How Christianity subverted archaeology and historiography

Archaeological stratigraphy at the Iron Age site of Goosehill Camp on Bow Hill, England.

Reader emails tell me how there is some confusion (if not lack of understanding) for my basic argument, that artefacts - textual included - belong to the cultural layer in which they are found. If perchance they have no such context (as with many "sacred texts" using nomina sacra and/or Chrest), then their cultural layer will be understood as the culture which made and used the artefact.

Archaeology can be described as studying cultural layers, so this principle should be readily understood by all in that field. For everyone else:
Stratigraphy is a key concept to modern archaeological theory and practice. Modern excavation techniques are based on stratigraphic principles. The concept derives from the geological use of the idea that sedimentation takes place according to uniform principles. When archaeological finds are below the surface of the ground (as is most commonly the case), the identification of the context of each find is vital in enabling the archaeologist to draw conclusions about the site and about the nature and date of its occupation. It is the archaeologist's role to attempt to discover what contexts exist and how they came to be created. Archaeological stratification or sequence is the dynamic superimposition of single units of stratigraphy, or contexts.
Contexts are single events or actions that leave discrete, detectable traces in the archaeological sequence or stratigraphy. They can be deposits (such as the back-fill of a ditch), structures (such as walls), or "zero thickness surfaciques," better known as "cuts." Cuts represent actions that remove other solid contexts such as fills, deposits, and walls. An example would be a ditch "cut" through earlier deposits. Stratigraphic relationships are the relationships created between contexts in time, representing the chronological order they were created. (Emphasis mine.)

Some principles:
  • A cultural layer beneath another is older, and vice versa.
  • If an artefact of a more recent cultural layer is deliberately pushed into an older, lower layer, this is fraud.
  • Proper examination of the cultural layer can usually date that layer and thus, help date artefacts found in that layer.
  • Proper examination of an artefact may include one or more scientific dating methods, which may help date both the cultural layer and the date of manufacture of the artefact (which may be earlier than the layer itself).
  • An artefact presented outside of any context (e.g. somebody turns up at a museum with an artefact and the experts cannot study the cultural layer in which the 'finder' claims to have found it), has lost most of its informational value.
A textual artefact such as a fragment of papyri or leather, with writing upon it, may be regarded as containing a number of layers, each with its own date:
  • The medium used to carrying the writing. For papyrus, this is when the plant was cut and died; for leather, this is when the animal was killed for its skin. This date may be measurably before anyone wrote on it, or even prepared it for writing.
  • The writing. If ink was used, it may be possible to (a) date the ink, and/or (b) analyse it for its chemical composition - and this may help in dating.
The parchments used commonly in monastic scriptoria were relatively expensive, which encouraged them to re-use them as often as possible. Also as agreed theology changed, so the wording of an old text may have needed to be altered. For these reasons, numerous texts produced by the Roman Church contain their own layers, the older ones perhaps revealed by modern technology.
Codex Hierosolymitanus, an 11th-century Greek manuscript written by an unknown scribe named Leo, who dated it 1056. Researchers found that the parchment had once contained ancient philosophical writings that had later been washed off and over-written. Using multispectral imaging, scientists have been able to recover the original text, shedding new light on the history of philosophical education in the late antiquity.

In the above example, there are a number of layers: the parchment - when the animal was killed and when it was made; then the Greek philosophy was written onto the parchment; when this was hidden and overwritten. As the two sets of writing are significantly different in character, one may suppose that each belonged to a different culture (the earlier being a part of the culture which produced the parchment, the later belonging to  monastic culture which hid the earlier before over-writing).

Scholars claim that the most-altered text in existence is what some think to be the earliest known version of the New Testament, Codex Sinaiticus:
The codex is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of the New Testament, along with that of the Codex Vaticanus.
The Codex Sinaiticus came to the attention of scholars in the 19th century at the Saint Catherine's Monastery, with further material discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries. Although parts of the Codex are scattered across four libraries around the world, most of the manuscript today resides within the British Library.
The codex has been corrected many thousands of times, making it one of the most corrected manuscripts in existence...
This codex therefore has no provenance before the 19th century. Though studied by leading scholars, no attempt has ever been made to date it reliably;  its date so far is merely a matter of judgement, largely on the style of writing (paleography), which is notoriously unreliable for sacred texts (if only because of Christendom's desire to move them back in time, closer to its divine man).

I was the first to point out that the title Christ was added by an unknown hand, at an unknown place and later, though at an unknown time; the title had been spelt originally as Chrest. This series of alterations is quite easy to see - the Greek "H" (in English "E") has been scratched to become "I" - the "eta" of Chrest became "iota" to read Christ.

The example, left, first read: make me a Chrestian.

The original New Testament therefore likely belongs to an earlier and older culture, one which is Chrestian rather than Christian

This older, Chrestian religious culture pre-dates Christianity and its textual artefacts match well the other, numerous artefacts and archaeological sites of Chrest and Chrestianity.

This demonstrates how a reliable history needs to use the same, basic rules of archaeology in order to establish a proper chronology and context with which to work.

This applies equally to the treatment of the numerous 'histories' produced by the Roman Church (whether Chrestian, or Christian), supposedly in the 6th century, which is how I term them a 'textual tradition' rather than a history.

I must add comment on the issue of trust, for this is often raised by believers. The earliest known texts bearing the name (claimed authorship of) "Augustine of Hippo" belong to the 6th century; they were and are claimed to be copies of earlier, which do not exist. Scholars of faith say they trust the claim of the author, but they have addressed the wrong question, because nobody now knows who penned the purported copies - we don't know who that was, or when, where or even under whose authority. The question is thus not whether one trusts the purported Augustine of Hippo, but the unknown hand who penned the claim. As nobody knows anything about this person(s), there is no reason to even consider trust in that regard.

The only proper approach for such texts is to look at the cultural layer in which the purported author is supposed to have existed and see if this person existed, and if they did, whether what we may learn of this person is in accord with the later text. Nobody does this, probably because they see no reason to (they have faith and anyway, they also are driven by self-interest).

For most if not all the claimed authors of this textual tradition, there is little or no evidence that they exist in the cultural layer claimed; that is, the supposed histories written under these names belong entirely to the period in which the oldest, extant copies belong. I hope that by now, you will follow the simple logic of this argument.

Yesterday, I posted to my site this subject page: Eusebius of Caesarea as myth
It will demonstrate to you I hope and expect, how much of the purported history for Classical Antiquity is actually mythological - and this fraud was perpetrated by those abusing the simple rules of both archaeology and historiography.

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