Earliest Manuscript of Mark’s Gospel Found…on Facebook?!

Earliest Manuscript of Mark’s Gospel Found…on Facebook?! February 19, 2012

A Facebook friend asked me about this image earlier today, and when I asked about its source, I received no reply. Someone else, however, mentioned that the infamous D. M. Murdock as having already been discussing it online, making me even more suspicious. But a couple of bibliobloggers have posted the picture, and so I thought I’d do so as well.

What, if anything, does this have to do with the supposedly first-century manuscript fragment of the Gospel of Mark that Dan Wallace has been talking about?

I have no idea, as yet, because when something appears on Facebook, like an ossuary appearing on the antiquities market, lots of questions are left as yet unanswered.

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  • Dan McClellan

    I’m not well qualified when it comes to Greek paleography, but at first glance that seems suspivious. I can’t see any kind of texture in the papyrus, even at the borders that have broken off. It almost looks like leather that’s been cut to look like papyrus, but that could just be the poor quality of the photo. I have no idea what that bizarre looking “s” is doing where a rho should be near the bottom, and the alphas are quite inconsistent. 

    • Mail2u96

      You are right. You have no idea what you are talking about. Numerous books, papers, articles and studies are available on this fragment. It’s old news.

      • @f8a12ae6e794c0406eeb439436403ce2:disqus , what is the conventional designation for this fragment?

  • steven

    Of course, in a real discipline , like science, and not a Mickey Mouse discipline like New Testament research , new findings are not hidden in secrecy, like Wallace is hiding details of his papyrus.

    • Richard

      I’m a molecular biologist with a Ph.D. and I can assure you in our field during the initial stages new exciting findings are ALWAYS fanatically protected by the lab group that discovered it. There are two reasons for this:

      1. To make sure your competitors in rival labs do not repeat your experiments and promptly publish before you do (and take credit). This sounds cutthroat but it does happen more often than you think.

      2. You want to protect your professional reputation as a scientist. You keep the initial results secret as you repeat the experiments multiple times and retest your hypothesis rigorously to make sure you are certain about your conclusions. The more significant the discovery, the more rigorous you have to be, because your peers in the scientific community will definitely be hyper-critical when it gets published.

      Reason #1 probably does not apply to the Dan Wallace situation since presumably he’s the only guy who has access to the manuscript. But I am pretty sure #2 is a solid, good reason to withhold information from the public until he and his peers (who will review his work through the academic peer-review process) are reasonably certain there is good evidence to think the manuscript is indeed from the 1st century.

  • Michael Wilson

    I don’t know, arent scientist hiding UFO at area 51? What about those freaky mutants from montauk island?

  • gordonhudsonnu

    JDSR- just don’t seem right.

  • Woodbridgegoodman

    Isn’t that written with a big, primary school pencil? 

  • If only it were written on lead, it would make the case clearer…

    Steven must either be joking or not know anything about how scientists, inventors, historians and people in just about every area safeguard their patent, publication, etc. etc. before making their exciting results widely known. There are indeed fields (physics is a good example) where data is shared impressively freely, but to suggest that there are no other fields in which people safeguard their interests is nonsense. Academics are not as a rule well-paid, and so making sure people will still have a reason to buy his book makes perfect sense.

    • steven

      I am used to physics.

      James thinks the Green people need the money from a Brill book (!) , so are entitled not to let scholars look at the manuscript before Wallace makes claims that unknown paleographers are ‘certain’ that it is first-century.

      Apparently, commercial interests (according to James) stop astonishing manuscripts from being seen, because New Testament scholars want to make money out of new discoveries.

  • Dan McClellan


  • Gary

    “(physics is a good example) where data is shared impressively freely”…not when you’re making a nuc. I think they use to mark it “cosmic” instead of TS.

  • hardindr

    To my untrained eye, it looks like somebody wrote pencil on a tea stained piece of paper.  Also, why is this thing encased in plastic like that?

    • Mail2u96

      It’s fragil!

  • Guest77

    I don’t think anybody is sure if that is the image of the Mark fragment Daniel Wallace etc are referring to or not and she concedes as much in the blog below but, if it is, this blog has certainly done a great job:

    1st-century Gospel of Mark fragment found?

    Not only did she confirm that the fragment is Mark 5:15-18 (if that’s the frag Wallace etc are talking about) but, she also figured out that it’s most likely from the 2nd or 3rd century or later.

    However, as if that’s not enough, she also discovered a much older ancient Egyptian parallel to it.

    I’ll be paying close attention to that blog and forum for sure. She’s good, real good.

    • Mail2u96

      It is not! The fragment above is has been studied and published for years. Go buy a book and take a break from the internet.

  • Of course, it would help if the fragment had the same perspective as the glass case. It would also work better if the indentation at the top end of the fragment were also present in its refraction in the top edge of the case. But those are just some observations from a Photoshop user, not a palaeographer.

    • Brian

      If you notice the edge of the glass is beveled and so the reflection is actually cut off.  Notice the curve of the tear in the top right doesn’t extend as high as it does on the actual piece.  This explains the straight edge at the top with no indention.

  • Matthew Hamilton

    It is good that Steven Carr is “used to physics” as he has no knowledge of the “Green people”, the academic book publishing trade, or how manuscripts are published – and it appears he is just stirring things up as he has on other blogs

    Matthew Hamilton