Scientists Believe to Have Found Bowl Engraved With World’s First Known Reference to Christ

October 8, 2008 at 2:57 am Leave a comment

bowl-Jesus.jpgA team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck
Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to
between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that
is engraved with what they believe could be the world’s first known
reference to Christ.


If the word “Christ” refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ,
as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that
Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.


The
full engraving on the bowl reads, “DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS,” which has
been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, “by Christ the
magician” or, “the magician by Christ.”

“It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ,
in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic,” Goddio,
co-founder of the Oxford Center of Maritime Archaeology, said.

He
and his colleagues found the object during an excavation of the
underwater ruins of Alexandria’s ancient great harbor. The Egyptian
site also includes the now submerged island of Antirhodos, where
Cleopatra’s palace may have been located.

Both
Goddio and Egyptologist David Fabre, a member of the European Institute
of Submarine Archaeology, think a “magus” could have practiced fortune
telling rituals using the bowl. The Book of Matthew refers to
“wisemen,” or Magi, believed to have been prevalent in the ancient
world.

According
to Fabre, the bowl is also very similar to one depicted in two early
Egyptian earthenware statuettes that are thought to show a soothsaying
ritual.

“It has been known in Mesopotamia
probably since the 3rd millennium B.C.,” Fabre said. “The soothsayer
interprets the forms taken by the oil poured into a cup of water in an
interpretation guided by manuals.”

He added that the individual, or “medium,” then goes into a hallucinatory trance when studying the oil in the cup.

“They
therefore see the divinities, or supernatural beings appear that they
call to answer their questions with regard to the future,” he said.

The
magus might then have used the engraving on the bowl to legitimize his
supernatural powers by invoking the name of Christ, the scientists
theorize.

Goddio said, “It is very probable that in Alexandria
they were aware of the existence of Jesus” and of his associated
legendary miracles, such as transforming water into wine, multiplying
loaves of bread, conducting miraculous health cures, and the story of
the resurrection itself.

While
not discounting the Jesus Christ interpretation, other researchers have
offered different possible interpretations for the engraving, which was
made on the thin-walled ceramic bowl after it was fired, since slip was
removed during the process.

Bert
Smith, a professor of classical archaeology and art at Oxford
University, suggests the engraving might be a dedication, or present,
made by a certain “Chrestos” belonging to a possible religious
association called Ogoistais.

Klaus
Hallof, director of the Institute of Greek inscriptions at the
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy, added that if Smith’s interpretation proves
valid, the word “Ogoistais” could then be connected to known religious
groups that worshipped early Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses,
such as Hermes, Athena and Isis.

Hallof
additionally pointed out that historians working at around, or just
after, the time of the bowl, such as Strabon and Pausanias, refer to
the god “Osogo” or “Ogoa,” so a variation of this might be what’s on
the bowl. It is even possible that the bowl refers to both Jesus Christ
and Osogo.

Fabre
concluded, “It should be remembered that in Alexandria, paganism,
Judaism and Christianity never evolved in isolation. All of these forms
of religion (evolved) magical practices that seduced both the humble
members of the population and the most well-off classes.”

“It was in Alexandria where new religious
constructions were made to propose solutions to the problem of man, of
God’s world,” he added. “Cults of Isis, mysteries of Mithra, and early
Christianity bear witness to this.”

The
bowl is currently on public display in the exhibit “Egypt’s Sunken
Treasures” at the Matadero Cultural Center in Madrid, Spain, until
November 15.

Source: MSNBC

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Entry filed under: Christian, Science, World. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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