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A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book _ which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.
More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text _ through high-tech digital analysis _ from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.
Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book _ a philosophical treatise on ancient religion _ were read years ago, but never officially published.
The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.
Last month, experts from Brigham Young University in Utah used multi-spectral digital analysis to create enhanced pictures of the text, which will be studied by Oxford University papyrologist Dirk Obbink and Pierris, and published by the end of 2007.
"In a way, it was a precursor of Christianity," Pierris said. "Orphism believed that man's salvation depended on his knowledge of the truth."
Originally posted by Nygdan
You're not going to find anything about Orpheus' opinions because he's a fictional character from greek myth. Orpheus, remember, he's the one who could play a musical instrument so well that the rocks would dance down from the mountains to it? He went into the underworld to try to rescue his wife? Orpheus in the Underworld??
Thats where the 'salvation' issue comes from too, he went into the underworld to bring her back.
He actually failed though. The Orphic mysteries are complex. Its too wide a statement to say its a precursor to christianity. That would require that initiates of the Orphic Mystery were involved in early christainity, or that they became invovled with it and radically changed it. Christianity really does seem to stem from Judaism, more so that Orphism, Mithraism, Elusis, etc.
Originally posted by Nygdan
As far as the saviour aspect of dionysus, there are other problems with that. Its possible that these kinds of things have been taken from christianity and incorporated into other religions, such as may be hinted at here:
The 'crucified bacchus/dionysus'. The object's true date isn't known, it may predate or postdate christianity, I think most lean to it postdating it (why would bacchus be killed in such a roman way, for example?). If so, it shows a clear carry-over. Interesting also, coincidentally, that the cross looks like an anchor, which is also a christian symbol.