A few days ago, I was fortunate to be a part of the a session dedicated to a “postmortem” on so-called “First Century Mark” at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego. Below is a quick summary derived from my recollections. Please let me know if there are any inaccuracies, and I will correct them.

SBL 2019 “First Century Mark” panel: image source: Twitter feed of Charles J. Schmidt (via Evangelical Textual Criticism)

Bart Ehrman started things off by revisiting his 2012 debate with Dan Wallace. He made the case that even if we did have a fragment of Mark datable to the first century, it wouldn’t really tell us much that is new. If it looked like the text of Mark that we know, that’s great, but we still wouldn’t know how it matched up with the lost earliest copy of the gospel. If the first century manuscript looked too different from the Mark we know, then “scholars like Dan” might claim it wasn’t actually a copy of Mark. Bart finished up by speaking out against relying on hearsay (as Dan Wallace had in their debate).

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