A fragment of what some believe may be the original copy of the Gospel of Mark has been brought to light by a collector of antiquities. This breaking news seems destined to trump the announcement earlier this year of a first century fragment of the Gospel of Mark.
The fragment is written on papyrus and is in Elizabethan English. The identification of the text as that of the original copy of the Gospel of Mark is based on a post-it note that was attached to the fragment, which reads:
Mark, please copy this into Koine Greek for use in our time. Send the original to England. They’ll need it later. Thanks, Pete.
New Testament scholar A. P. Ril, who is one of the strongest supporters of the manuscript’s authenticity, will discuss the provenance of text in a chapter in a forthcoming book, in which he connects the manuscript with yet another of this year’s headline-making discoveries, The Chamber Pot of the Twelve Apostles, which was found in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.The book The Chamber Pot of the Twelve Apostles is available for pre-order on the Eisenbrauns web site.
Although some scholars had earlier suggested that the image on the side of an ossuary found in a tomb in that area was a fish, Ril argues that, when the image is oriented correctly and perspectival adjustments are made using photoshop, it becomes clear that the image is in fact a chamber pot, one that would have been used perhaps by Jesus himself, but certainly his earliest followers.
Plans are already underway for a documentary for the Discovery Channel.
Meanwhile, some scholars have expressed skepticism about the find’s authenticity. However, no tests to date the manuscript can be undertaken, experts say, until the ink with which it was written has completely dried.