Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ancient garbage turned into gold mine

There were a flurry of news stories last month that there had been a major breakthrough in decoding of Oxyrhynchus Papyri. In reality as reported by the Tribune “relatively new technology called multispectral imaging is turning a pile of ancient garbage into a gold mine of classical knowledge, bringing to light the lost texts of Sophocles and Euripides as well as some early Christian gospels [Gospel of Thomas] that do not appear in the New Testament.” None of the articles indicated what new information this discovery will add to our understanding of the Gospel of Thomas or the New Testament.

See the following clippings: Classics in Contemporary Culture

and the Chicago Tribune,1,6312107.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

For a thousand years the people of Oxyrhynchus, about 100 miles south of Cairo, dumped their trash in the desert. In 1896 Oxford archeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt began excavating the area. “There were plays by Sophocles and Euripides, poems of Pindar and Sappho, and some of the earliest documents recording Christianity's spread to Egypt. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, records the "Sayings of Jesus" in a manner that some scholars of early Christianity believe is more authentic than the Gospels in the New Testament.”

Now the results of the application of multispectral imaging is allowing scholars to read writing previously invisible to them. In the next several months, several volumes will be published.
For more information on the Gospel of Thomas, see
Stevan Davies’ excellent website:

POxy: Oxyrhynchus Online

The story is not new but in an effort to understand the bits and pieces published elsewhere on the internet, I decided to investigate further. It is new to me and because the new material may assist us in understanding the spread of Christianity I decided to mention it on my blog. I will mention it again if there is anything remotely related to my interests.

Also, I know it is unrelated but, I already been asked this question by clients, there is no 4th Amendment protection of what you discard!

Copyrighted 2005


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