Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hixson on Mark Fragment at Christianity Today

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve surely heard about the new Mark fragment which is now the earliest dated copy of this Gospel. You may also know there is some discussion about its publication and the claim that it was once up for sale. But, if you’re still wondering what all the hubbub is about, go read Elijah Hixson’s new article at Christianity Today. Elijah first broke the news that the fragment was being published here on this blog and he’s been closely tracking new developments ever since.

Here’s the conclusion:
Many people—including Carroll himself—believed that the Greens had at some point purchased the manuscript until it appeared in an Oxyrhynchus volume. Obbink recently denied attempting to sell the manuscript to the Greens, according to Candida Moss and Joel Baden, writing for The Daily Beast. When I contacted Carroll and Obbink for statements, Carroll replied that he had nothing to add to or subtract from his story, and Obbink did not respond.

This new publication is only the first word on the manuscript. There is surely much more to come. Manuscript dates are often disputed, though I expect the question will be whether P137 could be later, not whether it could be earlier. Multi-spectral imaging and digital image processing open new doors to deciphering and understanding manuscripts, and P137 might benefit from such types of analysis.

Rather than disappointment that P137 is not quite as early as once thought, the publication of P137 is a cause to celebrate. We have another significant find, and it is the earliest manuscript of Mark 1! The excavations of Oxyrhynchus continue to yield valuable artifacts of antiquity including new biblical manuscripts after over a century of publishing. We can happily look forward to more unknown treasures yet to come.

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