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Earliest Fragments of the Gospel of Mark Found?

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mummy maskI know it’s been a long time since I have posted. I am spending most of my time writing for my teaching ministry, Emet HaTorah. A recent discovery, however, has piqued my interest and I thought it would fit well here.

A recent report has just revealed that what appears to be the oldest extant copy of the Gospel of Mark has been discovered. It appears that it was discovered at least three years ago and both scientists and are working together to publish their findings in the months ahead. Up to this point the entire discovery has been hidden behind sealed lips. However, a little bit of the information has been leaked to the media.

The discovery actually comes from an unexpected location. The gospel fragment was discovered in secondary use as part of an Egyptian burial mask on a mummy of common status. The forthcoming report will reveal more details on its discovery and its contents.  Biblical scholar Craig Evans has been working as part of the team to unravel the mystery behind the text and hopes to publish his findings as soon as the scientific report has been made public. You can read more about the discovery here:

http://www.livescience.com/49489-oldest-known-gospel-mummy-mask.html

Israel Antiquities Authority Tries to Keep Ossuary Return a Secret

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James OssuaryCan you believe it’s been ten years since the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) seized the James Ossuary from  Oded Golan, claiming it to be a forgery? Well, if you haven’t heard (and you probably haven’t), the artifact has finally returned to its owner and all charges of forgery dropped. However, this was under the radar, so-to-speak, because the IAA had made an agreement with Golan to keep their major (and extremely expensive) blunder out of the press. However, Hershel Shanks of the Biblical Archaeology has released some notes about the recent “hush-hush” on the whole affair. You can read all about it here.

Google / IAA Launch Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Online

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Isaiah Scroll on Google's Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

Today, Google and the Israeli Antiquities Authority / Israel Museum officially launched the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls site. This is a watershed in DSS studies. By making these hi-res (If you’re thinking like 20-50 megapixels, think again. Try a whopping 1200 megapixels. Whoa…!) multi-spectrum images freely available to the public online for the first time ever.

With the launch of this site I believe that DSS studies will take off like a parabola curve. This site is making available to both scholars and laymen alike what has previously never been accessible to more then a select few specialists. It’s been over 60 years since their discovery and they are finally making their way to the public arena. I’m sure Hershel Shanks is dancing a jig right about now.

Right now they are offering 5 of the most important (and complete) scrolls, but I’m sure more will follow. Currently available is: The Great Isaiah Scroll, the War Scroll, The Temple Scroll, The Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll and the Community Rule Scroll. They even have English translations of the text as you scroll over the different sections. You can zoom in incredibly close and see the fine details of the text and the scroll. It is quite impressive. Be sure to check it out!

Lead Codices & The Discovery of Atlantis

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leadcodex2

Let’s face it. The “discovery” of the 70 some odd lead codices, said to be of either Christian or Kabbalistic origin have been THE BUZZ on the internet the last few days. But why? Because they are (for the moment) an inexplicable archaeological mystery, steeped with intrigue and sensationalism… Just the type of stuff from which our favorite movies are made. Their discovery has had the Yahoo! News, BBC and now the Christian Science Monitor all jump on the band wagon, reporting on this discovery, adding to the credibility of the find.

But many scholars & laymen alike are having serious doubts about their authenticity, and asking some good questions which should give us pause. A recent post from the rogueclassicist catalogs a lot of these in his latest post entitled, “Lead Codices Silliness.” Although I disagree with him on one or two points, I think he does a great job at bringing the assessment back to reality, rather than leaving it to the realm of melodrama. One thing he mentions in passing is an allusion to a report concerning the recent & alleged discovery of Atlantis. Just last week it was reported by the Jerusalem Post that Hartford University Prof. Richard Freund claims to have not only found the lost, sunken city of Atlantis, but that it turns out to actually be the biblical city of Tarshish (remember Jonah?).

leadcodex-zoom leadcodex-odd

So how do the lead codices connect to Atlantis, you might be asking? Really, only in one way – sensationalism. Although we have seen a great resurgence in biblical archaeology in the last decade or so, we have also seen the crazies come out of the closet and try to capitalize on the renewed interest. When we can claim that Atlantis has been found through the use of Google Earth, we can easily create all kinds of outlandish claims in other arenas within the archaeological realm.

Lastly, it looks like all of this is starting to come to a head. Aaron Eby (Boundary Stones, Biblical Kosher, etc.) recently posted a new link to PaleoJudaica exposing a previous copper codex belonging to David Elkington as an absolute fake, and are related to the Jordanian cache of codices. What a shame. How many scandals does it take to get these guys to wake up?

Will anything from these ever be more than a fraud? Let’s keep hoping…

Lead Codices Followup

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photo of lead codices

Today, I came across a followup on Yahoo! News regarding the 70 credit card sized lead codices which were found in Jordan and thought to be of Christian origin. Many are quick to call this discovery equivalent (or even superior) to the Dead Sea Scrolls. While the jury is still out on just how important (and more importantly how authentic) these codices are to the archaeological and religious world, they are garnering an extremely high interest.

I happened to look at my Google Analytics report for today, and my site visits looked like  a parabola. As of 5:00pm today my blog had received over ten (10) times my normal visits, 90% of which hit my site because they were looking for information on the lead codices. My highest entry page was my post on the lead codices, which raised the question as to whether they were Kabbalistic in origin as some have reported, or Christian as most seem to be favoring.

early christian codices2

Anyway, back to the followup. According to this article, the codices seem to find an affinity with first century Christianity. It states,

Philip Davies, emeritus professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, told Pigott he was “dumbstruck” at the sight of plates representing a picture map of ancient Jerusalem. “There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city,” Davies explained. “There are walls depicted on other pages of these books, too, and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem.

Quite a description. But is it too good to be true? Only time will tell. I would love to hear your thoughts…

Further Reading

Yahoo! News

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