Book Description: "Christmas Eve 1994 would have come and gone like any other, had it not been for three tiny papyrus fragments discussed in The Times of London's sensational front-page story. The avalanche of letters to the editor jarred the world into realizing that Matthew d'Ancona's story was as big as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The flood of calls received by Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, the scholar behind the story, and the international controversy that spread like wildfire, give us an inkling as to why the Magdalen Papyrus has embroiled Christianity in a high-stakes tug-of-war over the Bible.
"Thiede and d'Ancona boldly tell the story of two scholars a century apart who stumbled on the oldest known remains of the New Testament--hard evidence confirming that St. Matthew's Gospel is the account of an eyewitness to Jesus. It starts in 1901 when the Reverend Charles B. Huleatt acquires three pieces of a manuscript on the murky antiquities market of Luxor, Egypt. He donates the papyrus fragments to his alma mater, Magdalen College in Oxford, England, where they are kept in a butterfly display case, along with Oscar Wilde's ring. For nearly a century, visitors hardly notice the Matthew fragments, initially dated to a.d.180-200; but after Dr. Thiede redates them to roughly a.d. 60, people flock to the library wanting to behold a first-century copy of the Gospel.
"But what is all the fuss about? How can three ancient papyrus fragments be so significant? How did Thiede arrive at this radical early dating? And what does it mean to the average Christian? Now we have authoritative answers to these pivotal questions. Indeed, the Magdalen Papyrus corroborates the tradition that St. Matthew actually wrote the Gospel bearing his name, that he wrote it within a generation of Jesus' death, and that the Gospel stories about Jesus are true. Some will vehemently deny Thiede's claims, others will embrace them, but nobody can ignore Eyewitness to Jesus.
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