A team of archaeologists from Nova Scotia have uncovered a papyrus fragment from the inside of an Egyptian mummy mask that is believed to be the oldest copy of a gospel to date. The fragment is from the Gospel of Mark and the team including Craig Evans, professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is carefully ungluing the masks to preserve the texts. Evans stated they are discovering more than just biblical texts in the masks which should reveal more of the culture of the time.
We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters.
Papyrus was a valuable commodity in those days and it was reused and re-purposed for things such as burial masks and new papyrus scrolls. It’s not surprising that you would find Egyptians re-purposing Christian papyrus as it was probably not considered important enough to preserve.
From a single mask, it’s not strange to recover a couple dozen or even more. We’re going to end up with many hundreds of papyri when the work is done, if not thousands.
Finding these texts helps scientists and the rest of the world understand how Biblical texts have changed or evolved over time. The team hasn’t revealed what excerpt of the Gospel of Mark was found but they do say the findings will be published this year some time.Source: Voice Chronicle