The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Archaeology Seems to Confirm Early Christian Presence in Egypt

Archaeologists conducting excavations at Fag el-Gamous in Egypt have made some interesting discoveries that conflict with what many "experts" have long believed. The archaeologists have uncovered some 1,700 graves dating back to the time of Christ and earlier. Christian artifacts found in the graves, plus a rather sudden change in orientation in which the deceased were buried with their heads facing the east indicate a strong Christian presence in Egypt around the end of the 1st century, several hundred years earlier than most scholars previously thought.

According to C. Wilfred Griggs, the Brigham Young University archaeologist who has directed the dig for the past 30 years, the artifacts uncovered include crosses, fish and other figurines that would appear to be early examples of Christian iconography. If his conclusions are correct, and it appears they probably are, the history of the spread of early Christianity will have to be rewritten. Details on the archaeologists' work are located here: BYU Diggers Rewriting History in Egypt.


Archaeologists uncovering a mummy in a grave at Fag el-Gamous

This is one more example of archaeological evidence seeming to confirm what Tradition has told us all along. St. Mark, for example, is said to have died in the first century in Alexandria, while Tradition says St. Matthias died in Ethiopia. Their presence would indicate Christian evangelization taking place in northeast Africa just decades after Christ's death and resurrection. And we also have the event described in Acts 8:26-39 in which Philip baptizes the eunuch, an important official in the court of the Ethiopian queen. It's no accident that the Holy Spirit sent Philip to evangelize him just as the eunuch was passing through Gaza and about to enter Egypt. Reread this wonderful passage. Can't you just picture this newly baptized Ethiopian preaching the Good News as he traveled through Egypt on his way home in the south?

Of course, many scholars prefer to disregard early Church Tradition and even its supporting Scriptural references, preferring instead to assume that anything written in those early days of the Church was at best a gross exaggeration. How sad that they leave their faith, or what's left of it, behind when they enter Holy Scripture or experience the Church's long-held Tradition.

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