Lately there has been much ado about a small Greek fragment of the Gospel of Mark (the existence of which was reported in February of 2012 but which is still unpublished), which, according to various reports, was extracted from the papyrus lining of an ancient Egyptian mummy-mask, and which might have been produced in the first century. Hardly anyone, however, seems to have noticed the discovery of another fragment from the Gospel of Mark which is relatively early, and which, unlike the elusive first-century fragment, has been published with photographs.
|Visit CSNTM to see 0313 in color and in ultraviolet.|
The fragment to which I refer is 0313, a small piece of a codex produced in the 300’s or 400’s. As Peter Head reported in 2008 in the Journal of Theological Studies, 0313 was one of several fragments which had come into the possession of Dr. Christopher de Hamel. (An additional report, describing the photographing of these fragments, was entered at the CSNTM site.) The contents of 0313 were identified by Dr. Dirk Jongkind. Head initially described it as “late fifth century” but a production-date in the 300’s cannot be ruled out. This little scrap is thus one of the ten oldest Greek manuscripts that contain text from the Gospel of Mark.
The text of 0313 from Mark 4:9 is (first line) Ο ΕΧΩΝ ΩΤΑ ΑΚΟΥΕΙ[Ν] [Α-] (second line) ΚΟΥΕΤΩ. This is a notable feature, because 0313 thus confirms the early existence of a Byzantine reading that is not supported by the best representatives of the Alexandrian Text (À and B). This reading is not supported by Codex D, either. À*, B, and D support ΟΣ ΕΧΕΙ in Mark 4:9 instead of Ο ΕΧΩΝ. (In addition, D, along with some Old Latin copies, has an entire extra phrase in Mark 4:9.)
When this passage is compared to the parallel-passages in Matthew 13:9 and Luke 8:8 (where the text reads Ο ΕΧΩΝ), it becomes clear that the adoption of the Alexandrian-Western reading of Mark 4:9 yields a Minor Agreement.In other words, if one builds on the premise that Matthew and Luke both used Mark, then one would need to posit that Matthew and Luke both read Ο ΕΧΩΝ and then each one replaced this with ΟΣ ΕΧΕΙ. The simpler scenario is that they each wrote ΟΣ ΕΧΕΙ because they both read ΟΣ ΕΧΕΙ. Unfortunately, this intrinsic evidence in favor of the Byzantine reading in Mark 4:9 is not mentioned in the apparatus of the
Greek New Testament, and it is not
noted in the apparatus of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, either.
On the other side of the fragment, text from Mark is found:
ΤΗΝ ΟΔΟΝ. ΟΠΟΥ ΣΠΙΡΕ
Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ· ΚΑΙ ΟΤΑΝ ΑΚΟΥ.
0313 has the usual text of Mark 4:15, which allows us to perceive that we are indeed looking at a manuscript of Mark, rather than Matthew or Luke. It also means that 0313 is a more accurate witness to the text of Mark 9:15 than Codex Vaticanus, which has an anomalous reading in this passage.
If ΟΣ ΕΧΕΙ is the original text of Mark 4:9 (implying that À and B contain (part of) a Western reading at this point), then 0313 is among the earliest extant manuscripts of the original text of the verse. Even little fragments can contribute to our knowledge of the text. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
(In related news, I hope that you all have seen Christopher de Hamel’s clearly written and opulently illustrated book, The Book. A History of the Bible.)