Oldest Gospel Manuscript: Secret Gospel of Mark or the Dead Sea Scrolls? 

New technology has allowed for the recovery of previously unattainable ancient papyrus manuscripts. Among the finds is a fragment of the canonical Gospel of Mark. This fragment is preliminarily dated to around 90 C. E. The find is set to be published sometime in 2015. 

We have heard this type of thing before. The 1950s saw allegations of evidence for a Secret Gospel of Mark, though that turned out to be a hoax. The same time period also saw allegations that ancient biblical manuscripts had been found in the Dead Sea area; we now refer to these documents as The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). Though certain claims about the DSS turned out to be false, (ahem, DaVinci Code), this latter discovery in the Judean Desert turned out to be legitimately game-changing and a continuing source of exciting new research.

This newest find sounds more like the DSS than Morton Smith's Secret Gospel of Mark. Assuming that there are no further delays in publication, P52 may soon be dethroned as the earliest extant New Testament manuscript. Until then, it is too early to draw any reasonable conclusions about the latest find. The James Ossuary controvery suggests that conclusions are rarely definitive, even once the data has been made public. 


What if you are too poor for pop culture? Are you too poor for church culture, too?

Forty-four percent of American adults don't own a smartphone, and 13% don't use the internet. Even for those who have access to the internet, or who have the means to pay for monthly smartphone access, not everyone has the time or inclination to engage in pop culture consumption.*

As much as the internet & social media have changed the face of culture, it has not had the same impact on everyone. As we continue to think about integrating technology into church practice it’d be good to be mindful of who we are excluding. Whether they are excluded from tech-savvy culture by choice or by necessity, a church that privileges technophiles privileges only one segment of the population. 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 bears witness to Christianity’s very human tendency to form exclusionary cliques. It’d be helpful to embrace technology in a way that does not exclude others.

What do you think? What are some best practices that authentically engage new media but don’t put up another barrier between segments of the population?

(*This post was inspired in part by a recent article about being too poor for pop culture. The language is blue, but if that is something you can look past then it is an eye-opening read)


Meat Space & Digital Space: Augmented Reality & the Virtual Body of Christ

If memory shapes self-identity, how does your online presence affect who you are? Do our social media committments bring us closer to a 1st century Mediterranean sense of dyadic personality? Are we living in an age of augmented reality or do we prefer to maintain a senes of digital dualism?

These questions and questions like them are addressed by a series of short videos and articles that have been put together into a presentation of Cyber Christianity on Tumblr. The Cyber Christianity Tumblr is a 30-slide presentation of how the church experience might be reconcieved in light of emerging cyberhuman tendencies. BibleWoot's Pinterest page continues the discussion with a continually-curated pinboard on Cyber Christianity

Assuming that the online world is reshaping our conceptions of self, how does that affect our conception of church? Is the Body of Christ digitally augmented, does it have a virtual self, or is there some other way to be salt and light in the meat space / digital space interface?


Help Crowdsource the Transcription of Oxyrhynchus Papyri

The folks at Oxford would like your help transcribing the Oxyrhynchan Papyri. You don't have to know Greek, and they will walk you through the steps. You can stop and start at your leisure. This is the kind of thing that you will brag about to your grandkids. Click here to take the tutorial, then be on your way to making history. 


PneumAfrica: The Online Journal of African Pentecostal Christianity

"PneumAfrica Journal exists to advance the cause of Christ in Africa through theological reflection on Pentecostal thought and practice.