Ancient Book of Mark Found Not So Ancient After All
ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2009) — A biblical expert at the University of
Chicago, Margaret M. Mitchell, together with experts in micro-chemical
analysis and medieval bookmaking, has concluded that one of the
University Library's most enigmatic possessions is a forgery. The
book, a copy of the Gospel of Mark, will remain in the collection as a
study document for scholars studying the authenticity of ancient
Scholars have argued for nearly 70 years over the provenance of what's
called the Archaic Mark, a 44-page miniature book, known as a "codex,"
which contains the complete 16-chapter text of the Gospel of Mark in
minuscule handwritten text. The manuscript, which also includes 16
colorful illustrations, has long been believed to be either an
important witness to the early text of the gospel or a modern forgery,
said Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian
"The mystery is now solved from textual, chemical, and codicological
(bookmaking) angles," said Mitchell, who first became intrigued by the
codex when she saw it as a graduate student in 1982. Comprehensive
analysis demonstrates that it is not a genuine Byzantine manuscript,
but a counterfeit, she said, "made somewhere between 1874 and the
first decades of the 20th century."
Mitchell said experts from multiple disciplines made the findings
possible. "Our collective efforts have achieved what no single scholar
could do -- give a comprehensive analysis of the composite artifact
that is an illustrated codex. The data collected in this research
process has given us an even deeper understanding of the exact process
used by the forger," said Mitchell. "It will, we hope, assist ongoing
scholarly investigation into and detection of manuscripts forged in
the modern period."
As the rest of the article indicates, there have been sporadic doubts of the codex's authenticity, from various fields.