Friday, June 06, 2014

Pearse on papyri and the Green Collection

ROGER PEARSE: Boxes of papyri in Berlin “unopened” since they left Egypt a century ago. Pearse is in fine curmudgeon mode on the issue of working with Christian apologists who have money to fund papyrology. Excerpt:
May I invite my readers to imagine what sort of money even a single mega-church could spend, if it was convinced that among the sands of Egypt were texts that would illuminate, or confirm, or illustrate, – whatever – the bible?

It’s easy enough to sneer at enthusiastic amateurs talking about washing papyri with palmolive. There’s been plenty of that. It’s easy to jeer at famous apologist Josh McDowell and his promotion of the work.

And yet … it’s shameful too. I welcome getting the public involved. I welcome enthusiasm, the wide diffusion of involvement, in a guided way. Archaeologists have managed this with aplomb for decades. They’ve even managed to get random metal-detectorists working with them, rather than against them. The result is that archaeology has a large constituency among the public willing to lobby for them. Times are hard, but they are well-placed.

So, are archaeologists, as a breed, simply more intelligent than papyrologists? Really? For what kind of short-sighted idiot rushes to insult, to obstruct, to sneer, at the involvement of the public?
Background here and many links