Note: Several websites (NT Blog, Gospel Coalition, Andreas Köstenberger,Evangelical Textual Criticism, Hypotyposeis, etc.) have been writing about Dan Wallace’s comments to Bart Erhman about the discovery of several New Testament papyri. Dr. Wallace has already written a summary of the debate, and below he clarifies what these papyri might mean.
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 fragments now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.