7Q4 = 1 Tim
7Q5 = Mark 6:52-53
7Q6 = 1 Mark 4:28
7Q6,2 = Acts 27:38
7Q7 = Mark 12:17
7Q8 = James 1:23-2
7Q9 = Romans
7Q10 = 2 Peter 1:15
7Q15 = Mark 6:48
Fragments discovered in DSS Cave 7 represent a mixture of Greek content
from Exodus (7Q1) and Jeremiah (7Q2), as well as materials (7Q3-19)
potentially from the Gospel of Mark, Second Peter and the Book of Enoch.
Curiously, the exact same description could be given for the New Testament
book of Jude. This raises the interesting possibility that Cave 7 was
a depository for documents stored during the "Pella Flight" of the Jerusalem
Church -- the very community in which the biblical writer Jude lived and
ministered. Unfortunately, extensive research into this possibility is
not presently possible due to the cave opening's mysterious collapse, and
the unwillingness of the Israeli Antiquities Authority to re-excavate.
O’Callaghan, Jose. `Les Papyrus de la Grotte 7 de Qumran.’ Nouvelle Revue
Theologique. Vol 95 (1973). pp. 187-195. O’Callaghan, Jose. Los papiros
griegos de la cueva 7 de Qumran. 1974. Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos.
Madrid. (This is O’Callaghan’s monograph on the New Testament fragments of
Qumran Cave 7). O’Callaghan, Jose. `The Identifications of 7Q.’ Aegyptus.
Anno 56, No, 1-4. (Gennaio-Decembre 1976). pp. 287-294. Thiede, Carsten
Peter. The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? 1992. Paternoster Press. Thiede,
Carsten Peter. Rekindling the Word. 1995. Gracewing. (pp. 189-204). Thiede,
Carsten Peter. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity.
2000. Lion Publishing. Oxford. But see especially: Dou, Albert. `El calculo
des probabilidades y las posibles identificaciones de 7Q5′, pp. 116-139 of
O’Callaghan’s Los Primeros Testimonios del Nuovo Testamento, Madrid, 1995.
Dou’s conclusion is that there is less than 1 chance in 900,000,000,000 of
the 7Q5 fragment not being Mark 6:52-53. The fragments are never mentioned
by the critics, of course, and Bible apologists are therefore not aware of
them. But they do exist, and are housed today in the Rockefeller Museum in
Eyewitness to Jesus
Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede
CARSTEN PETER THIEDE
scholar from the 20th century, best known for his textual criticism
of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the hopeful identification of the
7Q5 papyrus as a fragment of the Gospel of Mark. Thiede was an
advocate for O’Callaghan’s claims that numerous portions of the
Qumran scrolls from Cave 7 are actually Christian New Testament
texts from pre AD 70. The adduced texts are very fragmentary and
ambiguous, and mainstream scholars have not agreed. In
December 1994, Thiede's redating of the Magdalen papyrus, which
bears a fragment in Greek of the Gospel of Matthew, to the later 1st
century on palaeographical grounds provoked much debate. In
his book Jesus, Man or Myth?, Professor Thiede sought to
present to the serious reader, anxious to make his or her way
through the blizzard of differing views and judgments currently in
circulation regarding the person of Jesus and the origins of
Christianity, with a convincing account of the reality of the man,
and of the trustworthiness of the sources upon which we have to
depend for our primary information.
(aimablement fourni par -
kindly provided by: A.LÓPEZ)
during the General Assembly of the AIP gathered in Helsinki on
August 7th, 2004
par - by: Juan CHAPA
was born in Tortosa (south of Catalunya, Spain), on the 7th of
October 1922. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1940 and was
ordained to the priesthood in 1952. He obtained a licentiate in
Theology in 1953 and a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters at the
University of Madrid in 1959. His interest in Christian culture and
classical world led him to continue his studies in Milan, where he
worked under the supervision of Prof. Montevecchi. In 1960 Fr.
O'Callaghan obtained a doctorate in Classics at the University of
Milan with his thesis Cartas cristianas griegas del siglo V.
From 1961 to 1971
Fr. O'Callaghan taught at the Faculty of Theology of San Cugat of
Valles (Barcelona). During those years he founded the "Seminari de
Papirologia", which he continued to direct throughout his life.
Thanks to the generosity of his brother-in-law, Josep Palau Ribes,
Fr. O'Callaghan was able to purchase a large number of papyri and to
found the journal Studia Papyrologica (1962-1983) and two
series of publications, Papyrologica Castroctaviana
(1967-1988) and Estudis de Papirologia i Filologia Biblica
In 1971 he was
called to teach papyrology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute,
where he remained until his retirement in 1992. He was dean of the
Biblical Faculty from 1983 to 1986. During these years he was also
visiting professor at the University of Urbino.
In 1972, Fr.
O'Callaghan provoked a heated discussion among New Testament
scholars when he proposed that one of the Greek texts from Cave 7 of
Qumran should be identified as a fragment of the Gospel of Mark.
Based on this identification, he also suggested that other fragments
from Cave 7 may correspond to New Testaments books. In the ensuing,
occasionally bitter debate, he always knew how to maintain a
reasonable and balanced distance.
From his encounter
as student with another Jesuit, Fr. José María Bover, who was
engaged in the preparation of a critical edition of the New
Testament, Fr. O'Callaghan was also introduced to textual criticism,
to which he dedicated many efforts. He published, among other works,
Nuevo Testamento Trilingüe (1977) and Introducción a la
crítica textual del Nuevo Testamento (1999).
O'Callaghan died on the 15th of December, 2001 in the Jesuit
infirmary at San Cugat del Valles (Barcelona), following a long
illness. The memory that he leaves behind is one of a dedicated
priest and scholar, a welcoming and cheerful man, who, in addition
to his academic work, always knew how to find time for pastoral
activities and be close to his colleagues and friends.
Jewish Apocalyptic Writings:
The "Dead Sea Scrolls"
OF THE JERUSALEM
TEMPLE, ZEALOTS & PELLA-BOUND CHRISTIANS
"7Q5 = Mark 6:52-53"
Studies of the Dead
Sea Scroll Fragment 7Q5
Earliest NT Papyrus |
Biblical Scholarship |
New Light on the Book of Daniel from DSS
"It is hard to
overstate the significance that a positive identification of 7Q5 as
Mark 6:52-53 would have on biblical literary criticism."
Evangelist Study Archive |
Mark 9:1 |
Olivet Disourse |
Mark 16 "Long
7Q5 = Mark 6.52-53 - A Challenge for
Textual Criticism? (PDF)
Redating the New Testament
A.T. Robinson Study Archive |
7Q5 Information on
the Internet |
Refutation of CP Thiede |
7Q21: What is it? Where is it?
Cave 8 opening on left ; Cave 7's
mysteriously sealed opening on right
Orsolina Montevecchi, Honorary President
of the International Papyrologist Association
"I do not think that there can be any doubt about the identification
Interview with S. Paci,
30 Giorni XII/7-8 (1994), pp. 75-76
Wikipedia Article on 7Q5
Among the Dead Sea scrolls,
7Q5 is the designation for a papyrus fragment discovered in Cave 7 of
the Qumran community. The significance of this fragment is derived from
an argument made by José O’Callaghan in his work ¿Papiros
neotestamentarios en la cueva 7 de Qumrân? (New Testament Papyri in Cave
7 at Qumran?) in 1972, later reasserted and expanded by German scholar
Carsten Peter Thiede in his work The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? in
1982. The assertion is that the previously unidentified 7Q5 is actually
a fragment of the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6 verse 52-53. The
illustration at right gives a clear picture of how much text is
conserved on the fragment 7Q5.
The argument is weighted on two points. First, the spacing before the
word ?a? <kai> ("and") signifies a paragraph break, which is consistent
with the normative layout of Mark in early copies. Secondly, the unique
combination of letters ???s <nnes> found in line 4 is highly
characteristic and may point at the word Ge???sa?et <Gennesaret>, found
only thrice in the New Testament. Furthermore, all attempts to identify
the fragment with any other known Greek text have failed.
Several counterarguments exist.
* First, the papyrus is so small, and of such poor quality, that
positive identification even of the individual letters is difficult at
best, although identifications on similar circumstances such as
literature or other subjects have been accepted with not so much
* Secondly, there is no
consensus that the letters ???s are the best reading of the papyrus.
Furthermore, apart from Gennesaret, the word e?e???se? <egennesen>
("begot") is cited as another word in the Greek lexicon containing those
four letters. In fact, this conjecture was proposed by the authors of
the first edition (editio princeps) published in 1962. In such case the
fragment might be part of some genealogy.
* Thirdly, in order to
identify the fragment with Mark 6:52-53, one must account for the
replacement of original d <d> with t <t> in line 3, which is
* Fourthly, as the lines of
a column are always more or less of the same length, it must be assumed
that the words ep? t?? ??? <epi ten gen> ("to the land") were omitted, a
variant which is not attested elsewhere.
* Fifthly, the
identification of the last letter in line 2 with nu has been strongly
disputed because it does not fit into the pattern of this Greek letter
as it is clearly written in line 4. Instead, the reading of iota + alpha
(which is the reading proposed in the first edition) has been
It is hard to overstate the significance that a positive identification
of 7Q5 as Mark 6:52-53 would have on biblical literary criticism, which
may explain both the motivation to see the Gospel of Mark in the
fragment and the reticence of many to hang so much on such a small
thread. The Qumran community was disbanded no later than 68 AD, which
would make that the latest possible date for any documents stored there.
This would make 7Q5 the earliest existing fragment of New Testament
canonical text, predating P52 by almost 100 years. It would firmly fix
Mark as the earliest of the Gospel accounts, and would be a strong
argument for authentic Markan authorship, as a pseudonymous work would
be highly unlikely within the lifespan of the attested author.
Most significantly in theological terms, according to Christian
apologists such an identification would make a strong argument for the
assertion that the miraculous, divine, and messianic attributions to
Jesus were very early traditions in the Christian church. However, more
skeptical scholars argue that it would only demonstrate that part of the
current text of Mark is very early, not that all of it was, and while
modern versions contain miraculous, divine, and messianic attributions,
there is no way of confirming that the document to which 7Q5 originally
belonged actually contained such attributions or if it merely stated he
was an ordinary man with wise teachings.
ARGUMENT BY CARSTEN THIEDE
Eyewitness to Jesus
Greek Qumran Fragment 7Q5: Possibilities and Impossibilities
The Greek scroll fragments from Qumran present a curious
phenomenon: whereas the one Greek Old Testament papyrus from Cave 4
(supplimented by four Greek parchment scraps and one Exodus
paraphrase on papyrus from the same cave) does not appear to belong
to a separate collection, but to a general, motley, "library"
preserved in that cave, the neighbouring cave 7 includes a
collection in its own right -- nothing but nineteen Greek fragments,
eighteen of them on papyrus, and another one preserved as an imprint
in the hardened soil of the cave. A few months ago, the
international scholarly debate about this cave has been given a new
twist. Vittoria Spottorno, the new editor of the Spanish journal Sefarad, has published an article which claims to shed new light
on the most important Greek papyrus fragment from Cave 7, "7Q5". In
it, she proposes "una nueva posible identificacion de 7Q5",
Zechariah 7,4-5 (1).
Her paper appeared a couple of months after the publication of
the Eichstätt University Qumran symposium, "Christen und
Christliches in Qumran?" (2). At Eichstätt, it had become
apparent that there are more arguments in favour of the
identification of 7Q5 as Mark 6,52-53 -- a New Testament
identification first suggested as long ago as 1972 by the Spanish
papyrologist José O'Callaghan (3) -- than had previously
been supposed by a majority of scholars. Above all, it was the
detailed analysis presented by the Vienna papyrologist Herbert
Hunger in favour of the Marcan identification which did not fail to
impress the participants (4). As an aftermath of the
symposium, fragment 7Q5 was analyzed in the forensic laboratory of
the Department of Investigations at the Israel National Police in
Jerusalem. The upper remnant of a decisive diagonal stroke be made
visible in line 2 and further contributed to the solidity of the
Marcan identification (5).
It is thus highly likely that 7Q5 = Mark 6,52-53 will have to be
added to the official list of New Testament papyri sooner or later.
On the other hand, attempts to suggest alternative identifications
remain legitimate, even if -- or perhaps especially when -- they are
carried out in ignorance of the results obtained at Eichstätt and
Jerusalem. To try and find an Old Testament (LXX) passage for 7Q5 is
neither new nor original (6), not least in view of the
fact that a fragment from Exodus (7Q1 = Exod 29, 4-7) and one from
the deuterocanonical Letter of Jeremiah (7Q2 = EpistJer 43-44) --
two texts of some importance to early Christianity -- had already
been identified among the 7Q papyri (7).
It is, however, not only Hunger's paper and the forensic analysis
in Jerusalem that have recently added to the arguments in favour of
7Q5 = Mark 6,52-53; O'Callaghan's identification was checked by the
Ibykus computer programme with the result that there is no
other text than Mark 6,52-53 in extant Greek literature which fits
the papyrological evidence of 7Q5 (8). Any alternative
suggestion must therefore be expected to come up with corrections or
improvements of at least equal value and importance as those
represented by the Marcan "status quo". As this tiny scroll fragment
offers a mere twenty letters on five lines (9), the scope
for convincing alternative readings is understandably limited.
A juxtapostion of the editio princeps, O'Callaghan's
reading, and Spottorno's alternative highlights the problem:
Editio princeps O'Callaghan Spottorno
O'Callaghan's dot underneath the nu in line 2 may now be
deleted; the Jerusalem analysis proved its existence beyond the shadow
of a doubt. However, this nu is not part of Spottorno's
The extremely damaged letter in line 1 was not even tentatively
identified in the editio princeps (10), even though
the working hypothesis of an epsilon was admitted. On the other
hand, it cannot possibly be a tau. This is obvious from a
comparison with the undamaged tau in lines 2 and 3. Should one
want to look for an alternative to epsilon in line 1, it might
just conceivably be sigma.
It is thus equally impossible to read gamma instead of tau
in line 2. The tau of 7Q5 is above suspicion and has been so as
early as the editio princeps. The first and last letters of this
line are severely damaged; even so, O'Callaghan's upsilon had
been accepted as a possibility by the original editor (11).
The eta, on the other hand, has gained further plausibility by
the forensic analysis in Jerusalem (12). Therefore,
Spottorno's variants are highly unlikely, if not downright impossible.
As for line 3, both O'Callaghan and Spottorno read kai after a
spatium, i.e., paratactically. O'Callaghan's eta is
confirmed by the editio princeps and indeed by all published
enlargements, incuding an infrared photograph (13). By
definition, Spottorno's sigma must be ruled out as impossible.
Prior to Spottorno, only Aland had thought of reading pi instead
of tau + ... at the end of this line (14), but without
any serious argument in his favour.
In line 4, there are no differences suggested by Spottorno; however,
she wants to find a justification for her reading of ea]n nHs[ teusHte
(as in Zech 7,5) by seeing "las dos n de linea 4" as "discontinuas".
Fragment 7Q5 does in fact offer two exceptions to the rule of scripto
continua; they indicate small gaps between words -- in line 2 (autwn
hH of Mark 6,52) and in line 3 (kai ti of Mark 6,53). That
small gap in line 3 is part of the undamaged centre of the fragment;
thus it can be compared accurately to the writing of the two nu
in line 4. It should be obvious to the naked eye, even without the
analysis of enlargements, that the "gap" between the two nu in
line 4 is anything but proper spacing. Otherwise, even the undisputed
kai in line 3 could not be a kai, since the "space" between kappa
and alpha is as wide as, if not wider than, that between the two
In line 5, O'Callaghan and Spottorno have only one letter in common,
the second one, eta. It might just be possible to admit
Spottorno's omega as a remote alternative, even though no one,
beginning with the editio princeps, has ever seen it before.
Sigma instead of epsilon for the third letter was one of the
two possibilities suggested in the editio princeps; the remnants
appear to belong to a curvature, however, and would be much too high for
the horizontal stroke of an eta. As for the practically invisible
trace of the last letter in this line, it is severely damaged by a
turning to the right of the papyrus, probably caused by an early attempt
at destruction (15). It is hardly possible to suggest, let
alone identify any letter at all. Personally, I should have preferred a
mere dot, but O'Callaghan's alpha (contrary to the sigma
of the editio princeps) is supported by a concrete textual
suggestion. Mark 6,52-53. Thus, if the papyrological and palaeographical
evidence of the complete fragment supports the identification, as seems
to be the case especially after Eichst„tt and Jerusalem, it must be
allowed to stand. In principle, the same would be true, needless to say,
of Spottorno's nu; but, as we have seen, her alternative
identification is doomed already on the basis of irrefutable evidence
against other letters of her reading. Furthermore, she adds a sixth line
to the fragment and sees an epsilon in it. Original as this
addition may be, it is hampered by the papyrus itself: there simply is
not enough extant material to allow for a sixth line, let alone for a
letter -- any letter -- in it.
As we have seen, Spottorno's alternative identification is ruled out
by insurmountable palaeographcial barriers. There may be scope for
debate in one or two secondary cases, but decisive letters pass an
unequivocal verdict on her attempt.
All this is further corroborated by a look at the actual passage
which she suggests in place of Mark 6,52-53, Zech 7,4-5, and which
should be, as we have seen, according to the text of her own
reconstruction, 7,3b-5. To begin with, there would be no justification
for the undoubtable and undoubted paratactical kai after a
spatium. And, as Spottorno herself admits (16), the text
presupposed by her identification cannot be reconciled with any existing
critical edition; neither Rahlf's (1979) nor any of the others
corroborate what she suggests as the text of Zech 7,(3b)-5. Admittedly,
she may have remembered a seemingly comparable problem in 7Q5 = Mark
6,52-53 (17). However, the singular variants in Mark make
sense and could even be expected, as has been shown more than once (18),
whereas Spottorno's variants stem from an extreme and philologically
unjustifiable eclecticism. Thus, she does not even try to find reasons
for them. For example, there is the omission of twn dunamewn in
7,4; the impossibility of a spatium before kai in 7,4; the
addition of ths ghs between hiereis and legwn in
7,5; tw pemptw instead of tais pemptais and tw hebdomw
instead of tais hebdomais in 7,5.
The sheer number of these variants invalidates Spottorno's attempt to
improve upon 7Q5 = Mark 6,52-53. Her suggestion is to be rejected as
impossible for palaeographical as well as philological reasons.
Institut fur Wissenschaftstheoretische Carsten Peter THIEDE
(1) V. SPOTTORNO, "Una nueva posible identificacion de
7Q5", Sefarad 52 (1992) 541-543. Correctly, however, her
suggestion involves 7,3b-5.
(2) B. MAYER (Hrog.), Christen und Christliches in
Qumran? (Regensburg 1992). This volume contains the most up-to-date
photographs of Qumran fragment 7Q5 on p.41, 242 and 243 (enlargement of
nu detail, cf. n.5). Photographs of 7Q5 can also be found in
Bib 53 (1972). J. O'Callaghan, Los papiros griegos de la cueva 7
de Qumran (as in n.13) and in C.P. THIEDE, The Earliest Gospel
Manuscript? Qumran Fragment 7Q5 and its Significance for New Testament
Studies (as in n.8). The first published photograph of 7Q5 was part
of the original DJD III edition (cf. n.7), vol. 2, Planches,
planche XXX, no. 5.
(3) J. O'CALLAGHAN, "Papiros neotestamentarios en la cueva
7 de Qumran?", Bib 53 (1972) 91-100. Authorized English
Translation by W.I. Holladay: JBL 91 (1972), Suppliment 1-14.
(4) H. HUNGER, "7Q5: Markus 6,52-53 -- oder? Die Meinung
des Papyrologen", Christen und Chrisliches, 33-56, with 22 ill.
(5) C.P. THIEDE, "Bericht uber die kriminaltechnische
Untersuchung des Fragments 7Q5 in Jerusalem, Christen und
Christliches, 239-245, with 4 ill.
(6) Detailed documentation and analysis in F. ROARHIRSCH,
Markus in Qumran? Eine Auseinandersetzung mit den Argumenten fur und
gegen das Fragment 7Q5 mit Hilfe des methodischen Fallibilismuprinzips
(Wuppertal-Zurich 1990) 106-128.
(7) Les 'Petites Grottes' de Qumran (ed. M. BAILLET
- J.T. MILIK -R. DeVAUX, OP) (DJD III; Oxford 1962) 142-146.
(8) Cf. C.P. THIEDE, The Earliest Gospel Manuscript?
The Qumran Papyrus 7Q5 And Its Significance for New Testament Studies
(Exeter-Carlisle 1992) 40-41, n.31.
(9) For the sake of comparison: 7Q2 = EpistJer 43-44 has
twenty-two letters on five lines; Masada fragment 721a = Virgil Aeneid
4:9, has fifteen letters on one line.
(10) DJD III, 144.
(11) O'CALLAGHAN, Los papiros griegos.
(12) THIEDE, "Bericht", 240.
(13) J. O'CALLAGHAN, Los Papiros griegos de la Cueva 7
de Qumran (Madrid 1974) infra-red englargement of 7Q5 on plate VI,
infra-red photographs of other 7Q fragments on plates IV and V.
(14) K. ALAND, "Neue neutestamentliche Papyri III", NTS
20 (1974) 357-381, here 375.
(15) See THIEDE, "Bericht", 240.
(16) SPOTTORNO, "Una nueva posible identificacion", 543.
(17) Omission of epi tHn gHn in 6,53 suggested by
stichometry; tau instead of delta in tiaperasantes
(18) Most recently by HUNGER, "7Q5: Markus 6,52-53; --
oder?" and C.P. THIEDE, "Papyrologische Anfragen an 7Q5, im Umfeld
antiker, Handschriften", Christen und Christliches,57-72. See
also ROHRHIRSCH, Markus in Qumran?, 73-83, and THIEDE, The
Earliest Gospel Manuscript?, 29-32.
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
"This article has attempted to show that the alleged
identification of 7Q5 as a text of Mark's Gospel is even more
speculative than many others, albeit supported by well-meaning
= Mark 6.52-53 - A Challenge for Textual Criticism? (PDF))
Michael J. Bumbulis
"All of this means that we do indeed possess independent
evidence that corroborates a pre-60s date for the synoptic Gospels
as indicated by my earlier analysis of Acts. This is significant as
it clearly shows the belief in Jesus' resurrection cannot date after
A.D. 60-65 and thus dates to a time when most of Jesus'
contemporaries were still alive. In fact, since it is unlikely that
the authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke invented the resurrection
claims, but instead were more likely to have incorporated older oral
traditions into their Gospels, the resurrection belief is pushed
back much earlier Any skeptical theory that depends on a late date
for the resurrection belief is thus severely damaged." (Mark Was
Composed Long Before A.D. 70 - Below)
FULL LITERARY TREATMENTS
Composed Long Before A.D. 70
Michael J. Bumbulis
In the past, I have argued that the best evidence to
date points to a pre-70 date for the synoptic Gospels. In making this
argument, I drew primarily from the internal evidence that is present
within Acts. Now, I would like to offer independent evidence that
corroborates such an early date for the synoptics.
Such evidence comes from the field of papyrology which is the study of
ancient manuscript evidence on papyrus. Papyrologists study the contents
and writing styles of ancient manuscripts, including fragments that
might be no larger that the size of a typical commemorative postage
stamp. While such a study is not an exact science, papyrology is akin to
a specialized field in archaeology. It is one of the primary methods by
which an unknown manuscript fragment is identified and dated. For
example, papyrology was used to date the Johannine codex P66 to ca. 125
A.D.  Papyrology has also been extensively used to date the Dead Sea
Scrolls, and the dates arrived at have been largely supported by
radio-carbon dating .
In 1972, Spanish papyrologist Jose O'Callaghan (who is also editor of
the Palau-Ribes papyrus collection) made an identification of the small
manuscript fragment that shocked the academic world. The fragment in
question is called 7Q5 and was found in Cave 7 among the Qumran caves.
Cave 7 is very interesting in that the manuscripts found in this cave
are all written exclusively in Greek. Furthermore, archaeological
evidence exists so that there is a consensus among scholars that this
cave was closed in A.D. 68.  Thus, anything found in this cave would
unlikely to be dated later than this time. Yet in the case of 7Q5, a
date of A.D. 68 would represent an upper-limit, as the text is written
in the Herodian "decorated" script which dates between 50 B.C. and A.D.
But what manuscript is represented by 7Q5? At first glance, making an
identification is no simple task. This fragment contains only 20 Greek
consonants (whole or damaged) on five lines. The fragment itself is also
very small, about 4 cm. X 3 cm. Furthermore, only one complete word can
be read - the word kai (which means "and"). While these facts might seem
to suggest that any attempt to identify this fragment is futile, it is
not uncommon for papyrologists to identify fragments (from Virgil, for
example) with evidence of this type.
To see how this works, consider a simplified example. Let's say I wrote
the following sentences on a piece of paper, copied it several times,
and then deposited one copy in a cave.
The boy ran to the store. When he got to the store, he found that it was
closed. Then he ran home.
Now, let's imagine a few hundred years go by such that some of the
writing flakes off the paper. As a result, my sentences now look like
a lose en
Let's further imagine that someone in the future discovers this flawed
fragment and wants to identify it. If they possess copies of my original
sentence that have been passed on through the years, the task would not
be hard. They might start with the four letters that spell 'lose' and
search a database that contains, among many other writings, a copy of my
original sentence. Of course, the database-search would also detect all
writings with the letters l,o,s,e in sequence in addition to my original
sentence. The next step would be to start measuring the distance between
letters and find which of these selected writings also has an "a" a
specific distance before "lose" and an "en" a specific distance after
"lose." My original sentence would probably be the only one detected and
the identity of the fragment would be discovered. One could verify this
claim by making more distance measurements and considering the
line-placement of all the other letters. If they all "fit," a conclusive
identification has been made. Then, one could draw upon archaeological
considerations (concerning the place where the fragment was found) and a
comparative analysis of writing styles of various documents to arrive at
a date for this fragment.
Again, papyrology is not an exact science (especially when it comes to
dating), nevertheless, it reminds me of a common method employed by
molecular biologists. Molecular biologists often work with gene
fragments and the genes are represented as a linear sequence of
molecules known as nucleotides (which are represented by the letters G,
T, A, and C). A partial sequence of an unknown gene can be used to
search a database of other genes and the same logic employed by
papyrologists is used to determine if the unknown gene belongs to a
class of known genes from other organisms. Put simply, a molecular
biologist will tend to have great sympathy for the approach of the
When this approach was applied to 7Q5, a revolutionary finding was
uncovered. One of the five lines contains a rare combination of letters:
n/n/e/s. When this combination was used, along with the other known
letters and their spacing and line-placement, to search an extensive
database of Greek literature (including the Septuagint), the only good
match was found from Mark 6:52-53 (where the n/n/e/s
would correspond to Gennesaret)! The match was further strengthened by
the larger than usual space that occurs before the only complete word on
7Q5, kai (translated as "and"). Such spaces were often used by ancient
scribes to indicate a new "paragraph" or break in the narrative, and
sure enough, Mark 6:53 begins with "And." Furthermore, 7Q5 also
preserves the last letter of the last word before this space, an eta.
Mark 6:52 ends with this same letter. As if this wasn't enough, the
Greek letter "n" was identified in line two following the letters "t/o".
This matches nicely with the Greek word "auton" (meaning "their") in
verse 52 .
Given the revolutionary nature of this identification, it is not
surprising that many New Testament scholars have raised objections and
very few have agreed with the identification.. However, papyrologist
Carsten Theide has marshalled some very powerful replies to these
objections. Since it is beyond the scope of this article to get
bogged down in the details of this technical debate*, I will simply
out that the list of papyrologists who agree with the identification of
7Q5 as Mark 6:52-53 is growing. Apart from Thiede, who has championed
this identification, the list includes Sergio Davis, honorary president
of the International Papyrologist's Association and Orsolina Montevechhi,
author of the standard introductory manual to papyrology.
Furthermore, Shemaryahu Talmon, one of the Jewish members of the
editorial board of the Qumran scrolls also supports this
All of this means that we do indeed possess independent evidence that
corroborates a pre-60s date for the synoptic Gospels as indicated by my
earlier analysis of Acts. This is significant as it clearly shows the
belief in Jesus' resurrection cannot date after A.D. 60-65 and thus
dates to a time when most of Jesus' contemporaries were still alive. In
fact, since it is unlikely that the authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke
invented the resurrection claims, but instead were more likely to have
incorporated older oral traditions into their Gospels, the resurrection
belief is pushed back much earlier Any skeptical theory that depends on
a late date for the resurrection belief is thus severely damaged.
*I am willing to debate the technical details with those who deny 7Q5 is
a fragment from Mark.
7Q5 - An interesting Detail
Enste, July 2002
Line 2 is very important in the discussion whether Qumran
papyrus-fragment 7Q5 is part of the gospel of Mark or not. In line 2
there is the decisive spot: the identification with the text Mk 6, 52 -
53 recommends a Ny. Actual it is impossible to detect a Ny on this spot
of the fragment. To prove the supposed Ny, fragment 7Q5 was examined
microscopical in Israel in the year 1992. Video recordings and printouts
exist to document the examination. Below you can see such a printout,
showing the decisive spot in line 2, large and in high resolution (that
causes longer download-time). When you move the mouse over the green
plus sign a circle will appear, marking the important spot in the
fragment (Maximize the browser-window, resolution 800 x 600; I hope all
different browsers understand my intention...)
traces of the diagonal Ny-stroke. In fact there only is a rugged
piece of papyrus. This is proven with this picture: The rugged
structure continues beyond the borders of an imaginary Ny-stroke,
especialle above the ´stroke´.
important is the beginning of a new letter that can be seen very
clear in this area. It is impossible to think that in this area
the diagonal Ny stroke could ´arrive´. Supporters of the markan
identification reconstruct the Ny in the following way - with
the diagonal Ny-stroke making a turn at exactly this place:
interpretation of this part (line 2) of the document is the
following sequence of letters: Iota - Alpha.
Against this interpretation supporters of the markan
identification allege that the visible traces of letters exclude
the possibility of the letter Alpha at this place. But this is
nonsense. In line 3 an Alpha in the word "kai" can be seen. The
connection (or ligature) between this nearly complete Alpha and
the Kappa is not preserved. The ink-traces you can find in line
2 fit exactly in this little lacuna. On the left you can see the
traces standing alone and then combined to a complete Alpha.
It is quite clear that the vertical stroke in line 2 is the
letter Iota. Only the discussion whether 7Q5 is a part of the
gospel of Mark made some people question this Iota. The reason
is clear: They need a Ny in this place, the Iota-Alpha-sequence
would make their desired identification impossible.
What do YOU think ?
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Date: 09 Aug 2009
I Like this page i would also add if people who advocate the late date
for the gospels They have some problems.
it is widely agree matthew holds about 80% of mark and Luke also holds
about 60% of mark.
since Luke is agree by many to be written 60-68 that would mean matthew
also would be place in 50-60 ad.