The following interview (at bottom) highlights a recent, exciting discovery of a fragment of Mark’s gospel that has been uncovered in Egypt–from the 1st century! Context is needed. We have thousands of early New Testament manuscripts (copies of originals) dating from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries–which in itself is astounding given the fact that all other ancient works have only a sparse handful of manuscript copies with the average gap between the lost original and the earliest manuscript copy being 1000 years!
For example we have today only 10 manuscripts of the works of Caesar, the earliest copy being 1000 years after Caesar died! Aristotle’s works don’t fair any better. Only 49 manuscripts, the earliest being 1400 years after his death! To find a manuscript fragment from the 1st century on the life of Jesus while the eyewitnesses were still living is astounding and unheard of in ancient literature!
It is furthermore exciting because many in our pop culture who have long sat under the tutelage of shoddy liberal scholarship (i.e. Jesus Seminar) and fictitious novels (i.e. Da Vini Code) insist that Mark’s gospel as well as the rest of the New Testament was written 300 – 400 years or more after the life of Jesus (despite the fact that we have partial manuscript copies from 125 A.D. and entire manuscripts from 200 A.D.). But even if we did not have in our possession a single, surviving manuscript of the N. T. scholars could still reconstruct the majority of the N. T. through letters and quotations from church fathers–many who existed in the late 1st, 2nd and 3rd century (such as Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Tatian, Irenaeus and Hippolytus). This fact as well as the fact that none of the four Gospels, or the book of Revelation, record the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70, demonstrates powerfully that the N.T. was completed prior to A.D. 70– and most certainly before the close of the 1st century.
Ascribing a maximum date of A.D. 70 is especially significant in terms of the book of Revelation, a work that is thoroughly prophetic in nature and arguably the last letter. If it was written subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem, it is quite dubious John would have passed on the amazing opportunity to substantiate Christ’s own prophetic proclamation in foretelling the temple’s utter demise. Yet the Temple is left standing throughout John’s letter. The most sensible conclusion one can draw is that Revelation was written prior to A.D. 70. This is rather interesting because many critics like to speculate that the N.T. manuscripts in our possession today went through repeated additions and revisions to embellish Christ’s words and present him and his message in its most powerful and persuasive form. If that were true, it is truly a stretch of the imagination to think that not one detail over the destruction of the Temple, foretold by Christ, would have been been added in as a post-Christ, post-apostolic embellishment. Yet throughout the N.T. this monumental event is glaringly absent.
Click here for the article that highlights the recent finding… and hopefully soon-to-be unveiling of Mark’s 1st century manuscript fragment.