Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New discovery of early fragment of the book of Romans to be published by academic press

Manuscript expert Daniel B. Wallace reports on the exciting find.

Excerpt:

At the Society of Biblical Literature’s annual conference in Chicago last week (17–20 Nov 2012), Grant Edwards and Nick Zola presented papers on a new papyrus fragment from Romans. They have dated it to the (early) third century, which makes this perhaps only the fifth manuscript of Romans prior to the fourth (though a couple of others are usually thought to also be from the third century). This manuscript is part of the Green Collection (inventory #425). It will be published in the first volume of a new series by the Dutch academic publishing house, E. J. Brill. The series, edited by Dirk Obbink and Jerry Pattengale, is called the Green Scholars Initiative: Papyrus Series. Volume one is edited by Jeff Fish of Baylor University.

The text of the fragment is from Rom 9.18–21 and small portions of Rom 10. Edwards presented information about the paleography and provenance of the fragment, while Zola presented his findings on the textual affinities of the papyrus.

And don’t forget, we are expecting (in 2013) an academic publication about the first century fragment of the gospel of Mark.

From the Christian Examiner.

Excerpt:

Following the discovery of a first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel in the Middle East, more new information has emerged, along with two new claims.

Also found were an early sermon on Hebrews and the earliest known manuscripts of Paul’s letters.

Details about the finds will be published in an academic book in 2013, says Dallas Theological Seminary’s Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor. Wallace started the buzz on Feb. 1 when, during a debate with author and skeptic Bart Ehrman, he made the claim about the Mark fragment, which would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament.

Wallace provided a few more details on his website and then a few more during a Feb. 24 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, saying the fragments and manuscripts were found in Egypt.

The significance of all the manuscripts, Wallace said, would be on par with the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Mark fragment is “a very small fragment, not too many verses, but it’s definitely from Mark,” Wallace said. “… To have a fragment from one of the Gospels that’s written during the lifetime of some of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection is just astounding.”

To date, the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament is from John’s Gospel and dates from around 125 A.D.

The Mark fragment, Wallace said, will affirm what is already written in that portion of Mark’s Gospel.

The paleographer who dated it, Wallace said, is “one of the world’s leading paleographers.” Wallace previously said the paleographer is certain it’s from the first century. Still, Wallace told Hewitt, several more paleographers will look at the Mark fragment before the book is published.

The Mark fragment will be published in a book along with six other manuscripts, Wallace said. One of those will be a second-century sermon on Hebrews 11. The significance: It shows Hebrews — whose author is unknown — was accepted early by the church as Scripture.

“What makes that so interesting is the ancient church understood by about A.D. 180 in what’s called … the Muratorian Canon, that the only books that could be read in churches must be those that are authoritative,” Wallace said. “To have a homily or a sermon on Hebrews means that whoever wrote that sermon considered Hebrews to be authoritative, and therefore, it could be read in the churches.”

Also among the finds are second-century fragments from Luke and from Paul’s letters. Wallace did not state which letters were found.

“Up until now, our oldest manuscript for Paul’s letters dates about AD 200, [known as] P-46,” Wallace said. “Now we have as many as four more manuscripts that predate that.”

The transcript of the interview with Dan Wallace is here.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More details about the new first century fragment of the gospel of Mark

From Christian Examiner. (H/T The Poached Egg)

Excerpt:

Following the discovery of a first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel in the Middle East, more new information has emerged, along with two new claims.

Also found were an early sermon on Hebrews and the earliest known manuscripts of Paul’s letters.

Details about the finds will be published in an academic book in 2013, says Dallas Theological Seminary’s Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor. Wallace started the buzz on Feb. 1 when, during a debate with author and skeptic Bart Ehrman, he made the claim about the Mark fragment, which would be the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament.

Wallace provided a few more details on his website and then a few more during a Feb. 24 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, saying the fragments and manuscripts were found in Egypt.

The significance of all the manuscripts, Wallace said, would be on par with the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Mark fragment is “a very small fragment, not too many verses, but it’s definitely from Mark,” Wallace said. “… To have a fragment from one of the Gospels that’s written during the lifetime of some of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection is just astounding.”

To date, the earliest-known fragment of the New Testament is from John’s Gospel and dates from around 125 A.D.

The Mark fragment, Wallace said, will affirm what is already written in that portion of Mark’s Gospel.

The paleographer who dated it, Wallace said, is “one of the world’s leading paleographers.” Wallace previously said the paleographer is certain it’s from the first century. Still, Wallace told Hewitt, several more paleographers will look at the Mark fragment before the book is published.

The Mark fragment will be published in a book along with six other manuscripts, Wallace said. One of those will be a second-century sermon on Hebrews 11. The significance: It shows Hebrews — whose author is unknown — was accepted early by the church as Scripture.

“What makes that so interesting is the ancient church understood by about A.D. 180 in what’s called … the Muratorian Canon, that the only books that could be read in churches must be those that are authoritative,” Wallace said. “To have a homily or a sermon on Hebrews means that whoever wrote that sermon considered Hebrews to be authoritative, and therefore, it could be read in the churches.”

Also among the finds are second-century fragments from Luke and from Paul’s letters. Wallace did not state which letters were found.

“Up until now, our oldest manuscript for Paul’s letters dates about AD 200, [known as] P-46,” Wallace said. “Now we have as many as four more manuscripts that predate that.”

The transcript of the interview with Dan Wallace is here. We do not mention the name of the Romney-supporting radio show host.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earliest manuscript of the New Testament discovered?

John Rylands manuscript fragment P52

John Rylands manuscript fragment P52

The P52 manuscript fragment from the gospel of John is considered to be the earliest New Testament manuscript fragment. It is dated around 125 A.D.. But historians have found a new fragment from Mark that may be much, much earlier.

Top New Testament scholar and evangelical Christian Daniel B. Wallace reports.

Excerpt:

On 1 February 2012, I debated Bart Ehrman at UNC Chapel Hill on whether we have the wording of the original New Testament today. This was our third such debate, and it was before a crowd of more than 1000 people. I mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year.

These fragments now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.

It was dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers. He said he was ‘certain’ that it was from the first century. If this is true, it would be the oldest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. Up until now, no one has discovered any first-century manuscripts of the New Testament. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. It was discovered in 1934.

Not only this, but the first-century fragment is from Mark’s Gospel. Before the discovery of this fragment, the oldest manuscript that had Mark in it was P45, from the early third century (c. AD 200–250). This new fragment would predate that by 100 to 150 years.

Evangelicals react to Wallace’s statement here.

Right now, I think it’s best to be skeptical. But I will be following the story closely.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Four reasons why positing the resurrection best explains the historical data

From Ratio Christi at Ohio State University.

Introduction:

When it comes to the Christian faith, there is no doctrine more important than the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings. Instead, it is founded on the person and work of Jesus. From a soteriological perspective, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, we as His followers are still dead in our sins (1Cor.15:7).

He lists four pieces of “historical bedrock”. These are the facts that even really skeptical atheists like Bart Ehrman and James Crossley will give you in a debate.

  1. The post-mortem appearances
  2. Paul’s use of the Greek word “soma”, which means body
  3. Identification of Jesus as divine by the earliest Christian community
  4. The rapid growth of early Christianity even after its founder was dead

This is a very very minimal set. He did not even use the burial, much less the empty tomb, which is a harder sell.

Here’s a closer look at Reason #2 of 4:

2.The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Explains Paul’s Use of the Word “Soma”

Whenever the New Testament mentions the word body, in the context of referring to an individual human being, the Greek word (soma, always refers to a literal, physical body). This is significant because Paul uses the word soma to describe the resurrection body of Jesus (1 Cor.15:42-44).Greek specialist Robert Gundry says “the consistent and exclusive use of soma for the physical body in anthropological contexts resists dematerialization of the resurrection, whether by idealism or by existentialism.” (1) Furthermore, N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God shows that the Greek word for resurrection which is “anastasis” was used by ancient Jews, pagans, and Christians as bodily in nature, with this being the case until much later(A.D. 200).

The only explanation that can be given to the emphatic insistence on the early proclamation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, rather than translation or even a spiritual body is the fact that the apostles did in fact actually witness a material resurrection.

And one Bible passage from his Reason #3: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.

5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),

6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

1 Corinthians is unanimously viewed by historians across the ideological spectrum – from evangelical to atheist – as a genuine epistle written by Paul, around 55 AD. I think this passage argues strongly that the earliest Christians thought of Jesus as other than an ordinary man. And the Ratio Christi post has many more passages to support Reason #3 as well.

Read the whole thing. If you want to see a great debate on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, you should watch William Lane Craig debate James Crossley.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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