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Ancient Coptic 'Gospel of the Lots of Mary' found

An ancient gospel has been discovered in the pages of a diminutive book dating back to the 6th century.

Ancient Coptic 'Gospel of the Lots of Mary' found
An image of the gospel's 25th oracle. This oracle translates as "
Go, make your vows. And what you promised, fulfill it immediately. Do not
 be of two minds, because God is merciful. It is he who will bring about 
your request for you and do away with the affliction in your heart" 
[Credit: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum]
The text, dubbed the ‘Gospel of the Lots of Mary’ is written in Coptic and contains oracles that would have been used to provide support and reassurance to people seeking help for problems.

It is not a gospel in the traditional sense, because it doesn’t predominantly teach about Christ, and its translator suggests that the discovery could rewrite the ancient definition and purpose of gospels.

The ancient book was given to Harvard University's Sackler Museum in 1984 by Beatrice Kelekian, in memory of her husband Charles Dikran Kelekian.

Her father-in-law Dikran Kelekian’s was said to be ‘an influential trader of Coptic antiquaries’, but the origin of the book is unknown.

The text was studied by Professor Anne Marie Luijendijk from Princeton University.

She told LiveScience that when she deciphered the first line, which referenced a ‘gospel’, she expected to read about Jesus and his life.

Instead, she found what is described in her book ‘Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary’ as a ‘5th or 6th century Coptic book of oracular answers.’

The 160-page codex contains a series of 37 short passages written over two facing parchment leaves.

It measures just 3 inches (7.5cm) tall and 2.7 inches (6.9cm) wide - about the size of a woman’s palm.

A person seeking an answer to a particular query or concern would have opened the book on a random page to read a statement designed to serve as an answer, similar to a modern Magic 8 ball.

Ancient Coptic 'Gospel of the Lots of Mary' found
An image showing the opening of the gospel. The text is written in Coptic, 
an Egyptian language that makes use of the Greek alphabet. The pages of the 
gospel are small, measuring less than 3 inches (75 millimeters) in height 
[Credit: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum]
The full translation of the book’s opening reads: ‘The Gospel of the lots of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, she to whom Gabriel the archangel brought the good news.

‘He who will go forward (or: will seek) with his whole heart will obtain what he seeks.

'Only do not be of two minds’.

One oracle reads: ‘Stop being of two minds, o human, whether this thing will happen or not. Yes, it will happen!

'Be brave and do not be of two minds. Because it will remain with you a long time and you will receive joy and happiness.’

While another says: ‘You know, o human, that you did your utmost again. You did not gain anything but loss, dispute, and war.

‘But if you are patient a little, the matter will prosper through the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’

Today, the official definition of the word ‘gospel’ is the ‘teaching or revelation of Christ,’ but it actually originates from the meaning of the Greek word ‘evangelion’ meaning ‘good news’.

Professor Luijendijk said that people would have used the book to seek ‘good news’ about their future and ‘the fact that this is not a gospel in the traditional sense gives ample reason to inquire about the reception and use of the term 'gospel' in Late Antiquity.’

The book is Christian in nature, and draws on Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Matthew, Luke, and James.

But, in her book, Professor Luijendijlk said it does not contain traditional Christian teachings, and there are few, or no, mentions of the kingdom of God or Heaven, miracles, the church, or eternal life.

Click image to view at Amazon

If it was used by divinators, Professor Luijendijlk said this may explain the book's small size, to make it possible to be concealed in a pocket or sleeve.

This was because such books may have been frowned upon by religious leaders.

Last month, a collection of spells and invocations, dating back 1,300 years, were deciphered for the first time from an ancient handbook.

Also written in Coptic, the codex contains a mixture of references from Orthodox Christianity and Sethianism.

Macquarie University was given the 20-page handbook by an antiques dealer in 1981, and it is believed to have been owned by a male ritual practitioner.

However, the identity of this practitioner and where the handbook originally came from is not known.

It measures approximately 9 inches (23cms) across and is made from bound pages of parchment.

Author: Victoria Woollaston | Source: MailOnline [February 04, 2015]

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1 comment :

  1. More like a book of days, than a magic 8 ball. Sloppy reporting...


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