Lost Gospels Found, Translators Needed
July 28, 2011
Researchers from Oxford University are asking the public for help in translating the millions of fragments of ancient texts that could possibly be a lost gospel.
The ancient texts, called The Oxyrhynchus Papyri were discovered a century ago in Egypt but have yet to be completely translated, according to British researchers. The papyri could provide an insight into the "mark of the beast" referred to in the Book of Revelation.
The researchers issued a challenge on Tuesday for all "armchair archeologists" to log onto the Ancient Lives site where people could try deciphering the texts. The site has numerous parts of the Oxyrhychus Papyrii. Amateur archeologists don't have to know Greek, the language the papyri are written in, because the site also hosts software capable of deciphering the old scrolls. All a person has to do is match the symbols in the photocopy of the papyri and the symbols provided by Ancient Lives. The program will record the user's symbol selection, translate the word and store it for later use.
The huge collection of texts has around 200,000 segments and is dated from around 500 B.C. to A.D. 1000. They contain receipts, letters, plays and other documents and what many believe to be a lost Gospel. Researchers have already found fragments of previously unknown Gospels that include accounts of Jesus casting out demons.
"It's with the digital advancements of our own age, that we're able to open up this window into the past, and see a common human experience in that intimate, traditional medium, handwriting," says lead developer and designer, William MacFarlane of Oxford University's Department of Physics in a statement in the University's website.
The papyri are already changing the way scholars view the gospels. One discovery already reveals an inquiry as to whether the number of the beast referred in the Book of Revelation is actually "616" or "665" as opposed to the widely known "666"
By opening the papyrii to the general public, translating the documents would go much faster as well as giving other people aside from experts an intimate view of past lives.
"Until now only experts could explore this incredible collection," said project leader Dr Chris Lintott of Oxford University's Department of Physics. "With so much of the collection unstudied there's plenty for everyone. We're excited to see what visitors to ancientlives.org can unearth."