Monday, February 13, 2012

Daniel Wallace: Early New Testament Manuscripts Discovered

Muslims claim that the Bible has been corrupted. If Muslims are correct, we would expect earlier manuscripts to conflict significantly with later manuscripts. Alas! No matter how early we go in the manuscript tradition (even back to the first century, it now seems!), all we ever find is confirmation of the Bible we have today.

Daniel B. Wallace is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. He recently made an interesting announcement about some new discoveries.

DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY--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.

How do these manuscripts change what we believe the original New Testament to say? We will have to wait until they are published next year, but for now we can most likely say this: As with all the previously published New Testament papyri (127 of them, published in the last 116 years), not a single new reading has commended itself as authentic. Instead, the papyri function to confirm what New Testament scholars have already thought was the original wording or, in some cases, to confirm an alternate reading—but one that is already found in the manuscripts. As an illustration: Suppose a papyrus had the word “the Lord” in one verse while all other manuscripts had the word “Jesus.” New Testament scholars would not adopt, and have not adopted, such a reading as authentic, precisely because we have such abundant evidence for the original wording in other manuscripts. But if an early papyrus had in another place “Simon” instead of “Peter,” and “Simon” was also found in other early and reliable manuscripts, it might persuade scholars that “Simon” is the authentic reading. In other words, the papyri have confirmed various readings as authentic in the past 116 years, but have not introduced new authentic readings. The original New Testament text is found somewhere in the manuscripts that have been known for quite some time.

These new papyri will no doubt continue that trend. But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection! (Source)


Search 4 Truth said...

This is awesome news. But I never had any coubts about them.

Hey David, Check out this story!

I wish i had a way to send you some things directly.

Derek Adams said...

But, the Bible is corrupt. Ending of Mark is missing. Allahu Akbar.


Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Derek showed up.

By the way you have been put on "the people whos debating careers have been ended" list.

Good Job.

Hezekiah Ahaz said...


Just saying my farewells.

Interesting I was actually reading about this article the other day.

Phillippians 2 "9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

dstewart said...

youtube link removed...

Usama said...

"Ending of Mark is missing. Allahu Akbar."

No it's not, how can you claim such a thing?

The ending of Mark's gospel is just not found in the earliest manuscripts. It doesn't mean it's missing, just that the manuscripts we have (those that are available for scrutiny) are missing the last few verses of Mark.

Regardless, Mark is not God. As long as the teaching doesn't contradict what our Lord taught, then it's irrelevant.

Also, this article is interesting. Textual variants may change or substitute certain words for others, but not the intended meaning or message. Jesus is our Lord, Simon is Peter. These variants don't hurt us in the least...

John said...

Hmmm Corrupted hey? 2 women go to where Jesus was buried find empty tomb - told by an angel that Jesus has risen then.... am I missing something?

simple_truth said...

I was listening to Dr. Wallace yesterday or the day before. I have seen some of his videos on the NT. That debate that you mentioned is on sale in DVD format, for those interested in viewing it.

If I remember correctly, he also stated in one of his lectures/discussions that there are other fragments that haven't been completely evaluated yet. If that is true, then who knows what the implications of those will be.

Baron Eddie said...

"5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."
1John 1:5

"12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
John 8:12

God is light ...

I am the light of the world ...

Jesus is God ...

Blessed His name forever ...

Amen ...

Whatever they find will affirm what we have between our hands ... and most importantly is that Jesus was/is/will be the Good News for all the world ...

Glory be to God forever

+ + +

Baron Eddie said...

off topic news

check this event that took place

in the Egyptian parliament ...

one of the members just stood up and started "youwathin" praying! without permission!

I think our congress should start practicing "taotheen"

The Berean Search said...

Baron Eddie: "Whatever they find will affirm what we have between our hands" you mean the way the Quran says Jesus and Muhammad both affirmed what was between their hands? ;)

Zack_Tiang said...

Excellent. More attestation for the bible.

So how is the Quran holding up against the authenticity of and the weight of the evidences for the bible?

Iconodule said...

I think people who point out the missing ending of Mark sort of miss the point. If we concede that it truely is not how mark had put it, what is the conclusion? That early Chrsitians didnt believe in the ressurection? That is contradicted by the apostle Paul, and Saint Mark affirms the empty tomb. To suggest Mark is against Christianity is to read into the text something not there.

cornholio said...

Was Josephus alive when Yeshua (I believe Yeshua is what Jesus' real name was, since the name Jesus didn't exist in the 1st century A.D.) died? I know Josephus fought in the Bar Kova revolt and lived to see the destruction of the 2nd Temple.

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

I wouldn't take Derek too seriously he already admitted to me over on his blog that he could certainly be wrong. Derek is just being arbitrary.

Why won't he go pick on Plato or Aristotle? Why is it that everybody wants to mess with Christianity?

Anthony Rogers said...


Derek is without hope and without God in the world. He is (at least in his own mind) just an accidental by-product of a mindless process acting on inchoate matter and is rushing toward final dissolution never to be seen or heard from again. I would let him be just as meaningless and irrelevant as his godless philosophy dictates.

(Of course he might protest at being ignored and treated like he is irrelevant, but that is the beauty of it, you see?)

Hezekiah Ahaz said...


I hear you man. Derek thought he could stand up to the TAG. If he had a debating career last week it suddenly came to an end.

The thing is Derek can talk that way if he wants but deep down inside he doesn't believe it.

Inwardly he's a Christian, for example, he keeps trying to make sense of things, be rational, logical etc.

I'm just waiting for him to admit it and repent from his arbitrariness.

dstewart said...

I think you guys missed Derek's point. I know he doesn't believe in the Bible, but I don't think he's so desperate to defend his worldview that he'd be serious about saying the whole Bible must be corrupt just because it looks like Mark is supposed to have an ending that we don't have. (I've read Daniel Wallace state his opinion that Mark is supposed to end that way, and it makes sense to me anyway). Or did you not see the "Allahu Akbar" that he put on the end? LOL.

Derek Adams said...

- Charles this is Dk you are not reading this, I am invisible boooooooo.

- Hezekiah thank you for ending my debate career. Although I must admit your declaration doesn't seem to have come true yet (as I am involved with several debates/discussions), perhaps when you expose me further on your blog? Perhaps when you quote me out of context and refer to me as a fool while praising two dead men will get the fans foaming in the mouth wanting to end me?

Try going over to "" I tend to single out Islam, not Christianity, often they over-lap. They share alot of the same philosophical problems, not political.

Anthony Rogers said...

I said: "He is....rushing toward final dissolution never to be seen or heard from again. I would let him [DK] be just as meaningless and irrelevant as his godless philosophy dictates."

DK said: "Perhaps when you quote me out of context and refer to me as a fool while praising two DEAD men will get the fans foaming in the mouth wanting to end me?"

DK disambiguated: "...Quit talking about two men who are dead and irrelevant just like Anthony said I was on my own philosophy."

Sorry, I just couldn't resist. It's like you just walk into such things like it is part of your job description. :)

Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Now derek wants to play the "you qouted me out of context" game.

What Philosophical problems are you talking about now?

An individual came by my blog this morning and gave me some links to some videos Anthony made responding to you.

It's interesting that this is not the first time you have fled for the mountains.

But just for the record why did you run Derek did it get a little rough?

By the way Dr.Bahnsen and Dr.Van til are not dead.

Ever hear of the fiction of death?

cornholio said...

@ Derek

WRT Christianity and Islam"

"They share alot of the same philosophical problems, not political."

LOL, yeah right, MuhamMAD was a psychopathic, narcissistic, slave-owning psychopath who was responsible for the mass murder and enslavement of hundreds, if not thousands of Jews. He obviously has a lot in common w/Yehsua, LOL. Maroon.