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An Old Christian Papyrus

September 7, 2014 17 comments

Jeanna Bryner, the Managing Editor of LiveScience is reporting that the ‘Last Supper’ Papyrus May Be One of Oldest Christian Charms:

 Inline image. Click to enlarge

A 1,500-year-old fragment of Greek papyrus with writing that refers to the biblical Last Supper and "manna from heaven" may be one of the oldest Christian amulets, say researchers.

The fragment was likely folded up and worn inside a locket or pendant as a sort of protective charm, according to Roberta Mazza, who spotted the papyrus while looking through thousands of papyri kept in the library vault at the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

"This is an important and unexpected discovery as it’s one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context and the first charm ever found to refer to the Eucharist — the Last Supper — as the manna of the Old Testament," Mazza said in a statement. The fragment likely originated in a town in Egypt. [Proof of Jesus Christ?

The translated text from the article reads:

Fear you all who rule over the earth.

Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.

For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.

Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.

Unrelatedly, the editor threw in a link to past LiveScience stories: Proof of Jesus Christ? 7 Pieces of Evidence Debated. The first one is Biblical Blankets. Guess what?

Speaking of Matching Faces

September 4, 2014 10 comments

We have been comparing many faces lately.

Of course, if this face comparison is proof that Leonard da Vinci’s face is on the shroud than other comparison, similarly done, prove that the proof is not proof. Or is it that this comparison is flawed?  In what ways?

 

imageimageAnd, how come no one is talking about the 6th century Christ Pantocrator at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai?

History in the Unmaking: The Shroud of Joseph of Arimathea

September 2, 2014 4 comments

imageFrom an online tourist brochure for Cyprus, an entry for the the Akhiropiitos Monastery, in Alsancak, near Kyrenia in North Cyprus

A local legend says that the shroud in which Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the dead Jesus was brought here, and rested in the basilica until 1452. Marguerete de Charny, a descendent of a nobleman of Champagne who was said to have obtained it during the crusades, then presented it to the Cathedral at Turin.

Strange though this story might sound, and although there is no proof that the shroud was ever near Cyprus, there is proof that in 1349 Geoffrey de Charny, a French knight, is already in possession of the Shroud, which some believe he acquired in Constantinople. And in 1453 Margaret de Charny, at Geneva, receives from Duke Louis I of Savoy the castle of Varambon and revenues of the estate of Miribel near Lyon for ‘valuable services’. Those services are thought to have been the bequest of the Shroud.

Best of all. The above entry is cited in a Wikipedia article. (Yes, Google lets you trace citations backwards). See how some Wikipedia writer garbles the text from a travel brochure and plants bad history into an encyclopedia.

According to legend, the shroud of Joseph of Arimathea was once held in the monastery and was taken to Turin, Italy, in 1452 where it remains today and is now known as the Shroud of Turin.

Obviously someone snapped a picture.  Just in case you thought of going to Cyprus to check out the story, the travel site tells us:

Although within the military area and cannot be visited, a good view of the monastery can be had from the Lambousa peninsula. Take the coast road from Girne towards Lapta. Around half a mile after the turning for Alsancak, look for a road on your right signposted to the Camelot beach complex. You will also see the signs for the churches of St Evlalios and St Evlambios. Before reaching the Camelot car park turn left on to the peninsula, and you will see the monastery just beyond the church. Remember, although you are on a public area, the monastery is within the military area, so take care where your camera is pointing.

Categories: History Tags: ,

How to Start a Rumor

August 20, 2014 6 comments

Stephen Jones has started reading N.T. Wright’s monumental, 800+ page book, The Resurrection of the Son of God. He wonders in his blog, Is N.T. Wright a Shroud pro-authenticist?

imageThat Wright, a former Anglican Bishop of Durham, and a leading New Testament scholar, even mentioned the Shroud at all is amazing, given that Christian academics tend to ignore it, for fear of being thought of as belonging to the so-called `lunatic fringe’.

And that Wright referenced not a more well-known Shroud book, like one of Ian Wilson’s, but one that is less well known, by the Whangers, argues for Wright not only being a Shroud pro-authenticist, but having read widely in Shroud literature.

Tom Wright is one of my heroes. I’ve read many of his books including this one. It is probably the best modern-era book written on the subject. In my opinion, the reference to the shroud is casual, by-the-way, and unnecessary. I certainly don’t see how Stephen can assume that Tom Wright is a “a Shroud pro-authenticist” or has “read widely in Shroud literature.” 

But it makes for a silly rumor that might spread on the Internet.

Evidence of the Resurrection?

August 17, 2014 7 comments

imageYesterday, in the Evangelical Channel of Patheos, Jack Wellman asked, Is There Evidence Jesus Really Rose from the Dead? He discusses historical evidence, biblical evidence and . . .

The Shroud of Turin has been scientifically examined and the conclusion was that whoever it was had been badly scourged, and was crucified, but it appears there was some sort of crown of thorns, and that there was a stab wound in the side. A retired professor from Duke Medical Center, Dr. Alan Whanger, spent nearly his whole life studying medicine and since 1978 has spent years studying the Shroud of Turin.  Initially, he may have studied it to debunk the idea that it was genuine and might have hoped to provide evidence that it was a fake, however the more he studied it using scientific methods, the more he became convinced that it was real.1  Dr. Whanger states that this is the single, most studied object in human history.  Unlike paintings which are two-dimensional, the image of the Shroud is three-dimensional.  Several findings indicated that the Shroud’s images were from Israel and apparently in the spring of AD 30 due to the identification of 28 species, 20 of which grow specifically in Jerusalem and the other 8 within a 12 mile radius of Jerusalem, and with a common blooming time of March and April which would have been around the Passover, the time that Jesus was crucified.

In 2010, the History Channel investigated and used computer technology to add a third dimension and with generally accepted color schemes for the body: hair, eyebrows, and even the bloodied body and they concluded that the image on the Shroud was not painted, nor was it dyed, nor made by any human effort.3  Ray Downing was the computer artist who helped to create the image using powerful computer imaging and he says that this is about as close as you can get to it actually looking like the very person that was wrapped in the shroud. The Shroud was transformed by computer imaging and color scheme graphics or digital artists to produce a 3-D image from the 2-D image contained within the Shroud. The Shroud of Turin is only one of the many threads of methods which we can examine.

Jack Markwardt’s Antioch Theory

August 15, 2014 12 comments

clip_image001Jack. pictured here, will be presenting two papers at
the St. Louis Conference

1)  Modern Scholarship And The History Of The Turin Shroud

2) The Full-Length History Of The Turin Shroud


Daveb brought up the Antioch theory in response to Charles Freeman’s call for looking beyond the Edessa-Constantinople route. Daveb wrote:

I have previously mentioned Markwardt’s theory that the Shroud was taken to Antioch and kept there. It makes a lot of sense to me, more than taking it to Alexandria as Charles would seem to have it. We know that Peter was first bishop of Antioch, and there is good indicative evidence that he held the burial cloths. Markwardt [pictured here] suggests that the hiding of the Shroud in a wall in Antioch for safe-keeping when other relics were being pillaged or destroyed there, may be the true basis of the similar story from Edessa, Antioch, although often prone to earthquakes, and on the Orontes, could more likely have had a more conducive climate for the cloth’s survival in a wall than Edessa. He suggests that it was taken to Edessa only when Antioch was under threat from the Persian Chosroes. Arriving in Edessa, it was of course not stored in a wall but in the Hagia Sophia cathedral there.

I posted something on this topic back in April of 2012. I think it warrants another look. And the linked-to PDF is definitely worth reading. As posted then:


Jack Markwardt explains:

imageI originated and presented this hypothesis to an international conference convened at Ohio State University in 2008 for the simple reason that the early history of the Turin Shroud cannot be credibly linked to the ancient city of Edessa through a literal application of the Abgar legend. The preeminent historian of Edessa, J.B. Segal, after years of arduous study and investigation, concluded that the Abgar legend constitutes “one of the most successful pious frauds of antiquity”. It should not be surprising, therefore, that a number of highly-respected modern historians have summarily rejected this pious fraud as evidential of the Turin Shroud’s whereabouts during the first Christian millennium, particularly because real historical evidence provides not the slightest indication that pagan Edessa was even partially converted to Christianity prior to the late second-century reign of King Abgar the Great. The preeminent historian of Antioch, Glanville Downey, ascribed that development to a two-phase evangelization mission, one which initially resulted in the baptism of Abgar the Great and ultimately concluded with the consecration of Edessa’s first bishop, Palut, in 200 CE, by Serapion, the bishop of Antioch. Relatively recent attribution of an image of Christ to the city of Edessa during the first half-millennium of Christianity arises exclusively from a substantial permutation of the Abgar legend authored, in ca. 945, by a Byzantine Emperor who desired to bestow an apostolic provenance upon the Christ-icon which had recently been transferred to his capital from Edessa. In order to explain away, in one bold imperial stroke, the complete historical anonymity of this icon during the first five Christian centuries, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus sponsored the publication and circulation of a tale which featured not only the cloth’s first-century concealment within a niche located above an Edessa city gate, but also its miraculous rediscovery there by a fictional Edessan bishop, Eulalius, during the Persian siege of 544 CE. It has been suggested, in lieu of this incredible miracle-discovery tale, that the icon was actually found in the wake of the great flood of 525 CE which damaged Edessa’s city walls; however, it is rather significant that such a truly notable event merited no mention whatsoever in the Edessan Chronicle, a Syriac work composed in ca. 540-544 CE, which not only described the great flood but also detailed the most commonplace of Edessan ecclesiastical matters. In my opinion, modern scholarship will continue to reject the identification of the acheiropoietos image of Christ which was brought from Edessa to Constantinople in 944 CE with the Turin Shroud unless and until the provenance of that icon, and the circumstances surrounding its arrival in Edessa, can be reasonably established on the basis of non-legendary evidence.

I was there at Ohio in 2008 and remember the presentation, Ancient Edessa and the Shroud: History Concealed by the Discipline of the Secret. It was excellent. Read it.

Comment Promoted: Looking Beyond an Edessa-Constantinople Route

August 15, 2014 25 comments

the key problem is survival

Charles Freeman writes in a comment:

As 99.9999 per cent or more of ancient textiles ( and these included all clothing) are lost, it is hard to say anything more than that the Shroud, if it is indeed first century, is a unique SURVIVAL. I am more interested in knowing about the looms ,ancient or medieval, that could have produced it and I am aware that this is a highly specialist area and I would defer to expert opinion.

Still there is much basic work to be done. Contrary to what Ian Wilson tells us ,the Shroud is not a particularly fine linen cloth. Examples of linen with 40 to 70 warp and weft threads per cm are known from Egypt, Palestine and Syria in this period, much greater quality than the Shroud. (See the good article on weaving in the ancient eastern Mediterranean in the Cambridge History of Western textiles ( p, 110 for the figures).

Again if one looks at examples such as the Ramesses Girdle, now in Liverpool, of c. 1200 BC, which, even with computer help, has proved almost impossible to reweave, the Shroud is not especially complicated.

So when one says that the Shroud is unique, it does not mean that one should say it is something special as a cloth so long as much finer and more complicated cloths from the ancient Mediterranean are known to exist.

For me, the key problem is survival. Although I believe that the Shroud is medieval, if a first century date does come up on a radiocarbon redating, I would assume that it was kept somewhere among the large and vibrant early Christian communities of Egypt where the damp would not have got at it. I am frustrated by the way so-called Shroud researchers are not prepared to look outside the Edessa/Constantinople route, when there are so many alternatives to it to explore. The Shroud would not have survived long cooped up in a brick wall in damp (even subject to flooding) Edessa!!

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