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Evangelio de Marcos. El Manuscrito de la Momia

Domingo, 25 de enero de 2015

CientA-ficos-encontrado-Andong-National-University_CYMIMA20150120_0007_13Del blog de Xabier Pikaza:

RD acaba de publicar una nota de agencia donde se afirma que han encontrado y que pronto publicarán “un fragmento” del Evangelio de Marcos, escrito ente el año 80 y el 90 de nuestra era”, en la máscara de una momia egipcia.

La noticia es de tipo sensacionalista, ha dado la vuelta al mundo, y RD ha hecho muy bien en publicarla quizá debía haber preguntado la opinión de algún especialista de su grupo, como podía ser en este caso el Prof. A. Piñero, pues mucho me temo que estemos ante una “serpiente de invierno boreal” (aunque parece cierto que en el fondo puede haber un núcleo de verdad).

(cf. http://www.periodistadigital.com/religion/mundo/2015/01/21/hallan-la-copia-del-evangelio-mas-antigua-del-mundo-en-la-mascara-de-una-momia-egipcia-religion-iglesia-egipto.shtml ).

No soy experto en papiros, pero algo estudié y algo sé de Marcos, y así puedo ofrecer unas anotaciones críticas, presentando después un trabajo autorizado sobre el tema (en inglés):

1. El texto formaría parte de una máscara de momia egipcia, de “segunda categoría”, del siglo II d.C., para la que se habría utilizado un papiro pre-escrito, con un pasaje del evangelio de Marcos. La momia parece haber sido “saqueada” por ladrones de tesoros, que habrían vendido la máscara (hecha de pobre papiro, no de oro, como en las momias de faraones y altos dignatarios). Eso indica que la procedencia del texto sería “ilegal” (en Egipto no se pueden saquear máscaras, ni venderlas al extranjero). No sabemos pues a ciencia cierta de dónde ha venido el texto.

2. El Prof. Craig Evans, de la Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville (un buen “escolar”, como indico en la nota final de esta postal, afirma que ha investigado bien el texto y que, por la escritura y tinta, es del 80 al 90 d.C., y que contiene un texto de Marcos, pero nadie “neutral” ha visto el papiro manuscrito con el texto, ni ha ofrecido una foto auténtica de su contenido. Por otra parte, partiendo solo de un análisis de la tinta y escritura resulta difícil fijar la fecha en que ha sido escrito un texto.

3. Todo lo referente al descubrimiento y presentación de ese presunto “manuscrito de Marcos” resulta “poco científico”: No se puede hablar de un texto sin publicarlo, determinando modo y locación del descubrimiento, indicando el lugar dónde se encuentra, con “documentación fotográfica” o foto-mecánica. Mucho tememos que en el fondo haya un pequeño fraude quizá “bondadoso” (o una noticia que debe cernirse y decantarse entre los investigadores). Un caso famoso, de tipo semejante, fue y sigue siendo “memorable” evangelio secreto de Marcos, que nadie ha visto tampoco (al parecer). Lo cierto es que se siguen saqueando tumbas… y que en esas tumbas se encuentran a veces papiros y manuscritos (miles y miles se conservan aún en los museos e instituciones oficiales de Egipto y de fuera de Egipto, sin haberse catalogado del todo, pues ello exige mucho tiempo).

4. La antigüedad del texto griego de Marcos fue postulada por el difunto prof. Josep O’Callaghan Martínez SJ, catalán de Tortosa (1922-2001), gran papirólogo, que creyó haber descubierto fragmentos griegos de Marcos del 50-60 d. C. entre las ruinas de Qumrán. Su “descubrimiento” científicamente publicado y estudiado no ha logrado convencer a la comunidad científica, pues las letras griegas esparcidas en cuevas Qumran pueden recomponerse en palabras que se encuentran no sólo en Marcos, sino en diversos libros del AT griego (LXX). O’Callaghan presentó su “descubrimiento” con todas las garantías científicas, la comunidad de los investigadores no aceptó (ni acepta en general) su propuesta, aunque la sigue estudiando. En esa línea, la mayoría de los estudiosos creen (creemos) por análisis interno de su libreo, que Marcos escribió su evangelio en torno al año 70 d.C.

5. Los primeros papiros que tenemos por ahora del NT, bien catalogados y estudiados, son de Mateo (entre ellos el POzy 4404, con una docena más de finales del II y principios del III), lo que indica que fue un texto muy extendido. De Juan tenemos algunos papiros de la colección Bodmer (P.Bod II) y también de Oxirrinco. Los testimonios de Marcos son algo más tardíos. El primero parece el papiro Cherter Beatty delsiglo III (lo mismo que de Lucas). Sería sensacional que contáramos con un papiro antiguo de Marcos, lo que indicaría la rápida extensión de este evangelio.

6. Ciertamente, Marcos pudo escribir su libro entre 70/75 en Siria (o quizá en Roma, como dicen los “descubridores” de este manuscrito de momia)… un texto que viajó pronto y hallaba en Egipto hacia el año 80…, de manera que se escribió una copia, desechada y reciclada luego para “máscara de momia”… Eso no es imposible, aunque no nos parece probable. De todas formas, sabemos que hubo pronto textos de Marcos en Antioquía (donde Mateo los “recreó” en su evangelio, hacia el 89/90) y en Éfeso (donde Lucas hizo lo mismo, hacia el 90/100). Pero nos parece raro que hubiera ya textos u hojas volantes de Marcos “danzando” por Egipto para ser recicladas luego como papiro de momia. Imposible no es, raro me parece.

7. Quien quiera estudiar el tema de los papiros (y textos) más antiguos del evangelio de Marcos y del NT puede seguir leyendo el gran trabajo de L. W. Hurtado, Los primitivos papiros cristianos (Sígueme, Salamanca 2010). Quien siga estudiando e intente situar el tema dentro de la investigación y teología actual, puede leer la introducción de mi libro, El Evangelio de Marcos (Verbo Divino, Estella 2012, 120-138). No es necesario que diga más en esta rápida nota de prensa, sino sólo pedirles a los amigos de RD (que es también mi casa) que pongan un signo de interrogación sobre lo que han dicho este Marcos de momia.

Ofrezco a continuación una nota crítica del tema, escrita por Joel Baden and Candida Moss y enviada por A. Álvarez Valdés, a quien agradezco como siempre su bien hacer crítico.

(Imagen: Foto que acompaña al “lanzamiento de la noticia”, con el texto de un papiro que no es precisamente el de Marcos).

Was oldest gospel really found in a mummy mask?
By Joel Baden and Candida Moss, special to CNN

(http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/21/living/gospel-mummy-mask/ )

Media outlets have been abuzz this week with the news that the oldest fragment of a New Testament gospel — and thus the earliest witness of Jesus’ life and ministry — had been discovered hidden inside an Egyptian mummy mask and was going to be published.

The announcement of the papyrus’ discovery and impending publication was made by Craig Evans, professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Evans described the papyrus as a fragment of the Gospel of Mark.

He added that a combination of handwriting analysis (paleography) and carbon dating led him and his team of researchers to conclude that the fragment was written before 90 A.D. This would make it at least a decade older than other early fragments of the New Testament and, thus, an invaluable resource for biblical scholars and object of considerable interest for Christians the world over.

The fragment, according to Evans, was discovered when an Egyptian mummy mask — known as cartonnage — was dismantled in a hunt for ancient documents. Mummy masks were an important part of ancient Egyptian burial practice, but only the very wealthy could afford examples made of gold.

The majority of mummy masks were made from scraps of linen and papyrus, which were glued together into a kind of ancient papier-maché. Dismantling these masks yields a trove of ancient documents. Evans claims that in addition to Christian texts, hundreds of classical Greek texts, records of business transactions, and personal letters have been acquired. In the process, the mask itself is destroyed.

Though it may be making headlines now, the claim that the “oldest known gospel” has been discovered is not new.

News of the fragment first came to light in 2012 when its existence was (perhaps inadvertently) announced by Daniel Wallace, founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts at Dallas Theological Seminary.

No one saw the text then, and no one has seen it now; though it has been mentioned repeatedly by a select group of people who evidently have been given access to it, its planned date of publication has been consistently pushed back, from an original plan of 2013 to 2015 and now, just this week, all the way to 2017.

Despite the seemingly explosive quality of the news, therefore, it is important to take a step back and consider what is actually being revealed here.

Some people are saying they have this really old and important thing, and they will show it to all the rest of us in a few years. (Essentially, this papyrus is the scholarly equivalent of “my girlfriend who lives in Canada.”)

It is unclear why anyone would start talking about a text like this, a year, indeed now at least two years, in advance. The most important established fact about this papyrus, at this point, is that it has not yet been published—which is to say, only a small handful of individuals have seen the text and are able to say anything at all about it.

As Roberta Mazza, an ancient historian and papyrologist from the University of Manchester in England, told us, the academic community has not “been given access to firm information and images on the basis of which could eventually say something.”
In other words, this sort of notice really serves mostly to remind us of just how little we know about this purported discovery. Here, for example, are five key, unanswered questions.

1. What is the actual text on the papyrus?
We are told that it is from Mark, but, after all, no one has seen it. Which part of Mark?

2. Is the handwriting consistent with the supposed dating?
Brice Jones, a papyrologist at Concordia University, told us that dating a text by handwriting, or paleography, “is not a precise science, and I know of no papyrologist who would date a literary papryus to within a decade on the basis of paleography alone.”

3. Is the ink or papyrus itself consistent with the supposed dating?
According to Jones, if paleography is inexact, “radiocarbon dating is equally (and perhaps more) problematic, since one must allow for a time gap of a century or more.”
They say that these lab tests have all been done, but as no one has actually seen the reports, they are less than confirmatory.

4. Who owns the papyrus, or the mask from which it was taken, and from whom was it purchased, and when?

The time and place of a text’s discovery, known as its provenance, are crucial for verifying its authenticity, especially in a period of extensive looting of archaeological sites and museum theft.
According to international law, if the mask was taken out of Egypt after 1970, it is officially “unprovenanced,” and is effectively prohibited from being sold or published. Evans told us “I do not know the specifics” about the provenance of this mask.

5. Who has seen the text, who has verified it, and who has studied it?
Evans is not a trained papyrologist, but is rather a scholar of the New Testament. To this point, none of the papyrologists, text critics or other highly specialized experts, who must have worked on this text before these claims could be made about it, have been identified or spoken publicly about it.

These questions are not necessarily challenges to the authenticity of the text. They are, rather, a recognition that, until the scholarly world has been granted access to this papyrus, the public statements made about it are no more revelatory than if we announced that we had found Moses’ private copy of Genesis in a hummus container, and we’ll show it to you later.
There is, however, one bit of information about this text and its discovery that can be discussed now, without having even seen it: the fact that it was uncovered by destroying an ancient Egyptian mummy mask.
Evans said the cartonnage destruction was acceptable because “we’re not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece.”
We are, however, talking about the destruction of 2,000-year-old Egyptian antiquities: funeral masks, painted with representations of people who lived and died and were commemorated by their families.

We might wonder, at the very least, who it is that gets to determine which masks are worth preserving and which aren’t. Evans told us that such decisions “are based on expert opinion,” but as to who exactly makes that determination, he said, “I do not know specifically.”
Evans has said, “We dug underneath somebody’s face, and there it was.”

He has since clarified that he was not personally involved in the destruction of the mask. But it is unclear precisely which individuals did the dirty work.

Evans’ language of “digging” makes the dissolving of mummy masks sound like archaeology, but some would characterize it, and some have, as cultural vandalism.

There is an implicit sense that the discovery of a rare Christian piece outweighs the preservation of a relatively common Egyptian artifact. And this may be so, but surely the optics would be better if this were announced by someone from, say, the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities.

“The destruction of mummy masks, though legal, falls into an ethically gray area right now because of the difficult choices scientists have to make in the lab when working with them,” said Douglas Boin, a professor of history at St. Louis University.

“We have to ask ourselves, do we value the cultural heritage of Egypt as something worth preserving in itself, or do we see it simply as vehicle for harvesting Christian texts?”

Even if one agrees that these masks can be taken apart — archaeology is, by its very nature, a destructive process — it should be remembered that the process is a crapshoot: If a mask contains no texts, then the equation changes, and even a relatively unimportant cultural piece has been destroyed for nothing.

Mazza also reminded us that “you do not need to completely destroy masks for getting out texts if you use methods developed and improved by papyrologists since 1980.”
If a mask is to be destroyed, surely that process should be documented thoroughly, with constant photography and annotation, rather than undertaken as a classroom project with undergraduates using a bottle of Palmolive and a little elbow grease.

It is possible that the earliest text of the Gospel of Mark has been discovered. But until the world is given access to the papyrus through its publication, there is no story here, except that ancient Egyptian mummy masks are being destroyed in the ongoing search for Christian relics.

Was oldest gospel really found in a mummy mask? – CNN.com

CRAIG EVANS
CEphoto_TV_smallNew Testament scholar, Craig Evans, is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he received his M.Div. from Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Claremont Graduate University in southern California. He has also been awarded the D.Habil. by the Karoli Gaspard Reformed University in Budapest. A well-known evangelical scholar throughout the world, he is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

After teaching one year at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Evans taught at Trinity Western University in British Columbia for twenty-one years, where he directed the graduate program in Biblical Studies and founded the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. He was also a Visiting Fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

Author and editor of more than sixty books and hundreds of articles and reviews, Professor Evans has given lectures at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Yale and other universities, colleges, seminaries and museums, such as the Field Museum in Chicago, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He also regularly lectures and gives talks at popular conferences and retreats on the historical Jesus, Archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible.

Along with countless interviews on radio networks across Canada and the US, Evans has been seen on Dateline NBC, CBC, CTV, Day of Discovery, and many documentaries aired on BBC, The Discovery Channel, History Channel, History Television and others. He also has served as a consultant for the National Geographic Society and for The Bible miniseries, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

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