Earliest Reference Describes Jesus As 'Magician'

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Earliest Reference Describes Jesus As 'Magician'

Post  Frater_NS on Fri Oct 03, 2008 7:57 pm

Earliest Reference Describes Jesus As 'Magician'

A 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 Jesus 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
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26972493/

Frater_NS

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Re: Earliest Reference Describes Jesus As 'Magician'

Post  Khephra on Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:06 pm

I'm pretty sure Christos was a relatively common appellation for the period. Their assumption that this corresponds with the Jesus portrayed in the gospels seems like shoddy scholarship.

There isn't much surprise in linking Jesus to magic either, but Simon the Magus was way cooler. Smile

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