Those Dead Sea Scroll Fragments And Mark -- By: Clifford A. Wilson
BSP 2:2 (Spring 1973) p. 57
Those Dead Sea Scroll Fragments And Mark
In our last issue we published substantial extracts from an article by Dr. William White, relating to the Dead Sea Scroll fragments which Jesuit priest José O’Callaghan has identified with portions of the New Testament.
We are often asked questions about these fragments and in our desire to be objective in the pursuit of truth we here present some of the arguments raised against the identification. We ourselves wish that there were not such arguments! However, if the fragments are NOT from the New Testament it is better to know as soon as possible. There have been other sensational claims made in this generation which have later been seriously challenged or even abandoned. Examples are numerous. For instance, the so-called flood-line at Ur — the eight foot deposit of silt was found in only two of five shafts sunk and few scholars would today identify this “local” flood with the Genesis flood. Or take the identification of the level of Jericho attacked by Joshua — most scholars, whether adherents of the late date or the early date for the exodus from Egypt, would suggest that John Garstang excavated and recovered much of the civilization one level below Joshua’s level (i.e., earlier), although evidence from nearby tombs, etc., pointed to occupation in Joshua’s day. Another case is Nelson Glueck’s identification of certain buildings as Solomon’s furnaces at his famous mines at Ezion-Geber — though evidence for Solomon’s mining activities was found, the “furnaces” identified by Dr. Glueck were actually store-rooms, as he himself later acknowledged.
There are other examples — they do not affect the authenticity of Bible history at all, for they are simply reconstructions of men. Interpretations and theories come and go, but the Bible itself stands firm, despite both the hammering blows of critics and the sometimes wrong defences of its friends.
Hence our suggestion of the need for caution regarding O’Callaghan’s theory and our belief that the following aspects should be considered.
1. The date of 50 A.D. is tentative — the date originally assigned to the so-called Mark text from Cave 7 at Qumran was 50 B.C. to 50 A.D. and O’Callaghan’s date is not precisely established. It cannot go
BSP 2:2 (Spring 1973) p. 58
beyond the realm of generalization. It is, however, a fact that 50 A.D. was set previously by other scholars and O’Callaghan did not personally assign the date.
2. The identification of a fragment with Mark 6:52–53 demands textual revisions which are possibly permissible but uncertain. The necess...
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