Skip to comments.The Book Of Isaiah Under The Sands Of Egypt
Posted on 06/21/2006 5:10:00 PM PDT by blam
The Book of Isaiah under the sands of Egypt
The archaeological mystery has been solved! The latest research shows that the manuscript found by Polish archaeologists in the village of Gourna (Sheikh abd el-Gourna) near Luxor in Upper Egypt contains the entire biblical book of Isaiah in the Coptic
translation. This is the first complete translation of this book in Coptic says Prof. Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo of the Institute of Archaeology at Warsaw University.
In February last year, Tomasz Górecki heading the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Warsaw University mission in Gourna, made a unique find in the rubbish heap of a monastery. It consisted of two papyrus books in leather covers and a collection of parchment sheets bound by two bits of wood. This was the first discovery of Coptic manuscripts in Egypt since 1952, which are well preserved and supported by a well-researched archaeological context.
One of the books is the Code of Pseudo-Basili the only preserved full text in Coptic, which is a collection of rules regulating Church life. The other contains the life of St. Pistentios, one of the Coptic bishops. Both texts date back to the 7th/8th centuries.
The books are under conservation in the National Museum in Alexandria and only then will the full text be known, says Górecki. However, their character and content are already known.
Identifying the third manuscript was much harder. An untitled collection of 50 richly decorated parchment sheets written in Coptic, bound by two pieces of wood. The Polish archaeologists turned to researchers from the University of Rome to help decipher the texts. Prof. Wipszycka-Bravo says that Tito Orlandi, who reads Coptic documents like most people read a newspaper, has pronounced them to be the book of Isaiah. Many fragments of this book have already been found, but never the whole book.
The wooden planks binding the books were supported by parchment from old texts, one a known apocrypha The suffering of St. Peter, another religious text and tax bills the professor explains.
It is still not known how these books reached the hermitage. According to specialists, they must have been written in distant scriptoriums. Moreover, an Italian expert dates the book from the 9th-10th centuries, which makes them more recent than the other books.
The hermitage was abandoned at the beginning of the 8th century, so the parchment could not have belonged to the monks in Gourna. Who brought them there if no Christians were there anymore remains a mystery says Prof. Wipszycka-Bravo.
On being transported to Gourna, the books were dumped on the rubbish heap, presumably by the Arabs after chasing out the Christians.
All of North Africa was once civilized, before the Muslims took over. Yet the propagandists in our educational establishment now teach that Islam was once a great civilization. I don't think so. They lived off the scraps of ancient civilizations that they vandalized and peoples they enslaved.
Interesting. El-Gurneh is the traditional home of tomb-robbers, so maybe they robbed a Coptic library at some (Medieval) point, and then dumped the "infidel" books, which wouldn't have been valuable at the time.
Thank you, Blam.
Congratulations to the Polish investigators who have given us a treasure.
Thank you, Blam.
Congratulations to the Polish investigators who have given us a treasure.
Isaiah - "How art thou fallen from Heaven, Oh Lucifer, son of the morning?"
Yeah, they are just like the Catholic clergy in mid-17th Mexico century who ordered all Aztec and Mayan codexes (sp) (unique accordian-fold books) be burned in order to break the tie between the Indian populations and their pre-Conquista heritage. The few codexes that survived were those sent as booty to Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The burnings destroyed a great deal of information about these Pre-Columbian civilizations and extinguished the ability to read the glyphs that cover Mayan and Aztec temples for centuries.
In addition, a great deal of what are regarded as classics of Greek and Roman civilization were preserved because they were translated into Arabic by medieval Muslim scholars eager to preserve ancient knowledge. Later, during the Renaissance, they were available so they could be translated back into Greek and Latin by European scholars.
The fact is that there are persons in every civilization, epoch, and culture who appreciate art and literature. But there also just as many who have no appreciation for anything except what the people they respect (or fear) say is valuable. Whoever threw away the books at Gourna obviously regarded them only as trash. We are fortunate that he or they were lazy and just put them in the rubbish pile. They could have been fallen into the hands of zealot priests bent on utterly destroying the books as works of the Devil.
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Many of those same works were still available in Greek in Constantinople and its lands...they did not go through the dark age there...there is a complicated interplay of information and ideas that went on in the eastern Mediterranean...and lots of trade.
Coptics are not Muslim. They are a branch of Christianity. They date back to the very earliest date of the Christian faith, probably not long after the Resurrection. And they are severely repressed in Egypt by the Muslim majority.
A good example of the interplay between east and west and Islamic learning centers on the rise of the universities comes through the life of Adelard of Bath:
1080 Adelard was born in Bath around this date.
1088 The rebellion in favour of Robert of Normandy was crushed by his brother William Rufus. Bath had been badly damaged and was sold to the newly appointed Bishop of WELLS for £500.
1090 Bishop John of Tours (also called John de Villula) transferred his
seat from Wells to Bath, and began to build a great new cathedral here.
Adelard is thought to have attended the school of the Benedictine.
Monastery which became the cathedral priory.
1100 Adelard was sent to Tours, one of the great cathedral schools founded by Charlemagne, where he will have studied the seven liberal arts:- the trivium (grammar, rhetoric and dialectic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music).
1105 He was in France where he played the cithar (a stringed instrument --
forerunner of the guitar) to the queen. This must have been Matilda , wife of Henry I. In " De eodem et diverso"he describes how a little boy was so carried away by the rhythm of the music that he waved his arms with great enthusiasm causing the company to laugh aloud. Queen Matilda is said to have been "generous to poor scholars and musicians".
He began to travel widely visiting Salerno, famous for its school of medicine, Sicily, now a Norman Kingdom, Greece and probably Toledo.
1106 In this year he returned to Bath He witnessed a charter for Bishop John. He was then serving as a member of the Bishop`s staff, his name being included among those of the "ministri".
1107 He was in LAON acting as tutor to his nephew and some other students.
Here he probably wrote "Regule Abaci ", a treatise on the use of the Abacus,
(an early form of calculating apparatus.) It is dedicated to his "dear friend H" most likely one of his students. His philosophical work : "De eodem et diverso" must have been written about this time also. It is dedicated to William, Bishop of Syracuse (1108-1116) In this he discusses the problem of identity and diversity in the form of an allegory. He describes how he walked one evening at Tours beside the river Loire with one of his teachers and met two matrons - Philosophia and Philocosmia. The views of the first are represented by each of the seven liberal arts in personifications which appear in turn. Philocosmia has as her handmaidens Riches, Power, Honour, Fame and Pleasure. It is of course Philosophia who wins Adelard's heart.
1109 He set off on his travels again. In the next seven years, he visited Sicily, Italy , Asia Minor, Spain and probably North Africa.
1114 He was in Manistra, near Antioch on a bridge at the time of an earthquake. He may have obtained important Arabic msnuscripts in this area.
1116 He had probably returned to England. Here he set about writing `Quaestiones Naturales`. In it he speaks of his desire to discover the manners and customs of his own country. He says that `he has learned that its chief men are violent, its magistrates wine-lovers, its judges mercenary, its patrons fickle, private men sycophants, those who make promises deceitful, friends full of jealousy, and almost all men self-seekers`. This book is in the form of a dialogue between uncle and nephew. The nephew asks 76 questions concerned with natural phenomena ; these include : Why is the sea salt? Why do some animals see better at night? How is the globe supported in the air? What causes tides?
Adelard thought there need be no conflict between science and religion. "I will detract nothing from God;" he wrote," for whatever is, is from him and by him; yet not even this is said vaguely and without due care, as we must listen to the very limits of human knowledge: only where this utterly breaks down, should we refer things to God." This book is dedicated to Richard, Bishop of Bayeux (appointed 1107). It was first printed in l480.
At about the same time he was writing "De Cura Accipitrum" a treatise on the care of falcons. He tells us it is based on the "books of King Harold". It shows a wide knowledge of English herbs and of the diseases of falcons, and also an understanding of the practice of falconry.
Medicinal plants referred to include:-columbine; radish; St. John`s wort; mallow; spindle tree; blackthorn; cinquefoil; hawthorn; apple; stonecrop; parsley; ivy; broom; elecampane; wormwood (artemisia absinthium); ash; gromwell (lithospermum); water figwort; water betony; wild thyme; basil thyme; wild basil; betony; red dock; oak; leek; duckweed.
After 1116. During the ensuing years Adelard made two important translations from the Arabic. The first was `The thirteen books of Euclid`s Elements of Geometry`. The original was written c. 300 BC in Alexandria. No Latin version had survived the Dark Ages but two translations had been made from Greek into Arabic in the eighth and ninth centuries. Adelard`s translation, was used by Roger Bacon in the next century and became the basis of all editions in Europe until 1533.
Al-khwarizmi`s Zij (or Astronomical tables) were also translated by Adelard. Since the original no longer exists, Adelard`s version is very important.
Other works translated by Adelard were three texts on astrology:- Centiloquium Ptolomei; `Isagoge Minor `(shorter introduction to astronomy) by Abu Ma`shar and the Liber prestigiorum Thebidis, a book on the theory of images by Thabit b. Qurra. He may also have translated a short book on chiromancy from the Greek.
1130. In this year Adelard was granted a small sum of money (or a fine was remitted) from the revenues of Wiltshire according to an entry in the Pipe Roll. It is thought likely that this was a reward for work done at the Exchequer and that Adelard would have been familiar with the accounting methods used there (based on a chequered cloth laid on a large table) which are known to have been taught at Laon.
1142 Ten royal horoscopes have recently been attributed to Adelard. They have been linked with events in 1149 and 1151. One records a meeting between a master and a former pupil, who might be Adelard and Henry II. Adelard may have acted as tutor in mathematics to the young Henry when he was in Bristol with his mother, Matilda, in 1142 - 1146, staying in the house there of his uncle Robert of Gloucester, natural son of Henry I.
Late in his career, Adelard wrote a treatise on the astrolabe - ` De opere astrolapsus`. It is dedicated to Henry, nephew or grandson (nepos) of the king.
As with his other mathematical works an important element is the introduction of Arabic numerals and the use of zero which made it possible to calculate without ruling out a table. With the astrolabe it was possible to calculate the height of a building, the depth of pits and wells and also the longitude and latitude of any place. Since it showed the positions of the stars and planets in relation to the signs of the zodiac, it was also used for astrological predictions.
Perhaps its most important use was in telling the time by day or by night; it continued to be used for navigation well into the l7th Century.
1160. The last of the royal horoscopes is thought to have been cast by Adelard in this year. It is not known when Adelard died or where he is buried. Little remains of the great Norman cathedral which may have been completed before his death, although part of the floor may be seen through a grating on the right of the Alphege chapel in the Abbey, and the base of the pillars of the crossing can be seen outside the east end. A section in the Abbey Heritage Vaults is devoted to Adelard,
Sources:-Adelard of Bath, the First English Scientist by Louise Cochrane; British Museum Press l994. Dictionary of National Biography: Adelard; Matilda; John de Villula etc. . Encyclopaedia Britannica: Adelard; Euclid; . Dodi ve Nechti by Israel Gollancz (London l920) contains the first translations into English of Adelard's Quaestiones Naturales, as well as a later Hebrew version.
Exactly what IS the 'oldest profession'?
"copists" are not Coptics, they are "copyists". Cap'n Rhino dropped a letter, a tiny typo.
Why invent money unless you intend to collect taxes -- answer the question, King Croesus!!! ;')
"On being transported to Gourna, the books were dumped on the rubbish heap, presumably by the Arabs after chasing out the Christians."
So, if Israel has to give back part of its land to the PLO, does that mean I can claim part of Egypt in the name of Christianity? I mean, apparantly, we were there first.
Great find !!
Thanks for a fascinating post. Gee--I'd like to see pictures of those decorated pages!!
Uh, read the article. It's Coptic.
I didn't say the Copts were Muslims. And yes, they have suffered in dhimmitude under the Muslims for 1300+ years.
Uh, read his post, which is what the comment was on.
"Agreed. In addition, there were the recently acknowledged efforts of the copyists in Irish monasteries. And let's not forget the literally unknown treasures that have quietly deteriorating into mold and dust during centuries of storage in the oft flooded basements of Venice. However, the efforts of Muslim copists should be acknowledged as a major link in the transmission of these works through history."
a related oldie:
How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs
Assyrian International News Agency | Peter BetBasoo
Posted on 06/05/2002 5:45:56 PM EDT by keepa
Uh, "Muslim copyist" says Muslim, and Copts (copying Coptics included) aren't Muslim.
I seem to recall that is was the "preservationist" Muslims who ransacked and burned the fabled library of Alexandria. But, I could be wrong; maybe is was Catholic leprechauns.
I seem to recall that it was the "preservationist" Muslims who ransacked and burned the fabled library of Alexandria. But, I could be wrong; maybe is was Catholic leprechauns.
Or was it Lesbian Episcopalian Women Priests? Oh that's right Leprechauns aren't real!!
Many of those same works were still available in Greek in Constantinople and its lands...they did not go through the dark age there...there is a complicated interplay of information and ideas that went on in the eastern Mediterranean...and lots of trade."many of those same works" -- not Coptic versions of Scripture.
Just a note to say thanks for taking the time to look up and post this information.
I was a medievalist in a former phase of my life...
Unfortunately for the Islamic world (from our POV), that was pretty much the high point of Islamic scientific culture...by the 14th century, men like Avicenna and Averroes were not to be seen, as the emphasis of the Islamic world view shifted into a mode that took them away from that.
For those who want to catch a glimpse of things in a fictionalized format, (biased a bit against the 12th century church hierarchy and seen through 20th century eyes) read Louis Lamour's the Walking Drum.
But it is something to realize, that the same approach (and burning intensity) that the Old Man of the Mountain used with his band of Assassins against the crusaders, is very similar to those Al Qada and company.
Nothing much new under the sun...
"many of those same works" -- not Coptic versions of Scripture.
Well then, Constantinople didn't have any of those same works. The works in question, after all, were Arabic versions of the classics, but Constantinople merely had the Greek versions, as they did with Scripture.
In addition, a great deal of what are regarded as classics of Greek and Roman civilization were preserved because they were translated into Arabic by medieval Muslim scholars eager to preserve ancient knowledge. Later, during the Renaissance, they were available so they could be translated back into Greek and Latin by European scholars.See also the link in message 26.
As I recall, you brought up about Coptic versions of Scripture. Hence my comment.
That is, in #31, not the article.