A recent study by French scientist Thierry Castex has revealed that on the shroud are traces of words in Aramaic spelled with Hebrew letters.
A Vatican researcher, Barbara Frale, told Vatican Radio July 26 that her own studies suggest the letters on the shroud were written more than 1,800 years ago.
She said that in 1978 a Latin professor in Milan noticed Aramaic writing on the shroud and in 1989 scholars discovered Hebrew characters that probably were portions of the phrase “The king of the Jews.”
Castex’s recent discovery of the word “found” with another word next to it, which still has to be deciphered, “together may mean ‘because found’ or ‘we found,'” she said.
What is interesting, she said, is that it recalls a passage in the Gospel of St. Luke, “We found this man misleading our people,” which was what several Jewish leaders told Pontius Pilate when they asked him to condemn Jesus.
She said it would not be unusual for something to be written on a burial cloth in order to indicate the identity of the deceased.
I am intrigued.
Personally not quite sure about the authenticity of this particular relic (I lean towards skepticism) but I would become absolutely giddy if I could hunt up some images of this text.
Found this on a Google feed, hot off the digital press at Forbes.com:
“Sotheby’s hopes an ancient biblical manuscript will fetch $1 million.
“Sotheby’s might want to send a bidding paddle to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. In its July 7 London manuscripts sale, the auction house is offering a 1,500-year-old biblical document that includes layers of text and meaning–in three languages.
“Known as the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, the piece was written over the span of three centuries and stowed in a sacred monastery until landing in the hands of a pair of British twins by way of local Egyptian dealers. Now an English college is cannibalizing its library and cashing out, to pay for some building renovations.”
“The sixth-century text includes chunks of the Old and New Testaments in both Aramaic and Greek.”
It looks like they were trying to show off the Palimpsest’s Greek under-layer, so in the picture on the article the Syriac Script is upside-down. To get a better look at the script, here’s the image flipped:
Boy I wish I had an extra million bucks to blow on this.
However, if you do have an extra million bucks, here’s the listing on Sotheby’s if you want to bid. 🙂
[Judea (probably Jerusalem), sixth century AD. and Egypt (probably St. Catherine’s, Sinai), early ninth century AD.]
137 leaves (including 52 bifolia), approximately 230mm. by 185mm., with foliation according to the overtext in the hand of Agnes Lewis, written space of underscript 210mm. by 160mm., double column, 18 lines of faded brown ink in Christian Palestinian Aramaic uncials (a script most probably created from Estrangelo script for this Biblical translation, reflecting in its square monumental characters the Greek uncials in the manuscript that the translator worked from), written space of overscript 175mm. by 135mm., single column, 19 lines of black ink in Syriac Estrangelo script, underscript in varying states of fading, some slight water damage and crumbling to edges of some leaves, else in outstanding condition for age, each gathering of leaves within folders, the whole within three archival cloth-covered drop-back boxes, with the picnic basket in which Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson themselves kept it
(A picture of the manuscript.)
Fri Feb 6, 2009 7:57am EST
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.
When I saw images of this relic, they reminded me of something that happened a back in July of last year where I was approached by an individual, who claimed to come from Turkey, trying to sell me a forgery (click the link for pictures). Naturally, such an experience has made me skeptical when I heard about a “manuscript [carrying] excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering on vellum and loosely strung together” and written in “eastern script.”
(A picture of the manuscript forgery I was offered.)
Given what I have seen of the manuscript thusfar, I’m going to have to tentatively concur with JF Coakley on his analysis. Unless other hard evidence surfaces to the contrary (carbon dating or thorough textual analysis), this is probably either a work no earlier than the 15th century, or a modern forgery.
UPDATE & NOTE (Feb 11th): It seems that I was a bit ambiguous above as to the identity of the manuscript in question. I do not believe the manuscript the police found to be -the- document I was offered, but more that it fits a consistent pattern of forgeries that are showing up in Turkey. All of the defining characteristics look like they match (which both manuscripts seem to share):
- “Golden letters”
- Written on leather rather than actual vellum
- Bound together haphazardly.
- “Synopses” of New Testament stories rather than full text.
- Written in Pseudosyriac or modern Syriac.
- Written in Eastern script.
- Very characteristic illustrations.
I learned about this lecture just a few moments ago and I will certainly be attending!
Aramaic Origins and Dialects: A Model for Proto-Afroasiatic
Monday, February 16, 2009
1:40 – 3:00pm, Scholarly Communication Center, Alexander Library
A Lecture by William J. Fulco, S.J., Ph.D, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Reverend Fulco will discuss the Aramaic language and its position within the Semitic family, as well as his past work in reconstructing reconstructing Aramaic for the script of the 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” directed by Mel Gibson.
He is currently working on a script in Punic for the upcoming film, “Hannibal the Conqueror,” directed by Vin Diesel.
Sponsored by AMESALL, CMES, Undergraduate Education, Jewish Studies, and Comparative Literature
For more information, contact Charles Haberl, firstname.lastname@example.org
In my usual searches across the Internet for Aramaic tattoo oddities, I came across the following tattoo that illustrates an very important point about how different some dialects can be. Here is a transliteration of the text:
gbrt’ yshw` mshykh‘
This tattoo’s owner
believes it means “Jesus Christ Almighty,” but ambiguity lies within the word gbrt’
In some dialects of Modern Aramaic, Arabic loan sounds and loan words have creeped into the language. To represent these, some dialects use diatrics to represent Arabic phonemes by marking similar consonants.
For example, the set of diatrics used to write Arabic text in Syriac letters is known as “Garshuni” (or “Karshuni”) where small loops and dots are added into the crooks of the letters to indicate the Arabic equivalents. In Assyrian dialects, a similar principle is applied, where a squiggle “~” (known as a Majliana) is placed under or over certain consonants.
The letter in question is the gâmal “G” at the beginning.
(The sounds Gâmal makes.)
When tattooing, sometimes these diatric squiggles can end up looking like standard vowel markers. Because of this gbrt’ can first be read as a loan-word from the Arabic “jabbar” which means “almighty.” Jbârthâ’, however, should be masculine, not feminine as it would be an adjective (i.e. Jesus -is- mighty). This would make the entire translation read:
jbârthâ’ yeshû` mshîkhâ’
“(She is) Almighty: Jesus Christ”
…which doesn’t seem to be what the owner is after.
On the other side of interpretation lies gebârthâ’ which is a word found in several dialects of Aramaic (most notedly Syriac) where it is the feminine form of gabrâ’ which means “man” (i.e. “woman”). This would make the translation read:
gebârthâ’ yeshû` mshîkhâ’
“The Woman: Jesus Christ”
…also not quite what they were after.
I won’t repeat myself again as to how important it is to double-check your translations. 🙂 Aramaic Designs will do it for free so there is no excuse!