Wednesday, 23 May 2018

“First Century Mark” is not from the First Century [UPDATED]

Brice C. Jones, 'The Secret Is Out: “First Century Mark” is not from the First Century' Brice C. Jones blog 5/23/2018
it has been six years since the announcement that an apparent first century fragment of Mark's Gospel had been discovered,[...] The obvious significance of a first-century fragment of Mark is that it would be the first-known manuscript of the Greek New Testament (GNT) to exist. [...] Today, Elijah Hixson posted a blog post over on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog about a Markan fragment that is to appear as no. 5345 in the 83rd volume of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series. The initial post questions whether or not this fragment is the same fragment as the so-called “first century fragment of Mark.” Dan Wallace, who first announced the discovery of this fragment, has finally broken his silence and responded to Hixson’s post, verifying that P.Oxy. 83.5345 is indeed the fragment he was referring to back in 2012. Significantly, this fragment has now officially been dated to the second/third century, as indicated in a draft of the publication shown on the ETC blog.
But There is more. It is alleged that Dirk Obbink (mixed up in the Sappho Papyrus scandal) is somehow involved here too:
 Scott Carroll [...] contributed comments to Hixson’s post indicating the following:
D. Obbink offered a papyrus of Mark 1 for sale in late 2011 to the Greens and it was still in his possession and he was trying to sell it in 2013. On both occasions, he unequivocally said that the papyrus dated to the late first or early second century and detailed reasons for his dating.”
So, based on Carroll’s comments, Dirk Obbink, the co-editor of the Markan fragment, was apparently trying to sell off this fragment for a few years. [Side note: Wallace claims in his post that he learned later the famous papyrologist who dated the fragment to the first century already adjusted his views about the dating prior to Wallace's announcement of its discovery in 2012. Carroll's comment indicates that Obbink was still arguing for a first century date in 2013, a year after the initial announcement. So, we need clarification here.] According to Hixson’s post, the Greens were “possibly inline to purchase it,” but the transaction never took place. I have not seen the full publication or an image of this fragment, so I cannot make any real judgments about dating, etc. But, I would be interested in knowing how Obbink got his hands on an Oxyrhynchus papyrus (presumably) outside of the Oxhyrhynchus collection, and who gave him the authority to sell it. If what Carroll says is true, Obbink was in the business to make money off this papyrus. Could it be that the manuscript was purchased by Obbink and that he finally sold it to the EES and it ended up in the Oxyrhynchus collection? Or, could the Oxyrhynchus collection/EES have been attempting to deaccession this fragment in an attempt to raise money (this seems very improbable to me)? If Carroll's assertations are true, does the fact that we are now seeing this fragment in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series undermine the integrity of the series? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I think we all  need to hear some clarification of Carroll's allegation. This all sounds most improbable.

See also Larry Hurtado's Larry Hurtado's 'Comments on the New Testament and Early Christianity (and related matters)' Blog That Curious Fragment of the Gospel of Mark–Now Published May 24, 2018. This seems to offer an explanation of the origin of the story, and Green-associate Carroll's version seems to have been found wanting.
Another account provides even more information wanting.
There are even more interesting detaqils on one of Richaqrd carrier's blogs: 'The Mummy Gospel Isn’t Even a Mummy Gospel!? Updates on That Supposed First Century Manuscript of Mark' April 4th 2018.
Basically, nearly everything said about this mysterious fragment of Mark has been garbled and false. Christian apologists tend to be bumbling fools, and this saga is more evidence of that. Even Craig Evans himself enters the clown car on this one. There is no evidence any Gospel has been recovered from mummy cartonnage. There is no evidence any fragment of the Gospel of Mark has been carbon dated, much less to the first century; or dated by any means at all other than the comparative stylistics of the handwriting. And the only Gospel that actually exists that anyone has claimed a possible first century date for, is not owned by the Green family, and likely doesn’t date to the first century (though it might date to the second, which would still be interesting, though not even remotely as interesting as apologists have been claiming). The image of a fragment of Mark 5 linked in to all this, is wholly unrelated, and is either an awful forgery or a medieval parchment; it is not in the Green collection nor being translated by Dirk Obbink. And the only fragment connected to any of this that actually came from mummy cartonnage, never contained any part of the Gospel of Mark; that was the delusion of a crank. And again, that isn’t the fragment Wallace or Evans or anyone else has been referring to these past five years. That’s the manuscript being studied by Dirk Obbink. Which is of a different part of Mark; isn’t owned by the Greens; doesn’t come from a mummy; hasn’t been carbon dated; and when that does get published (which will be “any day now!”…which I’m guessing is code for “shortly after the second coming of Jesus”), it’s doubtful it will be dated any earlier than the second century.
UPDATE UPDATE 5th June 2018
"Professor Obbink insists that he never said the papyrus was for sale, and that while he did receive some payments from the Green Collection for advice on other matters, he did not accept any payment for or towards purchase of this text"
Source:EES 'P.Oxy LXXXIII 5345'


The waters just get muddier and muddier: Danel B. Wallace, ‘First-Century’ Mark Fragment: Second Update 11 June 2018. What's going on?

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