The National Geographic News is reporting that an ancient Christian prayer book contains an erased commentary on the works of Aristotle. The news report says in part:
At first glance, the manuscript appears to be a medieval Christian prayer book. But on the same pages as the prayers, experts using a high-tech imaging system have discovered commentary likely written in the third century A.D. on a work written around 350 B.C. by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.
The discovery is the third ancient text to emerge from the layers of writing on the much reused pages. In 2002 researchers had uncovered writings by the mathematician Archimedes and the fourth-century B.C. politician Hyperides.
Last year one of the pages was found to contain a famous work by Archimedes about buoyancy that had previously been known only from an incomplete Latin translation.
Project director William Noel, curator of manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, called the latest discovery a "sensational find."
According to the scholars working on the translation of the Greek text, the text may deal with Aristotle’s theory of classification.
The Greek text was probably copied from papyrus scrolls into the parchment. Papyrus was a form of paper or writing material made from papyrus reeds. Parchments were thin leaves made of processed animal skins that were used for writing. Parchment was very expensive and thus it was reused after the old writing was washed out. The process of rewriting new text on used parchments is called palimpsesting.
The article published in the National Geographic News provides a good discussion on the reuse and rewriting of parchments. To read the complete article, click here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Aristotle, Papyrus, Parchment, Scrolls