1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.

More on Recent Manuscript Discoveries

As I am taking a break from my Christological posts for a couple of days, I’ve received several inquiries about other things, including the newsworthy manuscript discoveries announced this past year: what has happened to them? Specifically, what about that Gospel of Jesus’ Wife that was named, announced, and published by Karen King back in September, and what about the first-century manuscript of the Gospel of Mark that Dan Wallace announced but would tell us nothing about in the debate that he had with me in Chapel Hill back in February, over a year ago now.

As far as I know, in both instances the answer is the same. We have heard nothing new about either one. That’s very disappointing! Both of them would be highly significant if they were actually, authentically, what their discoverers/publishers say they are!

FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. If you don’t belong yet, JOIN!!!

You need to be logged in to see this part of the content. Please Login to access.

Resurrection Narratives in the Gospels
Progress on My Book



  1. Avatar
    Jdavis3927  March 30, 2013

    If they did find a first century manuscript of Mark, which personally I do not think they will ever find a first century manuscript of ANY NT writing, maybe what they discovered is possibly too disturbing to their theological beliefs so they are keeping it under their hats…kind of like what I believe was done with the DS scrolls.

  2. Avatar
    Adam0685  March 31, 2013

    The only reason I think he would rate it higher than the DSS is he must think the fragment supports a key belief that he has that is not widely accepted among scholars today. Could be related to authorship, date, Jesus’ identity, or what Jesus says in Mark. Maybe it shows a portion of Mark is being significantly misinterpreted by “liberal” scholars today and whatever the fragment says supports his conservative christian views. Whatever it is, he’s probably going to say something like “This shows that the gospels are more reliable than what most say about their reliability.” It’as probably being delayed because he’s working on a book on this fragment and wants to publish it along with the fragment. But this is just speculation.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      The problem is that he is a traditional conservative scholar who things that traditional beliefs are right. But how a manuscript that agrees with other manuscripts could be an explosive find is puzzling.

      • Avatar
        Adam0685  April 1, 2013

        Whatever it is, it might be a great find (a 1st c. manuscript would be!). It might be the “oldest” MS of Mark we now have (contingent on it being dated correctly). This would be pretty cool…but not as cool as the DSS. Rating it better than the DSS though might be just a publicity stunt.

        Whoever found it though appears to have limited those he/she wants to first examine it. I hope they have not just conservative scholars looking at it at first. I hope the inicial presentation and discussion is not just one-sided.

        Regardless if it’s not as signficant as they are portraying it to be I’m going to be very disappointed (and pissed!) and Wallace may lose some credibility in my books…

        • Avatar
          Scott F  April 3, 2013

          To a conservative Christian, any New Testament fragment might be more important than a whole cavern full of Jewish manuscripts

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  April 3, 2013

            Yes, at the end of the day, I think that’s why he ranks it an A+. But if so — I hope I’m wrong! — that would be very disappointing indeed.

  3. gmatthews
    gmatthews  March 31, 2013

    Would it be A+ if it was a version predating any other known that didn’t have the end of chapter 16? I realize the significance of A+ in comparison to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but would the omission of the resurrection elevate it to A+ in your opinion?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      No, the omission of the resurrection narrative would be what we expected. If the resurrection narrative is there in the MS, that would be significant! Not an A+, but really interesting. It would show the ending had been added very early. But that too isn’t all that surprising, since Matthew and Luke htemselves added an ending to it….

  4. Avatar
    toddfrederick  March 31, 2013

    A few questions:

    1. I have a kind of wacko question, but it’s something I considered a possibility for many years.

    I saw the documentary (that you’re in) about the Gospel of Judas manuscript. If one accepts atonement theology then Jesus would have to press for a confrontation with the authorities to force his crucifixion. Even if we don’t consider the atonement theology Jesus still had to force a confrontation to initiate the coming of God’s Kingdom.

    He was really not well known around Jerusalem, so I have read, and the Roman’s did not know him by sight.

    My theory is that Judas was NOT a traitor to Jesus but was doing what had to be done…to point out Jesus to the Roman guard.

    Judas and Jesus may not have expected a crucifixion and in his remorse Judas killed himself.

    Judas has been cursed for centuries and was a factor in antisemitism. I think Judas was following Jesus’ instructions…”Go and do what you must do.”

    Any thoughts?

    2. Second, I just purchased an ebook titled “A New New Testament” that contains many of the rejected documents with commentary along with the Canonical NT books…are you familiar with it? I’m interested in learning more about these books…why? It gives use a picture of what was going on with non-orthodox Christian groups early on.

    3. And a third thought…How can I find out what happened to the early Jerusalem Church (James, Peter, etc)…they became Ebionites as I understand. I’m looking for information on that movement.

    I viewed a video with Simcha Jacabovici and Eisenman I think, a couple days ago, at the Essene site, and he maintains that the early church was involved with that group or used that site to hide. I’ve been there and am a bit familiar with the area…he showed a burial site which he said contain bodies from the early Jerusalem group.

    I’m just trying to find info on these issues. Fascinating.

    I have lots more, but that’s enough for now.

    Thanks, Todd

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      Too many questions for one response! But to the first, yes, there have been scholars who have argued that Jesus wanted to have a confrontatoin and that he asked Judas to make it happen. IN rough outline that’s the view of Last Temtation of Christ, among others…

      • Avatar
        toddfrederick  April 3, 2013

        Thanks. I seems to be a few days behind. I need to catch up. I was just giving a few question ideas for you to discuss if you want.

  5. Avatar
    reedm60  March 31, 2013

    Thanks for the update. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  March 31, 2013

    I am sure that you have already thought of this, but many authors list information about the web address of the author’s blog on the back cover of their books or on the part of the inside back cover that gives author information. You might want to do the same in order to increase subscriptions to the blog..

  7. Avatar
    JoeWallack  March 31, 2013

    There is no quality evidence for a 1st century “Mark” and that is why Skeptics are open to the possibility that “Mark” was Second Century. Dating by Christian Bible scholarship reminds me of being on TV, it adds 30 years to your life. Quality 1st century evidence for “Mark” would be reMarkable in that it would demonstrate that orthodox Christianity was not interested in “Mark” until long after it had been written. This would make sense as original “Mark” had a primary theme of discrediting the Disciples and asserting that they never believed Jesus would be resurrected and never witnessed it. “Mark” would not have been considered kosher until “Matthew” was created with the edit that the Disciples did witness a resurrected Jesus. Than “Mark” could be spun as agreeing with “Matthew” but just lacking the same type of explicit ending (and than receiving its own sighting ending).

    In an irony that I think “Mark” would really appreciate, an earlier “Mark” is a bigger problem for Christianity than a later because it is evidence that it was not accepted by the orthodox for an extended period and this unorthodox Gospel was the basis for all subsequent orthodox Gospels.

    Going with the ironic theme, I suspect Papias was referring to “Mark”, but as one of the known written fictions he shunned, and not the Sayings of Jesus (Q).


  8. Avatar
    Xeronimo74  March 31, 2013

    I sense a big let-down coming …

  9. Avatar
    AGAPE1  March 31, 2013

    Am thinking it will maybe have to do with Secret Mark

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      I doubt it. Dan doesn’t think it was an ancient Gospel. (Either do I!)

      • Avatar
        AGAPE1  April 7, 2013

        I would have to agree and think it is more along the lines of what secret mark was about. As I just stated in a more resent post, it maybe more about righting a wrong. In the letter that was written, it shows that things were changed from there original content.

      • Avatar
        AGAPE1  April 7, 2013

        Maybe even having to do with 4Q534-536

  10. Avatar
    gavriel  March 31, 2013

    If a scrap of Mark could be safely dated to within the first century, it would put an end to the speculations of certain Jesus Mythers, who are dating it far into the second century. That would clean the air on this frontier.


  11. Avatar
    hwl  April 1, 2013

    How certain are historians that Jesus was not married? As the saying goes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Could Jesus be widowed? It seems very unusual for a 1st century 30yr Palestinian Jewish man to be unmarried.
    Can you recommend some textbooks on textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible? Would it be right to say that given we have the Dead Sea Scrolls which contain almost complete copy of the Hebrew Bible dating pre-Christian era, and given that there are no extant earlier fragments, textual critics have nothing to work with regarding the Hebrew Bible?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      There is actually good evidence that Jesus was not married. I give it in my book on the Da Vinci Code. It actually was not at all unheard of for first century Jewish men to be unmarried.

      Hebrew Bible: the authoritative account is by Immanuel Tov.

  12. Avatar
    mark  April 1, 2013

    My wild guess as to what would make even a small fragment of the Gospel of Mark an A+ is that rigorous analysis (writting style, content, radiocarbon dating, etc.) will date it as very early, something like 30-45 AD. That would possibly have implications as to eyewittness accounts, etc. It’s fun to speculate, but I’m actually expecting something closer to a C- than an A+.

  13. Avatar
    PaulH  April 1, 2013

    With regards to the Coptic gospel of Jesus’ wife, the fact that it’s such a small fragment that happens to mention Jesus married, is too much of a coincidence for my liking. Although I’m fascinated by the lengths a forger will go through to pass off a document as a new find.

    I’m convinced the Dan Wallace fragment of Mark is akin to Joseph Smith and his golden plates, it will just somehow disappear into thin air.

    Here’s an interview with Dan Wallace shortly after you debated him. It’s only 1:53 long. He makes a point about how he feels the gospel of Mark is reliable in it’s current form and scribes did not change it over the years.


    There’s no way he’s going to present a fragment/copy with dramatic changes to what’s currently in the New Testament, as he will look silly and merely prove your point. Unless he has a complete 1st century copy of Mark, that’s 99.99% identical to what we now have, I don’t see any Eureka moment from him anytime soon. Plus where did he find it? Is he also an archeologist? Is it normal for scholars to announce the discovery of an important document but, almost two years later, still hide it from peer review and the public eye?

    It all sounds fishy to me. My money’s on the forger of the gospel of Jesus’ wife also happening to sell an early copy of the Gospel of Mark to Dan Wallace…

  14. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 1, 2013

    I saw “After Jesus: The First Christians” on CNN last night. It was outstanding and you did quite well with your numerous comments.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 1, 2013

      Thanks. I never watch those things! 🙂

    • Avatar
      Jdavis3927  April 2, 2013

      My wife and I watched it also,it was good, but some of the things they mentioned on there was disturbing to her.

  15. Avatar
    gavm  April 13, 2013

    Prof Erhman, it seems unnecessary to want 10 1st generation texts within a week of the original to be confident of what the original mark says. couldn’t it be a little latter than that?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 13, 2013

      Well, we’d want several copies from near the time of the texts production. You can see the problem with the writings of Shakespeare, for example.

      • Avatar
        gavm  April 14, 2013

        no doubt yr right (yr the expert), but to the layman it sounds like yr asking a bit much. i suppose if all you want is a good but not perfect idea of what the 1st copy of mark was like its reasonable. in the interview Dan says hes shocked by yr request but hes a new testament scholar who is very familiar with the greek manuscripts therefore should know what is genuinely required for a true indication of what the originals said. would he really be that suprised by your statement of is he doing so to win a debate do you think?

  16. Avatar
    stephena  May 26, 2013

    It’s now late May, 2013. Any updates? Anything from Wallace, or about the Married Jesus fragment?

    Is it my imagination or has the pace of discovery of new fragments slowed considerably or is there just a lag to catch up with all the fragments that were discovered in the 20th century, which aren’t yet fully analyzed and debated?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 26, 2013

      No, I haven’t heard a word! Even though I’ve asked Dan Wallace several times. I’m sure the book is still forthcoming….

  17. Avatar
    gavm  January 15, 2014

    so what happened it this great manuscript? its been almost a yr since this post was written. did he deliver the goods?

You must be logged in to post a comment.