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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