Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Lead Codices and Wednesday Last Suppers

And so, conveniently timed for Easter, a metallurgist with a book to plug tells us that the Last Supper was on a Wednesday.

According to Prof Colin Humphreys, the day of the week of the Last Supper is "the thorniest problem in the Gospels". I would have said not. The Virginal Conception, the accounts and motives of Judas and the discrepancies between the accounts of the Resurrection are all thornier in my opinion, and all more likely to provide fruitful theological reflection. A little matter of dating is the least of my worries. And dragging in an obsolete lunar calendar seems about as unnecessary as arguing that the issue can be resolved by a simple matter of time-travelling. How very metallurgical to get so obsessive about something so minor.

The more usual resolution to the problem, if you're interested, is to say that for theological reasons John deliberately moves the date of the Crucifixion so that Jesus dies at the same time as the Passover Lambs. It fits in with the prevalent view of John as later, more reflective, more explicitly theological (because all the Gospels are the results of, among other things, deep theological reflection). However, as they say on the BBC, other excellent views are available. Some people date John quite early and regard him as more "historical" in the modern sense. And even to fret about such a thing as accurate dating is a product of a modern mind-set. For what it's worth, if you like both total consistency and simplicity, maybe they just had the Passover meal a day early at John Mark's house because Jesus knew he would be otherwise engaged the next day. Now you've just got to deal with the time at which the Crucifixion took place - 9 or 12.

Although there is an alternative, alternative view. It's worth pointing out that Marillion dated the Last Supper to Good Friday. An idea which, in my opinion, is totally Fugazi.

To be fair to Prof Humphreys, I've not read his book. So I'm on as much dodgy ground here as the people who criticized Love Wins last month. But, fairly or not, I'm drawing a straight line through last year's "Super-Sized last Supper" and 2008's "Judas and Pilate are innocent".

Far be it from me, with my degree in Quantum Chemistry and background in bar codes and health 'n' safety, to tell the Good Prof what to do. But if he's videogenic enough perhaps he could do a series with Professor Francesca? Or he could put  his metallurgic knowledge to some really good use and explain how those old codices, which according to the Daily Mail could be the sealed scrolls of Revelation1, managed to go rusty, instead of the colour of lead or copper oxide. I'm just a Chemist and I'm sure they've aged the wrong colour.

So while I'm suggesting the solution to Biblical controversies this morning, I'd like to make my suggestion about the Jordanian codices. Based on the image at Wikipedia - I reckon they're the first generation of Nintendo DS. The one where the graphics weren't so good.

1 Did they really write that?

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