(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at the Johannes Guttenberg University in Mainz, Germany, used artificial intelligence to analyze the Book of Revelation and unexpectedly found fragments of curses that were characteristic of ancient tablets.
The Book of Revelation is the last book of the New Testament and is also called the Apocalypse of John. It covers three literary genres: epistolary, apocalyptic and prophetic.
The book is believed to have been written around the 1st century AD.
Authorship is usually attributed to John the Theologian, but this fact has not been reliably established; for many years it has been the subject of academic disputes. The author of the work called himself simply – John.
In a new study, scientists used the power of artificial intelligence to reanalyze the text. As a result, the AI identified fragments in the Book of Revelation that are characteristic of curse tablets.
As a rule, curses were scratched out on thin lead plates. Then they were pierced with a nail and thrown into the sacrificial well. A few years ago, such a well with hundreds of curse tablets was discovered in Athens.
Sometimes the tablets were buried in the ground or placed in tombs, it happened that they were nailed into the walls of underground temples.
Analyzing the phrases, the authors of the new study found that curses left a noticeable mark in the text of the Book of Revelation.
“Perhaps those who read or listened to the Apocalypse of John easily recognized entire passages or individual phrases from curses,” says study co-author Dr. Michael Hoelscher.
“There are clear traces of practices associated with tablets in the Book of Revelation.
This could well be an indirect expression the need for segregation and the attempt at self-preservation of the early Christian community, which was often under threat.”
Scientists note that in the Book of Revelation they found only formulations and phrases very similar to those known from curse tablets. But there are no verbatim quotes in the book.
As an example, Hoelscher cites the description of an angel who throws a huge stone into the sea with the words: “With such force the great city of Babylon will be defeated, and it will no longer exist.”
According to Hoelscher, this can be regarded as a kind of curse ritual.
Those people who would have read or heard such words at that time could well relate them directly to the routine use of curse tablets with which they were intimately familiar.
In addition, the study found that in the Book of Revelation, Roman rule and the cult of the emperor are portrayed as demonic, satanic phenomena, from which the Christian minority sought to isolate itself.
“The book of Revelation promotes a process of self-discovery, a search for a distinctive identity by a Christian minority in a world dominated by a pagan Roman majority that pays routine respect not only to the emperor, but also to the main Roman gods,” sums up Hoelscher.
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