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25th of February 2018

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Ancient Version of Book of Acts Finally Being Decoded, and There May Be a Bonus Discovery

Experts at the University of Iowa are finally able to look at the pages of a badly damaged ancient manuscript that is believed to be the Biblical book of Acts.

The manuscript known as M.910 arrived at New York City's Morgan Library in the early 1960s. 

Iowa Public Radio reports the manuscript was originally recorded by Coptic monks in Egypt roughly 1,500 years ago.

But researchers had no way of examining the fragile, damaged book, which was sealed together by water and fire damage, until now.

University of Kentucky computer scientist W. Brent Seales and University of Iowa early Christianity scholar Paul Dilley are using the same process that was used to decode the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Their new x-ray images of the manuscript are still being processed and examined.

But it's not just the Book of Acts that's hidden in the previously unaccessed manuscript.

Melville House writes, "It likely also contains another text, and it is this text that has Dilley and other scholars of early Christianity curious, as it could provide another piece in the puzzle of the formation of the New Testament."

Dr. Melissa Moreton, a manuscript historian at the Iowa Center for the Book, wrote a blog post about the codex called: Revealing the Secrets of an Early Coptic Manuscript.

She writes, "The manuscript is too fragile to be opened and is unreadable due to the water and heat damage it has suffered. The manuscript is also extremely warped creating wave-like sheets – which is common with water and heat damaged parchment."

Fascinating blog post by my friend Melissa Moreton at the Iowa Center for hte Book: Revealing the Secrets of an Early Coptic Manuscript @UICtrBook https://t.co/ZXLIR0LwwK pic.twitter.com/LWn3SonVTl

— Karen Christianson (@KACNewberry) January 7, 2018

Moreton helped the team recreate a prototype of the manuscript to help with their project.

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