Then and Now

This has not been a good week for the University of Chicago.  One of its prize manuscripts — the Archaic Mark, a magnificent copy of Mark’s Gospel thought to have been from the 14th century — was just proven a forgery.


The ongoing debate as to the codex’s authenticity re-ignited in 2006 with its digitisation, giving international experts an opportunity to examine the work closely for the first time….

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[Joseph] Barabe conducted a material and elemental analysis on Archaic Mark which involved the use of a wide variety of techniques including x-ray diffraction, raman spectroscopy, polarised light, x-ray spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. He was particularly interested in determining whether the codex had undergone an earlier restoration which would account for the presence of various “modern” shades of blue including synthetic ultramarine blue—a material not available until the 1820s. He found no evidence of a prior restoration and most importantly determined that the white colour used contained the pigment lithopone which was not available until 1874, thereby setting an 1874 terminus post quem date for the codex. Carbon dating was used to determine that the canvas dates from the mid 16th century.

You can read about the entire study in the current issue of Novum Testamentum.

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If you enjoyed Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s GOP response last night, you might enjoy his views on booze. He spoke with about his plans to reform the state’s liquor laws.


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Did you know President Obama has a personal FaceBook page?



  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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