Re: Dead Sea Mark

From: Jim West (
Date: Fri Apr 24 1998 - 18:22:50 EDT

At 08:53 PM 4/24/98, you wrote:

> It does appear that three fragments from Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q5 and 7Q8) are from
> New Testament documents.

This is absolutely false. And that is not just a matter of opinion. There
is NO, I repeat, NO Dead Sea Scrolls expert who support the notion that NT
documents have been found among the scrolls.

> The primary source is a learned article in /Biblica 53/ (1972), pp 91-109,
> by Professor J O'Callaghan, a Jesuit, and an eminent papyrologist. Scholars
> had failed to identify 7Q5, 7Q4 and 7Q8 even after searching right through
> the entire Greek text of the Old Testament (LXX). Eventually O'Callaghan
> thought the unthinkable and looked for a match in the New Testament. He was
> amazed to find that 7Q5 fitted Mark 6:52-53 (Gennesaret).

What Ben forgot to tell you (or does not know) is that only by an
excruciating, gymnastic twisting of the evidence can one even suggest that
7Q5 is Mark 6. It simply is not, regardless of ANY claim to the contrary,
by Ben or O'Callghan, or Thiede, or anyone else.

> Encouraged by this,
> he looked further and found that 7Q4 fitted 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3, and that 7Q8
> fitted James 1:23-24. /Biblica/ only has a limited circulation, so he wrote
> to /The Times/ (London) about his discovery (16th March 1972).

Again, these suggestions are simply tortured. Let me put it this way, if we
have a sentence:

God is love (1 John)

and Thiede finds this as a reconstructed text:

[God is lov]e

(the only letter identifiable being the last one)

Thiede says - aha- here we have a DSS example of 1 John. This procedure is
bogus, foolish, and could only be accepted by persons who simply do not know
anything about texts or readings.

> As it cut right across the received wisdom of the Redaction Criticism lobby,
> it met with considerable opposition from that quarter. But some very heavy
> guns were brought to bear in support, most notably CT Thiede.

Thiede is hardly a big gun in Scrolls studies. This is simply an effort to
bolster a silly theory by the flashing of some so called "big name".
Further, only those who have huge presuppositions about the composition and
dating of the NT could hold such impossible views. I urge you to inquire of
ANYONE who makes their living by working with and on the Scrolls to find out
if this situation is as Ben portrays it. Ask Florentino Garcia-Martinez,
Eugene Ulrich, Jim Vanderkam, Fred Cryer, Greg Doudna, Hartmut Stegemann,
Marty Abegg, or even James Eisenman if they think there are any NT documents
among the scrolls. They will say NO! If you need the email addresses of
any of these folk or a contact number I will be glad to give it to you off list.

> You will find a good brief discussion and evaluation of this in John
Wenham, /Redating Matthew Mark and Luke/, Hodder, London 1991, pp 177ff,
and further
> notes on p 288. [The late Dr John Wenham is well known as author of /The
> Elements of NT Greek/.]

I am unfamiliar with this book- but can hardly imagine that Wenham would
support such rubbish.

> Maybe someone has reproduced this on the WWW; but where I know not.
> Ben


Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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