Thursday, June 19, 2008
Visiting the Land Down Under=Oz
The first stop on my world circling bone-wearying tour was Australia, to do a conference at Morling colleague and to give a lecture on Oral Texts at MacQuarrie University, which certainly has one of the leading Ancient History Departments in the world, when it comes to the study of early Christianity in its original social setting. Whilst there I had some time with my friends Edwin Judge and Alanna Nobbs and Chris Forbes, and made a new friend, Don Barker, who kindly gave me the tour of the papyrology and ancient artifacts museum. Contained in this museum are many things of importance for Biblical and Christian studies, but this post is devoted to some of the papyri Do showed me and let me take pictures of.
Let me explain what you are looking. Firstly, the picture is of myself Edwin Judge, whom we were honoring on the occasion of this conference. Clearly he is one of the major figures in the reorientation in the way we view the social level, life, and status of early Christians (see the recent collection of his crucial essays edited by my old mentor David Scholer). Beside Edwin is Alanna Nobbs a central figure in the History department at Macquarrie and finally there is Larry Welborn who has just been added to the faculty there half time, and will continue at Fordham half time. When you add Steve Llewellyn, Chris Forbes, Don Barker and others you have the best department there is in the world when it comes to early Christian history. One of the specialities is the cataloguing and publishing and translating and analyzing of ancient papyri relevant to the NT period, which of course includes some Christian ones, some NT ones, and some Greco-Roman ones. I have included pictures of all of these sorts in this post.
What you see is the blow up image under the microscope of one of the early Christian papyri, here focusing on the nomina sacra, the abbreviated sacred name, in this case the abbreviation for Christ. Note the line over it as well indicating abbreviation of the sacred name. The next two pictures are of their famous Acts 8 fragment, and I am sorry they are not of better caliber but it is hard to shoot through glass, and especially at an angle. Then we have a lead curse tablet which roles up, by which it was believed you could zap your foes. Next to this is a practice tablet, where someone is learning to write Greek, and perhaps doodling as well. Below this is a letter fragment and you can see how delicate it is, and how it must be carefully handled. The last picture is a Christian papyri with an image of a demon on it, no less!
There is much more of interest in this little museum at MacQuarrie, and I wish to thank all my friends there for a splendid time indeed. Australian hospitality is justly famous-- Good on you mates :)