Thursday, March 08, 2012

Manuscripts and rumors of manuscripts...

I haven't had much to say about the buzz around the bibliosphere about rumored fragments.  The two most rumored are:

1. A fragment of Romans, reputed to be from the second century, which would make it the oldest fragment of Romans yet.  It's initial dating may have been done by Scott Carroll who is with the Green collection.  The Green collection has connections with Baylor, IWU, and others.

2. A fragment of Mark, alleged to date to the first century.  The source of this rumor is some comments by Dan Wallace of Dallas Seminary.  Dan has said:
  • A top paleographer is working on the dating of the Mark fragment.
  • The collection includes 1) small fragment of Mark, 2) something from Luke, 3) three from Paul, 4) an early sermon on Hebrews 11.  The Paul and Hebrews one are apparently being dated to the second century.
I'm guessing the manuscripts Wallace is talking about are also part of the Green collection.  I'm guessing that one of those three Paul manuscripts is the Romans manuscript on the news.

There's nothing impossible about finding second century manuscripts of Paul or Hebrews.  It's also not impossible that someone would find a first century fragment of Mark, although I'll wait to see on that one.  Whatever date ends up being ascribed--and manuscripts from this period can only be dated to within a 50 year window--I doubt anyone will be forced to change their dating of Mark.

So it's exciting because these fragments would be so early and so close to the time of writing. Let's just enjoy them, whatever they turn out to be in a year or so, early or late, authentic or hype.


David Drury said...

Exciting stuff. Thanks for the update.

Jared said...

Funny Post Title.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I was looking for the "like" button for Jared's comment....good advice to enjoy and not let it make war....or rumor of war.

Christopher C. Schrock said...

Dr. Schenck,

I am unfamiliar with manuscripts. Was wondering why the manuscript for Mark could only be dated within a 50 year window?

Ken Schenck said...

The handwriting in my great, great grandmother's Bible over 100 years ago had a certain look to it. This look changes over time. Paleographers have cataloged this sort of handwriting look and use it to date ancient manuscripts.

kerry kind said...

I'm hearing that the Green collection has an early 2nd century "mask" that, for lack of an easier description, is sort of like papier-mâché. They are able to remove layers of papyrus and have so far found some scripture fragments. There are more layers to go. Next layer is coming off soon at a location in Texas. The well-connected get an invitation to the event.

Ken Schenck said...

Funny... I haven't got my invitation yet in the mail ;-)

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