Friday, December 09, 2016

SBL Report: Dating Early Christian Papyri

FACES AND VOICES BLOG: Overdue: Dating Early Christian Papyri at the SBL Annual Meeting. A Report (Roberta Mazza).
You know academics are always late, right? So I am super-late in reporting a much fun session I organised and chaired on November 21 in San Antonio (Texas), at the last Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, a monster of a conference gathering together thousands of people interested in the history of the Bible from the most amazing perspectives.

As a member of the Archaeology of Roman Religion Group (obviously the coolest group of all), I planned a session on “Dating Early Christian Papyri: Old and New Methods”. The reasons behind the panel were basically three. ...
More on Brent Nongbri's work is here and here. More on the dating of papyri with Raman spectography is here and here.

And what is it with the date-testing of the ink of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife fragment? Why do I keep hearing different and apparently inconsistent versions of the results? First that the ink was just "consistent with an ancient origin"; then that it was dated to 200 CE (much earlier than the papyrus it is written on); and now that its pigment "presented some similarities to those of the second century CE," but its "morphology" (whatever that means) "was different from those of securely dated papyrus samples" and therefore it was concluded that it was a forgery. This sort of apparent discrepancy underlines the point that I have been making recently: we should be skeptical of any reports about materials testing of allegedly ancient artifacts unless the full lab reports have been released and the details examined and verified by outside experts.