Non-Disclosure Agreements

Several people have made comments or raised questions about Non-disclosure Agreements with respect to Dan Wallace and the so-called (but no longer) First Century Mark.   For many years Dan refused to explain what he was talking about when he mentioned in the public debate with me in February 2012 a new discovery of a Gospel of Mark that dated to the first century.  In a later post I may say something about why I was immediately skeptical about it (he ...

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What the New Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Looks like (the so-called First-Century Mark)

Like many of you I have many questions about the bizarre way the discussion of the so-called “First-Century Gospel of Mark” unfolded.  I was intimately connected with the first announcement of the discovery, which was made precisely in order to trump me in a public debate.  As it turns out the announcement was based on false information acquired through hearsay.  But that’s the past, and Dan Wallace has apologized, so that is that.

There are still questions about how the affair ...

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We Do *NOT* Have a First-Century Copy of the Gospel of Mark

As most of us have suspected for years now, there is in fact no first-century copy of the Gospel of Mark.  If fortune smiles upon us, maybe one will eventually be discovered.  But it hasn’t been yet.  Dan Wallace, our lone public source for the existence of such a thing (announced with some flair at a public debate I had with him in 2012) has finally provided the necessary information: his claim that such a copy existed was based on ...

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A Different First-Century Mark? An Interesting Piece of Sleuth Work

One of the many pleasures of doing this blog is that there are some highly trained scholars who are members who interact with the posts on occasion.  One of them is Brent Nongbri, whom I first knew when he was a graduate student at Yale (PhD 2008) and who for several years was an Honorary Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.  One of his fields of expertise is papyrology, the study of ancient papyrus manuscripts.

Brent was interested in ...

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Why Would It Matter If There Were a First-Century Copy of Mark?

After making my post yesterday about the bogus apologetic claims being made about the existence of a copy of Mark from the first century, I remembered I had posted on the matter some years ago on the blog.  I looked it up, and found a set of reflections on a closely related topic: what difference *would* a first century copy of Mark make, if it doesn’t make the difference these breathless apologists are making?   Here is what I said at ...

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Bogus Christian Apologetics and a First-Century Fragment of Mark

One reason I get so frustrated with conservative evangelical Christian apologists is that they often aren’t honest and straightforward, but insist instead on making completely bogus claims that surely they actually know are bogus.  I can’t think they’re actually dumb enough to believe them.  But they hope to pull the wool over the eyes of the members of their audience – most of whom don’t realize that rhetorical tricks being pulled on them.   Why not just look at the evidence, ...

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How Were Books Published in the Ancient World?

In this week’s Readers’ Mailbag I deal with a question about how books – including the early Christian Gospels – were “published” in the ancient world.  How were they “made public” and distributed in a world that didn’t have printing presses and publishers and book stores?  Here’s the question and my response.

 

QUESTION

Bart, this is a related but separate question–how would Mark’s gospel first have been distributed? I understand that most who read it would be reading copies made by believers ...

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Scribes Who Injected the Idea of Atonement into Luke’s Gospel

One of the most striking theological features of the Gospel of Luke and its accompanying volume the book of Acts is that they do not portray Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sins.  That seems very strange indeed to people who get their theology from other parts of the New Testament (e.g., Paul, and the other Gospels).  But when read on their own, Luke-Acts have a different understanding of the significance of Jesus death.

And that may be why scribes altered ...

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What Happened at the Last Supper? A Textual Problem in Luke

A couple of days ago a reader asked me a question in connection with something I had said about the early second-century Christian text, the Didache, and its instructions about how the Lord’s supper was supposed to be celebrated.  Here is what I said:

“When they celebrate the Eucharist they are first to bless the cup with a prayer that the author provides and then to bless the broken bread, with another set prayer (9:1–4). This way of celebrating the Lord’s ...

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Small Differences that Make a Difference

Here is something different on the significance of textual variants for understanding the Greek New Testament.   Most of the hundreds of thousands of variations are completely insignificant in the big overall scheme of things (e.g., misspelled words and slips of the pen); others involve enormous differences that matter a lot (the story of the woman taken in adultery).  Lots of others are between the two, small differences that are interesting for how they might change the meaning of a passage ...

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