Victoria & Albert Museum, London/Art Resource, NY

His gospel draped over his knee, a pensive Mark composes his account of the life of Jesus in this scene from a 12th-century manuscript from Constantinople. Many scholars believe the Gospel of Mark was written, probably in Rome, after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 C.E., nearly 40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jose O’Callaghan and Carsten Thiede, however, have suggested that several tiny fragments discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls contain text from Mark and other New Testament writings. Qumran, the site along the Dead Sea where the scrolls were found, was destroyed by the Romans in 68 C.E.—before Jerusalem. If O’Callaghan and Thiede are correct, it would not only make the Qumran fragment the oldest text of the New Testament yet found but it would disprove the majority scholarly opinion, which places the composition of Mark after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple.