Category Archives: New Testament

7Q5: The New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls


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7Q5 The New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls by Giuseppe Guarino

The Dead Sea Scrolls were perhaps the most important manuscript finding of the twentieth century. 7Q5 is one of them: no 5 fragment in cave 7. It was in Greek.

The 18 papyri fragments of Cave 7 are visible in high definition quality on the official website:

Sometimes evidence of the past may be huge, majestic, like the Egyptian pyramids. Other times it is all hidden in small fragments of papyrus. Then it depends on man’s deductive ability to reveal the truths hidden in the surviving evidence. The latter is the case with the manuscript fragment called 7Q5 – which stands for relic 5 of cave 7 in the Qumran site. Many have tried to understand what 7Q5 actually bears witness to. I am sure many have spent sleepless nights trying to understand if it is possible to prove what was the content of the original complete manuscript – I am one of them. I felt the need to find answers to the puzzling questions that 7Q5 arises and share them with others.

7Q5 is 3.9 cm high and 2.7 cm wide

Papyrology can turn such a little piece of evidence into a powerful witness

from the book

Chapter 4



The Greek papyri fragment here in the picture is called 7Q5. It was catalogued number 5 among those manuscripts found in Qumran cave number 7.

It was originally part of a scroll written on only one side (recto).

20 Greek letters are visible. 10 are damaged. They are distributed on five lines.

Its maximum height is 3.9 cm. Its larger part measures 2.7 cm.

The fragment was at the Rockfeller Museum in Jerusalem but now it is property of the Israelian Antiquities Authorities.

I give the official websites to the readers so that they can see for themselves the beautiful pictures of this and other Qumran manuscripts.’Qumran,_Cave_7′

In 1972 an article was published in the magazine “Biblica”, where the scholar José O’ Callaghan set forth his theory that the remaining letters visible in 7Q5 were originally part of a manuscript containing the Gospel of Mark. He identified the 20 letters as part of the text found in Mark 6:52-53.

If a Gospel is actually among the Dead Sea Scrolls, this will influence other branches of Bible studies dealing with the origin of the Gospels, their possible dates of composition, or even lead to reconsider the significance of the scrolls themselves.

Most books on the topic, if not all, make it clear that there is no evidence of New Testament writings in the Qumran caves.

This opinion is challenged by the studies of Professor Carsten Peter Thiede, whom with excitement and very plausible suggestions, convincingly reiterated and, to my opinion, demonstrated the identification of 7Q5 with the gospel of Mark proposed by O’ Callaghan.

If the possibility of Christian manuscripts in cave no. 7 has been so strongly refused, much is due to the preconceived minds relying on the results of the studies of scholars who believe that a relatively late date must be given to the books of the New Testament.

The dates of composition of the books of the New Testament has been long debated. There is no consensus among scholars of different factions. The “traditional” dating is not supported by the intellectual circles and a much later date is usually attributed to most New Testament writings. But if O’Callaghan and his followers are right, the “modern” or “liberal” theories should definitely be revised in light of the new archeological and papyrological discoveries.

In support of O’Callaghan’s identification is the recent independent work of other Bible scholars which has led them to consider – or reconsider – the books of the New Testament to have been written at an earlier age than that believed and argued by most credited scholars.

In fact, it is not easy for some to be optimistic about the antiquity of the Gospels as we know them, notwithstanding the ancient witness of the Church for the antiquity and apostolic origin of the Christian Scriptures.

Ferdinand Rohrhirsch, professor at the University of Eichstatt, thinks and openly states that the voice of the opponents to the attribution of 7Q5, among whom is the credited textual critic Kurt Aland, is the result of prejudice and not of scientific observation: “…the hypothesis of O’ Callaghan is still standing, while all the refutations so far attempted have proven to be inconsistent or wrong.” Marco e il suo Vangelo, Atti del Convegno internazionale di Studi “Il vangelo di Marco”, Venezia, 30-31 may 1995, edited by Lucio Cilia, pag. 121.




The Language of the New Testament

GREEK, THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT New Wine into New Wineskins  by Giuseppe Guarino. 


We got the New Testament in Greek. Koinè Greek, used in a form we can call Biblical Greek. The Author was recently confronted with some claims that Greek was not the New Testament actual language of composition. Then he asked himself: were the autographs of the New Testament actually written in Greek or Hebrew, Aramaic, or whatever language or dialect was spoken by the Jews in Israel during the first century? He investigated the matter and found enough reasonable evidence to come up with convincing ideas. They are collected in this book, hoping they will be a satisfactory answer to those interested in this challenging question.


Introduction (from the book)

This collection of considerations is a personal review of facts I have learned and thoughts I have meditated on the challenging topic described in the title of this book.

We got the New Testament in an “original” Greek. I was recently confronted with some claims that this is not its actual language of composition.

So, I asked myself: were the autographs of the New  Testament actually written in Greek or Hebrew or even Aramaic, or whatever language or dialect was spoken by the Jews in Israel during the first century?

I investigated the matter and found enough reasonable evidence to come up with convincing ideas. I collected them here.

I pray the results of my study will give a satisfactory answer to those interested in this challenging question.

Sicily, 9th December, 2018.


Chapter 1

The Language of the New Testament

As far as evidence is concerned, the original Text of the New Testament has been handed down to us through manuscripts which contain it in Greek.

The question has recently been asked me: Are you sure the original New Testament was actually written in Greek?

The New Testament is a collection of books written independently, at various times and in different places, for specific immediate needs or purposes.

In this perspective, and for the sake of convenience, we will discuss about those books separately.

The initial question, in fact, must be thus reviewed: were any or all of the books of the New Testament originally written in another language that was not the Greek in which they have travelled down through the centuries?

If we rely on external, objective, evidence only, we must answer the preceding question positively. There is, in fact, no manuscript attestation that can actually compete with the over six thousand representing the Greek originals of the New Testament.

The Church has constantly relied on the Greek manuscripts as a witness to the original text of the Christian Scriptures. And, apart from some references to Hebrew autographs, like Matthew for example, we have no other serious candidate for a non-Greek original language.

The above made me always state, and I confirm it now, that the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

The first century Greek spoken everywhere in the Roman Empire is called Koinè. But I prefer to refer to Biblical Greek when speaking of the language of the Septuagint or of that of the New Testament.

Koinè was the language of commerce, of contracts and documents. It was the language spoken everywhere in the former Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great.

The peculiarities of the language of the Scriptures became even more evident in the hands of the early Christians.

So many conjectures, suppositions and ideas can be added to the above statement which represents facts as they are. So many details of the language of the New Testament can be investigated.

The purpose, my purpose, is not and cannot be arguing or trying to prove or disprove this or that theory, but to deepen and widen our understanding of the holy scriptures, their meaning, authority and authenticity.

If I wanted to shock the readers I would say that all the books of the New Testament were basically written in Hebrew, this term being a general way to address the language currently spoken in Israel during the times of


Jesus – if it was biblical Hebrew or Aramaic, we will say something about it later. In fact, even if Paul, Luke, or any other inspired author entrusted their thoughts and ideas to the Greek language, their mother tongue, frame of mind and the environment in which they lived was Jewish, Semitic. The Faith they were writing about was based on Hebrew Scriptures. Very probably in their work they consulted some reliable early document in Hebrew – abundant evidence shows the latter is more than an assumption.

Had the New Testament been written all in Hebrew it could have not been more Jewish than it is the way it was delivered to us.

I believe this to be a fact.

After I learned Greek, studying the original text made it clear for me how necessary it was to learn at least some Hebrew.

This is why I call the Greek of the Septuagint and its consequent New Testament evolution, Biblical Greek. Because it is a derivation of Koinè. It started there, but then it took a path of its own, which is also deeply connected to the development of the Jewish Faith that we call Christianity.

Just a few examples.

Matthew 1:1 reads: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (King James Version).

I choose the KJV here because we need to look at a literal translation. The opening of this gospel is so deeply Jewish that no translation in any language can change this fact.

If it had been originally written in Hebrew, the translator(s) in Greek must have rendered it faithfully


and literally, so that, in practice, the Greek is no less Semitic than a Hebrew autograph.

The KJV follows a literal translation criteria, which I actually like.

We all know there are different ways of translating a text from one language to another.

For the way in which I read the Bible, I always had a preference for the literal approach. Other ways will inevitably reflect the personal ideas and opinions of the translator(s).

Translating literally is sanctioned by the New Testament itself, since the Greek we read today clearly shows

  1. Hebrew thoughts in a native speaker’s mind or
  2. Reference to written sources, documents, or
  3. Even autographs.

The New Testament in Greek keeps all the flavor, the Semitisms, the atmosphere, the terminology of Hebrew-Jewish language and culture.

The New King James Version tries to move a bit further in Matthew 1:1 and renders: “the book of the generation” so the reader may have access to the idiomatic correspondent expression in English: “the genealogy.

This is more conveying the meaning in our modern current language than simply translating it, for the sake of being more understandable and make sense to the English speaking reader.

The NKJV doesn’t continue this way for the rest of the verse. It is just like the KJV: “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

The Amplified Bible will fulfill its purpose and further dig into the meaning of Mt 1:1, which, of course, is not so evident to the non-Jewish mind or those who are not familiar with the Scriptures: “The book of the ancestry (genealogy) of Jesus Christ (The Messiah, the Anointed), the son (descendant) of David, the son (descendant) of Abraham.

The English word “son” perfectly translates the Greek here, which, in turn, literally renders the Hebrew, and conveys the idea of descent and not of a direct father-son relationship. This frame of mind is not found here in Mt 1:1 only. See James 2:21, Romans 4:1, 12, 16, Acts 7:2, just to name a few.

Anyway, focusing on the Hebrew language only can also lead us astray.

If not by the authors, Greek was chosen by the supposed translator(s) of the New Testament, who must have been convinced that it could serve their purpose well.

Neglecting the importance of Greek is dangerous and can be an (even involuntary) attempt to undermine the witness of the Church.

In the next chapter I will give the reader a quick introduction of the Greek language in general, then I will move to discuss evidence in favor of Greek autographs and the possibility of non-Greek autographs.