Perhaps one of the oldest examples of the Gospel of Mark was deciphered by examining one of the ancient Egyptian masks removed from the head of a mummy. This information about the discovery could appear thanks to an information leak.
Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, is a secular educational institution founded by Baptists. Therefore, it is not surprising that since the beginning of the 19th century in the educational institution, there have been divisions with a religious bias.
Employees of the Acadia Divinity College of this college have discovered and investigated the oldest (to date) sample of the gospel, as well as made many other discoveries, the results of which are still kept secret.
We have restored ancient documents of the 1st-3rd centuries. These include Christian or Biblical, as well as classical Greek texts, business papers, personal letters, and more, ”says Professor Craig Evans of Acadia University.
The reason why ancient texts could appear on a funeral mask is simple – such ritual products were created not only for the pharaohs, but also for ordinary Egyptians. But since papyrus was also an expensive commodity, previously used, inscribed scrolls were used.
Some time ago, scientists developed a technique that made it possible to unstick the sheets of papyrus glued together without much harm to them, and this made it possible to recognize the content of the texts. In this way, experts from Acadia have already deciphered hundreds of ancient records, among which there are philosophical writings and even the works of Homer.
The issue remains controversial, but the Gospel of Mark is now considered chronologically the earliest such monument. The oldest example of this book of the New Testament today is from the second century AD. Radiocarbon dating of the Egyptian Mask Gospel shows that these records are at least 90 AD, making them the oldest. The discovery makes it possible to compare different texts and understand how they have changed over time and what edits were made in the most recent versions of the Gospel.
The only reason that information about this text of the Gospel is currently being disclosed is that back in 2012, information was leaked by one of the members of the research group. According to Professor Evans, the specialists involved in the project signed an agreement on non-disclosure of the decrypted information, which imposes restrictions on what can be made public.
“We must comply with the requirements of the owners of masks and papyri – museums, universities, and individuals,” explains Dr. Evans.
And we can only hope that the decrypted texts will sooner or later be seen by the scientific community and they will not disappear somewhere in the bottomless archives by someone’s good or bad will.