The article was titled “Earliest Manuscript of Gospel of Mark Reportedly Found” (Stoyan Zaimov, Feb. 20). This manuscript of the Gospel of Mark would have been copied in the first century A.D.—when some of Jesus’ early followers were still alive.
As the article stated, “The most remarkable aspect about this find, if it is indeed confirmed to be from the first century, is that it will be the first ever manuscript discovered dated within the lifetime of some of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, according to Wallace.”
Noted New Testament scholar Craig Evans commented: “If authenticity and early date are confirmed, this fragment of the Gospel of Mark could be very significant and show how well preserved the text of the New Testament really is. We all await its publication” (ibid.).
The publication was supposed to come the next year, but it has been delayed, reportedly until sometime in 2017, apparently because several other fragments are being studied, and the intention is to publish them all together in book form. Thus we will have to wait to see the fragment itself. But we do have the attestation of Daniel Wallace, a reputable scholar who stands behind what he publicly disclosed—that this fragment dates to the 80s or 90s A.D.
In any case, we already have not quite so early attestation to Mark and other books of the New Testament.
If the events of Jesus’ life recorded in Mark’s Gospel, including the resurrection, never happened, then the book would have been ridiculed by all those who read it. Obviously, it was believed to be true, not discredited. So copies of Mark’s work—and the other New Testament documents—were made early on for distribution through the first-century Church and for posterity.
So many thousands of people witnessed events in Christ’s life, including hundreds who saw Him after He was resurrected, that no sane author would write something like the Gospel of Mark while eyewitnesses were alive—if it wasn’t true. Otherwise, it would easily be discredited. And it would be foolish to copy such lies, as copying such manuscripts involved skill, time and effort—and for what?
On the contrary, it was an accepted fact that Jesus lived—and it was widely recognized that He was resurrected, or at least that He was believed to have been by multitudes of people.