Skip to comments.Oxford University Researchers Want Public's Help Decoding 'Lost Gospel' Text
Posted on 07/27/2011 2:57:13 PM PDT by TaraP
Millions of fragments of ancient texts discovered in Egypt have been touted as possibly offering a lost gospel, with commentators saying it could provide an insight into the mark of the beast referred to in the book of Revelation.
Excited researchers at Oxford University are calling on the public to provide support in translating the documents.
The documents, entitled The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, were discovered last century in the Egyptian city of the same name, but mining their rich content has been a slow process, according to researchers at the iconic British university.
Researchers at the university issued a call Tuesday for armchair archaeologists to log onto the Ancient Lives website where numerous parts of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri have been published and to take a stab at deciphering the texts, which are written in Greek.
The texts, dated between 500 BC to 1,000 AD, were written during a time when Egypt was under Greek and Roman control, according to researchers.
Its with the digital advancements of our own age, that we're able to open up this window into the past, and see a common human experience in that intimate, traditional medium, handwriting, lead developer and designer, William MacFarlane of Oxford Universitys Department of Physics said in a statement on the universitys website.
The documents, which have not been read in more than a thousand years, could reveal new details about Jesus earthly ministry, and even details about what people of the past believed about the end times.
One discovery made so far, as noted on Oxford Universitys Oxyrhynchus Online website, reveals an inquiry as to whether the number of the beast referred to in Revelation 13:18 is actually 616 or 665 as opposed to the wildly-popular 666.
Researchers have also found a lost gospel that includes an account of Jesus casting out demons.
Although the Biblical canon has been set and is unalterable, extra-biblical documents have often lent support to the historicity of Scripture. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are expected to be no different.
Until now only experts could explore this incredible collection, said project leader Dr Chris Lintott of Oxford Universitys Department of Physics. With so much of the collection unstudied theres plenty for everyone. Were excited to see what visitors to ancientlives.org can unearth.
As the amazing collection of ancient texts attracts amateur sleuths and archeologists to the Ancient Lives website, so might their discoveries attract unbelievers to Christ.
Discoveries made so far already support historical accounts of Egypts domination by the Greeks and Romans. In addition, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri collection is the source of the lost poetry of Sappho, the lost comedies of Menander and the lost plays of Sophocles, according to researchers.
What else might the treasure trove of texts reveal about the ancient world in which much of the Biblical accounts take place? Only time will tell.
Oxyrhynchus? Sharp nose?
Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom.
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
It’s 666, but I can get it for you wholesale...
One modern candidate for “the Mark:” RFID.
It is interesting how people are always bringing up "New Gospels, " thus implying the canon is less than correct.
The “wildly-popular 666?!?!?!? Popular with whom?
D R I N K. Y O U R. O V A L T I N E. .........
Wow. The guy who bought the house at 616 Maple Street is really going to be mad.
616? Uh oh, don’t tell any Marvel Comics fans.
Yeah 'cause, you know, there are no accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John about Jesus casting out demons.
THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST (SYSTEM)
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six. (Rev. 13-18) Many have been the conjectures regarding this number 666. But John declares it is the number of a man or as has been rendered for number is of man. It is the numerics of the system of man in opposition to the system of God.
Jesus Christ came to destroy evil from the earth so it is fitting that when the years had run their course 6 times 666 from Adams fall the Christ was born who is to destroy all the evil works of men.
It was from the earth and during the time that the Roman and fourth world Empire was active that this second beast came to power. Hence we are not surprised to find 666 associated with not only the economic structure but also with the political and religious activities of man during these years. Prophetic students have found that this number 666 applies to the political activities of Rome and is a numerical number found associated with the Papacy. Because the economic system of Babylon has as its foundation the worship of gold* in the carrying on of its commercial endeavors it is not without significance that, The weight of Gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six (666) talents of gold. (I King 10:14)
Gold is the foundation on which rests the image of the beast, which image is the financial or monetary system, the image of the commercial activities of Babylon. Because this is so the possession of money is essential for those who would live and work in the present world order of society. Without the medium they are refused the things of life both in trade and commerce.
What, then, shall the righteous do for they cannot serve God and Mammon? Jesus answered this question. The righteous are not to serve Mammon or conform with the system. They are to deal righteously in the use of the things of Mammon even though the system itself is evil.
*The acquiring of gold or its equivalent in the medium of exchange has become the objective of mans endeavors as a result of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, having called a great economic conference of nations to meet at Babylon. Daniel describes that meeting: The King built a column sixty cubits high and placed on top the Winged Disc or, as Daniel puts it, the Image of Gold. (Dan. 3) Here we have an account of the birth of the gold standard, when by solemn decree it was made a controlled medium of exchange, the possession of which became essential to those who would buy and sell in the world markets along with everyday needs.
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Alas! I sold my Scott and Liddel 2 years ago!
(Yes, sharp nose. Oxyrhynchus: Vide “Salmonides.” )
TMI! (too much information) I know.
I'm currently reading an excellent book on the recognition of the Gospels, by Dr. C. E. Hill, (Who Chose the Gospels?) and contrary to the unsupported opinion of most liberal (and mostly non-Christian) bible scholars today (folks like Bart Ehrman) there is ample evidence that by Irenaus' day (ca. AD 125-202) the 4 Gospels we all know, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--of Apostolic origin--were well established as canonical (BIBLE) among orthodox (and persecuted) Christians.
It seems to be a post-modernist fantasy that nobody had any idea what writings about Jesus to trust until Constantine...probably due to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, which all scholars regard as rubbish.
To believe that writings written 100 and more years AFTER Jesus' death and resurrection (contra the 4 Gospels, of 1st Century origin...), by cultic groups (equivelant to JW's or Mormon's today) opposed to Christianity... were given equal credibility among Christians (routinely thrown to lions in this era--for believing those Gospels) really is pure speculation and wishful thinking.
Egypt was a center of cultic/heretical activity in the early centuries AD. The fashionable cult which violently opposed orthodox Christians then was Gnosticism, and the "Oxyrhynchus Papyri" are simply fragments of Gnostic writings found in an ancient garbage dump.
The only reason scholars get so excited about them is their age....and the only reason paper so old survived is Egypt's desert climate. Still, garbage is still garbage, no matter how old.
We will no more find out credible history about Jesus from these writings, than we find credible history of pre-Columbian America in the writings of Joseph Smith.
Those are guys? Barf.
Yes, well, the Christians handsomely repaid whatever "violence" the Gnostics gave them, now didn't they? What the Pope and the King of France did to the Cathars in Languedoc made Satan blanch. But hey, it got the job done - every last man, woman and child put to the sword in the entirety of mid to south western France.
And then mercilessly slandered and mocked in memory forever after.
But it was their own fault. Heresy is heresy. You choose to be a heretic, you pay the price. Right?
I hadn’t known that the 2nd Century Gnostic movement, present during the time Christianity was a badly persecuted illegal religion, had anything at all do do with the late medieval Roman Catholicism’s persecution of the Cathars 1,000+ years later...
What possible relationship do the Gnostics have with the Cathars?
Roman Catholic monarchs in France also murdered orthodox Christian Calvinists in the 1570s by the tens of thousands...
How does (really) bad behavior by persons calling themselves Christians prove there is no such thing as heresy or orthodoxy?
Just to be clear, I don’t know of any responsible Christian alive today who supports the suppression or persecution of non-Christians. However, the Christian virtue of tolerance doesn’t mean that one cannot distinguish between Christian orthodoxy and heresy.
The use of the word “heretic” or “heresy” in no way implies approval of the history of the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of minority religions, or other oppressive, persecuting, tyrannical policies.
It is interesting to me though, that the very fact we can discuss such things openly, and without fear or repercussions...is a product of the values of a people historically, overwhelmingly, Christian.
In certain places of “liberal” (secular) western Europe for example....I may well be accused of “hate crimes” for posting these things...
The largest increase in our knowledge of gnosticism came from the discovery at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in the 1940s of a cache of gnostic texts.
And Gnosticism was a competitor and opponent to the belief system we know now as Christianity. To believe that Christians then paid attention to the tales--written 100+ years AFTER the real history was written--of the Gnostics, is like saying that Christians today pay attention to the "history" in the Book of the Mormon.
Sorry, it just doesn't happen.
>>>One discovery made so far, as noted on Oxford Universitys Oxyrhynchus Online website, reveals an inquiry as to whether the number of the beast referred to in Revelation 13:18 is actually 616 or 665 as opposed to the wildly-popular 666. <<<
A quote of the actually translation [of this inquiry] would have been helpful. Perhaps "wildly popular" *is* part of the text? :-)
Obama Nero must have had plenty of fans, even back then.
actually = actual
I don’t think the early Christians paid attention to the gnostic writings to learn anything new that had been left out of the accepted gospels, but some Christian leaders had to pay some attention to the gnostics to be able to warn the faithful not to be led astray.
There were actually quite a few gospels floating around — like the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Judas. This may be one of them..
there always were many “gospels” floating around — most were spurious, gnostic texts. The canon as defined by the Church was and IS, thanks to God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit acting through men in council, correct
LOL, here come the satanic verses.
If it was written between 500 and 1000, what qualifies it as a lost ‘gospel’ versus any other book? Hundreds of books were written with stories of Jesus’ life that aren’t gospels.