Dr. Wallace: Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?

Check this link for the latest in New Testament manuscript evidence.  Exciting stuff.



18 thoughts on “Dr. Wallace: Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?

  1. If this is authenticated to the 1st century, this find is simply astounding. It’s likely only a fragment, a few verses at most. But even then, it’s important as either corroboration or refutation that the text of the NT has been stable since its inception. Assuming it corroborates the Markan text, this would mean that no matter how far you go back, the textual witnesses stay the same. I can’t think of another ancient literary document that would have any textual witness from within 35 years of its authorship (assuming Mark was written circa 65 AD).

  2. Interesting and exciting stuff. Of course, what would really be interesting is to have manuscripts old and compete enough to tell us how Mark intended to end his gospel.

  3. The ECM (essentially the NA28 though it won’t be called that) is being worked on and the more early stuff the better. We all could use more information about how Christianity evolved 200 BCE to 200 CE. That being said, Wallace argument is bunk.

    What has happened is that manuscripts get classified one of three ways:

    a) They get classified as variants of New Testament manuscripts which mostly agree, and then they shift scholarly opinion on minor verses changes.

    b) They get classified as alternative versions of gospels / epistles where they act as source texts but where they differ even when older they don’t scholarly opinion because they are “rejected”. For example the reconstruction of Marcion’s version of Galatians or Marcion’s Luke (Gospel of the Lord). These version are given much less weight because they are considered “heretical”.

    c) Works that are related to but substantial variants of canonical books. 2Peter and Jude or Epistle on Works of Righteousness and James.

    So given the above what Wallace is really saying is: New Testament scholars, after they exclude books that differ substantially find there aren’t substantial differences in the manuscripts.

    However, even with respect to (a) Bart Ehrman’s claim to fame was to list 4 major theological points where the early manuscripts were disagreeing with current theology: adoptionism (Jesus was made son of God), docetism (Jesus did not have a body, or Jesus’ divine nature did not die), patripassianism (Jesus is just a form of a single person), separatism (Jesus and Christ were separate entities, another form of adoptionism). So Wallace’s point that there aren’t major variants here is a bit of a stretch.

  4. We all could use more information about how Christianity evolved 200 BCE to 200 CE.

    Christianity in 200 BCE?

    As for the rest of your post, please keeping vomiting the walls o’ text, it’s always entertaining.

  5. Yes David, 200 BCE. Christianity didn’t fall out of the sky one day in Palestine. It evolved from movements within Judaism and outside Judaism. You can find lots proto-Christian materials well before the dates attributed to Jesus’ “ministry”.

  6. “So given the above what Wallace is really saying is: New Testament scholars, after they exclude books that differ substantially find there aren’t substantial differences in the manuscripts.”

    confirmation bias is a hell of a drug.

  7. Tim, do we have any sources on who is working on the scholarly team analyzing the manuscript? Any independent press releases? Has anyone besides Wallace broken this news yet? What are the credentials of the people working on it?

  8. I believe Wallace’s teams work with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research or INTF in Munster, Germany for authentication, corroboration, and as a clearing house for cataloging manuscripts.

    There won’t be any more press releases, I’m guessing, until the fragment has been officially published. Unfortunately, this is how things are done in the academic world. Someone is likely writing a dissertation or an academic article for publication. Since this world lives and dies by these things for tenure and professorships, everyone tends to respect that and stay silent until that person can get proper credit for their work. And, it still could be identified as a fragment later than the 1st century.

  9. What David said. . .

    I don’t think we’ll see much about it until it makes a big splash with an official publication. I’m holding my breath that Dr. Wallace is not pulling a Dan Peterson and promising that proof of the Biblical manuscripts exists in a publication that will never see the light of day.

  10. I’m now very interested, much moreso when this was just about Mark being early. I’d say Wallace is out on a limb here in a serious way. A collection including a gospel plus Paul from the 1st century, breaks the almost universally agreed to idea that Marcion invented this structure. Which means either:

    a) Marcion is earlier than church history teaches. For which there is some evidence. And then the hypothesis that Catholicism emerged from Marcion becomes much more plausible. That also throws Gospel of Luke into disarray.

    b) Our whole theory of how the New Testament emerged is just wrong, timelines are shot and Marcion was just imitating a pre-existing structure.

  11. David —

    Maybe while you are advising others on the solid evidence for Christianity you should familiarize yourself with basics about how the New Testament formed.

  12. David. We’ve been down this road before on relativity. If you knew the subject well you would know that the first time the Pauline epistles get joined to a gospel is in Marcion’s Apostolikon. And you would have a better response then saying a normal and standard timeline is incoherent.

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