Christ Goes Bowling?

Via Witchvox comes this article:

A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world’s first known reference to Christ…

The full engraving on the bowl reads, “DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS,” which has been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, “by Christ the magician” or, “the magician by Christ.”

I haven’t read up on the whole Jesus-Christ-as-magician debate to have one opinion or another thereon, but I think that keeping a healthy level of skepticism on these matters – especially with regard to archaeological discoveries as portrayed in news stories – is a good thing.  I’d say it’s much more likely that this is a proper name for a different person than the historical Christ.  Better dating would be of great help; as it stands, the suggested scenario would have to be at one extreme of the range.

One of the people in the interview that such a bowl would have likely have been used for scrying to allow the operator (or a medium) to see spirits.  I’d agree, as that procedure was reported a few centuries later in the magical papyri and the Testament of Solomon.

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Published in: on October 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Actually Christ (or Christos) isn’t a proper name but a title. (Iesous Christos = Jesus the Anointed) Jesus is the Christ, and is referred to as such at various points in the NT. If the bowl was used for magical purposes, the “Christos” in this case may have been the magician that used it.

    And you’re right about the dating thing. Saying it could date from as early the 2nd century BC would rather rule out the Jesus reference.

  2. As James says, christos is ‘annointed’ or even ‘oiled’ (annoint has (in Greek) cognates with oil and ointment)
    Annointed is also messiah in Hebrew, so this would be a fairly direct translation of that. For the Jews, the messiah was (is?) the annointed king. And though there were many other Jewish self-proclaimed messiahs, they were mostly leaders of armed rebellions, not godmen or magicians. So I think the connection between this cup and Jesus is fairly strong; however, I would guess that it was used by a non-Christian magician who was trying to capitalize on Jesus’ fame as a miracle-man.

  3. I wasn’t sure enough on my Greek to go there, so I’m glad you guys did.

    With regard to Mike’s latter suggestion – I’m just not sure that Jesus would have accumulated that reputation as a magus yet. I think there’s some material indicating that in Acts, though the authorship of that book likely dates to later. Once again, this is an area I’m still learning about myself.


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