Monthly Archives: December 2017

Retired educator feeds her community with books

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak, being a champion of early literacy initiatives and tackling hunger in the community in which one lives is a trueauthor-mubarak-carver-city blueprint for happier, safer, and more vibrant communities.

To place her vision in reality, the retired special education teacher, facilitator, and U.S. Army veteran has formed an alliance with Community Food Bank in Fort Worth.

“This alliance was forged in an effort to end hunger in the North Texas region,” Jones-Mubarak said.

As a longtime supporter of the food bank and other community based organizations, Mubarak saw fit to donate 15 percent of all proceeds from her newly published children’s book, titled Carver Park  to the Community Food Bank.

Mubarak said Carver Park is an area that was designated for African-Americans when segregation prevailed as law and as a dominant force in social life in Waco, Texas.

In the book, Mubarak recounts her times in Carver Park and gives readers a perspective of one child who found the vibrancy of life through the harshness of society’s circumstances during that time. The storyline affirms that choice people in our lives provide us with the knowledge and support needed to learn, survive, and progress during a time of great social unrest and historical change, similar to what many marginalized communities may be facing today.

Community Food Bank’s mission serves to fight hunger by providing food, education, and resources to hungry families in a dignified, personal and timely manner. They operate as a food pantry and as a food bank; without ZIP code restrictions.

The educator said the collaboration between Mubarak and the Community Food Bank is the subtle reminder that one person can make a difference, even in the most modest of ways.

Carver Park is available for purchase at www.melaninorigins.com/books/.

Feature photo: Carver Park by Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak. Inset photo: Dr. Jones-Mubarak.

UT Austin professors discover copy of Jesus’ secret revelations to his brother

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Special to Inside The Pew

AUSTIN, Texas — The first-known original Greek copy of a heretical Christian writing describing Jesus’ secret teachings to his brother James has been discovered at Oxford University by biblical scholars at The University of Texas at Austin.

To date, only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library — a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in 1945 in Upper Egypt — ut-autin-biblical-scholars-find-jesus-teachingshave been found in Greek, their original language of composition. But earlier this year, UT Austin religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau added to the list with their discovery of several fifth- or sixth-century Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, which was thought to have been preserved only in its Coptic translations until now.

“To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.”

The ancient narrative describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his brother James, in which Jesus reveals information about the heavenly realm and future events, including James’ inevitable death.

“The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James — secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’ death,” Smith said.

Such apocryphal writings, Smith said, would have fallen outside the canonical boundaries set by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in his “Easter letter of 367” that defined the 27-book New Testament: “No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.”jesus-manuscript-smith-landau

With its neat, uniform handwriting and words separated into syllables, the original manuscript was probably a teacher’s model used to help students learn to read and write, Smith and Landau said.

“The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots. Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts,” said Landau, a lecturer in the UT Austin Department of Religious Studies.

The teacher who produced this manuscript must have “had a particular affinity for the text,” Landau said. It does not appear to be a brief excerpt from the text, as was common in school exercises, but rather a complete copy of this forbidden ancient writing.

Smith and Landau announced the discovery at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Boston in November and are working to publish their preliminary findings in the Greco Roman Memoirs series of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Featured photo: A piece of the Coptic translation of the First Apocalypse of James preserved in the Nag Hammadi Library. Rights to published images of the original Greek fragments are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society and currently unavailable for circulation. (Nag Hammed Library, Oxford University).

Inset: Geoffrey Smith, left, and Brent Landau take a closer look at the Greek fragment identified as the First Apocalypse of James. (Courtesy of Geoffrey Smith, UT Austin).