Some Answers on Fackelmann’s “First-Century Mark” Papyrus

When I wrote my earlier post on a papyrus allegedly containing a draft of Mark’s gospel, I also did a bit of searching to see if anything new had come up with regard to Fackelmann’s alleged Mark papyrus. The only thing I came across turned out to be a quite interesting find. There is actually a recent (2015) biography of the Anton Fackelmann, the famous conservator of papyrus and parchment: Continue reading

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Just a Bit More on the Robinson Papyri

I find one of the items in the list of Robinson Papyri at Duke especially curious. The last item in the list, which is given in the Duke records as P.Duk.inv. 798 (= P.Rob.inv. L 1). It is a fragment of Cicero’s Catiline orations. Several things stand out about this piece.


P.Duk.inv. 798 (=P.Rob.inv. L 1), Cicero, In Cat. 1.13-15

It belongs to a Greek-Latin codex with Christian contents, the rest of which is now kept in the Abbey of Montserrat near Barcelona. This codex is widely agreed to be a part of the “Bodmer Papyri,” a group of manuscripts that appeared on the antiquities market in the early 1950s and seem to derive from a single ancient collection. In his edition of the Cicero fragment, William H. Willis reported that the papyrus was the only Latin piece among the Robinson Papyri and also “the last papyrus [Robinson] acquired for his collection.” It was “purchased in Cairo in 1955” (Willis, “A Papyrus Fragment of Cicero,” TAPA 94 [1963], p. 321). Interestingly, the Robinson Cicero fragment is also usually said to have been found inside one of the Coptic codices acquired by the University of Mississippi in 1955. Thus Willis wrote: “It was found between the leaves of the Crosby Codex, a papyrus codex in Coptic now at the University of Mississippi Continue reading

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Further Details on the Robinson Papyri

Once I got to organizing my thoughts about the Robinson Papyri yesterday, it occurred to me that the best thing to do was simply to list them out. As I was working through the collection, I came across another description of the group that is more helpful with regard to numbers and provenance. Again, the source is an article by William H. Willis, “Oxyrhynchite Documents among the Robinson Papyri,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 25 (1988), 99-127. Here, the collection is described by Willis as follows:   Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, Duke Papyri, Green Collection, Mummy cartonnage, Robinson Papyri | 1 Comment

The Robinson Papyri


William H. Willis

“The Robinson Papyri” are a group of manuscripts bought by David Moore Robinson (1880-1958), professor of classics and archaeology at the University of Mississippi. I first became interested in these papyri while trying to sort out the origins of the Bodmer Papyri, another somewhat confusing group of manuscripts that I will discuss in a later post. Most scholars know the Robinson Papyri mainly through a paper presented by William H. Willis (1916-2000) in 1958, which was published in the Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Papyrology, “The New Collections of Papyri at the University of Mississippi.” In that publication, Willis gave the following information about the Robinson Papyri, which were then housed at the University of Mississippi, where Willis was the chair of the Department of Classics:   Continue reading

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A First-Century Papyrus of Mark (Probably Not the One You Think)

[[With thanks to Sonja Anderson, Malcolm Choat, Ann Hanson, and Hugo Lundhaug for help in gathering sources and checking facts.]]

One of the great things about researching ancient Christian manuscripts at Macquarie University in Sydney was the collection of bibliographic resources there. The Department of Ancient History at Macquarie had gathered, all in one room, articles relating to just about every papyrus of the first few centuries AD that has been plausibly (or implausibly) identified as Christian.  While going through these files a couple years ago, I stumbled upon a folder with the label “P.Fackelmann.” I was curious because I had recently had a series of discussions with Roberta Mazza about Michael Fackelmann,  who was the former conservator of papyri at the renowned collection in Vienna as well as an occasional seller of antiquities.  Inside the folder I found a single article not by Michael Fackelmann, but Anton Fackelmann. Michael Fackelmann had been preceded in the conservation job at Vienna by his uncle, one Anton Fackelmann (1916-1985). The article had appeared in a short-lived Greek journal called Anagennesis in 1986, a year after Anton Fackelmann had died. The title hooked me instantly: “Präsentation Christlicher Urtexte aus dem ersten Jahrhundert geschrieben auf Papyrus, vermutlich Notizschriften des Evangelisten Markus?” (“Presentation of Early Christian Texts from the First Century Written on Papyrus, Probably Notes of Mark the Evangelist?”).  First of all, I was shocked that I had never heard of this article before. Even outlandish and universally rejected claims about early Christian papyri tend to make the news (such as the almost universally rejected claim that a tiny fragment from Qumran, 7Q5, contained Mark’s gospel).  But this Fackelmann article on Mark was totally new to me.  Given all the recent talk about a first-century papyrus of Mark’s gospel associated with the Green Collection and allegedly found in mummy cartonnage, this seemed all the more bizarre.  Imagine my further surprise when I started reading the Fackelmann article and discovered that it too concerns a papyrus recovered from mummy cartonnage! I give my translation of the relevant paragraph:  Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, Anton Fackelmann, Fakes and Forgeries, First Century Mark, Mummy cartonnage, Schøyen Collection | 5 Comments


ⲡⲗⲉⲓⲥⲧⲁ ⲭⲁⲓⲣⲉⲓⲛ. Thanks for stopping by. I’m a scholar in the area of religion specializing in early Christianity. I’m currently working on ancient Christian manuscripts. I’ve just completed a book on that topic (Excavating God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts), which is due out next year. This was a really fun book to write. While researching it over the last few years, I encountered so many fascinating stories about Christian manuscripts (and the people who study them!). So, I’m planning on using this site primarily to share some of these interesting, entertaining, and just plain strange stories. I hope others enjoy all this as much as I have.

I’ll also periodically post things that I think might be useful to people who are interested in studying early Christian manuscripts–resources that aren’t readily available elsewhere online. So again, thanks for taking the time to read. ⲉⲣⲣⲱⲥⲑⲁⲓ ⲩⲙⲁⲥ ⲉⲩⲭⲟⲙⲁⲓ.

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