Saturday, February 24, 2007

A New Ending for Mark 16? Maybe not…

[Daniel B. Wallace sent in the following message]

The sensational report in the school newspaper of Brigham Young University about a new ending for Mark 16 in an early papyrus has circulated the Internet rather rapidly. Other publications have picked it up and the news has continued to spread, with scholarly speculation over what the ending might be.

All of this is premature, however, and in fact is based on faulty reporting. The scholars involved in the “discovery” have written a disclaimer and have asked me to post it. The three professors working on multi-spectral imaging of ancient manuscripts at BYU are Thomas Wayment, Roger Macfarlane, and Stephen Bay. I contacted Professor Macfarlane because of my interest in the discovery. He told me that it was a journalistic mistake. I would simply ask that the scholarly community recognize that not only is there no such manuscript to speculate about, but that the reputations of these professors should not in any way be impugned by this unintentionally false report of their findings. Please read their retraction for yourselves to see what has actually transpired. As all of us who teach know, our students don’t always hear exactly what we are saying. This is simply just another classic case of that, but the ramifications for the reputation of these gentlemen could have been unfortunate if they had not published a retraction of what was written. Please read the pdf file for yourselves. It’s simply called “retraction.”

As those of us who are working in the field of textual criticism fully recognize, all too often sensationalist reports about our work have almost become commonplace. I trust that this explanation and the accompanying retraction clear this matter up.


Daniel B. Wallace
Executive Director
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

[Read the text of the retraction of the BYU scholars here.]


  1. It reminds me of--to a much lesser extent--the frenzy that developed over the supposed cuneiform tablet that mentioned the cities of the plain...even in Biblical order! That trail, however, began with a scholar--Speiser.

  2. So . . . a more fitting heading would be, "A New Ending for Mark 16? CERTAINLY not..."