Oldest Copy of the Mark Gospel on Mummy Mask

mummy-mask_gospel-of-markA fragment of the Gospel according to Mark found on an Egyptian mummy mask may be the oldest copy of the Gospel. The announcement of the papyrus’ discovery was made by Craig Evans, professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

gospel-according-to-markHandwriting analysis (paleography) and carbon dating led him and his team of researchers to conclude that the fragment was written in the 1st century, before 90 A.D. This find makes it at least a decade older than other early fragments of the New Testament. The oldest copies of the Gospel, before this discovery, dated to the 2nd century, between the years 101 A.D. to 200 A.D.

egypt-africa_mapThe copy of this Gospel was written on a sheet of papyrus, which was later used to cover the face of a mummy. Although mummified pharaohs wore masks of gold, mummified ordinary citizens had to wear masks made out of sheets of glued linen and papyrus. Due to how expensive papyrus was, people had to recycle sheets that already had text written on them.

egyptian-papyrusRecently, scientists discovered a way of removing the glue without damaging the ink on the papyrus so the text on the paper is legible. Taking these masks apart yielded a trove of ancient documents. In addition to Christian texts, hundreds of classical Greek texts, records of business transactions, and personal letters have been discovered.

News of the copy of the oldest Gospel first came to light in 2012 when its existence was revealed by Daniel Wallace, founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts at Dallas Theological Seminary. The text has yet to be published. Its planned date of publication has been repeatedly pushed back, from an original plan of 2013 to 2015 and now, just this week, all the way to 2017.

God’s Fingerprints In Creation

Milky Way Galaxy
Milky Way Galaxy
Milky Way Galaxy

God’s fingerprints can be seen throughout all of creation. This includes the harmony in nature and the ecosystem, as evidenced in insects and plants alone. Even the wisdom that God gave to animals, in the form of instincts, shows intelligent design. Mankind has been able to replicate some organs, such as the heart, but not the human mind. The rocket that takes man to the moon has to go at a certain velocity and trajectory; spacesuits have to be composed of the right synthetic materials. If what mankind creates is not spontaneous, then how can God’s creation be spontaneous; especially if we cannot replicate it?

“20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”

– Romans 1:20 (NIV)

For since the creation of the world

Sunrise at Victoria Falls
Sunrise at Victoria Falls

God’s existence and His work in the universe can be clearly seen from the time of creation. God has made it plain and clear, so that no one has an excuse [Romans 1:19 (NIV)]. The heavens, the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, show His creativity and handiwork [Psalm 19:1 (NIV)]. We are also a part of God’s handiwork [Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)].

His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen

God’s eternal power is evidenced in the cosmos. Only an eternal God can create an everlasting universe with no boundaries.

“He made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.”

Jeremiah 51:15 (NIV)

The Godhead is understood to be Three divine Persons [Matthew 28:19 (NIV)], the Trinity, in One Being [Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV)].

“19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

– Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

God’s invisible qualities… have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made

God's FingerprintThere are always new scientific discoveries that defy the laws of physics and baffle the scientific community. Some of the scientific explanations (e.g. a multiverse and “dark matter”) take more faith to believe in that creationism. What is visible was made from the invisible, or the spiritual [Psalm 33:6 (NIV)].

“20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

– 1 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

so that people are without excuse

As believers, we should always study the Word so that we are prepared to give an answer as to why we believe what we believe.

“15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

– 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)