Bible Archaeology

Biblical Waters: Can the Jordan River Be Saved?

Nat Geo has a look.

With the swelling ranks of Syrian refugees in Jordan, an overstressed river is at risk of going dry.

Aerial photo of the Jordan River.

The Jordan River, seen here, is now mostly saline water and liquid wastes.

Rest here.

 

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Bible Archaeology

Ancient Papyri Discovered at Luther College

And some rare early Christian document are among the finds:

In January, nine papyri documents almost 2,000 years old were discovered by a student in the Luther College library archives, where they had remained hidden in a cardboard box for decades.

Luther sophomore Brittany Anderson was conducting a routine inventory of the papers of the late Orlando W. Qualley, longtime professor of classics and dean of the college, when she came across the nine ancient documents among Qualley’s letters and journals donated to the college in the 1980s. The papyri—one of which, a libellus, is especially rare—date from the first to the fifth centuries A.D. and were apparently purchased by Qualley from an antiquities dealer when he was part of a University of Michigan archaeological excavation at Karanis, south of Cairo, in 1924-25.

“Luther College is incredibly fortunate to have in its possession the Qualley papyri, especially the libellus, a rare and invaluable find from the early centuries of Christian history,” said Philip Freeman, Qualley Chair of Ancient Languages at Luther. “As soon as they are properly preserved, we hope to display all the papyri in our library for everyone to see. They provide a great opportunity for our students to examine a genuine piece of the ancient world.”

The nine papyri, written in ancient Greek, measure from 5 to 20 centimeters in length and are in remarkably good shape, though all are fragmentary and quite fragile. Papyrus was the primary writing medium of the ancient world and was made from the interwoven fibers of the papyrus plant, which grows along the banks of the Nile River.

Upon finding the documents, Anderson contacted the Luther Classics Department faculty, who examined the papyri and in turn contacted the Papyrus Collection staff at the University of Michigan, one of the leading centers of papyrus study in the world, for help in identifying and analyzing the discoveries. Several are accounting documents, but papyrologist Graham Claytor immediately identified one as a libellus dating from the first great Roman persecution of Christians beginning under Emperor Decius in the year 250.

Decius issued a decree that year ordering all inhabitants of the empire to offer a sacrifice to the gods as a show of loyalty. A libellus was a document given to a Roman citizen to confirm the performance of such a sacrifice. Christians were forbidden by their beliefs from performing these sacrifices and were thus subject to arrest, torture and execution for refusing to obey the emperor’s decree. Pope Fabian was among those who refused to sacrifice and was subsequently killed by the Roman authorities.

The Luther College libellus bears the name of Aurelius Ammon, a servant of the well-attested Aurelius Appianus, a leading citizen of Alexandria, Egypt. It declares that Aurelius Ammon has sacrificed “in accordance with the orders” of the emperor. The papyrus was probably part of a collection made in ancient times from the village of Theadelphia in Egypt’s Fayum region. Only a few of these rare documents have been uncovered, and they are currently housed in research libraries in Hamburg, Berlin, Manchester, Florence, and the University of Michigan. Now Decorah, Iowa, joins the list.

Luther College plans to work with the University of Michigan to preserve all the Qualley papyri and make them available online in digital format to scholars and people around the world.

 

Church

Men Banned from Becoming Queen…

as 700 years of law redrafted ahead of gay marriage. You just can’t make this stuff up!

Men are to be banned from becoming Queen or Princess of Wales as part of an unprecedented effort to rewrite more than 700 years of law to prevent unintended consequences of gay marriage.

Even a 14th Century act declaring it high treason to have an affair with the monarch’s husband or wife is included in the sweeping redrafting exercise.

Civil servants have drawn up a list of scores of statutes and regulations dating back as far 1285 to be amended or specifically excluded when the Government’s Same-Sex Marriage Act comes into force next month.

Under proposals to be debated by MPs and Peers as early as next week, terms such as “widow” will be deleted or reworded in legislation covering topics as diverse as seamen’s pensions and London cab licences to take account of the new definition of marriage.

References to mothers, fathers, husbands and wives are also to be amended to avoid future confusion.

Rest here.

Avoid confusion?! More like creating it.

The order makes clear that a clause in the Act giving gay and heterosexual   marriage the same legal effect does not apply to the rights of anyone “who marries, or who is married to, the King Regnant, to the title of Queen”.

It also makes clear that were a future Prince of Wales to marry a man his husband could not be called Princess of Wales.

More immediately, the order rules out the possibility of Dukes, Earls and   other male peers who marry other men making their husbands Duchess, Countess or Lady…