Sunday, May 27, 2018

Moss and Baden on the no-longer-first-century Mark fragment

CANDIDA MOSS AND JOEL BADEN: Was One of World’s Oldest Bible Passages Found in a Garbage Dump? On Thursday, the Oxford-based Oxyrhynchus Society announced the discovery of a second-century piece of the Gospel of Mark from a dig in an Egyptian garbage dump (The Daily Beast).
Yesterday, the Egyptian Exploration Society, the nonprofit organization that acts as curators of the Oxford-based Oxyrhynchus Society, announced a new discovery: a late second- or early third-century CE fragment of the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, just published in The Oxyrhynchus Papryi Volume 83 (2018), edited by distinguished Oxford academics Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink. In what must be the archetypical example of the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” this pile of ancient refuse has produced one of the oldest fragments of the oldest Gospel story (Mark is believed by scholars to be the earliest Gospel.) This makes it a substantial and significant discovery for those interested in the history of Christianity, the evidence of the dating of the books of the Bible, and the history of book-making. But it also comes with a substantial mystery surrounding its origins, its dating, and its potential connection to the ubiquitous Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby and the founders of the Museum of the Bible.
This story is labyrinthine but worth trying to follow. As usual, Professors Moss and Baden lay out the evidence as clearly as possible.

Background on this early (but not first-century) Mark fragment is here and links.

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