Friday, February 6, 2009

When cops become archaeologists...

... is sort of akin to remaking Kids Say the Darndest Things:

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus.

The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.

Of course they do. They may also believe in Bigfoot and that the Earth is flat.

The manuscript in question is done in gold lettering, which alone would probably add several hundred years--if not an entire millenium--to the date.

But leave that aside, all known Syriac bibles are, according to textual critics, translations from the Greek originals (or variants thereof) that we already know. So the Reuters writer here is really grasping at straws with the clause an ancient version of the Bible, written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus.

Jesus probably spoke Aramaic (though there is reason to belief he may have at least understood some Greek) and the canonical gospels, as well as the major apocryphal variants, were written in Greek koine. Then--and only then--were those books translated in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, etc. etc.

But Turkish Cypriot cops need a tourist attraction, and as the many arms, legs, fingers, and skulls of John the Baptist attest, it really doesn't matter if your relic has any chance of being real.

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