Monday, May 16, 2022

Q Source — History Mystery

Q Source — History Mystery

Q source is known as Q document and Q Gospel. It is a hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus' sayings. The book of Q is a part of the common material available in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. However, you can not get it available in the Gospel of Mark. So instead, it came from the early Church's oral gospel traditions as per the study hypothesis.

What do you know about Q source?

Q refers to the designation for a gospel that is no more available. However, most people think that it existed at a time. Although there is no copy of this gospel of q that survived independently, a few scholars of the 19th century got fragments of such an early Christian composition.

When scholars put the gospels of Matthew and Luke beside the Mark, they understood that Matthew and Luke followed the order mostly while telling the story about Jesus. Even they follow the wording of Mark. However, Matthew and Luke have inserted additional sayings and teachings of Jesus into the narrative outline. Besides, they do not put these sayings in the same order and repeat many of the same sayings.

What are the sources of Matthew and Luke?

Matthew and Luke had two resources: the Gospel of Mark and another gospel (no more available), and a collection of sayings known only as Q.

Q is the abbreviation of "Quelle," which is a German word for source. You should not be excited about something that does not exist. Therefore, the gospel of q remained a hypothesis that lingered on the edges of scholarly research. When it was 1945, a chance discovery in Egypt offered new proof. As a result, an interest must arise in your mind for the possible existence of Q.

About Q source:

There were two brothers finding fertilizer at the base of cliffs in the Egyptian region of Nag Hammadi. It is where the Nile river takes a turn from Chenoboskeia to Pabau. One of the brothers named Mohammad Ali hit a hard object under the ground, and it was a big earthen jar, closed with a shallow reddish.

Firstly, he did not want to open the jar as he thought there was a jinn closed up inside it. However, later, he decided to open the jar by summoning the courage to hope that it could contain gold. Instead of gold, he got twelve books bound in gazelle leather. Later, these were proven as critical archaeological finds of the twentieth century. The books were so extraordinary that these offer the existence of the sayings collection known as Q.

We know these manuscripts now as the Nag Hammadi Library containing a whole manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas. However, people found a small part of this gospel written in Greek at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

However, the original text was at Nag Hammadi, written in Coptic. Quelle bible was in the form of the Egyptian language used during later Roman imperial times.

Scholars reconstructed the Gospel of Thomas in Greek, the original language of its composition, depending on the text. It indicates that they could compare its contents with the writings fragments they got in the New Testament.

The Gospel of Thomas is not the same as the gospels, a part of the New Testament, and it does not contain any narrative material, any story of the birth, the life, or the death of Jesus. Here, you can find the sayings, 114 in all, each preceded by the phrase, "And Jesus said." The author designates the collected sayings of the Gospel of Thomas as "the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke."

However, you can find these sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, same as in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. For instance, these are "Jesus said, 'Come to me, for my yoke is easy, and my mastery is gentle, and you will find repose.'" On the flip side, a few are puzzling: "Jesus said, 'Become passers-by.”

The author said that one could achieve salvation by recognizing one's source(the light) and one's destiny (the repose). If they want to go back to the origin, ensure that the disciples should not be present in the world by "stripping off" the garment of flesh and "passing by" corruptible human existence.

There is another exciting thing about the gospel. Its author used to call himself Didymos Judas Thomas, which appears in Matthew and Luke's collection. However, the author and his community find the meaning of sayings completely different. So the Gospel of Thomas offered new proof regarding an earlier collection of sayings that other Christian communities use.

Contribution from James M. Robinson and his team about Q source:

James M. Robinson, a part of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, led a research team in 1989 about the "reconstruction" of the Gospel of Q. Robinson. In addition, his team analyzes the literature of Matthew, Luke, and Thomas thoroughly. Their work was published after nearly ten years of work as the Critical Edition of Q.

A scholar, Burton Mack, has advanced a radical thesis that a few Christian communities at least have not seen Jesus as a Messiah. Instead, they found him as a teacher of wisdom who taught others how to live. According to them, Jesus was a human, not divine. They are the first followers of Jesus, different from other Christians ( who believe in the death and the resurrection of Jesus).

It was a great foundation of most modern scholarship and was hypothesized by 1900. Finally, however, we have got a view accepted widely from B. H. Streeter that it was available in Koine Greek. Moreover, its contents appear in Matthew, Luke, or both, and Luke preserves the text's original order more often than Matthew. 

 Luke, Matthew and Mark:

Luke and Matthew used Mark and Q as sources in the two-source hypothesis, the three-source hypothesis, and the Q+/Papias hypothesis. According to a few scholars, the Q source is a plurality of sources where a few are written and a few are oral. A few available have tried to identify the stages in which it was composed.

Biblical scholars used to follow the Augustinian hypothesis, which states that the Gospel of Matthew was the first one written. Mark used Matthew in his writing, whereas Luke followed Mark and Matthew in his writing. The Gospel of John is different from the others for the similarity called the Synoptic Gospels. A few 19th-century New Testament scholars did not take Matthew's priority for Marcan priority.

Matthew and Luke provide significant sections of text not found in Mark. Gospel has not drawn upon the other. According to a few people, Herbert Marsh, an Englishman, was the first person to hypothesize the existence of a "narrative" source and a "sayings" source. However, he added the latter parables, which are unique to both Matthew and Luke.

Conclusion:

The contents of the Q source were available in the canonical gospels. Therefore, you do not need to copy the Q source. Although there are many challenges, the two-source hypothesis gets wide support.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Starling Murmurations — Science Mystery

Starling Murmurations — Science Mystery

Starling is a type of bird that has its serious style. Characteristics making them unique are that they can lay blue eggs and recognize each other using their chirps. Besides, they can put on an aerial display to rival the Red Arrows.

When they travel, their wingbeats create a sound for which they are popular as starling murmurations. It looks like a sky dance where you can see them gathering together, swooping and twisting in one spectacular swarm.

The formation consists of at least 500 birds, whereas it can feature up to a million birds in the UK. This number is much higher overseas, increasing up to five million.

However, why does this formation happen? Do they not collide with each other? Where can they be seen? This article lets you know all these questions answered.

What is a Starling?

Starling is a bird with shiny black, green, and purple feathers. These are small garden birds available in your garden and other local green spaces.

Usually, the plumage seems black from a distance. However, these are very glossy birds, with a sheen of purple and green feathers when you look closely. They spend most of their time in flocks, especially while gathering to roost or around the breeding and nesting seasons.

What is Starling Murmurations?

Murmurations are a group of Stirling birds who gather in the sky and do beautiful things like swooping in beautiful shape-shifting clouds. A small group from the same area comes together before dusk above a communal roosting site. After that, the group continues growing larger than earlier, moving in unison in an aerial dance. You will see them as a gorgeous shape against the waning daylight.

Why Do Starling Murmurations Happen?

Humans have been experiencing starling murmurations for many thousands of years. However, still, they do not have a proper explanation for the starling murmurations. However, we have given here two theories to explain why these birds could flock together this way.

  • They do the formation to keep themselves protected from predators. 
  • In addition, they also do the formation to keep warm at night. 
First, you should know how their aerial ballet protects them from predators like sparrowhawks and buzzards. Prof Anne Goodenough from the University of Gloucestershire explained that as a starling bird and part of a large flock, one must want to decrease the chances of becoming dinner through the 'dilution effect.' Besides, one must not want to be the bird targeted by predators in a crowd. So this formation has many eyes, helping them to spot any predators.

However, their sleepiness and other features don't explain why they form a series of unpredictable 3D shapes in the sky. Instead, it is the reason why these birds murmurate to turn any predator's laser-focus vision against them.

According to Goodenough, predators hunt by getting 'focus lock' on any specific starling and attacking them. It is because they cannot fly into a flock with their talons out and wish to be alive in such cases. However, while they form an intricate display, predators can not launch it at one bird, and attacking a whole flock seems like you are trying to juggle with soot.

Are Starlings The Only Birds That Murmurate?

No, they are not the only birds that murmurate. However, because many other birds flock together in groups like the phenomenon, fishes show the same swarm behavior. They use the same 'safety in numbers' tactic to protect themselves from big groups.

However, the term 'murmuration 'is especially for groups of starlings for their innovative way of movement and the beautiful sky art. There are over 200 million available in North America singing their chirpy little songs.

Mario Pesendorfer, a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Forest Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, says that its core feeling is a sense of awe. According to him, people can experience visual patterns when many of them do a similar thing.

The Secrets Behind Murmurations:

In the 1930s, ornithologist Edmund Selous said that these birds use some sort of telepathy to let others know about their flying intentions. According to him, the birds think collectively at the same time.

However, in the 1950s, scientists studied different insects, fish, and other collective animals to judge their behavior. The authors of a 2015 paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences write that it is a rapid transmission of local behavioral response to neighbors.

According to Pesendorfer, the phenomenon is self-organized, indicating that each bird's little behavioral rules help to scale up to the large group. Therefore, if you want to know about their behavior, you need to know what each bird is doing and what rules they follow.

In 2013, a mechanical and aerospace engineer came with her team to collaborate with physicists in Italy to study murmurations. Naomi Leonard said that in a flock with 1,200 birds, a bird can't keep track of the other 1,199 birds.

The Italian physicists have over 400 photos they took from several videos to plot the position and speed of birds. Every bird keeps tabs on seven closest neighbors and ignores others.

The Three Things in Control:

The three things birds maintain are:

  • An attraction zone 
  • A repulsion zone 
  • Angular alignment 

According to the Scientists, the birds make the formation to confuse and discourage predators. In this case, they use noise, motion, and sheer numbers. As a result, the formation looks like they are almost one, and it seems like a type of lock-step. In this regard, Pesendorfer says that they come with a much higher temporal resolution than others, indicating that they can share any information quicker than humans.

How can the birds keep their flock warm?

The aerial display is not the thing that creates heat. But, according to a few zoologists, they gather heat ahead of a cold night when the sky dance happens before roosting.

According to the details of Goodenough, this bird can offer warmth more while roosting as part of a big flock than being a part of a small flock.

However, we cannot trust the theory they gather to protect themselves from plummeting temperatures. As per the study of Goodenough, a slight correlation exists between temperature and the size of the displays, and it means that they are primarily an anti-predator adaptation.

Why Do The Birds Not Hit Each Other In A Murmuration?

Generally, you will collide with somebody when you are in a crowd of a few hundred tightly-packed runners. So how is it possible for these birds to keep their distance from each other during a murmuration?

The reason is that the birds have good social-distancing instincts. According to Goodenough, they can maintain space from one another using their incredible vision and reactions. As a result, they can visually understand what is happening around them. In addition, they come with strong motor responses, helping them manage it.

A few places like Derbyshire's Middleton Moor, Somerset's Ham Wall, and Belfast's Albert Bridge host the phenomenon every year. Goodenough says that you can experience it where you do not expect it to occur.

Generally, it occurs between October and March, but you will see it mainly around the beginning of November until the end of January. These can occur in Lancashire and Merseyside also. The birds can pop up in almost any place, even above the middle of the city. 

We have given here a few of the best spots in Lancashire and Merseyside, including:

  • Brockholes Nature Reserve, 
  • Preston North Pier, Blackpool 
  • Lunt Meadows, Sefton
  • RSPB Leighton Moss, Silverdale

The Endnote:

Generally, one bird is not aware of everyone else in the phenomenon. However, forming 3D reconstructions helps every bird to interact with its nearest 6 or 7 birds and move according to them. The phenomenon happens just before roosting, for which you can see one by a large tree or artificial structure like a pier.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Q. When can you see the phenomenon?

If you want to view this phenomenon, you have to go in the early evening throughout autumn and winter. These small-sized birds gather in enormous flocks in the sky, and then they swoop around at sunset periods.

  • Q. When is the best time to see the phenomenon?

They generally make the formation during autumn and winter. Almost all migrant starlings come by late November/early December. As a result, these months have become the prime time to see a murmuration at its peak. Ensure that you come before dusk unless you miss the big event from start to finish.

  • Q. How long does a murmuration of starlings last?

The phenomenon usually lasts up to 45 minutes. However, in some cases, the phenomenon lasts a few minutes only. Besides, you will never know when the end of a murmuration will happen as it occurs suddenly. But, then, something prompts the bids to stream into their roosts, a beautiful sight in itself.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Codex Zographensis

Codex Zographensis

Codex Zographensis, also known as Tetraevangelium Zographense, is an illuminated Old Church Slavonic canon manuscript. It comes with 304 parchment folios. The first 288 are available in Glagolitic, organized as Tetraevangelium (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and the rest are available in Cyrillic, containing a 13th-century synaxarium. The manuscript was back to the end of the 10th or early 11th century.

About Codex Zographensis:

The project runs a challenging program of the National Library of Russia for digitizing the most important manuscripts. It started in 2013 with the digitized Laurentian Codex. The project's objective is to make cultural and historical treasures available online.

This project is the eighth in a series and deals with the rare Tetraevangelium Zographense. It is a rare example of an almost complete Glagolitic book. The major part of the book was made in the 11th century and kept in the Zograf Monastery on the Holy Mt. Athos for multiple years.

When it was the mid 19th century, people used this unique manuscript of Emperor Alexander II by the monastery's monks. Then, in 1861, this manuscript was given to the Manuscripts Department of the Imperial Public Library that we know as the National Library of Russia. It has preserved the manuscript until today.

The Zograf Monastery monks came to Russia in January 2016 and visited the Manuscripts Department. They said how they put effort into making the «Zographensis Room.» It is a digital library of ancient manuscripts from the Zograf Monastery located at Sofia University.

People made the online presentation of the manuscript using the Information Retrieval System "Depositary," invented by the Library's specialists. They created it to form a database of the manuscripts, and the search system helps to link digital pages of the manuscript.

The basic idea of the project is an integrated approach to the representation of the landmark manuscript. As a result, the online source is valuable for the general public, students, and researchers as it can fulfill the information needs and objectives.

Tetraevangelium Zographense:

Furthermore, the manuscript allows you to trace the Glagolitic script's evolution and its transformation into the Cyrillic alphabet.

The parchment contains three parts written in various scripts at different times. When it was the 12th century, people inserted many sheets into the body of the book to finish the text lost by the time. We know these added pages as palimpsests, and it was those on which people wrote sheets twice or even three times.

You should know that these are precious materials if you want to know about the history of ancient texts or study them. These contain visible traces of the previous writing, and you can use optoelectronic methods to read the lower layer. Besides, the project contains seven palimpsest sheets in which the four Gospels have been erased. Priest John was the scribe of this part who left his name in the record read on f. 288 v. manuscript.

The manuscript's last part contains supplements to the Gospels, the book of saints with the church calendar. You can find many details in the margins of the manuscript sheets, both in the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabet.

These include all additions, corrections, explanations of the main text, opening words of the readings, etc. The note's content is a unique thing to study. Characteristic headpieces of geometric ornament and initials arrange the manuscript.

History of Codex Zographensis:

As per the oral tradition, the project took place in the conventual church of the Bulgarian Zograf monastery, besides the Ierisso on the Athos peninsula.

The landmark came to its existence in 1843 to scientists after serving as Austrian consul in Constantinople of Antun Mihanović, the Croatian writer and collector of manuscripts.

A historian and Slavist, Viktor Grigorovich, visited the Zograf Monastery. He was a professor at universities in Kazan, Moscow, and Odessa, who mentioned the manuscript as one of the vital ones stored at that time on Mount Athos. In 1860, Archimandrite Anthimus gave the manuscript to the Russian Emperor Alexander II.

Tetraevangelium Zographense Discovery:

The real source of the manuscript belonged to the Bulgarian Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos. Antun Mihanović, who was a Croatian writer and Habsburgian diplomat, found it in 1843 while staying at the monastery. Victor Grigorovich, the Russian historian and folklorist, described the manuscript's importance. He is regarded as the founder of Slavonic studies in Russia.

Izmail Sreznevsky revealed the first transcription of some of its parts in 1856. After that, monks from the Zograf monastery gave it to Russia in 1860 during an archaeological expedition of Pyotr Sevastyanov (1811-1867). People divided and shared the archaeological collection in 1862 with different institutions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Victor Grigorovich described the manuscript in 1877. After two years, Slavist Vatroslav Jagić published it in Berlin as Quattuor evangeliorum codex glagoliticus Olim Zographensis Nunc Petropolitanus. It contains an extensive philological commentary in Latin.

It was 1954 when the Jagic edition was reprinted as a facsimile edition. Many other scholars have studied the manuscript's language, including Josef Kurz, Leszek Moszyński, and the librarian Vyacheslav Zagrebin. However, it was the Vyacheslav who restored it during the 1990s.

In January 2016, monks of the Zograf monastery came to Saint Petersburg to report about it, and they wanted to make it available to the public. As a result, a Zographensis room was set up at the SS for their diplomatic visit. In addition, there were several things, such as Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia and a virtual exhibition that was published on the homepage of the Russian National Library.

The Bottom Line:

According to the modern research, you get to know that the actual manuscript, Codex Zographensis, was decorated with miniatures of the Evangelists. Scientists found plenty of traces of the paint on the folios proceeding from the order of the Gospels. These help to contact the missing sheets with miniatures. But they can't still find these miniatures. The article lets you know about the details of this manuscript. Go through the article correctly to get the best from it.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Acts of Paul and Thecla

Acts of Paul and Thecla

The Acts of Paul and Thecla story comes from The Acts of Thecla, an alternate name for second-century apocryphal writing. In this article, we have given the Text details to let you know about its characters, story, etc.

What do you know about Acts of Paul and Thecla?

It is a text where a young woman is known as Thecla. She hears Paul preaching in Iconium, and as a result, she becomes a zealous convert. The way Paul teaches about chastity and celibacy attracts her. Even she cancels her engagement and follows Paul to jail to know details about Christian doctrine. She spends a whole night listening to him by bribing the jailers. After that, she is burnt at the stake to give death.

How Thecla is saved from different obstacles:

However, as per the story details, she gets saved from the fire by a miraculous downpour of rain. Next, she runs away to find Paul again, and then they move to Antioch. When he tells her to wait for baptism, she gets raped nearly by a nobleman in Antioch. But she got arrested and sentenced to death again for fighting with her attacker. Finally, she is approx naked while being thrown into an arena full of wild animals.

During her survival journey, a lioness gives her protection. According to the story, she then jumps into a pool with many seals and man-eaters. But she has a powerful heaven cover killing animals and protecting her from them. The third time, she is about to be killed by bulls but is saved by supernatural fire.

However, when local people don't try to kill her more, she converts many people through her testimony. After that, she dressed as a man and went to find him again. As soon as she sees Paul in Myra, he commissions her as a teacher. She then takes a vow of absolute celibacy. After that, she encourages women to follow the Lord and remain unmarried. Thus, gradually she becomes an ascetic and keeps herself protected from another attempted rape.

She spends her life in prayer, teaching, and performing healing miracles per the story. Finally, after 72 years as a hermit in Rome, she leaves again to see him. But he died before her arrival, seeing which she lies down by his grave. The incident happened around the end of the second century. The early church rejected the acts of Thecla writing like other Christian-flavored writings, including The Apocalypse of Peter and The Shepherd of Hermas.

The writing has many non-biblical embellishments. Hence, you can see all the miracles are understated. In this text, you can see promoting speaking to the dead and praying for the dead.

History:

Tertullian, De baptismo 17:5 (c. 190), says that a presbyter who wrote the text was deposed when he confessed that he was its writer.

In the reign of Commodus (180–192), Eugenia of Rome took Thecla as her model before Tertullian disapproved. It is reported in the Acts of her martyrdom, and Jerome gathers details from Tertullian. However, a few scholars consider the text a 1st-century creation for its exactitude in reporting on chronology.

According to several surviving versions of the Acts of Paul and Thecla in Greek, a few in Coptic, and as per the works among Church fathers, let you know the text was widely disseminated. You get to know about the wide circulation of the Acts of Paul and Thecla in Greek, Syriac, and Armenian in the Eastern Church, a proof of the veneration of Thecla of Iconium. Besides, you can find different versions, such as Latin, Coptic, and Ethiopic versions differing from the Greek widely.

In the Ethiopic, if you don't consider Thecla's admitted claim to preach and to baptize, the story will lose half of its point. The discovery of a Coptic text of the Acts of Paul says that the text's abrupt opening happens to be an excerpt of that more extensive work.

Narrative of the Text:

The author sets the story when Paul the Apostle's First Missionary Journey is running. But you can find the text different from the New Testament portrayal of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles.

You can find Paul traveling to Iconium (Acts 13:51), and he proclaims the word of God about abstinence and the resurrection. The author gave a beautiful physical description of him, saying that he seemed like a man one time while another time he seemed like an angel.

Paul spread all his sermons in Onesiphorus's home in beatitudes. Thus, Thecla heard about Paul's "discourse on virginity" from her window. Even she had not moved for days to listen to him. Theocleia, Thecla's mother, and her fiancé, Thamyris, became concerned that she might follow his demand that one should fear one God only and live in chastity. After that, they made a mob to drag Paul to the governor.

We have told you before that Paul and Thecla move to Pisidian Antioch. Then, Alexander, a nobleman, wanted to have Thecla and offered Paul money for her. But Paul claimed that he didn't know her. As a result, Alexander was forced to take Thecla. But as she fought off him, she was sentenced to death.

The Hellenistic physicians lost their livelihood and told young people to rape Thecla while she was 90. When they came to take her, a new passage opened in the cave where she escaped. Then, she came to Rome. It is an apocryphal story that Edgar J. Goodspeed called a religious romance.

How the 'The Acts of Paul and Thecla' text describes the physical appearance of the story character Paul:

Acts of Paul and Thecla
The writing was famous in its day, but the leaders of early Christianity disagreed with it and rejected it as false. Like other earlier texts, this writing is exciting and includes the Apostle Paul's physical details. In this text, he is described as a man of low stature, bald on the head, with crooked thighs, beautiful legs, and hollow-eyed. Besides, Paul had a crooked nose & full of grace.

What is the issue with the writing 'The Acts of Paul and Thecla'?

The primary problem with the text is that its main focus is on unbiblical views of sexuality. For instance, you can see him speaking a few words from his mouth, and he indicates the term "blessed" to those who have wives. Besides, he also said that they would be made angels of God.

On the flip side, blessed indicates the bodies and souls of virgins because God accepts them. They will not lose their virginity, which is a reward itself. These teachings conflict with the Bible's principles concerning marriage and sex.

However, husbands and wives must not leave each other or deprive one another of sex. You should know that asceticism and celibacy cannot achieve salvation, and Paul denounced the people who don't allow others to marry.

The writing greatly emphasizes virginity and total denial of the flesh, making it excellent writing. Ancient Gnosticism thought that the body and material things are inherently evil, and Thecla converted her to abstain from sex, pleasure, etc. The text has become famous for teaching celibacy to the people who consider chastity a need for spiritual service, like Catholicism. The Catholic Church has made her a saint worthy of veneration though she was not.

This writing was an old series of pseudepigraphal (noncanonical) New Testament writings known as the Apocryphal Acts. It was about AD 160–180 when this text was written. It describes the Apostle Paul's travels and teachings. Tertullian (AD 160–230) mentioned the Acts of Paul first. He thought that the manuscript was heretical as it encouraged women to preach and baptize.

Who wrote 'The Acts of Paul and Thecla and from where it was taken?

According to Tertullian, a presbyter of a church in Asia, wrote the text. The presbyter said that he wrote it "out of love of Paul," and he was expelled from his church office. The author established a close relationship between sexual purity and salvation to conform to doctrinal orthodoxy regarding continence and the Resurrection despite the anti-Pauline endorsement of female ministry. However, the author did not support the moral laxity of heretical Gnostic sects.

The bottom line:

The article contains all about 'Acts of Paul and Thecla' where you get to know about a boy and a girl. People didn't know about the actual contents until the publication in 1904 of a 6th-century Coptic manuscript. It means that the entire Apocryphon has three different texts, including the Acts of Paul and Thecla, a letter from the Corinthians to Paul and his reply, and the Martyrdom of Paul. People found each of these separate writing in many manuscripts and different publications. The subsequent publication in 1936 of a substantial Greek fragment supported the theory that the texts offer common authorship.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Novgorod Codex- History Mystery

Novgorod Codex- History Mystery

The Novgorod Codex is an old book of Russia, dated between 988 and 1030 CE. Новгородский кодекс is the term used in the Russian language.

It was unearthed on July 13, 2000, in Novgorod. This book is a palimpsest that consists of 3 bound wooden tablets, and there were found four pages filled with wax. The former owner of the book wrote down many texts during two or three decades.

Jesse Russell & Ronald Cohn edited the book, and the publisher's name was Book on Demand, 2012. The ISBN is 5512751379, 9785512751374. 164 pages are the length of the book. According to stratigraphy & dendrochronology and the text, people used the wax codex first in the quarter of the 11th century according to stratigraphy & dendrochronology and the text. It is assumed that the codex was used in the last few years of the 10th century. Thus, it has proved that the book is older compared to the Ostromir Gospels, which is the old dated East Slavic book.

Discovery of Novgorod Codex:

The Novgorod Archaeological Expedition begun by Artemiy Artsikhovsky has been excavating continuously since 1932. But from the last early 1970s, the main focus of the excavations was on the Troitza (Trinity) area, which belonged to the ancient Ludin part of the city. It covered around 6,000 square meters, i.e., 64,500 square feet.

The excavation displays affluent mansions, and a large communal building housed a court room and a Novgorod city treasury.

The major part of the text that was found was birch bark manuscripts. Hence, the most uncommon was wax tablets. It was July 13, 2000, when prof. Valentin Yanin found three wooden wax tablets in the soil. The dimensions of the tablets were 19 x 15 x 1 cm. These come with a 15 x 11.5 cm indentation filled with wax. Besides, it comes with a third tablet that contains two wax sides. The boards contain round holes at one edge, via which you can insert the wooden pegs. These hold the tablets at a place as a four-page book.

The tablets were found in a stratum 50 cm far and 30 cm under a wooden walkway. These are dated to the year 1036. The strata are expected to get growth at about 1 cm per year. Therefore, the document has been placed around 1015-1020. According to Uppsala University in Sweden, the radiocarbon dating of the wax was between 760 AD - 1030 AD. However, they were 95.4% certain.

There was Christian text available on the tablets, which were earlier than Kievan Rus' in 988. Therefore, these wax tablets are considered to be found between 988 and 1030 AD, a short time of 42 years.

Novgorod Codex Basic Text:

Its wax comes with psalms 75 and 76 and a small part of psalm 67. We know this as a basic text of the Novgorod Codex, and we know the book as the Novgorod Psalter. People can read the text like other documents on parchment, and the text can be tested one time only. The Psalter translation somewhat differ from Salvonic translation. And it is known as Psalterium Sinaiticum.

Novgorod Codex Language:

Its language is very normal Church Slavonic, in the basic text mainly. Yeh entire part of the text was written in a 'monomeric' orthography, which is called одноеровая система письма in Russia. Here, merely ъ is used rather than using two yer letters ь and ъ. People of that period considered the monomeric system a late invention before the invention of codex. However, as the dualyeric system was the real one, its invention proved that the reverse might be the case. Novgorod Codex Preservation and Reading Method:

When it comes to prevention, you can see unique challenges. The reason is that the normal preservation method for wood may destroy the wax layer and vice versa. This process enables to separate each wax layer carefully and preserve every material. This latest wood under the removed wax was scratched by the stylus while cutting through the thin wax. However, the research team took some weeks to understand a few symbols that could be discerned in the scratches.

Russian linguist Andrey Zaliznyak has put a great effort into rebuilding a small part of text preceding the basic text. He was a great foremost expert on the early medieval Novgorod dialect.

The hardship with this task is the fact that the feeble traces of dozens of thousands of letters left by the stylus, often hardly discernible from the natural shading of the soft lime wood. Besides, they have been superimposed on each other, producing an impenetrable labyrinth of lines.

Sometimes, reading one concealed text of a page may take several weeks.

As per Zaliznyak, reading the texts is a hard challenge because no research team has tried something like this previously. The compact surface of these four writing surfaces comes with multiple texts, and experts estimated these as being written over several decades. These stylus traces create lines constantly across the whole surface. The texts were written by a single hand to make the method complex, making handwriting analysis impossible.

According to Zaliznyak, it is 'reconstruction,' not 'reading.' He preferred to approach the issue as 'is a phrase A or a word B possible among everything written in this sector' whenever asking a question to himself, 'what's written on this line.'

As a result, the reconstruction has started letter by letter. It begins from an arbitrary position, like at the top part of a 'page.' As soon as Zaliznyak analyzed scratches and identified a few letters in a given spot, he began detecting symbols at the next position. When he discerned some positions, the letter combinations were mostly discarded. After that, he starts locating subsequent symbols which are necessary to finish the word or a sentence. It will be helpful to identify words written with spaces than words written without space.

After carefully completing the test of every position, Zaliznyak starts making symbol chains that continue to grow in size.

But the search often branches off into false leads, where at a certain symbol; the chains switch off to a different text piece.

People can identify these false branches after some symbols only. However, the false branches may need some words, sentences, etc. These false leads may take some days or even weeks for identification.

Multiple texts from them have been noted down many times, due to the previous copy being erased before a new copy is made.

We don't know whether the copies were created properly after weeks, months, years, etc.

It is very tough to peer-review. There are merely a few portions of Zaliznyak's texts that have been peer-reviewed till now. No research team had the guts to repeat the method over the length of a large text. Zaliznyak worked with Linguist Izabel Vallotton of Geneva on a few reconstruction parts. Besides, sometimes, Zaliznyak detected some chain portion and passed this on to Vallotton. After that, each of them continued to reconstruct the texts independently. Both of them have made identical chains that match the letter.

At last, Zaliznyak has considered a problem unsolvable to detect spelling errors or Russisms in the Church Slavonic.

Sometimes, these assumptions might be wrong. These multiple chances might be original that the author corrects themselves by erasing a mistake.

List of Novgorod Codex Texts:

These are the concealed texts that have been discovered till now.

It is a multitude of psalms that ancient people wrote down several times each.

Starting part of the Apocalypse of John

The starting part of a translation of the "On virginity" by John Chrysostom. In short (а б в г д е ж ѕ з и ї к л м н о п р с т оу ф х ц ч ш щ ѿ) and a full version (а б в г д е ж ѕ з и ї к л м н о п р с т оу ф х ц ч ш щ ѿ ъ ѣ ѫ ѭ ю ꙗ ѧ ѿ). Besides, there is an enumeration of the letter names (азъ боукы вѣдѣ глаголи…)

Tetralogy "From Paganism to Christ" (title provided by Zaliznyak): four so far unknown texts titled "Moses' Law" (Russian "Закон Моисеев"), "The Unstrengthening and the Unpeacing" ("Размаряющие и размиряющие"), "Archangel Gabriel" ("Архангел Гавриил"), and "Jesus Christ's Law" ("Закон Иисуса Христа").

There are some fragments of unknown texts also that follows—

  •  "On the Concealed Church of Our Saviour Jesus Christ in Laodicea and On the Laodicean Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ" 
  •  "Tale of the Apostle Paul on Moses' Secret Patericon" 
  • "Instruction by Alexander of Laodicea on Forgiveness of Sins" 
  • "Spiritual Instruction from the Father and the Mother to the Son"

There are a few other texts also which are as follows:-

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве еретикы.

Meaning: The world is a city where heretics don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы неразоумъны.

Meaning: The world is a city where unwise people don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы непокоривы.

Meaning: The world is a city where disobedient people don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы непорочъны.

Meaning: The world is a city where blameless people don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы невиновъны.

Meaning: The world is a city where innocent people don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы непрѣломъны.

Meaning: The world is a city where inflexible people don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы недостоины такоѩ кары.

Meaning: The world is a city where people who don't deserve the punishment don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы недостойны такого отълѫчения.

Meaning: The world is a city where people who don't deserve the exclusion don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы прѣчистыѩ вѣры.

Meaning: The world is a city where pure trust people don't belong to the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы достоины хвалы.

Meaning: The world is a city where people who should be praised don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы достоины прославления.

Meaning: The world is a city where people worthy of veneration don't belong from the church.

Миръ естъ градъ въ немъ же отълѫчаѭтъ отъ цръкъве чловѣкы неотъстѫпъны отъ правыѩ вѣры х҃совы.

Meaning: The world is a city where people who don't forsake the true faith in Christ don't belong from the church.

Other information:

The medieval town of Novgorod, which is located in northwest Russia, is a great archaeological site. Here, waterlogging has conserved plenty of material from the oldest time of occupation near about the 9th or 10th century. Before the 2nd World War, Archaeologists have been working at this place. Therefore, the site has now become a World Heritage Site.

Most construction was made of wood at the place. Whether these are the buildings, the road surfaces, or surviving artifacts, most were wood. You can find plenty of text and text fragments preserved on the site. The texts are written on most pieces of birch bark that people use as paper around the world for nations. These texts include personal letters, legal notices, business records, and schoolwork.

People have discovered wooden writing tablets, along with birch bark letters and plenty of metal styli. In July 2000; when three limewood tablets having wax writing surfaces were uncovered. This one is what we know now as the Novgorod Codex.

The decipherment and translation of the Novgorod Codex are still ongoing, but already it has established hitherto-unknown details of the religious culture and connections of medieval Novgorod.

Deciphering the texts are very much difficult as the letters indented in the wood and the wax are directly superimposed and written in the same handwriting.

The linguist Andrey Zalizniak, suggested that the owner of the codex was a monk named Isaakiy, based on first-person references in the texts.

Andrey N. Sobolev has published The Novgorod Psalter of the XI century, and its antigraph in 2003 and the title contains 113-142 pages. Besides, Andrey A. Zaliznyak wrote The oldest Cyryllic alphabet of 3-31 title pages in 2003. In 2001, Andrey A. Zaliznyak and Valentin L. Janin have published The Novgorod Codex of the first quarter of the XI century. It is a very old book of the Rus' containing 3-25 title pages.