Thursday, June 01, 2006

BREITBART.COM - Ancient Scroll May Yield Religious Secrets

BREITBART.COM - Ancient Scroll May Yield Religious Secrets:

Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece

A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book _ which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400- year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text _ through high-tech digital analysis _ from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.

Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book _ a philosophical treatise on ancient religion _ were read years ago, but never officially published.

Now, archaeologist Polyxeni Veleni believes U.S. imaging and scanning techniques used to decipher the Judas Gospel _ which portrays Judas not as a sinister betrayer but as Jesus' confidant _ will considerably expand and clarify that text.

'I believe some 10-20 percent of new text will be added, which however will be of crucial importance,' said Veleni, director of the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, where the manuscript is kept.

'This will fill in many gaps, we will get a better understanding of the sequence and the existing text will become more complete,' Veleni told The Associated Press."


The scroll contains a philosophical treatise on a lost poem describing the birth of the gods and other beliefs focusing on Orpheus, the mythical musician who visited the underworld to reclaim his dead love and enjoyed a strong cult following in the ancient world.

The Orpheus cult raised the notion of a single creator god _ as opposed to the multitude of deities the ancient Greeks believed in _ and influenced later monotheistic faiths.

"In a way, it was a precursor of Christianity," Pierris said. "Orphism believed that man's salvation depended on his knowledge of the truth."

Veleni said the manuscript "will help show the influence of Orphism on later monotheistic religions."

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