Dura-Europos domus ecclesiae? Archaeology, Iconography & MSS

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,936
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The only realistic purpose that I can envision for us here is embodied in this question:

For the structure in question: is the Yale paradigm of a Christian House Church in Dura-Europos REASONABLE based on what we know ?

Based on what we know, IMHO, the only rational answer would be in the affirmative.
You run a bit too much. On the base of the reputation of Norman Garis & Davies I have disputed the existence of Smenkhkare, simply because in one of their works about the tombs at Akhetaten [the capital of Akhenaten, today Tell El Amarna], in particular the tomb of Meryre II, they correctly read the hieroglyphics copied by Lepsius as "Saakare". [?Who?]

To say all, being a Wiki author, I've edited the English page about Smenkhkare [probably a bit too early! I've put the things in the right order there].

Should we doubt of such a source? Yes we should ...

A different researcher, a French guy, copied the same hieroglyphics being well less complete and sure than Lepsius.

In a few words, the excess of certainty of Lepsius made N.G. & D make a terrific mistake [it's like to see Einstein making a mistake!]. Today we know that Lepsius copied the hieroglyphics for "Smenkhkare" in a wrong way, but N.G. & D trusted his work [because in the 99,9% of the occasions Lepsius was accurate].

The difference between the work by Lepsius about the tomb of Meryre II and the work about Dura is that Dura had examined in the XX century by personnel better equipped and prepared [educated]. And we are not reasoning about hieroglyphics, but about lines. Furthermore that work had peer reviewed.

It's easy to say "they were all Christians", also Galileo was Christian and he challenged the Church ...
 

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,145
You run a bit too much. On the base of the reputation of Norman Garis & Davies I have disputed the existence of Smenkhkare, simply because in one of their works about the tombs at Akhetaten [the capital of Akhenaten, today Tell El Amarna], in particular the tomb of Meryre II, they correctly read the hieroglyphics copied by Lepsius as "Saakare". [?Who?]

To say all, being a Wiki author, I've edited the English page about Smenkhkare [probably a bit too early! I've put the things in the right order there].

Should we doubt of such a source? Yes we should ...

A different researcher, a French guy, copied the same hieroglyphics being well less complete and sure than Lepsius.

In a few words, the excess of certainty of Lepsius made N.G. & D make a terrific mistake [it's like to see Einstein making a mistake!]. Today we know that Lepsius copied the hieroglyphics for "Smenkhkare" in a wrong way, but N.G. & D trusted his work [because in the 99,9% of the occasions Lepsius was accurate].

The difference between the work by Lepsius about the tomb of Meryre II and the work about Dura is that Dura had examined in the XX century by personnel better equipped and prepared [educated]. And we are not reasoning about hieroglyphics, but about lines. Furthermore that work had peer reviewed.

It's easy to say "they were all Christians", also Galileo was Christian and he challenged the Church ...
Nah.

I'm not projection that we know anything for certain.

We cannot verify anything. I never said we should not question the sources either.

Only, that it is reasonable, based on what we know, that the DE could be Christian.

It is a pretty simple proposition.
 
Last edited:
May 2011
2,909
Rural Australia
YALE PARADIGM: that the religious room is Christian

I wish to be able to simulate the degree of confidence various parties have with regard to the claim,
first made by Hopkins, that the religious room he discovered was ocuppied by Christians.

Here is the terminology I will be using:

Certain (100%)
Almost Certain (87-99%)
Probable (61-86%)
Chances about EVEN (40-60%)


The following statistical test is a revised version. It is flat. All primary evidence is equal. Again all the items of primary evidence that have been catalogued as being from this religious room are rated between 0 and 100 for the confidence that we may or may not have in regard to the above claim that the item has a "Christian provenance".


Feel free to put your own assessments in and then total them.

If the total percentage > 87% then the claim is "Almost certainly true"
If the total percentage is between 61% and 86% then the claim is "probably true".
If the total percentage < 61% then the claim is as likely as a coin flip to be true.



SAMPLE NUMBER ONE:

I have below provided figures on behalf of the current (Yale) paradigm with a series of very generous estimations.
Others may not think I have been generous. However when these estimates are totalled the figure is 84%.
This is less than almost certain (87-99%).

Would anyone dare to have even more generous assessments so that we can say "almost certain"?



DATA SET 1: Simulating a high degree of confidence that Hopkins was right.

Water Basin - "Baptismal Font" ....88/100

Murals X 7
Y1 David and Goliath ..............77/100
Y2 Adam and Eve ...................77/100
Y3 Shepherd watering a flock ......77/100
Y4 Woman fetching water from well .77/100
Y5 NT: Procession of women ........88/100
Y6 NT: Jesus Healing Paralytic ....88/100
Y7 NT: Jesus Peter Walking on H2O .88/100

Inscriptions X 5
Z1 SISAEUS GRAFITTO XPIC ..........99/100
Z2 PROCLUS GRAFITTO XNIN ..........99/100
Z3 GOD in HEAVEN GRAFITTO .........77/100
Z4 DAVID GRAFITTO .................77/100
Z5 GOLIATH GRAFITTO ...............77/100

TOTALS............................1089/1300

Estimated Probability (Christian Sanctuary) is 84%
 
May 2011
2,909
Rural Australia
It's easy to say "they were all Christians", also Galileo was Christian and he challenged the Church ...
Good point.

What is surmised about the "Early Christians"? The modern scholars postulate a large number of competing Christian sects. Authodoxy arrived with Constantine. How do we identify these earlier different Christian sects? It's a very difficult job. Identification of Christian sects usually resolves, at least in part, to the books that they supposedly preserved, especially those later deemed to be canonical.

For example if DP24 is cited as related to the occupants of this religious room at Dura, then they were in a Christian sect that did not use the four gospels but instead used a "harmony gospel".
 
May 2011
2,909
Rural Australia
DATA SET 2: Hopkins' may not have discovered a Christian chapel

Water Basin - "Baptismal Font" ....50/100

Murals X 7
Y1 David and Goliath ..............50/100
Y2 Adam and Eve ...................50/100
Y3 Shepherd watering a flock ......50/100
Y4 Woman fetching water from well .50/100
Y5 NT: Procession of women ........70/100
Y6 NT: Jesus Healing Paralytic ....70/100
Y7 NT: Jesus Peter Walking on H2O .70/100

Inscriptions X 5
Z1 SISAEUS GRAFITTO XPIC ..........50/100
Z2 PROCLUS GRAFITTO XNIN ..........50/100
Z3 GOD in HEAVEN GRAFITTO .........50/100
Z4 DAVID GRAFITTO .................50/100
Z5 GOLIATH GRAFITTO ...............50/100

TOTALS............................710/1300

Estimated Probability (Christian Sanctuary) is 55% (Coin Flip).
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,936
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Good point.

What is surmised about the "Early Christians"? The modern scholars postulate a large number of competing Christian sects. Authodoxy arrived with Constantine. How do we identify these earlier different Christian sects? It's a very difficult job. Identification of Christian sects usually resolves, at least in part, to the books that they supposedly preserved, especially those later deemed to be canonical.

For example if DP24 is cited as related to the occupants of this religious room at Dura, then they were in a Christian sect that did not use the four gospels but instead used a "harmony gospel".
Which would be the opposite situation of the early Christians who preferred to use the notorious "Source Q" [Q comes from the German word "Quelle" which means just "source"] or the gospel of Mark. In fact, regarding the synoptic gospels the common question is: why were they so similar? If we think to 3 different authors of chronicles collecting information about a personage to write a biography, we will obtain 3 similar biographies, but sure not as similar as the synoptic gospels.

The traditional answers are:

* the evangelists were with Jesus.
* the evangelists wrote after the death of Jesus and used common materials ...
----- or the first Gospel [and here the preference of the scholars falls on the gospel attributed to Mark]
----- or a collection of notes, taken by unknown individuals, which is called "Q Source"

My personal inclination is to think that the synoptic gospels used a collection of notes as reference [so the "Q Source"].
 
May 2011
2,909
Rural Australia
And, to be honest, we don't have any foundational evidence for what a typical Christian wall inscription is.
The foundational evidence follows Traube who collated the use of the Christian nomina sacra in the literary evidence. Typical Christian wall and mosaic inscriptions start in the 4th century (which point was made by Avi Yonah). The logic used by Yale et al is - to the best of my knowledge - that Christians used nomina sacra in manuscripts from a very early stage. They reason that Christian inscriptions would follow the same almost universal rule in the employment of these nomina sacra.

If we had a manuscript lacking the NS then that is one thing. The inscriptions at the DE are something else. They are wall art.
I do not see the inscriptions as art. They represent messengers in the Greek language. In two cases they are labels created in order to explicitly identify David and Goliath. The Proclus inscription is carved into the border of the scene where David is about to behead Goliath. The Sissaeus inscription is another Greek message.

I would maintain that the absence of a line would not definitively tell us that it is not a Christian artifact.
Nothing is certain. It is not impossible that someone left out the overbar. However they would be relegated to "individual freaks". The probability rating imo would plummet from 99% to 50% - especially because there are simple profane explanations for the (overbarless) abbreviations in the Greek inscriptions.

Nevertheless, the final report shows a line over the Proclus Graffito and everyone here can see faint traces of a line, other than the border line, from the pictures over part of the NS.
Did we determine a late date for that photograph?
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,936
Italy, Lago Maggiore
About the matter of the presence of the overbars, we have already discussed the present aspect of the two inscriptions and regarding one we have noted an overbar, regarding the other one, I still waiting for an explanation from Yale why now I cannot see clear overbars. In the final reports there are drawings showing overbars in both the inscriptions.

And if we read the preliminary report [on the right, The Excavations At Dura Europos : M I Rostovtzepf : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive], we note a well less strong certainty about the nomina sacra.

The abbreviation XC is of course common and Traube states that
in Egypt at least since the fourth century, and perhaps since the third
it was in ordinary use A In the papyri and parchments the abbrevia-
tions of sacred names and words are written with the line above to
mark the contraction and that this was also the case at Dura is proved
by the abbreviations written so in the Tatian fragment found in the
sixth campaign. Very possibly, however, in short inscriptions this line
above was not considered necessary. I could find no parallel for the
abbreviation XPIG though XPG is, of course, common.
 

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