A papyrus fragment of the Book of Mark discovered in the mask of an Egyptian mummy may be the oldest copy of the gospel in existence.
According to The BLAZE, researchers discovered the sheet of papyrus that had been recycled and used to make a mummy mask. After separating the papyrus from the rest of the mask, experts were able to read the writing, determining that the scripture could date back to the year 90.
The papyrus will undergo further testing before it is published this year; if it proves genuine, scholars say that it will help to determine how much the Book of Mark changed over time.
Denny Burk, a professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, wrote that the papyrus is a “momentous find,” if it is from the first century.
“To have a first-century witness to the text of the New Testament is unprecedented. That a fragment of Mark was found in Egypt is even more astonishing. That would seem to require that the original was probably penned decades before,” Burk wrote on his blog.
The BLAZE reports that the fragment was first mentioned by scholars in February 2012, but details are now emerging as its publishing date draws closer.
Publication date: January 21, 2015