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Showing posts from September, 2012

Reconstructing History In Suffolk

The restored Stour Lighter is now on temporary display at University Campus Suffolk before it makes its way to Sudbury. It is a good reminder how archaeology, through excavation (and in this case painstaking restoration), can help us to visualise the past. The Lighter is part of the Managing a Masterpiece Project.

Managing a Masterpiece ProjectUCS Press Release

Coins and ethics

VCoins have an important "Code of Ethics". We are told:
VCoins recognizes that all dealers are legally obligated to operate their businesses in accordance with applicable local, state, and Federal laws. A requirement for participating as a dealer on the VCoins site is strict adherence to the VCoins Dealer Code of Ethics. This Code is intended to promote mutual trust between dealers and the public through fairness, honesty, and integrity. In addition, each VCoins dealer "will conduct [their] business in a professional and ethical manner, and will exercise common sense and courtesy in [their] professional dealings, to ensure that no discredit is brought to VCoins or other VCoins dealers." This is laudable.

I observe that the founding partner of a Zurich based numismatic company pleaded guilty earlier this summer. The same Zurich company has now (September 2012) been welcomed as part of VCoins, although the name of the founding partner has been excised from the litera…

The "dodgy" papyrus and Harvard Theological Review

It now appears that the New York Times was premature in announcing that PDodg. would be published in the January 2013 number of Harvard Theological Review. It has now been stated that "A Harvard University journal says it hasn’t fully verified research that purportedly shows some early Christians believed Jesus had a wife, even though Harvard’s divinity school touted the research during a publicity blitz this week" ("Harvard journal: Research into papyrus with text about Jesus’ ‘wife’ not yet verified", Washington Post September 22, 2012).

The report goes on:
the review’s co-editor Kevin Madigan said he and his co-editor had only “provisionally” committed to a January publication, pending the results of the ongoing studies. In an email, Madigan said the added studies include “scientific dating and further reports from Coptic papyrologists and grammarians.” HTR could have avoided this apparent turnaround by having a more rigorous publication policy along the lines o…

The "dodgy" papyrus: the Fecht connection

I am wondering about the authenticity of the supporting evidence for PDodg. It seems that the Harvard Gazette tells us "The collector provided King with a letter from the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence for a possible marriage of Jesus." (B. D. Colen, "Suggestion of a married Jesus", September 18, 2012). Harvard Divinity School has issued this comment: "The earliest documentation about the fragment is a letter from the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence for a possible marriage of Jesus."

However, the New York Times reported: "It came with a handwritten note in German that names a professor of Egyptology in Berlin, now deceased, and cited him calling the fragment “the sole example” of a text in which Jesus claims a wife."

In contr…

The "dodgy" papyrus fragment: top question

Professor Karen King has been defending the so-called "dodgy" papyrus (PDodg.) in an interview for the Huffington Post (Daniel Burke and David Gibson, "'Jesus Wife': 5 Big Questions About The Discovery", September 20, 2012). Number 1 is "Where did the papyrus come from?"

Looting Matters has been asking much the same thing. So King replies:
We don't know. King says that "nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery," an admission that has raised red flags for other scholars. ... The papyrus now belongs to an anonymous collector who asked King to analyze it. King says three scholars have determined that the fragment is not a forgery, but that further tests will be conducted on the ink. The scholar also says that she will press the fragment's anonymous owner to come forward. One gets the feeling that King has been surprised by the media interest and the negative impact of the story. The present proprietor is probably wi…

The "dodgy" papyrus fragment: video

Harvard Divinity School has now issued a short video about the "dodgy" papyrus fragment that may or may not be authentic.

The "dodgy" papyrus fragment: further comments

Nicole Winfield, writing from Rome, has written an important response to the news about the newly surfaced papyrus fragment ("Doubts over Harvard claim of 'Jesus' Wife' papyrus", September 19, 2012 [available on Bloomberg Business Week). Winfield has interviewed participants at the conference who have questioned the authenticity of the fragment:
Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster ... questioned whether the document was authentic.  "There's something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.  Another participant at the congress, Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, was more blunt. "I would say it's a forgery. The script doesn't look authentic" when compared to other samples of Coptic papyrus script dated to the 4th century, he…

The Papyrus Fragment about Jesus’s Relations: Cambridge comment

I note that Tyndale House in Cambridge has issued a helpful comment by Simon Gathercole on the newly-surfaced papyrus fragment ("Did Jesus have a wife?"). Gathercole makes the point, contra the New York Times, that this fragment is not a gospel and should be known as the fragment about Jesus' relations "since there’s no evidence that it was called a gospel and the text mentions at least two family members".

Christian Askeland has commented on his blog, "Evangelical Textual Criticism", from the International Association of Coptic Studies in Rome where the fragment was presented. Askeland suggests that the fragment "looks like a fake".

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife from an old German collection

Harvard Divinity School has provided information about a fragment of papyri in an anonymous private collection ("The Gospel of Jesus's Wife: A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus"). The Harvard website helpfully informs us "Nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery, but it had to have come from Egypt".

Readers of LM will not be asking certain questions. Why is nothing known about its discovery? When was the fragment found? Where was the fragment found? What else was found with it? When did it leave Egypt (if Egypt was where it was found)?

What about the collecting history? Again, the Harvard website tells us more:
Nothing is known about the circumstances of its original discovery or early ownership, but there are some clues about its modern history. The earliest documentation about the fragment is a letter from the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence…

The Cleveland Drusus without a "slam-dunk paper trail"

Newsweek has reviewed the recent criticisms of Cleveland Museum of Art's acquisition of the apparently recently-surfaced portrait of Drusus ("Who Owns Antiquity?; Two U.S. museums wrestle with the provenance question", September 17, 2012). The acquisition is defended by the director, David Franklin, who accepts that "the 2,000-year-old marble head didn't come with a slam-dunk paper trail proving that it could not have been illegally unearthed since the time of the UNESCO convention".

Newsweek should have explored the sale in Paris. How reliable is the reported collecting history that attempts to place the Drusus in Algeria?
Franklin felt this oral history gave him enough to run with: "We did as much if not more than anyone could have done to research this object ... If all the arrows are pointing in one direction, you can make a reasoned assumption," he says. The inevitable risks that this assumption might turn out wrong are balanced, he feels, by …

Crosby Garrett helmet to go on show

The Crosby Garrett helmet is to go on display at the Royal Academy in London from 15 September.

It will form part of an exhibition called bronze. It will be interesting if all the details of the find and the so-called conservation emerge as part of the show.