Problematic Papyri

Problematic Papyri May 5, 2014

Brice Jones has brought to light some disturbing news about the alleged first century fragment of the Gospel of Mark that we’ve been waiting to hear more about after tantalizing references to it were made some years ago. It seems to be connected not just with the Green Collection but also with Josh McDowell. Given the sensationalist character of the claims, and its connection with apologists known for offering a depiction of things that is at best one-sided, there is good reason to reserve judgment on all claims related to this fragment until there has been proper scholarly study of it. The fact that McDowell claims that the fragment was retrieved from the wrappings of a mummy, undertaken by people who are not professional archaeologists, makes the whole thing profoundly disturbing from a scholarly perspective.

See also Mark Goodacre’s round-up of the latest blogging on the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” fragment, which now looks certain to be a fake based on the evidence from the Gospel of John fragment that is connected with it.

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  • Evan Hershman

    Is this the same alleged fragment that Daniel Wallace has been waving around as a debating point for the last couple years or so?

    • I believe so.

      • Evan Hershman

        Frankly, I’m not convinced it exists. Especially given Professor Wallace’s unwillingness to elaborate. The fact that whatever-the-fragment-is may be connected with a clown like McDowell is another thing to give one pause.

  • Adrift

    The video is a year old. Is McDowell’s association old news, and Brice and others are just now catching up?

    • Quite possibly. Few if any scholars know about a Josh McDowell video unless someone drew it to their attention. And if we’d been aware of this sooner, there would have been expressions of dismay sooner.

      • Adrift

        Just a heads up prof. McGrath. Daniel Wallace blogged briefly about this, this morning.

        • I saw that and was going to mention it, but since his entire blog post consists of statements that he doesn’t know whether something happened when he was not present, and that he cannot say what he does know, it scarcely seemed to provide any new information – other than that Daniel Wallace knows more than he can say! 🙂

  • Red_Fox

    Didn’t they have do some kind of test on the fragment and verified that the ink was ancient? How is that possible if it is a forgery? Were the tests botched?

    • They tested the papyrus and it is indeed old. It is my understanding that they did not test the ink except to determine its composition, which is compatible with but not proof of its antiquity. Forgers have at times used old papyrus, and even ink from ancient inkwells, in an effort to make their forgeries seem authentic. And so that makes proving authenticity much more difficult than it would be otherwise.

  • James Snapp, Jr.

    The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Is Really Fake. Considering the obvious reluctance to accept this nigh-irresistible conclusion that was expressed by some of your readers in past comments, could we perhaps manage to get something to that effect in a blog-headline here?