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Studying cultural layers
History Hunters International

Date: 2010-05-12 19:19
Subject: (no subject)
Security: Public
Tags:archaeology, buddhism, christianity, hadrian, history
 Left: A Greco-Roman gladiator on a glass vessel, Begram – Alexandria of the Caucasus – 2nd century.

My recent posts at History Hunters International:

Greco-Indian contact with Rome
Hadrian’s parody
Josephus as a primary source for the New Testament
Flavian Midrash Sources of the New Testament
Archaeology of the earliest canonical gospels

The similarities – parallels even – between various divine men of Antiquity, such as Buddha and Jesus Christ, have been noted by very many, especially since archaeologists from Europe and the United States during the 19th century began studying ancient Greco-India.

Christian and Buddhist apologists have not accepted such links for two main reasons: theological differences (their own faith is unique and therefore cannot have meaningful parallels with another) and archaeology claimed to place these divine men in different periods and places.

In my first post of this series on the earliest archaeology for Buddhism, I reported that my attempts to examine the excavation reports had been unsuccessful. We have, however, the archaeology for the very earliest texts and artefacts.

1. The Zen of Buddhist archaeology: earliest texts
2. The language of Buddhist archaeology
3. Archaeology and identity of the first Buddhists

“Buddhist texts are unable, therefore, to support the early history claimed for this faith.”

The archaeology tells us that Buddhism is Greco-Indian and thus a part of the Hellenised world of these Alexandrian cities and ports, taking us to Alexandria in Egypt, built by the successors of Alexander the Great.

When we looked at Christianity in the same – archaeological – manner, we again find ourselves in Alexandria and of the same period.
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Date: 2010-05-12 10:35
Subject: Lost and saved - by Google
Security: Public
When I switched off my security by Google, two days ago, a trojan took over my laptop and, controlling Windows, would not allow me to restore my operating system.

This was entirely my fault.

First, I had downloaded a video from Youtube (a Google service) and as it was my only download at the time, must have contained the trojan.

Then - oh silly me! - fed up with the Google security software and determined to use a new anti-virus app, I uninstalled it. That allowed the trojan to jump up and hit me.

The good news is that I have backups on DVD and better yet, all my documents and images are stored in the Google Cloud. I lost nothing.

In the last hour before I wiped my HD, I looked through my folders and uploaded to the Cloud the few files I had created that day, to make sure this work was also protected.

Yesterday, I reinstalled Vista and all the Google apps I use, such as Chrome. Why this browser? Google Chrome is the fastest, cleanest, most secure browser in existence.

The extensions that can be added to Chrome are very useful. I use a bunch: Google Translate, which turns a page in any language to English with one click; Session Manager stores a bunch of tabs, so I can save and return to whatever subject I have been studying online; an url shortener, always useful when posting to Twitter; and many more.

Here is a trick: you can use Chrome much like an operating system, by adding application shortcuts:

I add my application shortcuts to my Taskbar, just like any other app used regularly. That way, when I want to create or read a document, I don't open an editor, such as Word, but click on the Docs icon and open Google Docs. Same with images (Picasa) and other functions. This is a step towards the Chrome OS that should appear by year's end.

With luck and good management, this sorry episode is a one-off - I usually confine my silliness to my private life. A Google download brought the problem to me, switching off Google security then made the problem appear, and the day was saved by Google Cloud.

We live in a Google world.
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Date: 2010-05-09 13:26
Subject: Archaeology of the earliest canonical gospels
Security: Public
Tags:archaeology, christianity, gospels, history

  John Rylands Library Papyrus P52, recto and verso

Generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text, the front (recto) contains lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek, and the back (verso) contains lines from verses 37–38.

For us to discuss the last century of the past era and the first century of the present, we need to dispose immediately with the mythology of the traditional accounts of Christian origins.

For myself, the history of Judea in the first half of the first century does not allow a Jesus Christ.

My study of this period has led me to conclude that the canonical gospels are Roman-inspired 'black propaganda' against the enemies of Rome, who were the messianic Jewish rebels of the three Jewish-Roman Wars (66-70, 115-117 and 132-136).

If the Jesus myth can be draped across the shoulders of any historical figure, as the cloak of Paul of Tarsus is draped across the Saul of Josephus ("Costobarus, therefore, and Saul, who were brethren..."), then my choice is Yehoshua ben Damneus. whose (probable) uncle, Nakdimon ben Guryon, appears in the Gospel of John as Nicodemus.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.
- John 3:1-2 (New International Version)

For us to study the christology of Philo in its proper context and learn how it was developed over the following centuries, Christian Tradition must be replaced with history, based on reliable archaeology.

Some people believe that Pythagoras was a 'divine man'. Others placed their faith in Apollonius of Tyana. We are free to choose our own poison.

For those who chose Jesus as their divine man, there are some good counter-arguments to address that theology and here is one, from an eminent scientist:

A second story from Acts that is paralleled by another source is Simon Peter’s famous “tablecloth vision” from Chapter 10 [It will be recalled that “Peter” (i.e., “Rocky”) is a nickname that Simon has acquired, presumably because his support of Jesus was “solid as a rock”.] Peter is going to be invited to dinner by a centurion, Cornelius from the Italica regiment in Caesarea, who is improbably described as “fearing God”, “giving many gifts to the poor”, and “supplicating God continuously” (Acts 10:1-2). Peter has a vision in which a heavenly tablecloth descends, covered with various animals, which he is instructed by a voice to “kill and eat. ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ ” (Acts 10:13-15). Later, Peter summarizes his visit: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28).

Even without knowing the historical parallel of this story, it is one of the most revealing and explosive in the entire New Testament. First, it demonstrates unequivocally that the whole “inclusivist message”, which is directly attributed to Jesus via innumerable Gospel stories, was in fact completely foreign to Jesus. Otherwise, it would not have been necessary for Peter, one of his closest and “rockiest” supporters, to receive a vision about it well after Jesus’s death. Thus, this story, by itself, tells us that vast portions of the Gospels, in which Jesus is pictured as associating and engaging in table fellowship with all kinds of forbidden persons (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc) and dismissing Jewish dietary law in favor of a universalist, humanitarian message (“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.” Matt 15:10), are just constructed from whole cloth. In fact, it is astonishing that anyone can remain a believing Christian after pondering this clumsy addendum to the Jesus Gospel stories.
- Robert Eisenman’s “New Testament Code”  Essay by Dr. Andrew P. Gould, Ohio State U. Distinguished Professor of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

From an archaeological perspective, the age of distribution of the earliest gospel texts, then placed in context with Josephus, is compelling.

Distribution of Papyri Witness for each New Testament book
NT Book Total Early NT Book Total Early
Matthew 23 11 1 Timothy 0 0
Mark 3 1 2 Timothy 0 0
Luke 10 6 Titus 2 1
John 30 19 Philemon 2 1
Acts 14 7 Hebrews 8 4
Romans 10 5 James 6 4
1 Corinthians 8 3 1 Peter 3 1
2 Corinthians 4 2 2 Peter 2 1
Galatians 2 1 1 John 2 1
Ephesians 3 3 2 John 1 0
Philippians 3 2 3 John 1 0
Colossians 2 1 Jude 3 2
1 Thessalonians 4 3 Revelation 7 4
2 Thessalonians 2 2  
Distribution of New Testament papyri based on content:

A New Testament papyrus is a copy of a portion of the New Testament made on papyrus. To date, over one hundred and twenty such papyri are known.

"Early" manuscripts are manuscripts from the fourth century or earlier. Roughly half of the papyri are "early". Some manuscripts contain content from more than one New Testament book, so the numbers above do not directly correspond to the total number of manuscripts.(NOT Aland 1996, p. 85)


Aland, Kurt; Barbara Aland (1995). The Text of The New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes (2nd ed. ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-4098-1.
"Continuation of the Manuscript List" INTF, University of Münster.
Nestle-Aland. Novum Testamentum Graece. 27th ed. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Druck: 1996, p. 57-63, 684-689
Seid, Timothy. "A Table of Greek Manuscripts". Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts.
Waltz, Robert. "New Testament Manuscripts: Papyri". A Site Inspired By: The Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism.
Willker, Wieland. "Complete List of Greek NT Papyri" Last Update: 17 April 2008.

Of all the early canonical Roman Gospel fragments found, a clear majority appear to belong to the Gospel of John.

The earliest appear to be Alexandrian:

Though the amount of the text in P52 is hardly enough to make a positive judgment about its textual character, the text seems to be Alexandrian…
- David P. Barret. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (2001). Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers. p. 365

P52 is from a codex and therefore possibly a Roman publisher.

Right: Papyrus 66 is a near complete codex of the Gospel of John, and part of the collection known as the Bodmer Papyri.

These fragments are too small, worn and contain too little to mean much:

The fragment of John in P52 is so small that is immaterial as a textual witness.
- Helmut Koester. The Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century, Gospel Traditions in the Second Century (1989). Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 19

The ratio of John fragments and the early date assigned to P52 and P66 suggest a reasonably solid archaeological basis for an improved Atwill history.

 Most date P52 to around 125 (C.H. Roberts, An unpublished Fragment of the Fourth Gospel in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, 1935 = P.Ryl. 03 457; C.H. Roberts, in Bull. John Ryl. Libr. 20, p. 45-46); so we gave a possible Alexandrian author, Roman publisher, producing the earliest canonical gospel - John - in the time of the emperor Hadrian (24 January 76 – 10 July 138), ruling from 117.

One must ask: from where did the gospel accounts originate?

Though Jesus Christ is a fabrication, he is not formed out of nothingness, for he is, as I mentioned (above) black propaganda and must have a point to make.

The answer as to his origins has been staring the world in the face for a very long time: the accounts by Josephus.
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