FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Philosophy & Religious Studies > History of Abrahamic Religions & Related Texts
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 01:23 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 09-18-2013, 06:56 PM   #1
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default How secure is the terminus ad quem chronology of Dura Fragment 24? [Mass C14 phobia?]

The WIKI article on the Dura Parchment 24 commences with the statement that it "is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament" but then later qualifies this statement with "The codex is not, strictly speaking, a manuscript of the New Testament — it contains only phrases from the text of the Gospels." The history of the fragment is given as:

Quote:
Originally Posted by WIKI

History of the manuscript

On March 5, 1933, during the excavations conducted by Clark Hopkins amongst the ruins of a Roman border-town, Dura-Europos, on the lower Euphrates, under the glacis (earthen slope) which also covered the Christian church and the Jewish synagogue, the parchment fragment now known as Dura Parchment 24 was found. Susan Hopkins was the first to recognize it as a portion of the Gospel.[3]

The fragment was examined by Carl H. Kraeling, who published its text in 1935, with an extensive discussion. Kraeling concluded that the fragment was a copy of Tatian's Diatessaron.[4] It was re-edited, with a minor corrections, by C. Bradford Welles in 1959.[5]

According to Plooij "There is no reasonable doubt that the fragment is really Tatian".[6]

According to Parker, Taylor, and Goodacre it is another harmony of the four Gospels, different to Diatessaron, and much closer to the text of the Gospels.[7]

For some further preliminary background (as at 1935) see A GREEK FRAGMENT OF TATIAN'S DIATESSARON FROM DURA EDITED WITH FACSIMILE, TRANSCRIPTION, AND INTRODUCTION BY CARL H. KRAELING, PH.D. [1935]

Here is an image of Dura Parchment 24:



Chronology of Dura Fragment 24:
(1.0) Argument via archaeological "in situ"


Quote:
Originally Posted by WIKI
The surviving leaf of the scroll or codex described here, was found in 1933, during excavations among the ruins of Dura-Europos, known to have been destroyed by Shapur I King of Persia in 256. This means the manuscript must have been written before 256 (known as a terminus ad quem).[11]
A more detailed description is provided by Kaeling [1935]:

Quote:
The general area from which it was taken is designated L8 on the key maps of the excavation, and the particular place is a spot in the shadow of the western city wall near Tower 18, less than a city block north of the Palmyra Gate and only a short distance south of the Jewish synagogue.

Judging from its condition and outward appearance when found, it had been crushed in the hand and thrown away as a piece of waste paper. But it fell, or was dumped afterwards, into a great embankment of earth, ashes and rubbish constructed along the inner face of the western city wall by the Roman garrison, in preparation for a siege.

Here it was protected from the elements by the material heaped over and around it, by the layer of mud bricks with which the embankment was covered, and by the desert sand which eventually covered the whole city.


Chronology of Dura Fragment 24:
(2.0) Argument via palaeography


The 1935 report linked to above discloses that the handwriting is not from a "literary" but a "business" hand.
The following summarises both the chronology arguments (1 & 2):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaeling

Since fluctuation in the literary script is far less pronounced than that manifested by business hands, it is entirely legitimate to fall back upon the Greek palaeography of Egypt for purposes of comparison. This com- parison shows that the hand of the Dura parchment is an early fore-runner of the "severe" or "Bible style" of the fourth century A.D., and that it may safely be assigned to the first half of the third Christian century.1

The date which palaeography suggests for the fragment is confirmed and rendered more precise by archaeology. The embankment along the city wall, in which the parchment was found, was constructed after 254 and before 256-257 A.D. Of these dates the first is that of Dura Papyrus 90, which was buried under the glacis? while the second is the presumptive date of the capture and final destruction of the city by Shapur

This gives a definite upper limit to the date of the fragment.


The idea of this OP is to examine and discuss the evidence that is available to us in regard to the Dura Fragment 24
and to examine and discuss any other possibilities that may reflect upon the question of just how secure is it's terminus ad quem chronology.

I would like to thank avi for reminding me about this fragment and for mentioning some "photographs".

I would like to see the photographic record furnished by Clark Hopkins. Could we get some links?

Finally I would like to contribute two preliminary questions related to the estimation of the chronology of Dura Fragment 24.

Chronology of Dura Fragment 24:
(3.0) Argument via science: C14 and Ink Analysis


Have a good look at the photograph of the fragment above.


(3.1) Why doesn't someone take a fragment of the parchment down to the C14 lab?

(3.2) Why doesn't someone analyse the ink like they did with gJudas?





Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post

I would add, for those insufficiently skeptical, how difficult would it be to plant such a tiny scrap of papyrus, at Dura Europos to firm up the date? Have any forum members examined the photographic record, furnished by Clark Hopkins? There is zero security, scores of bedouin tribesmen, wondering about, and photographs illustrate dozens of buckets of dirt, excavated, awaiting disposal, into which, anyone could easily slip a tiny scrap of papyrus, without being noticed. Look at the photographs!
mountainman is offline  
Old 09-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #2
stephan huller
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: seattle, wa
Posts: 9,337
Default

But doesn't the date of the manuscript depend on the date Dura Europos was destroyed? What date for the destruction of Dura Europos is mm proposing?
stephan huller is offline  
Old 09-18-2013, 09:53 PM   #3
spin
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: nowhere
Posts: 15,747
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller View Post
But doesn't the date of the manuscript depend on the date Dura Europos was destroyed?
...unless the fragment is a modern fake produced by a nefarious Yale academic rather than found in situ under the fill of the outer wall as the archaeological report tries to make us believe. The conspiracy could easily be revealed with a C14 analysis which removed a section of the material.

(In case you need it: )
spin is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 10:42 AM   #4
Sheshbazzar
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: On the path of knowledge
Posts: 8,889
Default

....or is authentic and was simply waded up and tossed there by those who put up the embankment in the 3rd century.
It's existence or authenticity proves nothing about the state of, or beliefs of 'Christianity' in the 1st or 2nd centuries CE.

That it was waded up first seems to me at least, to indicate whoever disposed of it held a degree of disrespect or contempt for its content,
Sheshbazzar is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 12:36 PM   #5
avi
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Location: eastern North America
Posts: 1,468
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller
But doesn't the date of the manuscript depend on the date Dura Europos was destroyed?
That's what some snake oil salesmen would have you believe.

The idea that the date depends upon the destruction of Dura Europos, requires belief in the legend that the city was never examined, never excavated, never cleaned, from the third century to the twentieth century.

Please read, as you are fond of instructing others, about Julian's last military battle, his assault on the Mesopotamian capital. He departed from Constantinople, with many "Christian" soldiers. They stopped outside Dura Europos, for one week, to pay homage to the fallen emperor, a teenager, who had rushed headlong into battle against the same foe.

It is inconceivable to me, that at least some of those soldiers did not pay their respects to those fallen heroes, who had defended the single most important military outpost in that region, an outpost which had been crushed, and destroyed, by the very same opponent, that they now sought to punish, one hundred years later.

Emperor Julian's soldiers would have found a dusty, dirty city, buried in a foot of sand, after a century of neglect. It would have taken a whole day, to sweep out the debris, and paint the pictures on the wall. Unlike the soldiers of the third century, most of whom were followers of Mithras, these were Christians, participants in the official state religion. It is perfectly logical for them to have departed, in haste, to continue forward into battle, with their general, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. Thus, the paintings are clumsy, and amateurish, they had no time to revise their artwork, the bugles had sounded.
avi is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 12:42 PM   #6
avi
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Location: eastern North America
Posts: 1,468
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by spin
The conspiracy could easily be revealed with a C14 analysis which removed a section of the material
No such inquiry would lead to that conclusion. Sorry. Wrong answer.

Analysis of the amount of Carbon 14, only shows the age of the plant material, from which the papyrus was made. A person could take a tiny fragment of parchment from the Egyptian dump site, scratch out a few symbols, and voila! an ancient document. The papyrus is old enough all right. But that tells us nothing about the age of the document, i.e. the date when the text was placed upon it.

Had a forger obtained a sliver of papyrus from the Egyptian dump site, it could have been a full two thousand years old, or a mere 1500 years old. What is needed is the date when someone put quill with ink to papyrus. Chemical spectroscopic analysis of the nanoquantities of various rare earths in the ink found on the Dura Europos document, compared with ink from one of the other docs found there, would be more instructive, but even then, how would we know whether or not the document had been written there, or transported there, and if the latter, then, WHEN had it been conveyed?

Try again.
avi is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 07:27 PM   #7
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by spin View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller View Post
But doesn't the date of the manuscript depend on the date Dura Europos was destroyed?
...unless the fragment is a modern fake produced by a nefarious Yale academic rather than found in situ under the fill of the outer wall as the archaeological report tries to make us believe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller
But doesn't the date of the manuscript depend on the date Dura Europos was destroyed?
That's what some snake oil salesmen would have you believe.

The idea that the date depends upon the destruction of Dura Europos, requires belief in the legend that the city was never examined, never excavated, never cleaned, from the third century to the twentieth century.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheshbazzar View Post
....or is authentic and was simply waded up and tossed there by those who put up the embankment in the 3rd century.

...... or is authentic, but was introduced to the top or edges of the fill a century later, and then reburied during the intervening 1500 years.


Quote:
Originally Posted by spin
The conspiracy could easily be revealed with a C14 analysis which removed a section of the material.

(In case you need it: )

Other possibilities must also include a "conspiracy of time and a ball of paper" in such a way that no foul play is suggested.

C14 analysis will either confirm or question the current terminus ad quem dating of Dura Fragment 24. If the fragment was deposited at the edges or top of the fill (and became excavated with the fill), or was somehow naturally introduced to fill material a century later, then the C14 date might be later than the destruction of Dura Europos.


To clarify the issue I have been doing a lot of background reading about the discovery of the fragment. Are there any original pictures from 1935?

Here is a diagram so far. I have not included the rampart-fill. Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks

mountainman is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 07:57 PM   #8
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheshbazzar View Post
...

That it was waded up first seems to me at least, to indicate whoever disposed of it held a degree of disrespect or contempt for its content,
Or the opposite.

Christians of the time are said to have had the practice of taking a snippet of scripture and wadding it up and placing it in an amulet as a good luck charm - because the written word had magical powers.
Toto is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
stephan huller
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: seattle, wa
Posts: 9,337
Default

Quote:
Other possibilities must also include a "conspiracy of time and a ball of paper" in such ..
.

Cra - zy. All these amazingly complicated explanations. The obvious answers always wrong. Its ancient Colombo episodes back to back, one after another. Dura Europa, Mount Athos, everywhere.
stephan huller is offline  
Old 09-19-2013, 09:48 PM   #10
Sheshbazzar
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: On the path of knowledge
Posts: 8,889
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toto View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheshbazzar View Post
...

That it was waded up first seems to me at least, to indicate whoever disposed of it held a degree of disrespect or contempt for its content,
Or the opposite.

Christians of the time are said to have had the practice of taking a snippet of scripture and wadding it up and placing it in an amulet as a good luck charm -
'are said'__ inquiring minds wish to know, Whom was it that said this?
and where is this saying to be found?

Are such pre-257 CE 'Christian amulets' common on the ground?
How many surviving examples of these pre-257 CE 'Christian amulets' can you account for?

Isn't such script, if a 'good luck charm 'amulet', usually found to be encased within some manner of protective container? Why would that container, the 'amulet' proper, be absent from the situ?

Are the dimensions and paleography of this bit of script consistent with those found within the other pre-257 CE 'Christian amulets' that have been located?
Sheshbazzar is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:36 AM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.