If papyri is your thing, you should definitely know about Brice Jones’ metasite for papyrological resources. There are a few dozen links to online papyrus collections, journals, online publications, Coptic lexicons, and other tools. Pretty slick.
Brice is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Religion at Concordia University in Montreal.
Readers will be thrilled to know that Simcha Jacobovici is keeping his “just so you know that Easter is really about me and my ideas” streak alive. In the past, Simcha has partnered with James Tabor to bunny hop all over the Christian holy day. James is along for the ride again, but keeping a bit of distance. A good idea, since Simcha’s newest academic resource is Scott Wolter, a researcher with a reputation for shell-game research and less-than-coherent thinking about ancient America and masonic conspiracies.1
This time Simcha and James want the world to know that Scott has made an amazing discovery that validates their earlier interpretation of the “Jesus Family Tomb” of East Talpiot: a “Knights Templar” coin that pictures Jesus emerging from a tomb — and it must be the Talpiot tomb, since the coin bears a Chevron symbol.
Setting aside the fact that Simcha and James deny that Jesus emerged from the Talpiot tomb — which would slightly mar the new analogy just a bit — there are problems with Wolter’s idea.
Jason Colavito has put together a worthwhile essay addressing this claim. As Jason so succinctly puts it, “The longer you look the less there is to see.” Indeed. Any leap from the first century to the high Middle Ages is problematic. But for so many who want to connect dots no matter where in space and time that they are, a non-sequitur is a bridge to understanding.2
Jason Colavito has documented Wolter’s flawed material and its presentation in a number of posts on his blog. ↩
And think about this case: “That shape on a medieval coin looks like that shape on a first century tomb — they must be related.” Pretty stunning. I’m glad we don’t have people who think like this working on the space shuttle or doing internal medicine. I’m happy to keep them in Washington, DC and the History Channel. ↩
CNN’s religion blog recently posted that testing of the Coptic fragment that includes Jesus referring to his wife has delayed publication of an article by Karen King on the fragment in the Harvard Theological Review. The short piece is a useful one, as it asks some needed questions about the fragment in a concise way for readers.
I’m not sure what the hubbub is about testing the actual fragment. I expect the material itself is very old, but that proves nothing about the authenticity of the text, since all one would need to do to create such a forgery is access to the same material and the “recipe” for ancient ink. Irving Wallace showed us how to do that decades ago in his novel, The Word. But maybe other scholars don’t read novels. Additionally, genuine physical material won’t answer the syntactical irregularities and borrowed vocabulary in the text that led scholars to think it a fraud in the first place (see here and here).
There’s been a spate of resources that have popped up online in recent days for excellent resources to study the ancient world. Some of these resources have been around a while, but have gotten some recent attention and traffic on various blogs and news sites. Here are some valuable links:
The Center promotes cartography, historical geography, and geographic information science as essential disciplines within the field of ancient studies through innovative and collaborative research, teaching, and community outreach activities.
For the first time, the latest and most exhaustive information available on the Giza Necropolis will be made available to everyone through a realistic experience that can satisfy mere cu- riosity or encourage more demanding research inquiries
This figures to be my last update on this, at least until after November’s academic conferences. I’m bored with it.
Here’s some item updates on the alleged (but now suspected by many to be fake) fragment that has Jesus referring to his wife. (In case you’re late to this party, here’s a good overview post from New Testament textual critic Dan Wallace). Of particular note is the last one, by Christian Askeland, a Coptologist I happen to know through email due to my day job. It’s an interesting video demonstration (for the non-specialist) of the fragments odd features that has led to suspicion of fakery.
Looks like Harvard Theological Review (HTR), a respected academic journal for theology and religion, will not be publishing Karen King’s article on the new Coptic fragment that has Jesus say something to his wife. Their reticence comes amid growing suspicions that it’s a fake. The update comes from Craig Evans via the Near Emmaus blog.
Rosslyn Chapel and its medieval associations are chronologically out of order for this blog, but since the chapel figures in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code quackery, I thought this was worth a mention. No, the remains aren’t that of Mary Magdalene or any of Jesus’ descendants. As one archaeologist at Archeoblog explains in an excerpt:
Archaeologists now believe the skeletons were placed there when the chapel was abandoned during the Reformation, in the 17th century, by local people who wanted to bury their relatives on consecrated ground. They lay under the stone for more than three centuries until the slabs were lifted two years ago.
I can hardly wait until $imcha Jacobovici gets wind of this. Just wait … he’ll find some way to match the DNA from one of these Rosslyn skeletons to the bone fragments of his “Jesus family tomb” and voila! … another TV special and revenue stream!
That’s part of the title of this 2004 scholarly article that examines Brown’s Jesus bloodline mythology. I don’t believe I’ve posted it before (going through the archives this weekend). The author is apparently a medievalist. It’s a succinct, readable dismantling of Brown’s bogus history. Here’s the abstract:
Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, has enthralled many readers, but many others have pointed out his errors and raised objections to his dubious conjectures. Of particular interest to Arthurians is Brown’s conspiracy theory (appropriated from other sources) concerning the Grail, but a discussion of that subject also requires consideration of his presentation of Church history and of the role that art plays in the elaboration of the Grail theory.