May 2, 2014
“Early Image Of Christ” Discovered In Egypt
An archeological team from the Catalan region of Spain say they have discovered an ancient image of a man with a beard, apparently giving a blessing with his hand raised. They claim that the image, found in a tomb in Egypt, is very possible one of the earliest images of Jesus Christ.
The find is so significant that Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, broke the news himself in a press release that gave the details. The site was a tomb of a young writer, who had been buried with pots of ink and other equipment to assist him to continue writing in the afterlife. 45 tons of rock was moved before the tomb could finally be accessed in a project that involved cooperation between architects and engineers.
The team said that five or six layers of paint were discovered, the earliest of which was from the early Coptic period of Christianity. Coptic Christians are a large and previously dominant group of Christians in Egypt who still account for around 10 percent of the population. They emerged in Egypt around 200 AD or even earlier, and represent one of the most significant early Christian groups in the Middle East.
The story was first reported on the Spanish-English news site The Local, who a little naughtily used the headline “Spanish team finds hidden ‘tomb of Jesus'” – which rather suggests that they had found the tomb where Christ was buried and later rose from the dead, which would be something of a more significant find; all due respect to the early painting! Some Christians believe that the site of Christ’s burial is now the location of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, but historical evidence is of course highly contentious. The headline sounds more like that debate could finally be settled, rather than that a picture which may or may not be Jesus was found in what happened to be somebody else’s tomb.
But never mind, the painting is still a great find, should it turn out to be what the archeologists hope it is. The head of the expedition, Josep Padró, said the find was “incredibly good, but we don’t know what it is.” He did go on to say, though, in regard to the “figure of a young man, with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing,” that “…we could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ,”
The find, which came in the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, in buried tombs which date from the 6th and 7th centuries, is very exciting to me, and I hope that it turns out to be an early image of Jesus Christ. Although I find it almost impossible to entertain the supernatural elements of religion, I do find the historical and academic side of Christianity fascinating. I enjoy looking at the history, such as it is, and the scarcity of it makes any information even more absorbing.
I appreciate the academic study of Christianity too, and for this reason have taken an interest in William James, Thomas Aquinas, Baruch Spinoza, and many others who look at religion more deeply. I must confess, though, that my interest also means I loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indian Jones and the Last Crusade, and even The Da Vinci Code. The story of Jesus does make for great entertainment. Okay, I know the literary element of The Da Vinci Code is questionable, but I do think that saying it is crap is in some cases just a thing that people do because in doing so, they get to immediately elevate themselves intellectually above the millions who like it.
But the truth is more interesting than fiction, and the discovery in Egypt is a real-life gem.