More Info on the Discovery of the 1st Century MSS Fragment of Mark

Recently, Dr. Dan Wallace made news about the discovery of what is possibly the earliest NT MSS fragment ever found. I gave details on the find here. [And we reported on that here at this blog, too.]

Well, Dr. Wallace was recently interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his radio show about the discovery and gave additional details. We now know the MSS contains part of one papyrus leaf, written on both sides. From the sound of it, it is most of one leaf so several verses but not much more. It was also found in Egypt — all seven of these MSS finds were found there. Dr. Wallace will also be on of the authors of the book that will publish all seven papyri fragments in early 2013.

Wallace continues to consider this a truly monumental manuscript find, as the following snippet from the full interview makes clear:

HH: Wow. Now in terms of, for the lay audience, Professor Daniel Wallace, the significance of this work when it appears, how would you grade it, with an A being a Dead Sea Scroll sort of significance, and you know, flunking, it just doesn’t matter?

DW: I would grade it at least an A, maybe an A+.

HH: And will the rest of the scholarly world agree with you on that assessment, do you think?

DW: I think that when they understand the ramifications of the entire nature of this manuscript that I’m not at liberty to mention, yes. They’re going to understand. At least those that will accept that date. Since the manuscript doesn’t have a date stamp on it, it says it was done this year, there are always going to be dissenters. But to do the work of paleography takes thousands and thousands of hours of research to do one.

I’m not sure the discovery will prove to be the equal of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it will prove to be very consequential.

I also got an update from Matthew Hamilton who I quoted in my earlier post on this. From his information and that of Wallace from this interview, the following looks to be the list of the 7 manuscripts. Many of these would be the earliest textual witness we have of that Biblical book, if the dates hold true.

  1. 2nd century homily (sermon) on Hebrews 11
  2. 2nd century frg. with I Corinthians 8-10
  3. 2nd century frg. with Matthew
  4. 2nd century frg. with Romans 9-10
  5. 2nd century frg. from Hebrews, one side contains 9:19-22
  6. 2nd century frg. with Luke
  7. 1st century frg. [part of one leaf] with Mark

For more details read the entire transcript of the Hewitt – Wallace interview, and keep an eye on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.

~cross posted from my personal blog,

Possible Discovery of a 1st Century Fragment of Mark

On February 1st, Dan Wallace debated Bart Ehrman, for the third time, on the reliability of the New Testament text. In this third debate held on Ehrman’s own UNC Chapel Hill, Wallace mentioned the possible discovery of a 1st century fragment of the gospel according to Mark. Subsequent rumors have revealed that this is a fragment, dated by a neutral party, older than P52. Wallace has made some comments at various blogs to assure us that he was neither the discoverer not the examiner of said document, but was merely reporting news. A book is expected to be published next year that will detail more information.

Some bypassing comments on the Internet suggested that, if validated, this discovery can be a mighty blow to the arguments of Ehrman as well as the arguments of King James Onlyism. While I think such an old fragment will carry much significance, I think both sides will be able to continue to their respective positions regardless.

Check out the website of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts for updates (as of this blog, no update has been given).

Also, check out Evangelical Textual Criticism periodically for possible updates.

The New NIV… It’s Here!

For years, the NIV has been the most loved, and most hated of the modern Bible versions produced in the 20th Century. Many of us who used to be KJV-only advocates used to reserve our sharpest criticisms for the NIV. Perhaps that background is one of the reasons many of us still are hesitant to use it. We just prefer a more literal approach to Bible translation for various reasons.

With the advent of Today’s New International Version, there was an outcry about gender neutral language run too far. Partly as a result of this controversy, the English Standard Version was produced. The ESV is a conservative remake of the somewhat liberal Revised Standard Version. And the ESV took the Bible market by storm, as many Reformed pastors and teachers have made it their Bible of choice. It is making inroads into non-Reformed segments of Christianity as well.

Along the way, people like Leland Ryken, John Piper and Wayne Grudem have had some not so flattering things to say about the NIV, and especially the TNIV. And many other conservative scholars have concurred. At issue are the many places where the NIV smooths over the text to make nice sounding English, but in the process obscures the presence of important connector words like “for” and other features of the text which influence its interpretation. Many feel the NIV makes too many interpretive choices for its readers. Of course the gender neutrality of the TNIV is not a problem in the NIV, but the direction the TNIV took seems to be far afield of where conservative scholarship thinks we should go with respect to Scriptural integrity.

In light of this reaction, I was initially hopeful that the announcement of a new NIV update might promise a turn toward a better direction for the NIV. After reading the translators’ notes about the new update, I am inclined to think it actually is the positive change I was hoping for. In several cases they move toward a greater transparency to the original text. They restore many of the missing “for”s, and the gender neutral language concerns seem for the most part to be satisfactorily addressed. The tack they take is not much different than the ESV which also uses some gender neutral language in an attempt to employ contemporary English.

In this whole process I was also pleased to learn that the publishing house has little control, if any, over the actual text of the Bible translation. The translation aspects of the NIV are kept separate from the publishing and marketing arm of spreading the finished product abroad.

I encourage you to read the translator’s notes on this important update for yourself. You can also see a video introduction of the text by Douglas Moo, the chair of the translation committee. Furthermore, there are several comparison tools available for comparing the 1984 NIV text, and the TNIV and now the new 2011 NIV Update edition. BibleGateway can do that. And a couple other sites have comparison tools for comparing the various manifestations of the NIV: This site has a drop down menu to pull up the text a chapter at a time. This one offers several different comparison points between the editions.

I think this whole update was handled transparently and honestly. I believe it is a good sign that evangelicalism as a whole has a careful concern for the text of Scripture and aren’t just ready to adopt any translation that can be made. The respect and care with which the translators of the NIV handle their work has been apparent through the whole process. I think the end result will prove to be a blessing to the wider church, even with the presence of other useful, conservatively produced translations. May this lead to a greater unity and a lessening of the “Bible wars” which have been transpiring in the last decade or so. I for one, am eager to get a copy of this new NIV, to see how it compares with my ESV.

One last word: check out Rick Mansfield’s review of the updated NIV. I’m sure more reviews will be forthcoming, in the next few weeks.

Update on the Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text

Paul Anderson requested I post an announcement regarding the board of directors for the new organization. New resources and materials are being regularly added and descriptions of the various families of Byzantine texts are forthcoming, I’m told. So if you are interested in the Majority Text, bookmark the Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text’s website.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Chrysostomos, Ph.D., Director
Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece, Synod in Resistence
Senior Scholar, Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies
Etna, California

Archpriest Victor Potapov, Director
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox scholar and leading ROCOR hierarch
Washington, D.C.

Wilbur N. Pickering, Ph.D., Director
New Testament Textual Scholar
Valparaiso, Brazil

Kirk DiVietro, Ph.D., Director
Secretary of Dean Burgon Society
Pastor of Grace Baptist Church
Franklin, Massachusetts

David Warren, Ph.D., Director
Professor of New Testament Greek & New Testament Textual Scholar
Amridge University
Montgomery, Alabama

Paul D. Anderson, President
Founder of CSPMT
New Testament Textual Scholar
Rockville, Maryland