I have thought of a couple of scenarios that would make the discovery of a first -entury papyrus copy – even a small fragment of Mark – VERY interesting, for all of us, not just for evangelical Christian scholars intent on destroying antiquities in order to get their hands on it. (Well, I’ve thought of these scenarios as others have suggested them….) I’ll give the scenarios at the end of this post. But first, assuming, as it is *relatively*, but not absolutely probable that we should, that the fragment in question is simply of a few verses in the middle of Mark’s Gospel that do not vary significantly from what we already have, I’m still obsessing with the question of why evangelical scholars would be so bound and determined to get their hands on it. I’ll deal with that question first.
It may not be obvious why it is a puzzle. Here is why.
As a rule (a rule to which I do not know a single exception), evangelical scholars of the New Testament who are either slightly or deeply knowledgeable about the manuscript tradition of the NT (the thousands of manuscripts that survive and the hundreds of thousands of variants that they contain), are absolutely convinced – or at least they claim they are – that…
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