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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 the time, at the beginning of 2015 (I’ve edited the post slightly here for its new context).

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I personally think that there are no shenanigans going on when Dan Wallace and Craig Evans tell us that a fragment of the Gospel of Mark has been found and that it can, with reasonable certainty, be dated to the late first century.   I’m not saying that I know they are right.  Far from it.   In fact, one of the most disconcerting things about this claim is that they are not making the papyrus available so real experts can study it and let us know what it really is and to what period it can be dated.   But let’s suppose that once it is published – now the date is no longer 2012, as originally stated, or 2015 as stated last week, but 2017 or later, for reasons no one will explain – it turns out to be a very early fragment of the Gospel of Mark.  The question no one seems to be asking is:  What difference will it make?

There seems to be a widely held sense that it will be one of the greatest finds of modern times and will somehow revolutionize our understanding of the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.    Will it?

My sense from everything that has been said is that …

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A Different First-Century Mark? An Interesting Piece of Sleuth Work
Bogus Christian Apologetics and a First-Century Fragment of Mark

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Comments

  1. galah
    galah  May 15, 2018

    We want to know what Mark said in his original manuscript. We must not forget that Mark, or whoever he was, also had some source that began about forty years beforehand. Is there any way the oral tradition could possibly have been preserved?

    • galah
      galah  May 16, 2018

      Sorry, I’m just finding my way around. I see this subject is under memory studies.

    • Bart
      Bart  May 16, 2018

      Yes indeed. I think Mark (and the other Gospels) do preserve a good number of oral traditoins — in fact I think most of their accounts have come to them as oral tradition. And I think some of them are historically accurate traditions. The task is figuring out … which?

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