Wednesday 7 May 2014

Josh McDowell and Antiquitist Accountability

A Mummy mask collapses in a papyrus extraction 'bath'.
That's no way to treat an antiquity, no matter
what's inside. (Screen shot from video of Josh Mc Dowell).
The 'First Century' Gospel of Mark, Josh McDowell, and Mummy Masks: What They All Have in Common', May 04, 2014.
"To continue my posts about private collecting of historical artifacts, I provide below extracts from a video of Josh McDowell contains some highly disturbing comments and images.  [...] The scholarly community needs to be more and more aware of these practices, how these artifacts are being used, and the religious agendas behind it all".
And here are some of those comments, and a summary of some of Brice's own comments on them. In the first highlighted passage, McDowell explicitly reveals where the so-called "first-century" Gospel of Mark came from: a mummy mask. His  statement that "we own them" suggests he is heavily involved in this collection, perhaps financially.
"It was in here that we discovered Mark, the oldest ever: back to the first century. Before then it was 120-142, the John Ryland Papyri [sic]. Now, what you do, you take this mask [chuckles]…Scholars die when they hear it, but we own them so you can do it. You take these manuscripts, we soak them in water. There is a process we use with huge microwaves to do it but it’s not quite as good. We put it down into water at a certain temperature and you can only use Palmolive soap, the rest will start to destroy the manuscripts; Palmolive soap won’t. And you start massaging it for about 30-40 minutes you’ll pull it up and wring it out, literally wring it out, these are worth millions, and you’ll put it back in for 30-45 minutes.”
McDowell finds the next bit, describing the primitive methods he and his fellows used to dismantle an ancient artefact removed from a foreign grave highly amusing:
“And you start pulling it apart. You say, “What?” Yep! They’re layered on top of each other. You start pulling them apart. Most scholars have never touched a manuscript. You have to have gloves on and everything…we just wash them and hold them in our hands. [Laughing] We don’t even make you wash your hands before.”
There is a disturbing attitude of entitlement towards historical artefacts evidenced here. Note that absolutely no mention is made of any kind of recording, what manuscript was where, which other fragments it was in contact with, in what order they had been applied. Apparently private ownership means to collectors like these that anything goes, there is no reverence towards the antiquity, which is seen as a resource to be mined for something else.  In effect McDowell is saying "If we destroy anything in the process of our blundering way of obtaining what we want, so be it. We own them and no one is here to hold us accountable":
“Now, see my hand up in the right hand [of the PowerPoint slide], that’s a pair of tweezers. And you take those tweezers and you start pulling the layers of manuscripts off. I was so scared the first time I did it…'What if you tear it?' They say, 'Well you tear it. Since we own it, it’s OK.'”
Jones points out how McDowell is suggesting the ripping up of ancient artefacts is providing "evidence" with which to counter what he calls "every liberal theology" which reveals his agenda. 

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