7Q4 AND 7Q5: Cave 7 of Qumran Dead Sea Manuscripts: Are They Fragments of the Gospel of Mark and 1 Timothy?


Please Support the Bible Translation Work of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)



7Q4 New Testament Manuscript?

The fragments 7Q4, 7Q5 and 7Q8Here in this article, we find a subject that is a little technical but stay with it and garner what you can. First, the reader is given much background from Wikipedia information. Second some observations and conclusions from Edward D. Andrews. Third, the article closes out with a conclusion from Philip W. Comfort.

The 7Q4 fragments are the remains of a papyrus dated from the paleographer Colin H. Roberts between 50 BC and 50 AD, belonging to what are called manuscripts of the Dead Sea, found in the cave 7 of Qumran and written with Greek letters. Their identification is uncertain and controversial.[1]


7Q4 consists of two parts: the first fragment is 7.2 cm high, 3.5 cm wide at the top and 2.1 cm below; the second is 1.1 cm high and 1 cm wide. It contains 16 letters in five lines in fragment 1 (one of which is unreadable and two uncertain), and 5 letters in two lines in fragment 2 (of which two are not readable).[2] According to the papyrologist Carsten Peter Thiede, the material and colors of the ink correspond to those of the 7Q5 and the writing resembles that of two papyri found in Ossirinco, P. Oxy. XXXII 2618, and P. Oxy XXXVII 2822, dated by E. Lobel to the first century.[3]

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

The Debate

In the early seventies of the twentieth century, Spanish papyrologist and Jesuit José O’Callaghan proposed, in various articles and works, the identification of some of the papyri found in cave 7, including 7Q4, as transcriptions of parts of the New Testament. In the case of 7Q4, it would have been a fragment of the First Letter to Timothy, exactly the passage in which Saint Paul writes: “(They will listen to deceiving spirits and diabolical doctrines.”

The thesis, which had and still has a great echo in journalistic disclosure and although supported by other experts ( Herbert Hunger, Carsten Peter Thiede, etc … [4]), however, did not convince most of the scholars of the field, who continued to consider the fragments as unidentified.[5]

The scientific debate on the 7Q4 papyrus is linked to the question of dating the Gospels. Recognizing the first letter to Timothy as authentic, and therefore contemporary to the life of Saint Paul, would mean implicitly admitting that the Gospels were circulating in written form already in the 60s AD since in the letter Paul quotes the Gospel defining it as Sacred Scripture: “In fact, it says Scripture: You will not muzzle the ox that threshes, and: “Whoever works has the right to his reward” (1Tim 5,18). If the first quote is attributable to Deuteronomy (25,4), the second one refers to the Gospel of Luke (10.7).

Qumran Canes
Qumran Caves

In 1972 and 1973, in response to O’Callaghan’s theses, C. H. Roberts and Canadian scholar Gordon Donald Fee proposed, in two different articles, the correspondence between 7Q4.1 and Num 14: 23-24[6] however the thesis did not have much follow-up.

In 1988 the German scholar Wilhelm Nebe proposed the identification of some of these fragments as part of the book of Enoch.[7] During the nineties Ernest A. Muro, based on some physical characteristics of the fragments (eg the direction of the fibers present) and the similar shape of some letters, proposed the thesis according to which 7Q4.1, 7Q4.2, 7Q8 and 7Q12 were originally part of a single papyrus[8] and, with the French scholar Émile Puech, he resumed (with some small differences) Nebe’s thesis, assuming that this, in addition to other fragments of cave 7, were all part of a transcription of the book of Enoch. It should be noted that fragments in Aramaic from the book of Enoch were found in cave 4,[9] while John Strugnell (who was editor in chief of the group that took care of the publication of the manuscripts until 1990) spoke in an interview of the existence of an Aramaic copy of the book, found on some papyri found in cave 11 and in the possession of private collectors,[10] demonstrating that although Enoch is outside the Jewish and Christian canons, the Essenes apparently were aware of the text (or at least part of it).


This interpretation of the fragments, although not yet confirmed with certainty, is however today considered more plausible than the New Testament identification of O’Callaghan and Thiede. However, in the defense of his thesis, Thiede did not hesitate to bitterly challenge Munro and Puech’s hypotheses, questioning the possibility of the existence of a Greek translation of Enoch in the period in question and accusing the two scholars of having worked on falsified drawings and invented non-existent letters.[11]

7Q5 Mark 6.52-54
Image by Edward D. Andrews and Christian Publishing House – 7Q5 Mark 6:52-54.

7Q5 New Testament Manuscript?

7Q5 is a fragment of a papyrus scroll found in a cave in Qumran, in the West Bank (“7Q5” stands for “cave 7, Qumran, fragment 5″), and part of the collection of the so-called Dead Sea manuscripts, which contain works of the library of the religious community of the Essenes. The 7Q5 fragment measures approximately 39×27 mm and has on one side a text in Greek, of which a dozen letters are visible, not all clearly identifiable, arranged on four lines; based on paleographic analysis, this fragment was written between 50 BC and 50 AD.

The Discovery at Qumran

Qumran was a locality on the western shore of the Dead Sea, in the current West Bank, near the ruins of Jericho and southeast of Jerusalem. The site built between 150 BC and 130 BC was inhabited by a community of Essenes dedicated to reading and writing the sacred texts. In 66 AD, when Tito Flavio Vespasianohe besieged Jerusalem, those Essenes sealed their sacred handwritten literature in terracotta pots and hid it in the various caves that surrounded the place where they lived, so that it would not fall into the hands of the Roman pagans. In 1947, an Arab shepherd chasing a sheep from his flock entered one of those manuscript storage caves and discovered one of the many vases. The expeditions that followed this discovery led to the discovery of eleven caves where vases filled with manuscripts were stored. In 1955, in cave n.7, archaeologists recovered 19 papyri fragments written in Greek.[12] Among the other finds was also found a fragment of the one recorded with the progressive number 5 which measured 3.9 by 2.7 centimeters for a total of only 20 letters arranged on 5 lines and named 7Q5.[13]


Gospel According to Mark 6:52-54

[ου γαρ]
[συνηκαν] ε [πι τοις αρτοις],
[αλλ ην α] υτων η [καρδια πεπωρω-]
[μεν] η. και δι [απερασαντες]
[ηλθον εις γε] ννησ [αρετ και]
[προσωρμισ] θησα [ν. και εξελ-]
[θοντων αυτων εκ του πλοιου ευθυς]
[επιγνοντες αυτον.]

CEI Translation

because they had not
understood the fact of the loaves:
their hearts were hardened.
After completing the crossing to the ground,
they reached Gennèsaret and landed.
When I got off the boat,
people immediately recognized him;


The Hypothesis of O’Callaghan

The celebrity of this fragment is linked to the hypothesis, formulated in 1972 by the Spanish Jesuit papyrologist José O’Callaghan and re-proposed in the eighties by the German scholar Carsten Peter Thiede, that the visible text on the 7Q5 fragment is part of the Gospel according to Mark, precisely of the verses 6:52-53, which would make 7Q5 the oldest preserved manuscript of the Gospels, written at most 20 years after the Crucifixion of Jesus.[14] The O’Callaghan advanced identification proposal, which nevertheless met academic skepticism,[15] is as follows:

The O’Callaghan hypothesis concerns the possible identification of the 7Q5 manuscript found in Qumran with a passage from the gospel according to Mark.

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2


In 1972, the Spanish Jesuit papyrologist José O’Callaghan proposed the identification of some fragments found in quarry 7 of Qumran with small pieces from the New Testament; among these, the broadest and most important identification was that of 7Q5 with Mark 6:52-53, which however required to presuppose some exceptions to the normal text of the gospel. Since CH Roberts had paleographically dated 7Q5 to the period 50 BC – 50 AD, O’Callaghan dated 7Q5 to 50 AD, making 7Q5 the oldest preserved manuscript of the gospels, written at most twenty years after Jesus’ death.

This identification is very important in the debate on the dating of the gospels since scholars generally date the Gospel according to Mark shortly after the 70. The identification of O’Callaghan, while recording some consents, however, met the substantial skepticism of the academic world.[16]

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

The Work of O’Callaghan

O’Callaghan was struck by the combination of Greek letters “ννησ” (“NNES”), which appeared clearly legible in the fourth line of the papyrus. Initially, scholars thought of the word “ἐγέννησε [ν]”, that is “generated”, and that it was, therefore, to be attributed to one of the many genealogies present in the Old Testament. However, there was no harmony with the other letters of the papyrus and, for O’Callaghan, there was no affinity with any of the biblical texts or with the texts of Greek literature. No adaptable text, therefore, and this heightened O’Callaghan’s curiosity, who searched for all the Greek words that contain the sequence of letters “ννησ”, up to the name of the lake of Galilee: Γεννήσαρετ (Gennesaret). In the Old Testament there is only one occurrence of this word: in 1 Maccabees 11:67. In all the other passages of the Old Testament, the lake is named as Cheneret or Chenara. But none of the 7Q5 letters coincided with that passage of the Maccabees. It was then tried, among general skepticism, to adapt it with the New Testament, and the papyrus seemed to adapt to Mark 6:52-53. So O’Callaghan, in 1972, published an article explaining the results of his work.[17] It was the beginning of an intense debate involving the international scientific community.[18] According to O’Callaghan “the contribution of the identification of 7Q5 lies in being close to the historical Jesus, which this identification allows. According to some scholars, the line of union with the historical Christ had been interrupted, because – according to them – we would not know anything about him. Instead, it turns out that, if we now have a papyrus from the year 50 AD, and the Gospel of Mark, it means that we have established contact, through the testimony of a papyrus, with the historical Christ.”

In the mid -the 1980s, German papyrologist Carsten Peter Thiede resumed O’Callaghan’s hypothesis, putting forward the hypothesis called “the New Testament in Qumran.” according to which, contrary to what most scholars argued, in Qumran they were there are also works from the New Testament, which Thiede claimed to have found in fragments 7Q4 and 7Q11-14, as well as in 7Q5, thus taking up the hypothesis of O’Callaghan.


Theses Contrary to the Identification of O’Callaghan

The debate went on, with Thiede perfecting his identifications and making assumptions about how a Christian text would end up in an Essene center, until in 1999 Stefan Enste published a critical review of O’Callaghan’s hypotheses and Thiede, highlighting its weaknesses;[19] although he has not proposed any alternative identification to those already advanced by others (such as that with the Book of Enoch 15,9d-10 or with Zechariah 7,4-5), “he managed to confirm the general opinion of the scholars that this identification is unlikely.”[20]

Thesis Favorable to the Identification of O’Callaghan

On the basis of the list compiled by Gianluigi Bastia, the opinions of the most authoritative scholars are divided more or less equally between for and against the identification of O’Callaghan, “but it is significant that the experts of Greek papyrology are mostly favorable, while the opposite opinions are registered above all among experts in Jewish papyrology or textual criticism.”[21] Among those who support the identification of 7Q5 with Mc 6,52-53 we can mention: Herbert Hunger, Ferdinand Rohrhirsch, Hugo Staudinger, Harald Riesenfeld, Ignace de la Potterie, Enrico Galbiati, Giuseppe Ghiberti, Luis Alonso Schockel, Joan Maria Vernet (see “Biblical Magazine” XLVI 1998, pp. 43–60), Marta Sordi, Aristide Malnati and the honorary president of the International Papyrology Association Orsolina Montevecchi.

Orsolina Montevecchi, professor of papyrology at the Catholic University of Milan, was president of the Association Internationale des Papyrologues from 1983 to 1989 and honorary president since 1989. In 1994 she said on the subject: “I think the time has come to insert the 7Q5 fragment in the official list of papyrus of the New Testament.”[22] “As a papyrologist I can assert that identification seems safe to me. The five lines that are visible and that form the fragment correspond to the passage of the sixth chapter of Mark, vv. 52 and 53. Correspondence with another text is extremely unlikely.”[23] For Albert Dou, professor of mathematics at the University of Madrid and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, the possibility that 7Q5 is not identical to verses 52-53 of chap. 6 of Mark’s gospel, is 1 in 900 billion.[24]


Philological and Sticometrica Analysis

According to the analysis of the fragment carried out by Rainer Riesner, the identification of 7Q5 with the text of Marco shipwrecks in the fact that in line two cannot be read αυ] TΩΝ Η [καρδια (“their heart”). The letter Ω follows an iota adscriptum, as was already proposed in the first edition. The same series of letters TΩI with the subsequent space (!) Is also found in 7Q15. Probably the end of row 3 of 7Q5 must also be completed with TΩ [I] . Line 2 two of 7Q5 is therefore to be read in part surely, in part hypothetically (dotted), as TΩI A, and therefore to be considered irreconcilable with Mark 6:52.[25] Riesner’s thesis is however rejected by supporters of O’Callaghan’s hypothesis that, after having had the 7Q5 papyrus examined by the Department of Investigation and Forensic Science of the National Police of Israel, in April 1992, and having found that in the vertical section, in the upper part, descends part of the oblique section corresponding to an “N”, they continue to affirm with greater conviction the recognition of the papyrus 7Q5 as part of the gospel according to Mark. In fact, the expert’s report highlighted the presence of a small oblique line of ink that starts at the top left of the alleged iota: “it could be what is left of the diagonal bar of an N.”[26] Not everyone agrees on the result of the Israeli report. For example, Aristide Malnati proposed that the letter is instead an M,[27] and therefore that there is a fairly widespread error among Greek mother tongue writers, “but unfortunately in the papyrus, we have no example of another similar letter to compare with the rebuilt one.”[28] The hypothesis of Malnati, who is also a supporter of the recognition made by O’Callaghan, does not prejudice the identification with Marco 6,52-53. The opposite voice is that of Ernest Muro who, while not contesting the scientific nature and authoritativeness of the Israeli expert opinion, stigmatizes the interpretations given to it, stressing that the highlighted features do not unequivocally and conclusively define an N.”

The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

According to the analysis carried out by James Charlesworth, on the small fragment, only ten letters are clearly legible, and the only certain word is a simple “and” ( KAI ) [in Italian “e”]. The identification with Mark 6:52-53 was inspired by the sequence of letters NNHΣ, which could be part of the local name ” Gennesaret ” ( NNHΣ ) or part of a Greek verbal form such as εγεννησεν or something else. If the identification with Mark 6: 52-53 were correct, there would be at least three main textual differences between the text of the Gospel and that small portion of text contained in the fragment: the words επί την γην (6:δίαπερασαντες (6:53) would have been grossly incorrect since the fragment reads τ instead of δ, but a form such as τίαπερασαντες is completely unlikely. Finally, in line 2 the proposed reading αυ] τωνη [καρδία is impossible because the text cannot be transcribed TΩN, but like TΩI, with iota adscriptum, which constitutes a completely different grammatical form from Mark 6: 52-53. “Therefore, it is absolutely impossible for 7Q5 to represent the text of Mark 6: 52-53.”[29]

However, Charlesworth’s analysis is also rejected by the supporters of the New Testament hypothesis, especially in reference to the absence of the words επί την γην (6m53) and the exchange rate δ / τ (delta / tau) in the word δίαπερασαντες.

O’Callaghan’s supporters have advanced several opinions, including that of the omission of the words επί την γην because they are not necessary to explain the concept. A thesis which Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini[30] opposed, among others, so motivated by O’Callaghan: “Omissions analogous to επί την γην are known and accepted cases. C. H. Roberts himself, when I publish the famous papyrus 52, that of the gospel according to John, made the identification by omitting some letters. In John’s original text, 18.37-38, there is a repetition, which says: ‘I was born for this (“eis touto”) and for this (“eis touto”) I came into the world.’ The second occurrence of ‘eis touto,’ which is the ordinary reading of the text preserved today, for sticometric reasons was omitted by Roberts himself, guided by the verticality of the letters of the text in the right margin of the papyrus, considering his text as a shorter variant. Despite this, the enthusiastic welcome and general acceptance of papyrus 52 dated to 125 are known.[31] Of course, the omission must not affect the meaning of the text, and in fact, in the case of “επί την γην”, these words are redundant.


However, O’Callaghan also cites another case, that of papyrus 45 which corresponds to Mark 5:21, where the words “eis tò peràn”, or “on the other side” with respect to the text known today are omitted. The literal translation of the passage is as follows: “He passed in a boat back to the other shore, a large crowd gathered around him, and he was at the sea.” Well in papyrus 45 the words “eis tò peràn,” the words “on a boat” (“en tòi ploioi”), and the word “again” (“pàlin”) are missing, so the text is as follows: “E past, a large crowd gathered around him, and he was at the sea. ” Note that the omission of “eis tò peràn” ​​is linked to the verb to pass (“dieperasen”), the same verb as the disputed papyrus 7Q5.[32] Claude Boismard opposed this analysis recalling that the omission in Mark 6,53-54 is not present in any papyrus and remembering that that passage has a synoptic parallel in Matthew 9:1, and also here the found papyri show the existence of “επί την γην” without omissions.[33]

With reference to the exchange δ / τ (delta / tau) in the word δίαπερασαντες , an objection raised by those who contest the attribution to the gospel according to Mark of the 7Q5 papyrus, the proponents of the O’Callaghan hypothesis believe they have an ace up their sleeve. We are in the first line after the “kaì.” We would expect the verb δίαπερασαντες (“diaperàsantes”, having made the crossing), but instead of the initial delta there is a Greek tau. The answer to this objection comes from Jerusalem: when Herod the Great rebuilt the temple he placed, on the second wall, an inscription that forbade the entry of non-Jews, under penalty of death. The inscription is mentioned by Giuseppe Flavio in his work Judaic Antiquities. Two literal copies of this stone were found by archaeologists and are located one in Istanbul and one in the Rockefeller Museum in New York. On line 1 the Greek word “Medena” (“nobody”) is written “Methena,” and on line 3, instead of “dryphakton” (“balustrade”) it is written “tryphakton.” The latter word fits perfectly with the case of Qumran’s 7Q5.[34]


Proposal for Identification of O’Callaghan

Gospel According to Mark 6:52-54

[ου γαρ]
[συνηκαν] ε [πι τοις αρτοις],
[αλλ ην α] υτων η [καρδια πεπωρω-]
[μεν] η. και δι [απερασαντες]
[ηλθον εις γε] ννησ [αρετ και]
[προσωρμισ] θησα [ν. και εξελ-]
[θοντων αυτων εκ του πλοιου ευθυς]
[επιγνοντες αυτον.]

CEI Translation

because they had not
understood the fact of the loaves:
their hearts were hardened.
After completing the crossing to the ground,
they reached Gennèsaret and landed.
When I got off the boat,
people immediately recognized him;

7Q5 023

The arguments advanced by O’Callaghan in favor of identification with Marco’s passage are various:

  • The space before the word και ( kai, “e”) is a paragraph break sign, which is consistent with Marco’s style in the oldest copies, such as the one contained in Vatican Code B. In 7Q5 there are three visible spaces, of different amplitude. The most evident appears in the center of line 3, between the kaì and the letter that precedes it. O’Callaghan explains the space by the fact that a new verse begins here and, in fact, in today’s Bible in verse 53 a new paragraph begins. Vatican Code B, one of the oldest manuscripts in the Bible, testifies to the presence of a violation of the scriptio continues right at this point in the Gospel of Mark. Furthermore, the violation of the scriptio continuesit is a rare case in the Greek Roman papyrus and in the first manuscripts of the New Testament.
  • The combination of the letters ννησ ( nnes ) present in line 4 is very characteristic and suggests the word Γεννήσαρετ (Gennesaret). Hypothesizing another word, such as “ἐγέννησε [ν],” or “generated.” to be attributed to one of the many genealogies present in the Old Testament, does not find harmony with the other letters of the papyrus, and above all, there is no affinity with none of the biblical texts and Greek literature. In the Old Testament there is only one occurrence of this word: in 1 Maccabees 11:67 ). In all the other passages of the Old Testament, the lake is named as Cheneret or Chenara. But none of the 7Q5 letters coincide with that passage of the Maccabees.
  • The omission of the words επί την γην, not necessary to explain the concept of the text, is a known case in papyrology, already studied in cases such as the identification of papyrus 52 and papyrus 45
  • The change δ / τ (delta / tau) in the word δίαπερασαντες, which for O’Callaghan would become in the papyrus 7Q5 τίαπερασαντες, is explained by examples such as that found by archaeologists in the inscription of Herod the Great mentioned by Giuseppe Flavio in his Jewish Antiquity . Two literal copies of this stone are found one in Istanbul and one in the Rockefeller Museum in New York. On line 1 the Greek word “Medena” (“nobody”) is written “Methena”, and on line 3, instead of “dryphakton” (“balustrade”) it is written “tryphakton.”
  • Although no New Testament papyri written in scrolls were found but only in codes, there are nevertheless Christian documents written in scrolls and not in code, such as the Shepherd of Erma, a Christian apocryphal considered almost “canonical” between the second and fifth centuries. Also P. Oxy XVII 2070 containing a Christian apologetic work in an anti-Jewish key, P. Oxy L. 3525, containing an unknown apocryphal gospel, and the rest of Adversus Haereses of Irenaeus and other documents were always found on a scroll yet.
  • a research carried out by Thiede on the computer «on the more elaborate Greek texts […] has failed to highlight other text besides Mark 6,52-53 for the combination of letters identified by O’Callaghan et al. in 7Q5.”[35]

On the other hand, there are several arguments against such identification:

  • the space present before the kai could simply be one of the many violations of the continuous scriptio that appear in many Greek biblical documents (Pope Bodmer XXIV, plate 26; in Qumran in the fragment 4Q122). Other examples in the texts of Qumran show the word και separated in many cases with spaces, and in many cases without this having to do with the structure of the text;
  • although the letters ννησ are very infrequent in Greek, they are part of the word εγεννησεν (“begat”). This was, in fact, the proposal of the authors of the first edition ( editio princeps ) published in 1962, which indicates in the fragment a part of a genealogy;
  • in the text of Mark 6,52-53, instead of the letter δ (delta) on line 3 there is an τ (tau). This variant does not appear in any other known copy of this passage, but nevertheless it is a not impossible spelling variant;[36]
  • examining the length of the lines of text, it must be assumed that the words επι την γην ( epi ten gen, “towards the earth”) were omitted on the papyrus. Also, this variant does not appear in any known copy of Mark 6,52-53;[37]
  • the identification of the last letter in line 2 with ν ( ni ) is doubtful, because it does not correspond to the symbol of this Greek letter, clearly written on line 4;[38]
  • in his computer textual search, Thiede always assumed that O’Callaghan’s identification was correct for all dubious letters; when Daniel Wallace redone the search allowing alternative identifications for dubious letters, he found sixteen matches;[39]
  • the paleographic dating of CH Roberts was between 50 BC and 50 AD, with the first date as more probable;[40]
  • according to what the other works preserved in Qumran say about the community that lived there, it is unlikely that they would keep New Testament works;[41]
  • the reading autōn per autoi is not attested;[42]
  • the oldest copies of the New Testament were kept in codes, not in rolls.[43]

The real problem of O’Callaghan’s attribution is not so much the individual disputes mentioned above which, individually taken are all explainable and known in papyrology, but rather the fact that so many exceptions should coexist in a fragment of just ten letters.

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

Digital Restoration of the Fragment

The original 7Q5 papyrus, following the controversy over the alleged letter ν (“ny”) of the second line, which O’Callaghan interpreted as the final letter of the pronoun αυτων, was subjected in April 1992 to the control of the Department of Investigation and Science Israel National Police Forensic. In that context, with the apparatus of modern technology, concretely with the stereomicroscope, it was established that in the vertical section, in the upper part, part of the oblique section corresponding to an “N” descends. A finding that led O’Callaghan himself to affirm: “It is therefore scientifically proven that in the vertical section to which we refer, in the upper part, descended part of the descending oblique section corresponding to an “N’”[44]

Not everyone agrees on the result of the Israeli police report [6] and, in 2009, Professor Amelia Sparavigna of the Physics Department of the Polytechnic of Turin[45] proceeded to submit an image of the 7Q5 fragment for analysis. digital. The analysis, which always focused on the letter that O’Callaghan interpreted as the ending of the pronoun αυτων, tends to exclude this identification (fundamental for the attribution to Marco): the diagonal tract interpreted as ν would actually be a papyrus defect and it would not contain ink.[46]

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

The Eichstätt Seminar

From 18 to 20 October 1991, at the Catholic University of Eichstätt, Germany, an international symposium was held dedicated to the problem of the New Testament in Qumran and, specifically, to the controversial attribution of the fragment 7Q5 to Mark 6: 52-53, proposed by J. O’Callaghan. Among the participants were the most prestigious names in world papyrology: Carsten Peter Thiede (invited did not attend), Herbert Hunger, James Charlesworth, Camille Focant, Ferdinand Rohrhirsch, Rainer Riesner, Earle Ellis, WA Slaby, B. Pixner, B. Schwank, E. Ruckstuhl, H. Burgmann, SR Pickering. Among the topics touched on are the relationships between the sect of the Essenes and primitive Christianity, and the possible date of composition of the Gospel of Mark based on the quotes of the first Fathers of the Church. The 16 professors who intervened, who divided between for and against identifying 7Q5 with Marco, “confirmed the validity and seriousness of the O’Callighan study.”[47]

Other Hypotheses

The debate on the possible identifications of 7Q5 with other writings has led over time to the proposal of several other solutions. Of particular credit is the hypothesis that the text we have received is a fragment of the apocryphal book of Enoch,[48] but an identification with the Book of Zechariah 7:4-5[49] has also been proposed . In any case, the problem is not easy to solve, since the fragment is very small and contains so few letters that it can still lend itself to multiple interpretations.[50]

Observations and Conclusions by Edward D. Andrews

The fragment of 7Q5 below, shown once more for the reader’s convenience merely contains less than a dozen somewhat clear Greek letters. When we consider the portion that O’Callaghan claims the fragment partially represents, Mark 6:52-53, it would require a hundred letters. Below, in an image, we are giving you the line division of those verses as his theory calls for and we have given you a literal rendering of the Greek text in translation and a Greek-English interlinear. You can clearly see that an enormous portion of the verses clearly must be furnished. Just what does an objective study of the fragment 7Q5 disclose? See the answer below the image.

Mark 6:52-53 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
52 for they had not understood about the loaves, but their heart were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and they were anchored there.

The Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI)

 52 οὐnot γὰρfor συνῆκανthey understood ἐπὶ on τοῖςthe ἄρτοις,loaves, ἀλλ’but ἦνwas αὐτῶνof them the καρδίαheart πεπωρωμένη.having been hardened.

53 ΚαὶAnd διαπεράσαντεςhaving crossed over ἐπὶ on τὴνthe γῆνland ἦλθονthey came εἰςinto ΓεννησαρὲτGennesaret καὶand προσωρμίσθησαν.they were anchored. 

7Q5 Mark 6.52-54
Image by Edward D. Andrews and Christian Publishing House – 7Q5 Mark 6:52-54.

ου γαρσυνηκαν επι τοις αρτοις,αλλ ην αυτων η καρδια πεπωρω-μενη. και διαπερασαντες [επι την γην]ηλθον εις γεννησαρετ καιπροσωρμισθησαν. και εξελ-θοντων αυτων εκ του πλοιου ευθυςεπιγνοντες αυτον.In line (1), as can be seen in the above image, is essentially missing.

In line (2), we see only about half of the characters for the Greek word rendered “their” are intact. Again, we would have to reconstruct the entire line.

In line (3), we have what seems to be the fragment’s only complete word (Καὶ), which is rendered “and.” If this were really the Gospel of Mark 6:52-53, the next two letters would be (δι), which begins the Greek word (διαπεράσαντες), which is rendered “having crossed over.” Even though these letters ought to be (δι), as they are in all Greek manuscripts of Mark that contain these verses, we notice that they seem to be (τι) in this fragment. Moreover, we can also see that the rest of the line is gone.

In line (4), we find only two complete letters (ΝΗ / ne) that is assumed to be a part of “Gennesaret.” What seems like partial strokes of two additional letters on each side of (ΝΗ / ne) are said by O’Callaghan to be N and Σ. The other letters in line 4 are missing, like so many others.

In line (5), we clearly have a complete Η, and there is enough of another letter to be identified as Σ. However, again, the remainder of line 5 is lacking.

Moreover, according to O’Callaghan’s estimated page layout, the word in line 3 rendered “to land” [επι την γην], found in essentially all the Greek manuscripts that contain this verse, would not be found in the manuscript from which the 7Q5 fragment is a part.

In addition, the date 50 B.C.E. – 50 C.E. is based on the writing style of its script, which is not problematic, as the morphology resembles first-century manuscripts. Other textual scholars have dated the fragment at between 100 and 150 C.E. For the reasons found herein, it is not unexpected that many paleographers have declined to welcome O’Callaghan’s theory, as he is asking too much of so little.

Pierre Benoit, director of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem, studied the actual fragments, while O’Callaghan worked from photocopies. Benoit’s conclusion was published in the New York Times: “The writing on the scraps of papyrus is indistinct, Father Benoit said in an interview, but even by stretching his imagination he was unable to make the marks that do show up coincide with the Greek letters necessary to prove Father O’Callaghan’s suggestion. Indeed, one spot that showed up in the photocopies as a possible part of a Greek letter in Father O’Callaghan’s reading turned up in the original fragment to be merely a hole in the papyrus.”—July 30, 1972, page 14.

The actual Gospel of Mark was authored about 60-65 C.E. by Mark in Rome. In his Gospel, the words of Mark indicated that Jesus prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem, which would not take place for another 5-10 years in 70 C.E. Even if the 7Q5 fragment was of the Gospel of Mark dating in the late first century, say 85-100 C.E., or the infamous P137 (Mark 1:7-9, 16-18), which dates to about 125-150 C.E. and was scandalously dated early on to the first century, would it motivate liberal-moderate Bible scholarship or any unbelievers to sit up and have greater faith in the Word of God? Hardly. Keep in mind, there is cave 1 near cave 7, where the complete book of Isaiah was found in 1947.

Chapter 40 of Isaiah’s book in the Dead Sea Scrolls (dated from 125 to 100 B.C.E.)Chapter 40 of Isaiah’s book in the Dead Sea Scrolls (dated from 125 to 100 B.C.E.) Hebrew Manuscript

When we compare it with Hebrew manuscripts from about a thousand years later, we discover that there are only minor differences found, which are mostly in spelling.

Chapter 40 of Isaiah’s book in the Aleppo Codex, an important Hebrew Masoretic manuscript from about 930 C.E. - Hebrew Manuscript

Chapter 40 of Isaiah’s book in the Aleppo Codex, an important Hebrew Masoretic manuscript from about 930 C.E.

Now, it is some 73 years later since the discovery of the above manuscript of Isaiah and has this impacted liberal-moderate scholarship, or brought unbelievers to the Word of God? No, not really. Even many pastors have not taken the time to inform their churchgoers of the mountainous treasure of manuscripts that we possess. The vast majority are unaware or highly misinformed because they had to learn about these manuscripts from skeptical, uncertain, postmodern textual scholars, paleographers, and papyrologists, or worse still from persons such as the self-proclaimed happy agnostic textual scholar, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman. If the complete scroll of Isaiah will not persuade people of the reliability of the Hebrew Old Testament text, as well as thousands of other Hebrew texts, and 5898 Greek NT manuscripts, how will a few fragments that are cut into various pieces with 90% of the text missing going to motivate anyone even if the fragments did date to the first century with absolute certainty?

Christians should be deeply interested in how the Word of God came down to us. Even so, we have faith, not in a few papyrus manuscript fragments but in the certainty that we have a restored text between the 1881 Westcott and Hort Greek Text and the 2012 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament that is 99.99% reflective of the original. We have the Word of God. —2 Tim. 3:16-17.

The Balanced Conclusion from Philip W. Comfort

The Qumran manuscripts 7Q4 and 7Q5 are unquestionably from the first century (the handwriting resembles the morphology of first-century manuscripts such as P. Oxyrhynchus 2618 and 2822), but their identity as New Testament manuscripts is still under debate. First and foremost, the debate centers on the identification of the manuscripts. The second area of debate concerns the dating of the manuscripts, which should probably date pre-A.D. 68-70. Those scholars who have the view that many of the New Testament writings were composed prior to the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 68-70) would probably consider that there could be New Testament manuscript copies prior composed in the later part of the first century have a real problem with thinking any New Testament manuscript could exist prior to A.D. 68-70. The third area of debate has to do with how New Testament manuscripts could be among the Dead Sea Scroll. Most scholars hold the view that all the manuscripts found at Qumran were composed by the Jews in the scriptorium there. However, a few scholars think that some of the manuscripts were taken there form Jerusalem by various Jewish groups at the onset of the Jewish revolt (around A.D. 66-67). When one considers that all the manuscripts in Cave 7 were written in Greek, it is not farfetched to think that some Greek-speaking Jewish Christians deposited some manuscripts—both from the Old Testament and the New Testament—in this cave. But in the end, it is the identification of the manuscripts themselves that will solve the debate concerning the second and third issues. If the manuscripts are from the New Testament, then it stands to reason that they are very early copies that were taken by Jewish Christians to the Dead Sea cave prior to A.D. 68-70. If not, t he other arguments are moot.

In the early 1970s, J. O’Callaghan proposed that several manuscripts from Cave 7 at Qumran contained New Testament texts. Among the many identifications he proposed, only two, in my opinion, could be considered for New Testament identification: 7Q4 (1 Timothy 3:16-4:3) and 7Q5 (Mark 6:52-53). He presented an argument for 7Q5 first and then 7Q4 next. So we will look at them in this order.

O’Callaghan reconstructed 7Q5, Mark 6:52-53, as follows:

συνηκαν] ε [πι τοις αρτοις
αλλ ην α] υτων η [καρδια πεπωρω
μεν] η και τι [απερασαντες
[ηλθον εις γε] ννησ [αρετ και]
[προσωρμισ] θησα [ν. και εξελ

The reconstruction of the Marcan text has many problems, not the least of which is accepting the reading τιαπερασαντες as a plausible substitute for διαπερασαντες.  There are other problems noted in an article by Gordon D. Fee.4 But some eminent papyrologists, H. Hunger and O. Montevecchi, have affirmed Maran identification.5 Still the debate of positive Marcan identification goes on; some papyrologists argue fir it,6 some argue against it,7 and on scholar has come up with a new identification altogether, namely Zechariah 7:4-5(which is also problematic).8

In addition to proposing Marcan identification for 7Q5, O’Callaghan proposed identification of 1 Timothy 3:16-4:1 for 7Q4. The reconstruction is very problematic and virtually impossible in my estimation. Those who have tried alternative identifications, such as Enoch 103:3, have also presented very problematic reconstructions.9 I think 7Q4 should be dismissed as a possible biblical text.—Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, THE TEXT OF THE EARLIEST NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: Papyri 75-139 and Uncials, Vol. 2 (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019), 298-300.

Comfort Footnotes

Attribution: This article incorporates some text from the public domain: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Edward D. Andrews



4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2
The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II


How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1


THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1


The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy


9798623463753 Machinehead KILLER COMPUTERS


The Holy Spirit_02 Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Understaning Creation Account
Homosexuality and the Christian second coming Cover Where Are the Dead
The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy
Human Imperfection HUMILITY




Powerful Weapon of Prayer Power Through Prayer How to Pray_Torrey_Half Cover-1


THERE IS A REBEL IN THE HOUSE thirteen-reasons-to-keep-living_021 Waging War - Heather Freeman
Young Christians DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)
Homosexuality and the Christian THE OUTSIDER RENEW YOUR MIND


ADULTERY 9781949586053
APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person
Abortion Booklet Dying to Kill The Pilgrim’s Progress
ARTS, MEDIA, AND CULTURE Christians and Government Christians and Economics


Book of Philippians Book of James Book of Proverbs Book of Esther
40 day devotional (1) Daily Devotional_NT_TM Daily_OT
DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)


The Church Community_02 THE CHURCH CURE Developing Healthy Churches

Apocalyptic-Eschatology [End Times]

Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Identifying the AntiChrist second coming Cover
ANGELS AMERICA IN BIBLE PROPHECY_ ezekiel, daniel, & revelation


Oren Natas_JPEG Sentient-Front Seekers and Deceivers
Judas Diary 02 Journey PNG The Rapture

[1] Craig A. Evans, Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls, B & H Publishing Group, 2010, page 369.

[2] Carsten Peter Thiede, The oldest manuscript of the Gospels ?: the fragment of Mark of Qumran and the beginnings of the written tradition of the New Testament, Gregorian & Biblical BookShop, 1987, p. 51

[3] E. Lobel (ed), The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XXXII, London, 1967, pp. 30-33; E. Lobel (ed), The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XXXVII, London, 1970, pp. 102-103

[4]  Antonio Socci, Treasure hunt in cave 7, in Alberto, Gospel and historicity , 1995.

[5] Massimo Pazzini, The Qumran Manuscripts and the New Testament, in Essays n 13, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem, 2003

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origin, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000, ISBN 9780802846501, p. 24 ff

Elio Jucci, The Hebrew manuscripts of Qumran: Where are we at? PDF ), Istituto Lombardo (Rend. Lett.), 1995, pp. 243-273.

[6] CH Roberts, “On some presumed papyrus fragments of the New Testament from Qumran,” Journal of Theological Studies ns 23.2 (Oct. 1972): 446-447.

Gordon Fee, “Some Dissenting Notes on 7Q5 = Mark 6: 52-53,” Journal of Biblical Literature 92 (1973): 109-12

[7] Wilhelm Nebe, Möglichkeit und Grenze einer Identifikation , RevQ 13 (1988), pp. 629-33

[8] Muro, Ernest A., “The Greek Fragments of Enoch from Qumran Cave 7 (7Q4, 7Q8, & 7Q12 = 7QEn gr = Enoch 103: 3–4, 7–8),” Revue de Qumran 18 no. 70 (1997).

[9] Fragment 4Q201, see ( EN ) Florentino García Martínez (translated by WGE Watson), The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in Inglese, BRILL, 1996, page 246

[10] Hershel Shanks, [An Interview with John Strugnell], article in Biblical Archeology

[11] Carsten Peter Thiede, Thiede: that papyrus is really Marco, published in Avvenire of December 3, 2003, page 26

[12] The well-known scroll of the prophet Isaiah in Hebrew had been discovered in cave no 1.

[13] The historicity of the gospels, a war won!, by Massimo Astrua, pages 22-24

[14] O’Callaghan.

[15] The Qumran manuscript 7Q5 […] is indicated as if it contained a fragment of Marco: it was obviously O’Callaghan who pronounced that controversial – and now almost universally rejected – identification of this text of the Dead Sea as a piece of the New Testament. «KK Elliot (2004),” Book Notes “, Novum Testamentum , Volume 45 , Number 2, 2003, p. 203; Gundry (1999), p. 698; Graham Stanton, Jesus and Gospel , Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-521-00802-6 , p. 203; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea scrolls and Christian origins, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000, ISBN 0-8028-4650-5, p. 25 (see note 24 for other critical bibliography of the positions of O’Callagan and Thiede)

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Qumran , Queriniana, Brescia, 1994, pp. 37-38

Gabriele Boccaccini, Beyond the Essenic Hypothesis , Morcelliana, Brescia, 2003, pp. 232-233

James H. Charlesworth, Jesus in the Judaism of his time , Claudiana, Turin, 1998, p. 82

[16] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea scrolls and Christian origins , Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000

[17]  José O’Callaghan, “¿Papirios neotestamentarios en la cueva 7 de Qumran?”, Biblical 53 (1972).

[18] Enste.

[19] Enste.

[20] Daniel J. Harrington,What are they saying about Mark?, Paulist Press, 2004, pp. 65-67.

[21] Revue de Qumrann ° 18, Gianluigi Bastia, Identification of the fragment 7Q5, chapter 4, 1997

[22] Aegyptus , Italian journal of Egyptology and Papyrology, 74, p. 207, 1994

[23] 0 Days , year VIII, n. 82-83, 1994, pp. 55-57

[24] bert Dou , El calculo de probabilidades y las posibles identificationaciones de 7Q5 , in O’Callaghan, Los primeros testimonios del Nuevo Testamento , pp. 116-139, Córdoba , 1995

[25] R. Riesner, Esseni and first Christian community in Jerusalem, New discoveries and sources , Vatican Publishing House, 2001, pp. 186-187

[26] Revue de Qumrann ° 18, Gianluigi Bastia, Identification of the fragment 7Q5, chapter 4, 1997

[27] Papyrologica Lupiensia n. 8, article by A. Malnati, Proposal for a new reading at 7Q5, pp. 171-178, 1999

[28] Revue de Qumrann ° 18, Gianluigi Bastia, Identification of the fragment 7Q5, chapter 4, 1997

[29]  James Charlesworth, The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls , Vol. I, Baylor University Press, Waco, Texas, 2006, pp. 427-430

[30] Carlo Maria Martini, Notes on the papyri of cave 7 of Qumran, 1972, Biblica 53.

[31] Vida y Espiritualidad Interview with O’Callaghan, 1995.

[32] O’Callaghan.

[33] Boismard A propos de 7Q5, Revue Biblique 102 , 1995.

[34] The Catholic tradition, Year XVI – n. 3 (60) – 7Q5: confirmation of the historicity of the gospels – 2005

[35] Thiede n. 31, pp. 40-41

[36] Daniel Wallace, “7Q5: ‘The Earliest NT Papyrus?‘, Biblical Studies, 2000, quoted in Stephen L. Cox, Kendell H. Easley, Harmony of the Gospels, Broadman & Holman, 2007, p. 252

[37] Daniel Wallace, “7Q5: ‘The Earliest NT Papyrus?‘, Biblical Studies, 2000, quoted in Stephen L. Cox, Kendell H. Easley, Harmony of the Gospels , Broadman & Holman, 2007, p. 252

[38] Gundry (1999)

[39] Daniel Wallace, “7Q5: ‘The Earliest NT Papyrus?‘, Biblical Studies, 2000, quoted in Stephen L. Cox, Kendell H. Easley, Harmony of the Gospels , Broadman & Holman, 2007, p. 252

[40] Daniel J. Harrington,What are they saying about Mark? , Paulist Press, 2004, pp. 65-67.

[41] IBID, pp. 65-67.

[42] IBID, pp. 65-67.

[43] IBID pp. 65-67.

[44] nostreradici.it

[45]  Amelia Carolina Sparavigna – Polytechnic of Turin

[46] Amelia Sparavigna, “Digital Restoration of Ancient Papyri”, ArXiv e-prints , 2009, https://arxiv.org/abs/0903.5045

[47] The Catholic Civilization n ° 3407

[48] Craig A. Evans, Holman QuickSource Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2010

[49] Hypothesis this proposal in 1992 by Vittoria Spottorno, cf. Bible Review, Volumes 18-19, Biblical Archeology Society, 2002.

[50] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea scrolls and Christian origins , Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2000

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: