Certainly Dan Brown author of "The Da Vinci Code" would like us to think so. It would continue to boost his sales and increase the believability of his book, which he would be the first to tell you is entirely a work of fiction. This fragment that has been found is still in the process of being authenticated and that process is likely to take at least another year and more years after that as its process of authentication comes under scrutiny.
But what if it is found to be a genuine fragment from the early the centuries of Christianity? Well then it must be placed alongside more than 5000 other fragments. Though the fragment may prove to be as old as some are saying it is, it doesn’t mean that what is written on it is true.
Of all the thousands of fragments and manuscripts from early church years, we have many that are fictional and unreliable. These writings are known as the New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The Gospel of Thomas the Gospel of Barnabas are just two of these. It is a fascinating study to discover how and which Christian Scriptures were indeed considered authentic and reliable and therefore earned their place in what we call the Canon of Scripture. It was a couple of centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ before this final list was determined. Those that did not make the cut were grouped together as useful and interesting for study but not necessarily authentic. The Pseudepigrapha were another group of writings that were considered by early Christian scholars as probably fake. Often the writer assumed the identity of a well known associate of Jesus or an early church father in order to make his writing seem more authoritative.
The ones that did make the cut had certain distinguishing traits that made them authentic -- one of which was that they were written and supported by eye witnesses and those who knew, saw and heard Jesus personally.
Unfortunately, the waters of this subject are made more murky by the fact that from the time of the translation of the Bible into English, the Roman Catholic Church has included the Old Testament Apocryphal books in their dogma as having the same authority as the usual canon of Scripture. In contrast, the Protestant Church has been adamant that the Canon of Scripture is closed – no more manuscripts and thus no more teachings may be added to either the Old or the New Testaments.
Many differences between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches have come about just because of this issue. The sinlessness of Mary, her Assumption and the infallibility of the Pope have been added to Catholic beliefs only in the last two hundred years. Protestants who base their beliefs only on what is taught in the Bible reject these teachings. Still more confusion is engendered by those who call themselves Christian but are open to not only what the Pope says but also to any other teachings of any other person which seem to them to be reasonable.
There is so much more to add to this subject that I cannot begin to tell all about it here. If you would like to learn more, let me recommend you Google The History of New Testament documents and begin your own research. If you have questions, email me and I will be glad to try to answer them – as long as they are posed in a respectful manner.
To find my email click on my profile and you will find it there.