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Thursday, January 22, 2015

A new gospel and King Tut

In the news is the discovery of what might be the earliest gospel (of Mark) which was found in an Egyptian mummy mask ... Was oldest gospel really found in a mummy mask?, by Joel Baden of Yale and Candida Moss of Notre Dame.

As the article points out, most mummy masks were not made of gold and precious stones like that of Tutankhamun ...

But they were instead a kind of papier-mâché creation, often using documents as fodder, and thus they are a source of interest to historians ...

The article goes on to note that the actual manuscript has not been published, won't be for some time, and has only been viewed by a select few, so it's hard to determine if it really is what it purports to be. And the ethics of destroying mummy masks to get at possible ancient texts is also brought up ...

[U]ntil the scholarly world has been granted access to this papyrus, the public statements made about it are no more revelatory than if we announced that we had found Moses' private copy of Genesis in a hummus container, and we'll show it to you later. There is, however, one bit of information about this text and its discovery that can be discussed now, without having even seen it: the fact that it was uncovered by destroying an ancient Egyptian mummy mask .....

"The destruction of mummy masks, though legal, falls into an ethically gray area right now because of the difficult choices scientists have to make in the lab when working with them," said Douglas Boin, a professor of history at St. Louis University. "We have to ask ourselves, do we value the cultural heritage of Egypt as something worth preserving in itself, or do we see it simply as vehicle for harvesting Christian texts?"

Check out the article for more.


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