Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another review of "Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs"

THE ART NEWSPAPER: One God to rule them all: Garry Shaw on Faith After the Pharaohs at the British Museum. The exhibition beautifully captures how religion shaped the region.
In the British Museum's latest exhibition, Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs, there is a long fragment of papyrus, one of many on display, written in Greek and called the Gospel of Thomas. What is striking about this fragment is not its beauty or penmanship, but the era in which it was written. In Oxyrhynchus, an Egyptian city, the scroll’s Christian owner had copied the text less than 300 years after the death of Jesus, a time when the ancient Egyptian gods were still widely worshipped, before the acceptance of Christianity across the Roman Empire and before the appearance of Islam. To many of his contemporaries in Egypt, this ancient copyist—a man simply trying to preserve his messiah's sayings—would have been a rebel. He could not have predicted how Egypt, and the whole world, would change over the coming centuries, or that the church would forbid Christians fr om reading the very text he was copying once the contents of the New Testament had been agreed upon.

Past posts on the Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs Exhibition at the British Museum are collected here and links.