Creators of the Bible could have pinched some of its best lines from ancient curse tablets, a new study has revealed.
Theology experts began by studying the language of the tablets, highly popular in ancient Greece and Rome for at least 500 years before Jesus’s birth.
Then they compared them to phrases used in the earliest versions of the Bible and found amazing similarities.
Dr Michael Hoelscher – from the Faculty of Catholic Theology – led the project through Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany.
And he highlighted one example from the New Testament’s Book of Revelation.
Dr Hoelscher is quoted in a statement obtained by Newsflash from JGU as saying: “In Revelation, we find wording and phrases that are very similar to those that appeared on curse tablets, although no actual verbatim quotations from the latter appear.
But he picked out one particular quote from Revelation using curse tablet wording saying: “Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”
The use of language was, says Dr Hoelscher, so similar that early followers would have linked the Bible chapter with the tablets.
He explained: “There are aspects of curse tablet-related inscriptions and practices in Revelation.
“This may well have been an indirect expression of the need for segregation and the attempt at self-preservation of an often threatened early Christian community.
“The Book of Revelation contributes to the process of self-discovery, the seeking of a distinctive identity by a Christian minority in a world dominated by a pagan Roman majority that rendered routine homage not only to the emperor but also to the main Roman gods.
“It is possible that those who read or listened to the words of the Apocalypse of John could readily have seen whole passages, single phrases, or concepts in the light of curse spells.”
Curse tablets – widely used by all levels of society – were carved on thin sheets of lead and spread throughout the whole Roman Empire, including Egypt and Britain.
People would inscribe their curses invoking the gods to grant them revenge and throw the tablets into rivers or wells.
About 1,700 curse tables dating to between 500 BC and 500 AD have been collected in the past 300 years, says JGU.
JGU said: “In other words, the rituals were being performed over about 1,000 years in a region stretching from the Mediterranean to the far north of Europe.”