Tuesday, April 26, 2005

636 or Beast

So the whole issue of the fragments being recovered from classical text at Oxyrhynchus is fascinating. Apparently new technology on old text fragments allow scholars to read bits of texts that used to be unreadable by bouncing light off of the atomic remains of ink in the papyrus that can no longer be seen with the naked eye, a technology known as multi-spectral imaging.

"What the technology does," said Columbia University professor of classics and history Roger Bagnall, "is enhance the ink and knock out the background." There are fine differences in the way light bounces off ink, said Mr. Obbink. High-definition digital imaging heightens the contrast to make the ink stand out even if it is sunk deep into the papyrus."

The Independent had a story on this last week that apparently contained some puffery, so here is a less excitable, more nuanced and informed account of what is going on from the NYSun.

It's estimated that they might be finished publishing the important bits in two generations. snort

One of my favorite bits from the article: Apparently they have discovered a fragment of a 3rd century text of Revelations in which the beast was numbered, not 666, but 636.

Heh. Wonder how many End-of-Days Calculations that's going to mess up. And are there any other early text redactions or fragments with 636 instead. In fact, one wonders what is the earliest extant text of Revelations. Heck, there might be whole sects, now disappeared, which based their esoteric interpretations of the text on 636, or beliefs which were later deemed heresies having to do with preferring 636 to 666.


I am a follower of my lord Enyalios
and know the Muses' lovely gift.

Few bows will be stretched and not many will be
the slings, when Ares at last brings war
into the plain. The brutal work will be for swords.
Our enemy yonder are masters of such warfare,
lords of Euboia, famed for their spears.
Come, cup in hand, across the benches of the swift ship
roam and drink deeply from the hollow casks.
Gulp down the red wine to the lees, for we shall not
be able to stay sober on this gaurd.

A Saian boasts about the shield which beside a bush
though good armour I unwillingly left behind.
I saved myself, so what do I care about the shield?
To hell with it! I'll get one soon just as good.

I do not like a tall commander, strutting about,
primping in curls or with only half a beard.
Give me a short leader you can clearly see
bandy-legged, solid on his feet and full of courage.

The affairs of gold-laden Gyges do not interest me
zealousy of the gods has never seized me nor anger
at their deeds. But I have no love for great tyranny
for its deeds are very far from my eyes.

Glauchos, look, how deeply the waves toss the sea
and a cloud stands right over the cliffs of Cyrea


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