Liberal scholars arguing for a late date for the texts of the Old Testament say that the Hebrews couldn’t have been literate until after the Babylonian exile. (Circular reasoning, anyone?) But archaeologists have discovered a trove of letters written on pottery from a remote military installation. They are dated around 600 B.C., shortly before Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. The 18 letters come from at least six different writers, showing that even ordinary soldiers of the day could read and write. [Read more…]
A priceless fragment of the Greek New Testament, a text from St. John’s gospel, was discovered on eBay, with an opening bid of $99. (Similar texts have sold for $500,000.) A relative of a deceased Bible scholar and collector came into possession of the document, not really knowing what he had. Another scholar saw the eBay offering, contacted the seller, and persuaded him to pull the auction and make it available for study. It turns out that the fragment is especially significant because it appears to come from a scroll, whereas all other ancient New Testament texts are from the book-like pages of a codex. [Read more…]
After the jump, Biblical scholarship by way of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “I am the very model of a modern major-general.” [Read more…]
I’m a little late on this, but I just learned the details. You will remember a few years ago when a Harvard professor announced the discovery of an ancient manuscript fragment in which Jesus refers to “my wife” and says “she will be able to be my disciple.” Many questioned the text’s authenticity, but everyone had to wait for further tests. Then there were tests, and news reports said that the fragment is very ancient and that the text appears to be authentic.
But, finally, just before the summer, scholars proved once and for all that the document is a forgery and a hoax. Read how they did so after the jump. [Read more…]
One of my favorite courses in grad school was “Bibliography and Methods,” in which we learned about the scholarship of studying manuscripts, variant texts, printing evidence, textual editing, and other kinds of hard-core old-school literary research. One of the things you can do with this knowledge is detect forgeries.
Scholars have found that the much-hyped manuscript fragment that refers to Jesus having a wife consists basically of phrases from the already-known gnostic text known as the Gospel of Thomas. Not only that, it replicates a mistake in the transcription that is found only in a version posted on the internet!