the dead.

        If you check out colachurch.org, there will be 3 audio lessons (with power point). 2 are already there, I believe. I taught about 80% of each of the 3 lessons. The first is scientific evidence for the existence of God, the 2nd is evidence for the bible as God’s word, and the third is evidence for Jesus Christ.

        Now faith does not come from apologetics, it comes from the word of God (romans 10:17). But for many unbelievers, these evidences help them overcome their skepticism so that they will be open to read the bible.

        I am a former atheist. I was not converted by evidences (I learned those later). I was converted by reading the bible daily for over a year. You are correct that the Holy spirit has to work in a person’s heart. But “I feel God in my heart” is not going to convince an atheist that God is real. He is going to need a lot more than that.

        Anyway, great chatting with you.
        Joe

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      3. Nick Laarakkers

        Dear Joe Thomas,

        “I thought that you were saying there is no God.” – I believe in the Christian conception of God. I am very active within my church.

        “Faith is rational.” – I agree, it has its rational aspects.

        “The OT says “come let us REASON together.” – The people in Old Testament times alle believe in God/gods. They didn’t doubt the existence of God/the gods. They took that for granted. They didn’t talk rational abou God, they didn’t present evidence about the existence of God.

        “The scientific evidence points so strongly toward God” – Maybe you are right about that. I really don’t know. An atheist would say: “There is probably no God”.

        “There is quite a bit of evidence that the bible is the inspired word of God” – There are different interpretations about the meaning of inspiration. I completely reject the socalled scholastic invention of “mechanical inspiration”. I believe: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 ASV).

        “Now faith does not come from apologetics, it comes from the word of God (Romans 10:17)” – I couldn’t say it better.

        But “I feel God in my heart” is not going to convince an atheist that God is real. – I am not convinced that evidence produced by apologists will convince them either.

        Kind regards and God bless,

        Nick

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  53. Joe Thomas

    I forgot to answer your first question. why are there so many atheists? Simple. They do not WANT to believe. Faith means I must change my life. no faith means I can do what I want.

    Most atheists are atheists because they have decided that is what they want to believe. Sadly, many believers also have no good reason for their faith. I think god intends for us to study, to work, and at the end of the day, to trust him. that is what faith is – trust. but blind faith is of little value (and blind unbelief is of NO value!)

    by the way, if my understanding is correct, atheism and agnosticism are the majority view in scandanavia, is that correct?

    Like

    1. Nick Laarakkers

      Sorry, but I do think we think different about atheism and agnoticism. Of course there some people that don’t want to believe, but on the other hand if you aren’t interested in religion, or you aren’t born a religious person, why bother about religion? Some atheists present rather good arguments for there choice to be an atheist, just as some Christians present good arguments for there choice to be Christian.

      The Netherlands is NOT a Scandinavian country. It’s a fine liberal country, polls have shown that the majority of the people are spiritual, a minority of them is Christian.

      Like

      1. Joe Thomas

        Nick, I think we we mostly agree on most of this.

        I appreciate the corrections about the Netherlands. We americans are not as globally knowledgeable as we ought to be. Most of us consider Holland as part of scandanavia. Shame on us for not knowing better.

        Here in america, most people (over 90%) claim to believe in God, but few people actually follow. My experience with atheists and agnostics here (and Europe may be different) is that very few are unable to believe. Most have been turned off by religion. Few have ever examined any evidence whatsoever, and few have ever read the bible.

        Most assume there is no god, and a large percentage don’t WANT to believe.

        I have spent thousands of hours examining evidences. I think faith is very reasonable. but you are right – apologetics does not convert, but it can get a person’s attention and interest their curiosity. I have heard many stories of unbelievers getting interested via apologetics.

        Here is an example. A young man (23 years old) happened to come to our church for the first time 2 weeks ago and heard me speak on evidence for God from science. He told me he was an agnostic, but after hearing me talk was reconsidering his position. He told me his reason for unbelief were some really bad things done to him and his family by so-called christians. His name is Warren. I explained to him that if I punched someone in the nose and said that “Warren told me to do that” – would it be fair to blame him? Of course not. but that is what happens when people claim to be christians and then do unchristlike things.

        All I did was get his interest. If he is open to God, the Holy spirit will get his heart when he reads the bible. That, I think, is the place of apologetics. to help strip away people’s obejctions and excuses.

        anyway, I have really enjoyed speaking with you.

        Like

    2. Beau Quilter

      I’m sorry, but as a nonbeliever, I find this sort of comment aggravating, dismissive, and insulting: “most atheists are atheists because they have decided that is what they want to believe.”

      How do you know that? Have you taken a poll? Do you really think that is how atheists would describe themselves, or is this really just your own psychobabble reasoning for how atheists take their position?

      It’s frankly ridiculous to put what one believes in terms of desires, as though we should feel guilty over what we believe. No matter how much I love fairy stories, pictures of fairies, films about fairies, etc., I cannot force myself to believe in fairies. I know better. There is no evidence of their existence and wishful thinking will not change that. This is the real atheist stance on God. We don’t believe because we see no evidence of the Christian God. Even if I liked the idea of heaven, (I personally do not), I cannot force myself to believe in something, just because it is a pleasant notion.

      I realize that Christian apologists will submit their own rationale for God, and while I don’t find the rationale convincing, I don’t mind discussing it. What bothers me is when Christians assert some pseudo-psychological reasoning for why atheists “refuse” to believe, as though it were simply a rebellious choice. I could just as easily frame Christian belief in terms of some sort of psychological wishful thinking, but I don’t – if Christians tell me they are convinced by reason, I may not agree with the reasoning, but I will at least take them at their word.

      One has to wonder what is more important to Christians: demeaning atheists or bearing false witness.

      Like

      1. Joe Thomas

        Beau, thanks for your reply. I apologize if I came across insulting and I certainly don’t want to demean atheists. That is not my intent. I myself was an atheist. Over the past 35 years as a believer, I have found that most non-believers have NOT examined the evidence, and have decided a priori that there is no God. And most have been turned off by religion, and based on the lives of most religious people, it is hard to blame them. No, I have not taken a scientific poll. (Scientific polls have shown that around 95% of americans believe in God (that number is dropping), 62-69% of scientists believe in God, and 40% of scientists believe in a personal God who answers prayer – a number that has remained steady for a century.)

        Christopher Hitchens himself said the same thing – he dismissed God on an a priori basis.

        There is an incredible amount of evidence for God from science, for the bible as the word of God, and for Jesus Christ as the messiah. You may choose to dismiss it flippantly, but the evidence is there. If you have the courage, you can examine it for yourself. I am in the process of writing a book on apologetics. I was asked to teach 4 classes on apologetics, and you can listen to them at colachurch.org. (3 are already up online) Another person did the intros, and the introductions may not be convincing to you. Unfortunately, I was limited by time, and was not able to cover everything I would have liked. The first class looks at scientific evidence for God. The second, evidence for the bible, and the last 2 are evidence for Jesus Christ.

        Calling Christianity a fairy tale is incredibly insulting. Please, investigate the evidence with an open mind. I had to do that as an atheist, and I encourage you to do the same.

        I will be the first to admit that the majority of people who call themselves Christians are hypocrites, and some apologists appeal to evidences that are unproven (like the folks that say they have found Noah’s ark.)

        I do not believe because it is a “pleasant notion.” In fact, I was not looking for God at all. And the fact is, the Christian life is incredibly challenging. It is not fairies and gumdrops – it takes guts.

        Your statements “there is no evidence” tells me that you have not looked, because the evidence is quite frankly, overwhelming. I am a believer today because I would have to commit intellectual suicide to remain an atheist. Please, have an open mind and really examine the evidence. Otherwise, you can’t consider yourself an honest person. Good luck, Beau.

        Like

      2. Beau Quilter

        Thank you for the apology, Joe.

        I used to be a Christian, and not in name only, I was thoughtful Christian and one who defended the faith. My journey to atheism was not an emotional journey, it was an intellectual one. I still have friends and family who are Christians, and they remain my friends and family with no loss of love on either side.

        I have read many apologetic treatises on the evidences for God. I’m pretty familiar with most of the current apologetic arguments from sources that range from Mike Licona to William Lane Craig to to Alvin Plantinga to N.T. Wright to the Discovery Institute, but I don’t find them very convincing, and even if one conceded the indirect possibility of an omnipotent creator of the universe, the leap from that notion to the very specific God of Christianity is huge.

        That is probably a conversation for another post, perhaps another blog.

        Like

    1. Hi D. Thomas,
      apparently you have not heard about the on-going saga of the mummy masks and the reused papyri that were used to create these paper mache-like artifacts. Dating one of these would seem straight forward if we knew the date of these mummies from other records and information. That a fragment of Mark was recycled to use on one of these early masks is stunning, to say the least.

      Like

    2. Joe Thomas

      To D Thomas – Yes Nick and I digressed into a personal discussion not related to the Mark fragments. Which I have enjoyed very much, by the way. (My last name is Thomas – maybe we are related.)

      Alex is correct – if you have not had a chance to view the video of Josh McDowell explaining how they are disassembling Egyptian burial masks in order to get old manuscripts, I highly recommend it. It is very controversial, because they destroy one relic (a mask) in order to get to many other relics (ancient manuscripts).

      The masks were made of a type of papier mache – layers of discarded papyri and layers of silk with some sort of glue-like substance. McDowell and his partners buy the masks, soak them in water and Palmolive soap (very controversial) and have found hundreds of MSS, including many of the New Testament, and one of the oldest fragments of Homer ever found (if what they are claiming is true).

      McDowell claims they stopped making the masks in 125 CE (AD 125). If that is true, these are the oldest NT manuscripts ever found.
      Joe

      Like

      1. D. Thomas

        Sorry, but Josh McDowell’s credibility is at the sub-zero level. Any claim he makes should be taken with several tablespoons of salt.

        Like

      2. Beau Quilter

        Recycled papyrus in mummy wrappings is nothing new in archeology. But watching this rank amateur/apologist toss about dubious and unsubstantiated dates while abusively mishandling his claimed “artifacts” does more to discredit Wallace’s original claim of early Markan evidence, than all the silence we encountered before.

        Like

  54. Nick Laarakkers

    Dear Beau and Joe,

    This is what a mean about apologetic Christianity. It is actually about the interpretation of the “evidence”. For example. For most apologetic Christians a first century fragment of the Gospel of Mark is “evidence” that the content of that gospel is now “finally” been “proven” to be the truth. But that is not the case: It just shows that the gospel of Mark was written in the first century, it doesn’t prove that the words that are ascribed to our Lord Jesus were spoken by Him as recorded in that gospel. It only proves that a person, living in the first century, commonly identified as St. Mark, the interpreter of St. Peter, wrote down a story of the public life of Jesus. Of course one can say that it is reasonable to assume that the content of that gospel is more trustworthy because it was written down a few decades after the crucifixion (and maybe by an eyewitness account). Opponents however can say that this is not the case, because memory, even collective memory isn’t that trustworthy. So it is all about the interpretation of the “evidence”.

    Bea wrote: “I’m pretty familiar with most of the current apologetic arguments … but I don’t find them very convincing”. I agree somewhat with Beau. But other than Beau, I am a believer who believes in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and I believe He is my Saviour. But I don’t need apologetics to be convinced.

    Dear Beau, read all the stories of the Bible again, forget all dogmatics (whether you can discover the Trinity in the OT or that the sign on Cain’s forehead was a cross or not, or that Adam and Eve already knew Jesus etc.), don’t use a popular, dynamic equivalent translation, use a literal translation (less biased by people with an agenda), let the stories speak to you. Read some articles about Karl Barth and Hendrikus Berkhof (I think his work about dogmatics is translated in English), Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, or Dale Allison (I think his “The Intertextual Jesus” is very inspiring).

    Like

    1. Beau Quilter

      Thanks Nick, I have read the entire text of the bible multiple times in my life, usually in earlier or later revisions of the revised standard, occasionally in the New International. I still read it on occasion. It’s a fascinating collection of ancient writings, with a widely diverse range of writing styles, contexts, and agendas.

      And whether I like it or not, the bible has an enormous impact on the modern world simply because of the overwhelming prevalence of the three abrahamic religions. There is wisdom to be found in the bible (as there is in other ancient writings such as the Tao Te Ching), but I don’t find the supernatural elements of biblical writings any more persuasive than those found in the plethora of other similar tales from the ancient world.

      Like

  55. D. Thomas

    It has been two years and six months, and we’re still waiting for even a scrap of information about the 1st century fragment of Mark that Dr. Wallace assured us would be forthcoming “sometime in 2013.” Will this generation pass away before this thing happens?

    Like

  56. Phil

    Dr Wallace:
    I am aware that the normal roll out dates for these scholarly projects are never on time, that is the nature of the business, but do you have any time frame. I am contunually learning and teaching on texualt criticism, and would love to know a time frame for this find. thanks

    Like

      1. Steven Carr

        Why the secrecy?

        ‘These things were not done in a corner’

        If there is great evidence for Christianity, who would want to forbid people to speak about it?

        Like

      2. joe thomas

        Hi Steven Carr,

        I think you are assuming the person who is publishing this is an Christian apologist whose primary concern is to give evidence for Christianity. It is equally likely that he/she is simply a scholar whose area of interest is old manuscripts.

        Many of the Dead Sea Scroll scholars were non-religious Jews or Christians, and some were agnostics and atheists. Dr Wallace’s purpose in referring to the papyri was obviously apologetic in nature, but since we don’t know the identity of the scholar working on it, we don’t know his/her purpose.

        All of us are really looking forward to finding out if this is legitimate or not. Like you, I’m getting tired of waiting.

        Like

      3. joe thomas

        Beau, Dr Wallace is not the person who has the manuscripts, so it would be improper for him to say anything about it.

        Perhaps it was premature for him to mention it 2 years ago in the debate, but speaking without authorization about someone else’s publication would be wrong. So we are all stuck waiting.

        If the Dead Sea Scrolls are any indication, it almost always takes a lot longer than expected to publish papers on ancient scrolls. The person whose credibility is in question is more likely to be whoever controls the papyri, not Dr Wallace. Wallace can’t control when he/she publishes.

        I share your curiosity about the McDowell connection. My hunch is that they are connected.

        Like

      4. Beau Quilter

        Seems odd to me that you can make a grand announcement of it to score debate points against Bart Ehrman, while offering no evidence whatsoever. At the time you proclaimed a publication of evidence within the year. Now, over two years lager, you are even “allowed to speak about the publication date.”

        It’s enough to make one question your credibility.

        Like

      5. Beau Quilter

        I wonder if these are some of the same papyri that Josh McDowell has been excitedly handling with his “bare hands”!

        Like

      6. Beau Quilter

        joe thomas

        It was more than “premature” for Dr. Wallace to announce this “discovery” two years ago; it was unprofessional and quite enough in it’s own right to smear Wallace’s credibility, especially in light of the fact that he is “not allowed” to elucidate further.

        Scholarly historical inquiry is not conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy. Publication may take time, but professional scholars don’t make a habit of premature announcements, and when announcements are made, they keep their peers of abreast of developments, delays, and as much information as they can reasonably provide.

        Like

      7. joe thomas

        Beau, I agree someone has been unprofessional, but at this point we don’t know who.

        Was Dr Wallace being unprofessional by referring to an unpublished papyrus, or was the scholar unprofessional in telling Wallace about it when he/she was not ready to publish for another 2 years (or more)?

        so for the most part, I agree with you.

        However, as I have said before, biblical scholars are a funny bunch. They seem to always take WAY longer than expected to publish, and sometimes they sue if someone leaks information. Remember that Hershel Shanks and the Biblical Archaeology Society were successfully sued about a decade ago because they published facsimile copies of a number of dead sea scrolls prior to the official publications.

        Wallace’s hands are tied at this point. It doesn’t matter that he spoke out of turn 2 years ago. It still would be wrong for him to disclose information ahead of publication.

        Joe

        Like

      8. Beau Quilter

        joe thomas

        How silly. I’m not trying to force Dr. Wallace’s hand. I’m just pointing out the unprofessional, and dubious quality of this whole affair.

        And make no mistake: Dr. Wallace is a participant in it, and tainted by it.

        Like

      9. joe thomas

        Beau,

        maybe, maybe not. We will find out in time. I choose to not assume what other people’s motives are. I think we can comment on people’s actions, but we really don’t know what is in a man’s heart.

        Joe

        Like

      10. joe thomas

        Hi Nick,
        If by fundamentalist you mean someone who believes the bible is inspired by God, then you are going to have a problem with me. If you mean people who have a political agenda combined with their religion, then I will agree with you. Many religious people in America are hypocrites.

        What is your problem with fundamentalists? (by the way, I do not use that term to describe myself.)

        I am a former atheist who became a Christian in college. I have read or listened to quite a few apologists. I have also spent a lot of time studying science as well. I also have read (or listened to) more than 3 dozen atheist or agnostic writers, including those who are vehemently opposed to God and Christianity (Dawkins, Hitchens, Krauss, Ward, etc.). I think we are enriched when we listen to those who disagree with us. If my faith cannot withstand a challenge, then it is not much of a faith.

        I think it is a mistake to dismiss people without even listening to what they have to say because of an a priori decision about what we believe. If we are not willing to change our minds, then we are closed minded, and frankly, not being intellectually honest.

        While McDowell (who I have met and spoken to) is the most famous American apologist, there are others who I think communicate the message more effectively than he does. I am curious as to why people are so opposed to him? is it simply because he is a Christian defending the faith, or is there something specific that he teaches that you and others believe is false? If so, I am open to hearing about it. (I know people have taken issue with his flippancy in discussing ancient manuscripts, and handling them and passing them around, and I agree on that point that more care needs to be taken when handling ancient papyri.)

        Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

        Joe

        Like

      11. joe thomas

        Merry Christmas Beau

        When you said he was “tainted” I think that is going beyond criticising his action and getting into motive. We agree that is action was at the least ill-advised, and perhaps flat-out wrong.

        But I think we have beaten this one to death, and we both agree that these guys screwed up, and that Dr Wallace should not have mentioned this in his debate 2 years ago, and we are not going to agree about him “outing” the tardy author at this point.

        anyway, merry christmas and happy new year. maybe our Christmas present will be a book from Brill Press about possible first century MSS!

        Joe

        Like

      12. Steven Carr

        WALLACE
        All the details will be coming out in a multi-author book published by E. J. Brill sometime in 2013

        CARR
        This was your blog post entry.

        How do you reconcile claiming the publication date would be in 2013 with the fact that you state you are just not allowed to speak about the publication date?

        Like

      13. Beau Quilter

        joe thomas

        Dr. Wallace’s credibility was tainted by his actions when he made that ill-advised “announcement” two (getting close to three) years ago. One’s credibility is determined by one’s actions.

        Like

      14. joe thomas

        OK, Beau. We are probably just quibbling about words now, so let’s just say Merry Christmas and Happy New year. We mostly agree here.
        joe

        Like

      15. Beau Quilter

        Here is an interview from February 24, 2012, in which Dr. Wallace stated that he will be one of the authors of a multi-author book in which all will be revealed concerning the alleged 1st century fragment of Mark. He also states that this find is as significant or more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

        He states:

        “I’m pretty darned confident 2013 is going to be the year all of this is going to be published.”

        February 2015 is just around the corner. I’m not holding my breath.

        Like

      16. joe thomas

        Beau, thanks for the link to the interview from Feb 2012. I just read the entire thing. That really does shed a lot of light on this. This tells us a few things.
        1. Dr Wallace is one of the 6 authors (I didn’t know that)
        2. He made very specific claims about the papyri, especially the Mark Papyrus.
        3. He said it would be out in 2013 (perhaps early 2013)

        Here is what I think.
        1. He never should have said ANYTHING about this, during the debate or afterward
        2. He can’t say anything now because 5 other authors are involved

        If he was trying to raise interest in the book, shame on him. If he was trying to score debate points on inadmissible evidence, shame on him. If he just wasn’t thinking, well, a guy that smart ought to know better. If he was told by the other authors they would be ready by early 2013, and they have dragged their feet, shame on them. 3 years have passed since then. As they say on Monday Night Countdown “Come on, man!”

        Like

  57. D. Thomas

    “Dismissive skepticism” – Dr. Wallace’s term – may have been uncalled for in March, 2012, but it’s not uncalled for NOW. This whole affair has the smell of a hoax or a serious error in judgment. It’s time for full disclosure on the part of all concerned.

    Like

    1. joe thomas

      D Thomas
      Hoax is a strong word, but I would agree that it was probably an error in judgment to use it as a point in a debate when the publication was not imminent.

      We don’t know if Wallace was authorized by the person with the papyrus or not. If he was, then the error is on his/her part. If not, then Wallace should probably not have mentioned it.

      In a debate, it is bad form to use as evidence anything that can’t be cross-examined. And in this case, apparently that is what happened.

      Having said that, neither we nor Wallace can force him to say or do anything.

      JT

      Like

      1. D. Thomas

        During the debate, Dr. Wallace said it would be published within a year. Presumably, that statement was based on a commitment to that effect by the possessor of the manuscript. At this point, that promise has been broken, and Dr. Wallace is under no obligation to remain silent.

        The papyrus may legally be the possessor’s property, or it may not. If it has been removed from the territory of a signatory to the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Property, whoever has it may be in violation of international law. Regardless, from an ethical and intellectual property standpoint, it belongs to the academic and religious community, just as did the DSS. It belongs in the public domain.

        Like

  58. Nick Laarakkers

    Josh McDowell, I have read an entry on him on the Dutch Wikipedia. He seems to me one of the many smiling Anglo-Saxon evangelists with an apologistic agenda. Judging the Statement of Faith on the website of his denomination he’s a fundamentalist. (That means that he was more tolerant in his agnostic younger years, but never mind.) It would be a little bit embarrassing for the scientific world if such an important papyrus fragment is owned by a fundamentalist.

    Like

    1. joe thomas

      Hi Nick, good to hear from you again.

      Josh McDowell does not just have “an apologistic agenda.” He is the most prominent Christian apologist in America, perhaps the world. He is a former atheist, who set out to disprove Christianity, but then became a believer. He has authored about 100 books, including “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” the best-selling book on evidences of all time.

      why would it be embarrassing for a “fundamentalist” to have an important papyrus? And why is smiling a problem?

      Joe

      Like

      1. Nick Laarakkers

        Hello Joe, nice to hear from you again.

        If he is the most prominent Christian apologist in America, then I am glad I live in the Netherlands. I am sorry, but I don’t like fundamentalists and I don’t believe in there so called evidences.

        I am sorry about the smiling comment, but I am a little bit fed up by all these Anglo-Saxon fundies who’s ideas are now even infiltrating in the Dutch churches. I doubt if any serious theologian in the Netherlands would ever have mentioned McDowells books in his or her study.

        Greetings and a very merry Christmas, God bless,

        Nick

        Like

  59. Nick Laarakkers

    @Joe: “then you are going to have a problem with me” I have no problems with you. You seems to be a nice person. But the problem with persons like McDowell etc. is that they suggest that there interpretation of the Bible and tradition is better than the interpretation of others who don’t agree with them. I could never agree with the Statement of Faith posted on his denominations website, although I believe the Bible to be inspired.

    Merry Christmas,

    Nick

    Like

    1. joe thomas

      Hi Nick
      I have not read his statement of faith. I disagree with McDowell on some key biblical doctrines. I think he does a very good job in terms of evidences for the Christian faith.

      People can have honest differences in interpretation of scripture. Ephesians 4:4-6 gives us an idea of what key doctrines are that we must agree on. Sadly, too many churches are focused on things that are not the most important things. We can disagree on the non-essentials, but must agree on the basic doctrines.

      For example, it does not matter if God created the world in 6 literal days, or if we are the products of evolution, or anything in between. Some folks have made it their life’s goal to fight evolution – a topic that the bible is silent on!

      However, if someone wants to deny that Jesus rose from the dead, for example, that is a different thing altogether. That is central to Christianity.

      have a great holiday – hope you have time with family and loved ones!
      joe

      Like

      1. Nick Laarakkers

        Hi Joe,

        I don’t think we disagree on these issues. So ultimately we seem to share the same faith/doctrines. I do agree that the resurrection is the most important doctrine of our faith. And I do agree that Ephesians 4:4ff is a core doctrine.

        But I have to end the discussion now. It’s almost time to go to Church (Christmas eve vespers).

        Greetings,

        Nick

        Like

  60. Jason

    Were is the Mark fragment? It seems to me like this hype is about selling books and getting paid. Its all about the Kingdom of G-d, brother… and making a buck.😦

    Like

    1. Beau Quilter

      Jason, I do think that money isn’t always the reason.

      There are plenty of religious apologists with enough emotional investment in convincing the world that theirs is the ‘true’ religion, they are wiling to accept and promote any pseudo-historical research that might support their claims.

      Or in Daniel Wallace’s case, any pseudo-historical research that can win them cheap debate points.

      Like

    2. Jason, to be fair, you and I go to work every day because we get paid to do so.

      Scholars get paid when they sell books (or for teaching in universities). If the information gets leaked prior to publication, that can make a huge difference in book sales.

      That being said, nearly everyone agrees that taking this long to publish is bad, and we all feel that we have been sold a bill of goods, wondering if the fragment is genuine, and we are all eager for peer review to take place.

      Beau, there is nothing wrong with anyone, including “religious apologists” to examine evidence in favor of their stated position. Both Christians and anti-Christians have a lot of skin in this game. All I ask is that everyone look at the evidence fairly, and not jump to conclusions based on a priori biases.

      I for one would love for this to be a genuine first century fragment, but if it is not, I will not argue for it. It would be cool if the shroud of turin were genuine, but it sure seems like it is not, so I am not going to use it as an apologetic tool.

      there is a significant amount of evidence to date Mark between AD 48-62, but there are no first century copies remaining (as far as we know). It sure would be nice to have one. but if we don’t, and it is likely we don’t, as papyri degrade over time, it is not the end of the world.

      Beau, the jury is out on whether Wallace was referring to “pseudo-historical research.” Until this is published, we just don’t know if the research is good or not. All we know is that is has not been published yet.

      Like

      1. Beau Quilter

        Joe Thomas, if all you ask is that everyone look at the evidence fairly, and not jump to conclusions based on a priori biases, then you should already have a problem with the way religious apologists have been touting this claim. Wallace has already erred by using unpublished, undocumented “evidence” to win cheap debate points.

        Like

      2. joe thomas

        Beau, I agree. Nobody should be referencing this fragment until it is published (or at least made public). Including people whose positions I agree with.

        Like

      3. Beau Quilter

        I would add Joe Thomas, that the vast majority of scholars, including Dr. Wallace, go to work every day because they are paid to do so by the universities that pay their salaries to teach. The vast majority of scholars make very little money in publication. In fact it is comparatively rare for the top journals to publish scholars who are not academics.

        Like

      4. joe thomas

        Beau, I agree that most are academics and their MAIN income is not book sales. Nevertheless, I think it is fair for them to make a buck publishing after they do the work.

        Like

      5. Beau Quilter

        Joe Thomas

        When researches withhold information before publication, it is not for the purpose of making “a buck”. In some cases it is to prevent other researchers from taking credit for their work, but that is unlikely in this case, since access to the manuscripts is being tightly controlled. The reason that information should be withheld before publication in this case is to prevent wild public speculation based on unverified results.

        Of course, Dr. Wallace, Josh McDowell, and others are abusing this privilege. They are withholding their information from fellow scholars while simultaneously making announcements that do nothing BUT encourage wild public speculation.

        Like

      6. joe thomas

        Yeah, but even then it is usually connected with money, albeit indirectly. The best jobs in archaeology and academia often go to those who publish cool stuff. And yes, ego is often involved as well.

        We still don’t know if Josh McDowell is involved – from reading these posts everyone ASSUMES we are discussing the same fragments, but nobody involved has said so.

        As I said before, I agree they should not talk about them, and I think Wallace has no right to leak what someone else is working on. Just because he talked too soon does not give him the right to leak. He has clammed up, probably realizing he never should have spoken in the first place.

        Haven’t we beaten this thing to death now? I think we know where we all stand on this stuff. When it finally gets published (if any of us are still alive), we can all meet for a beer or coffee and discuss the results.

        Like

      7. Paul Lindquist

        “Expectation postponed makes the heart sick…” – Proverbs 13:12. Unfortunately, after almost 3 years now, I have become sick of waiting.  Maybe 2015 will bring good news.

        Paul Lindquist

        Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

        Like

      8. joe thomas

        Yeah, Beau, I watched the McDowell video last year. But he doesn’t claim to be connected with Wallace. We are all ASSUMING that it is the same fragment, but I didn’t hear either Wallace or McDowell say they were talking about the same document. It most likely is, but nobody seems to be admitting it.

        Like

      9. Beau Quilter

        “Admitting it”?

        Joe Thomas, you’re the only person I’ve ever heard suggest that Wallace and McDowell might be discussing a completely different 1st century fragment of Mark. Honestly, that suggestion is so unlikely as to be a bit silly.

        Like

      10. joe thomas

        No, Beau, I think it is probably the same fragment, just as you do. If I had to bet my own money, I would say they are talking about the same thing. What I am unwilling to say is that it definitely is the same.

        Like

      11. joe thomas

        Thanks for the link, Beau. After reading it, I still don’t see him admitting anything except being at the same conference, and denying knowing much of anything. Sure, the circumstantial evidence makes a reasonable person think they are talking about the same thing, and as I said before, they probably are. But reading Dr Wallace’s post tells me he still ain’t admitting nothin’. (at least not back in March 2014 when it was posted). His post sounds to me that he has not personally seen the fragment, but has heard about it from colleagues.

        What we are dealing with here are “probablys” and “most likelys” but no “definitelys.” I am sure we are not done talking about this, but I hope it is resolved soon.

        Like

      12. joe thomas

        Beau, looks like Craig Evans is making the same claim as Josh McDowell. Again, I agree that they should have waited to talk about it. Clearly, McDowell and Evans are talking about the same thing (and yes, it is almost certainly the same one as Wallace’s unnamed colleagye, so no need to tell me that again).

        Like

      13. Beau Quilter

        Of course they’re all talking about the same 1st century fragment of Mark. Nobody (except you) is suggesting otherwise. There’s nothing to “admit” here, except that the research is being handled very unprofessionally.

        Like

  61. D. Thomas

    It appears that Dr. Wallace has been misled – perhaps in error, perhaps as part of an antiquities dealing scheme. It’s understandable that he doesn’t want any involvement on his part to be made public, and that he and his informants are hoping the Marken fragment hoax will fade into obscurity.

    Like

    1. joe thomas

      D Thomas – why assume it is a hoax? The Dead Sea Scrolls were not hoaxes because it took them years to publish. We won’t know if it is true or not until it can be peer-reviewed.

      Wallace erred by mentioning the Markan fragment prematurely – whether misled or not, he should not have referred to evidence not yet in circulation.

      Like

      1. D. Thomas

        After this much time, it’s fair to assume that it’s a hoax until somebody produces the goods. The cognizant parties have been hiding behind a cloak of anonymity for more than two years now. Peer review and publication should have taken place more than a year ago. We’re talking about a small scrap of Mark here, not the monumental DSS.

        I agree that Dr. Wallace erred in mentioning the fragment a) in a debate, b) before its authenticity was confirmed, and c) before peer review had taken place. But he also erred in swearing an oath of silence. As a member of the academic community, his primary obligation should be to the free and open exchange of information, not to some scammer trying to make a quick buck.

        Like

      2. joe thomas

        D Thomas

        I guess we’ll agree to disagree. First of all the DSS were parceled out to many scholars, and some of them had a small piece and still took forever to publish. One of the biggest parts was putting the pieces together, literally, like a jigsaw puzzle.

        Wallace’s screw-up in mentioning it in the first place still doesn’t give him the right to speak. this is a cluster-mess, but we have to wait. And frankly, the parties involved don’t care what we think, so we have no choice but to wait.

        I still disagree that it is a hoax. Words like “scammer” and “hoax” are pretty strong words. I will give the benefit of the doubt, practicing the golden rule, until the facts are out. We don’t have enough information to call it a scam or hoax.

        Personally, I think there is one or more MSS, and SOMETHING is going to be published. Remember, we have been told which publishing house it is supposed to come from. It might turn out that it’s not a first C MS of Mark, but I truly believe there is something. We will find out… if we live long enough.

        Like

    1. John, not necessarily. Scholars who publish archaeological finds are notorious for being slow to publish. They like to dig and they like to investigate, but many of them stink at publishing.

      It is incredibly annoying when they leak info about what they intend to publish then delay the book or article. Most of us on this post hate it and consider it unprofessional. But I do not think it is evidence of conspiracy – just foot dragging.

      Like

      1. D. Thomas

        Dr. Wallace needs to find an honorable way to put this embarrassing episode behind him. He may need to renegotiate his unwise promise of silence, especially if there are questions of national patrimony, dubious provenance or financial gain. This affair is looking highly suspect, and further delays can only make matters worse.

        Like

    1. Nick Laarakkers

      I have read the article. Quite interesting. However, is it ethically right to destroy mummy masks – even if they are of low quality? More interesting is this article: http://www.bricecjones.com/blog/the-first-century-gospel-of-mark-josh-mcdowell-and-mummy-masks-what-they-all-have-in-common If there are still people that don’t believe McDowell hasn’t have a hidden agenda, read this article. “Well you tear it. Since we own it, it’s OK.” – This is appaling to me!

      Like

      1. snelldl

        I guess it would depend on which one gives you more information about the ancient world – keeping the mask vs. getting the contents of the documents.

        Also, they could do 3D scans of the masks to get a high quality copy for perpetuity.

        I don’t know if they are or aren’t.

        Is McDowell’s agenda hidden?

        Like

    2. to snelldl and Nick

      thanks snell for the article. the only new thing is adding Craig Evans to the mix. everything else is the same stuff we have heard for about 2 years. My thoughts:

      1. We don’t have a way to get to the texts without destroying the mask (at this date)
      2. Archaeology is by definition a combination of destruction and discovery. You have to destroy an upper layer to get to an older layer
      3. People destroy things all the time to uncover more important things in the study of ancient history. It seems to me that the reason some folks oppose this is an anti-christian bias. I find it hard to believe there is a real interest in preserving non-museum quality relics.
      4. of course McDowell has an agenda – to validate the New Testament. His agenda is not hidden at all. He is a Christian apologist, and in the video where he talks about the masks, he is clear about his intentions.
      5. I agree that 3-d scans of the masks to save their images would be nice – I doubt that McDowell’s group did that.
      6. Craig Evans, in my opinion, is making the same mistake as Dr Wallace, in repeating the leaked information prior to publication. Both are excellent biblical scholars, but I think they should remain silent until this book comes out.

      there. I’m done. for now.
      joe

      Like

      1. snelldl

        Joe:

        There is a bit more information: the number of scholars and institutions involved, an explicit linking of the masks to the fragment (not mentioned by Dr. Wallace), and (yet another) publication date.

        Other than these minor quibbles, I agree 100%. Especially where you agreed with me:).

        Like

      2. Nick Laarakkers

        “The hidden agenda” – is a figure of speech. They are now destroying non-museum artifacts, but in the future? Ultimately the NT fragments are of more value of course. But is it necessary to destroy the mask? The mask has it’s own history.
        I admit that there are some theologians that still believe the Gospel of Mark was written somewhere in the second century, but no one takes them serious anymore. They are probably the same people that value the gnostic gospels or believe Dan Brown was right. Believe me, no serious Dutch scholar takes Dan Brown serious or think that Jesus was some kind of an esoteric teacher. Maybe this is the case in the Anglo-Saxon world, than McDowell has a point.

        Like

      3. Nick, you might be surprised to hear how many in the US and Canada believe Dan Brown is a historian and not a writer of fiction. North Americans are religious in name only. Most people “belong” to a church, but few attend. Biblical illiteracy is rampant here, even among those who consider themselves “evangelicals.” (a word I don’t like because it describes very little. I prefer to use biblical terms like christian, believer, bible-believer or disciple. I am evangelistic, because I share my faith, but don’t like being labeled an evangelical, because it carries a lot of political baggage here).

        I saw a statistic (don’t know if it was true) that something like 50% of Canadians surveyed believed the “facts” in the DaVinci code.

        We have a lot of bible believers here in the US, but sadly few who ever read it, and fewer still who know much about it. Our universities and scientific institutions are amazingly anti-christian. In Europe, where fewer people are religious, there seems to be much less hostility toward Christians. At Oxford and Cambridge, you have atheists like Dawkins and christian apologists like John Lennox side by side. That is almost unheard of in the US.

        These things might explain McDowell’s antagonistic attitude. I have met him and spoken with him. He is passionate, and I believe sincere, but he is also very strongly opinionated. Since he has been consistently attacked for more than 3 decades, I can understand why he takes a seemingly combative position.

        As for preserving the mask, I admit I am biased. I am MUCH more interested in early NT MSS than Egyptian masks (especially “non-museum” ones). Frankly, I would probably tear up King Tut if I knew for sure that inside was a first century manuscript of a NT book. I know that statement will get me crucified on this blog! As a former atheist, I am exceedingly interested in evidences. Others might not share my interest. I try to not be polemic if it is not necessary. Some Christians argue over disputable matters (evolution, the age of the earth, political matters, etc.) Waste of time, and I think the devil loves it.

        I always enjoy our discussions, as we have differing viewpoints but calmly share our thoughts. Except for the weather in winter, I would LOVE Denmark!
        Joe

        Like

      4. Nick Laarakkers

        Dear Joe,

        I always thought that people in North America where a little bit simplistic in there religious views, and now statistics prove that I am right. It’s a very sad thing if people are unable to seperate facts from fiction. Over here in the Netherlands (NOT in Denmark) it is pretty normal that religious and non-religious scholars work together in the field of religion and theology. No non-religious scientist will ignore his or her colleague simply because he or she is religious and vice versa. Normally religious and non-religious people coexist very well. Of course most Christians in the Netherlands are moderates. Even the more orthodox are taught the basics of textual criticism. The Groningen University is leading in the field of Dead Sea Scroll research (I saw some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls myself in Dec. ’13 at an exposition in the Museum of Assen) and at the Theology faculty of the University of Leiden they are using the method of higher criticism to reconstruct early Christianity. They are progressive scholars: if a hypothesis proves to be wrong they will radically reject it. So they have examined the claims of Brown, they concluded he was totally wrong and their findings were published not only in journals, but also in (secular and non-secular) newspapers, so people can read the findings of these outstanding scholars. A few years ago the social-democratic tv station VARA hosted a series that showed that Dan Browns theory was completely unscientific.

        I would never tear up King Tut. I am even opposed to displaying mummies in museums because that’s unethical.

        Like

      5. joe thomas

        Well, I was exaggerating a bit about King Tut. And it is probably not good to display people’s remains – you are probably right. It does not bother me personally, because I think my body is worthless once I am dead. But to some other people, this is desecrating their remains, and we need to respect that.

        it seems that Europe does a much better job of people getting along. if you have seen the movie “Expelled” – it is not an exaggeration. Religious scholars are ostracized here in academia. Strange, considering that 95% of Americans believe in God.

        I love my country, but we have some strange things here. Overall, it is a wonderful place. But some things, well….

        Like

  62. Darrell

    “After this much time, it’s fair to assume that it’s a hoax until somebody produces the goods. The cognizant parties have been hiding behind a cloak of anonymity for more than two years now. Peer review and publication should have taken place more than a year ago.”–D. Thomas

    Not at all a reason to discount the claims. As I mentioned much earlier on this thread, there is an unpublished 2nd-3rd century papyrus fragment of 1 Corinthians 8:10-9:3; 9:27-10:6. The fragment belongs to the Green Collection, and apparently, Mike Holmes was commissioned to study it back in 2011. Four years later, nothing has been published. I saw this fragment in a display case two years ago. There is nothing of textual value on the 9:27-10:6 side of the fragment (I never saw the other side). So one might expect that it should have been published by now, but still there is nothing. How much greater a delay we might expect if someone has a 1st century fragment of Mark.

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  63. Pingback: The Claimed Mummy Gospel Fragment | Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars

  64. Pingback: Mummy masks, papyri and the Gospel of Mark | Faces&Voices

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  68. Steven Carr

    By the way, not publishing a word of this fragment, or giving any details of provenance should not be a handicap in telling the world that there is a 1st century manuscript of Mark. YouTube videos, Washington Post, Facebook – these are now the official channels for publishing news,

    Like

  69. Steven Carr

    So it going to take a couple of years,,,

    All the C-14 dating, paleography, comparative texts, etc etc has already been done.

    Guess they are having trouble finding a good typist.

    Like

    1. joe thomas

      Thanks Darrell,
      I just read the GSI article on Mike Holmes’ blog.

      The problem I see is that it seems that they are waiting until the entire book is ready to publish (according to the leaks from Dr D Wallace). The above comments seem to indicate when particular documents are ready to publish, they will.

      Seems like we are getting 2 messages, one from GSI and another from Dr Wallace (or whoever is giving Dr Wallace information). Dr Wallace is an excellent biblical scholar, but apparently not a very good leaker of information!
      Joe

      Like

  70. joe thomas

    By the way, I think Dr Wallace is a good sport. So many commenters here are bashing him personally, and he does not block any of those posts. Much respect on the free speech on his forum!

    Like

  71. Pingback: Steadfast Lutherans » New Older Manuscript of Mark? Cool it, please.

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  73. D. Thomas

    On her “Faces and Voices” blog, Roberta Mazza (Rylands Research Institute) has some interesting comments on the mummy masks and the methods and expertise of those who are destroying them. A sample:

    “Those slides and videos are very alarming: I will change my opinion on what has happened so far the day I will be given access to solid information not only on the process employed, but also on the legal acquisition circumstances of the cartonnage dissolved.

    “What is also alarming for someone who is supposed to teach and write on a history subject, is the way Evans approaches archaeological objects and their significance: he is reassuring us that “We’re not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece,” as if all the rest of our ancient evidence has no importance whatsoever. Do we need to comment further on this? I do not think so.”

    See her blog on the subject at http://tinyurl.com/n3wkno9

    Like

    1. As always, thanks D Thomas for finding interesting links and articles for us. I am NOT an expert on how to handle papyri, and I am VERY interested in biblical MSS, but even I am disturbed at Josh’s cavalier attitude toward the handling of these papyri. And I am NOT one of the folks who likes to bash him. I like the guy.

      Having said that, Ms Mazza’s “holier than thou” attitude about provenance is a bit annoying to me. Probably 90% of the artifacts out there are not from “legitimate” digs. It’s hard to get around “illegal” antiquities trading, since most of the stuff comes to us that way. Sure, we’d all like to get things properly, but it just ain’t gonna happen. Sadly, a lot of the best stuff comes from shady sellers.

      Like

      1. Beau, I think everyone is appalled when he says “we don’t even wash our hands” and his cavalier attitude toward handling rare, old MSS.

        Understand some of this is his (poor) attempt at humor.

        Like

      2. His mocking attitude towards careful scholarship, and his repeated notion that they can do what ever they want with the artifact, because they “own it”, is much more than “poor attempt at humor”.

        Like

      3. Beau, did he do it repeatedly, or have we watched this one video over and over again? Seems to me we only know of this one video. Not to excuse any of his comments or actions, because all of us here agree his behavior and comments were not appropriate.

        Like

      1. Interesting. While I personally don’t care what happens to my physical body after I die, I know this is offensive to many people. Some cultures and religions believe in treating remains with a certain dignity. Some people are very offended by Tut being carried all over the world. I think it is great history, and I am glad people get to see it, but I understand people’s complaints.

        Like

      2. Nick Laarakkers

        In this case I’m more upset what some amateurs in the museum in Cairo have done with the beard of the pharao. They just used a simple glue to adjust his beard! One should be carefull with artifacts.

        Like

      3. Nick, I am totally ignorant about Pharaoh glue, so I will take your word for it! Considering that it is one of the most important ancient artifacts of all time, you would think they would treat it with care.

        Like

  74. D. Thomas

    I too was shocked at McDowell’s cavalier, crass attitude toward historical artifacts. McDowell & Co. may legally own those masks, but they are an irreplaceable part of mankind’s heritage, and in that sense they belong to all of us. Josh McDowell seems to think our patrimony is nothing more than a cash cow for his “ministry.”

    Like

    1. D Thomas – it is not about money. He is a salaried employee of his ministry (campus crusade, and I am not really a fan of campus crusade). Even his book sales go to them. He really is well-intentioned, trying to help people know God.

      Unfortunately, he seems to be uninformed about how to handle antiquities, and his comments are causing people to focus on him instead of how important these manuscripts are (if they turn out to be authentic). And not just biblical MSS – there are pieces of Homer that would be really important as well. Even grocery lists will teach us things about first century life.

      If he were independent, he would be rich. He has authored about 100 books, including the best-selling apologetics book of all time. However, virtually all employees of organizations are subject to the rule that anything they create while employed are the property of the employer. If you work for a church and write a book, the proceeds go to the church, as you wrote it as their employee. If you invent something while working for Microsoft or General Electric, the patent and the money belongs to the company. So McDowell gets a paycheck, like you and me. Still doesn’t excuse his comments, but I wanted to make it clear it is not about money.

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      1. D. Thomas

        Maybe. In that case, I don’t know what accounts for the cocky superficiality. Maybe it’s an overinflated ego.

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  75. Greetings to all. I have read all the post and I wanted to express my gratitude for your insights, specially to Dr. Daniel Wallace for his blog and his work. I am a baptist missionary working as a pastor near Barcelona, Spain. I am an European and I know how things are done here in Europe and also in the States. I graduated from a Seminary in North Carolina, did my thesis for the Master in Theology writing about the Dead Sea Scrolls and finished my doctoral degree (Th,D.) with a dissertation about paleocristianity in Spain. I remember when the DSS came to public opinion a lot of articles appeared talking about how they were going to change the vission and understanding we had of Christianity… but nothing happened, on the contrary, the DSS become another proof that what we had in the texts of our Bibles was quite reliable. I had the opportunity to talk often with Dr. O´Callahan we lived near each other, we talk about his p56, DSS, and the Rylands portion of the Bible. I did not agree with him in manythings, but I was glad to be able to know more about how the Bible passed from one generation to another. I saw ryland p. on an exposition here in Spain, and visited seveal expositions of the DSS, I was thrilled by the wonder of those text. But again, I am not a schoolar, I have earned a Th. D., worked with the translation of the Bible to catalan and Spanish, fought agains KJV only, and enjoyed at the same time teh books of Josh Mcdowell… but may be because lack of funds, or may be because I spent much of my time helping kids and people in Sundayschool learning about the ABC of the Gospel I left my scholarship and began to be just a servant. The discovery of this papyri in an Egiptian mask has captivated my atention, I just heard of it last week. I have translated all what I have been able to translate into Spanish, as many Bible students here don´t speak English, and I have published in my blog. I do not know at this point the truth about the finding, the correctness of the method used, or even what is going to happen when the text would be published, but I am glad to hear about it, to know that the investigation and interest for the Bible still is here, and that even atheist, as well as believers are willing to spent their time and energy talking about it… my faith does not need anothe proof, but what a joy to have it! Please Dr. Walalce Keep up the good job, tell us always the truth about it, and keep us informed.

    Like

    1. Peter (Pedro)
      Thanks for a great post! So many of the posts have been critical and sometimes angry, and yours is so positive and upbeat. So nice to hear of someone who remembers what is really important – helping people know God!

      I do remember how the DSS were supposed to undermine scripture and Christianity. It turned out they verified that we have a good text of the OT, and we learned pretty much nothing about early Christianity, but much about certain Jewish communities from the first centuries AD and BC (CE and BCE) instead!.

      Muchas gracias, hermano.
      Joe

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