A team lead by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio have found what may be the earliest reference to Jesus Christ. A bowl found in the the underwater ruins of Alexandria's ancient great harbor has wording that could have been about Christ.
The bowl is dated to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D. With the words "DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS" it is possible that the bowl could be a reference to Jesus Christ. If this is the case many modern Christians will be shocked at the translation, "by Christ the magician" or, "the magician by Christ."
The bowl could mean that the earliest form of Christianity was intertwined with paganism.
"It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic," Goddio, co-founder of the Oxford Center of Maritime Archaeology, said.
The bowl was found as the team excavated the underground ruins of Alexandria's ancient harbour. The site in Egypt also could include the place of Cleopatra.
The team that also includes Egyptologist David Fabre, a member of the European Institute of Submarine Archaeology, believe that a "magnus" used the bowl while practicing fortune telling rituals.
"It has been known in Mesopotamia probably since the 3rd millennium B.C.," Fabre said. "The soothsayer interprets the forms taken by the oil poured into a cup of water in an interpretation guided by manuals."
Fabre goes on to explain that the "medium" would then go into a hallucinatory trance while studying the oil that was in the cup. The team theorizes that the magus could have invoked the name of Christ while going through this ritual.
Goddio said, "It is very probable that in Alexandria they were aware of the existence of Jesus" and of his associated legendary miracles, such as transforming water into wine, multiplying loaves of bread, conducting miraculous health cures, and the story of the resurrection itself.
It is yet still possible that the bowl has nothing to do with the man that we now refer to as Jesus Christ. Bert Smith of Oxford University has suggested that the engraving could refer to "Chrestos" belonging to a possible religious association called Ogoistais.
The bowl is currently being displayed at the Matadero Cultural Center in Madrid, Spain. It will be there until November 15.