Thursday, October 6, 2011

Early Christian Inscription Found

Read on Fox News about what is believed to be the world's earliest surviving Christian inscription, shedding light on an ancient sect that followed the teachings of a second-century philosopher named Valentinus.
Officially called NCE 156, the inscription is written in Greek and is dated to the latter half of the second century, a time when the Roman Empire was at the height of its power.

The author of the inscription likely followed the teachings of a man named Valentinus, an early Christian teacher who would eventually be declared a heretic, Snyder said. The presence of the inscription suggests that a community of his followers may have lived on the Via Latina during the second century.  "We know that Valentinus was a famous Gnostic teacher in the second century (who) lived in Rome for something like 20 years, and was a very sophisticated ... poetic, talented, thinker, speaker, writer."

As translated by Snyder, the inscription reads:
To my bath, the brothers of the bridal chamber carry the torches,
[here] in our halls, they hunger for the [true] banquets,
even while praising the Father and glorifying the Son.
There [with the Father and the Son] is the only spring and source of truth.

I am constantly reminded of the quip by Dr. Paul Maier who said the best thing on earth would be if people suddenly started digging around for basements or foundations [in the Middle East] because the archeological results are nearly always friendly to orthodox Christianity and the Scriptural record.


Terry Maher said...

I am hard pressed to see how an inscription from a Gnostic teacher is friendly to orthodox Christianity and Scriptural record. The text seems to be thorough-going Platonism with a Christian veneer. It may be no more than Platonic imagery about death as a liberation from matter to purity (baths, banquets etc) with a rather different slant on "Father" and "Son" than ours. It could be just as well taken as evidence that orthodox Christianity is not that at all, but what emerged victorious from a considerably fluid state of belief.

Anonymous said...

The evidence provided by such archeology gives credence to the historical record promoted by the church, to the writings of the fathers, and to the significant presence of Christians early on. This is not for doctrinal purposes but to show that Christianity was not some hidden or indifferent movement as some historians today suggest.