Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review of Nongbri, God's Library

CANDIDA MOSS: Almost Everything We Know About The Earliest Copies of the New Testament Is Wrong. For years, scholars thought they'd found a radically early version of the Gospels hidden inside an old book. But the "facts" about the find could be fake news (The Daily Beast).
It might seem like a small thing, but the dating of the pages of the Gospel of Luke was based on the idea that they were used to construct the leather cover of the buried book of Philo. Then things then got even stranger. Looking at some of Scheil’s correspondence, Nongbri realized that Scheil did not discover the book himself. He had actually bought it in Luxor in 1891. The story of the book’s discovery came from the book dealer who sold it to him. The fragments that Roberts identified at Oxford had also been purchased in Luxor.

All of which means that no one actually knows where the fragments come from. Because of the significance of ‘find stories’ to scholars, book dealers often produce narratives about where the books were unearthed. When you actually look into the facts about important ancient manuscripts, it turns out that the just-unearthed-after-centuries or discovered-by-a-goatherd stories are second- or even third-hand stories.
I noted the imminent publication of Brent Nongbri's book, God's Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts (Yale University Press) here. It is now out.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.