Bible Scripture Found Hidden in Mummy Mask Could End Up Being the Oldest Gospel Ever
This was based on a story at the LiveScience website published January 18th, 2015 titled
Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel
The story is not new. It dates back to 2012.
Dr. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, posted about this debate and the manuscript on March 22, 2012 at his blog under the title
First-Century Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Found!?
At that time the hoped for publishing date was 2013. But as for many works of scholarship that publication date has been delayed. Evans guessed 2014. Now it is 2015.
One of the problems people are having with the information that Wallace and Evans have given is that the information is so little.
What has been stated:
- The fragment is possibly part of a manuscript of the Gospel of Mark
- The fragment was dated paleographically [by handwriting style]
- The fragment was dated by Radiocarbon
- The fragment is claimed [by Evans] to date to A.D. 80.
- The fragment was discovered as part of a papier–mâché mix to make a mummy mask
- The fragment was successfully removed from the mask by a special process that preserved the writing.
Beyond this the rest is still undeclared and cannot be known until the scholarship about the fragment, its provenience, the chain of custody, the dating methods, and the textual analysis are completed.
We simply have to wait and not conjecture.
Why are these scholars so hush-hush about the manuscript?
Discoveries like this are kept under fairly tight wraps with confidentiality agreements. There are a couple of justifications for this. First: it preserves the integrity of the evidence physically and academically. This is a good thing. This helps to prevent the wildfire spread of forgeries and hasty conjecture of forgery. Second: it preserves the rights of those who did the work and, perhaps, own the manuscript, so that they are the ones who are properly credited–and in some cases receive reimbursement for their work. These scholars and the publishers spend their lives studying and publishing about such things. And, in the end, the economic value that people place on their work is how they feed their own families. Let them do their work. And after they have published, then let us evaluate the claims.