Dr. Gary Habermas Confirms: Recent Tests on a Gospel of Mark Fragment Possibly Provides The Oldest New Testament Manuscript Evidence Available

by Brian Nixon

At a recent Engage Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, keynote speaker and Liberty University professor, Dr. Gary Habermas, stated that a specialist in paleology (expert in antiques) dated a fragment of the Gospel of Mark between 80-110 AD. Dr. Habermas said a friend of his — a Ph.D. in semiotics (the study of language) — confirmed that the test was completed and the date as presented by the paleographer was affirmed.

If this date holds (and caution was given by Dr. Habermas not to jump to firm conclusions before more research was conducted), it would be the oldest extent Gospel of Mark fragment by over a hundred years. As noted manuscript and Greek scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace states, “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” [1].

Why is this announcement important? If the date stands, it would demonstrate that the Gospel of Mark was circulated in the 1st century, bridging the gap between Jesus and written evidence. In short, it would be historical evidence providing early — and possible eyewitness — testimony on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And though many Christians affirm that the Gospels are directly linked to eyewitness accounts, many scholars have yet to arrive at the same conclusion because some thought the time gap too large between the earliest manuscript evidence and Jesus’ life. But with the recent announcement history may need to be re-written…

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Dr. Gary Habermas Confirms: Recent Tests on a Gospel of Mark Fragment Possibly Provides The Oldest New Testament Manuscript Evidence Available