Spanish scholar José O’Callaghan shocked the world when he claimed that this tiny Greek fragment (above) known as 7Q5 contains text from the Gospel of Mark. Based on O’Callaghan’s work, his one, vocal supporter, Carsten Peter Thiede, provided a Greek transcription (left) of the fragment. Brackets indicate missing text; dots indicate uncertainty about a letter’s identification.
O’Callaghan identified the text as Mark 6:52–53. In the translation (below right) of the passage, italics indicate letters that O’Callaghan saw in the Greek; brackets indicate missing text; and strikethrough indicates the words (in Greek, epi ten gen) that O’Callaghan had to delete from Mark to make the text line up properly.
[for they did not
understand] a[bout the loaves,
but the]ir [hearts were hardened.]
And [when they had crossed over,
they came to land at Ge]nes[saret
and m]oo[red the boat.]
Scholars question O’Callaghan’s omission of this phrase—it appears in all the most significant early New Testament manuscripts—and his identification of some of the Greek letters.
But that’s not all. As carpenter Ernest Muro has recently demonstrated, the text on this fragment might not all come from the same passage. As shown in Muro’s drawing (above), the papyrus fibers on this fragment form a grid pattern. But the fibers don’t line up over the damaged area right of center. According to Muro, this indicates that the whole right side may have torn slightly and then slipped up or down (one line or many) at some point in history. Or the whole right side might come from a different manuscript altogether that somehow became stuck to 7Q5. Thus, the last few letters of each line are unknown.