On 1 February 2012, I debated Bart Ehrman at UNC Chapel Hill on whether we have the wording of the original New Testament today. This was our third such debate, and it was before a crowd of more than 1000 people. I mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year.
These manuscripts now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts (all fragmentary, more or less) from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 40% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.
Now this is exciting news, but like Dr James White said about it on last Thursday's Dividing Line, I do think that we should wait for the more information before we hang arguments and debates on it. However, Dr Wallace seems pretty excited but he is also cautious. Wallace explained why this is important:
But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the original followers of Jesus! Not only this, but this manuscript would have been written before the New Testament was completed.
My favorite things about this is that if it pans out that the fragment is from the mid first century, it takes away one more excuse people raise to accepting that the Gospel of Mark is historical and written by one who would have had first-hand knowledge.
Wallace even gives a link for purchase of the debate with Ehrman from February 1st:
Purchase U.S. DVDs of the second debate or international DVDs
Home Page - Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?