Bernard Mulholland, The man from MENSA - 1 of 600: Mensa research

Bernard Mulholland, The man from MENSA - 1 of 600: Mensa research
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Nazareth Quest - lecture notes for teachers: 1. Explanatory comments on archaeology, demons, and climate change

Bernard Mulholland, Nazareth Quest (2022).

Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Nazareth Quest - lecture notes for teachers: 1. Explanatory comments on archaeology, demons, and climate change

Bernard Mulholland, Nazareth Quest (2022).

Author's comment: This is the first in what is hoped to be a series of explanatory notes providing readers with more insight into the novel, writing of the novel, its content, the research underpinning the content, and perhaps also some information about the author from time to time as well. This particular note was in the form of an email sent to the Oxford University Byzantine Society in January 2023.

Dear editor, 

If you can spare a few moments, I would like to introduce you to my novel Nazareth Quest (2022). The novel is actually nonfiction, but, because it hasn’t happened yet, it is labelled as fiction.

Background: about a decade ago, Ken Dark invited me to work on his Nazareth project due my research into the archaeology of the Early Byzantine Christian Church, and his own work at this site has also now been published as The Sisters of Nazareth Convent (2021).

After my first year working at the Convent, I wrote up a half-dozen suggestions for follow-up investigative work based upon my observations, and explained the reasoning behind these in preparation for my return the following year.

However events conspired to prevent me returning, and, as Ken concluded his project that year, this further work was not carried out.

A few years later, I decided that, as it seemed unlikely I would again get to work at the Convent, I would transform this report into a novel in which this archaeological work formed the focus.

And so to the purpose of my email.


Further research


There are at least two areas of research described in the novel that I think are on a scale worthy of Oxford University, and I’d like to briefly outline these so that you might share them, if you want to, with other members of the Oxford University Byzantine Society to see whether they, or their peers, might want to conduct this research.


1. The Cave. The Convent of the Sisters of Nazareth appears to be constructed over the remains of an Early Byzantine triapsidal church. There is a schematic of the Convent overlaid across a drawing of the original 5th-6th century church in the covered walkway leading from the Convent’s courtyard to the garden at the rear of the Convent. The modern Convent church is aligned north-south, but the original church was aligned roughly east-west with the remains of the three apses now beneath the new church, although little remains of that original church.

After the nuns bought the site they conducted intermittent excavation before constructing the Convent. A thick concrete platform was placed to protect the underlying archaeology, and the Convent constructed on top of the platform.

The surviving archaeology can be divided into two parts; (i) the remains of a circa 1st century dwelling and Second Temple tomb that lie directly beneath the Convent buildings, and (ii) a large cave that lies beneath the garden to the rear of the Convent and that has a hole in its roof allowing light in from the garden area.

It is the cave that I would like to draw to your attention.

There is evidence that the cave was in use during both the Crusader and Byzantine periods. After the church was destroyed and the site abandoned, however, it seems that the cave was subject to regular flooding events, and there is evidence around the walls that the cave had been filled up to a height of some three metres with lime run-off and debris from the surrounding limestone countryside. There is a strong likelihood that this periodic flooding resulted in the walls and floor of the cave adding a layer of hardened lime scale year-on-year such that the original surface is now concealed beneath a hardened layering or accretion.

If this analysis is correct, then there is a strong possibility that original wall paintings and/or a mosaic pavement are preserved beneath this accretion waiting to be rediscovered and revealed.

My novel describes how to test the floor of the cave for a concealed mosaic pavement, but, for wall paintings, one suspects art historians might like to apply other methods.

Also, the age of the cave is not known, and so, if the cave underwent periodic inhabitation and use, it is entirely possible that there is concealed pre-Christian wall art beneath the accumulated layering of lime scale.

I would argue that this cave is worth a further visit.


2. Demons. It is important here to differentiate between fiction and scientific observation. The novel explains much of the rationale for this research, but I can outline some key points here.

For ease of access, Francis Barrett’s The Magus provides an introduction to this topic.

Barrett describes two main categories of ‘demon’.

He provides illustrations of the first category, and it is almost certain he is alluding to comets and/or meteors. His tome was published about a decade after a large number of comets had visited the inner solar system and, as described by Mike Baillie in Exodus to Arthur and McCafferty and Baillie in The Celtic Gods, Medieval observers drew these visitors as bearded men. Of interest here is that around this time a fleet of some 400 fishing boats disappeared off the Co. Down coast to cause  a significant economic impact, and the cause is almost certainly due to a meteorite strike in the Irish Sea.

However, it is the second category that the novel addresses, and describes an avenue of potential research. Barrett describes good and bad demons, and refers to ‘genius’ being due to interaction with the former. For Byzantinists the interest here comes from ‘demon traps’ in the form of intercolumniation panels set into the pavement of Early Christian churches between columns that separate the nave from the side aisles. These panels often depicted three-dimensional patterns that were said to confuse and trap ‘demons’ so as to protect the sanctity of the church sanctuary.

The question arising is whether these ‘demon traps’ were introduced as a result of scientific observations made by clergy over many years, or whether the concept just falls into the category of old wives tales? And then, if these clergy have observed ‘demons’, what are they? We have evidence that these same clergy did not seem overly concerned about these ‘demons’, otherwise they would have placed these ‘demon traps’ at the entrance to the church premises to prevent these ‘demons’ from entering the building or the atrium in front of the church entrance. In fact, the location of these ‘demon traps’ as intercolumniations placed between each row of columns separating the side aisles from the church nave indicates that the clergy were prepared to allow these ‘demons’ to access the atrium and enter the church building to stand in each of the side aisles together with other congregants. What does that say about these ‘demons’? The only area of the church prohibited to ‘demons’ was the nave and church sanctuary. This information flies in the face of modern interpretations of demons in the media and the horror genre.

We might ask whether these ‘demons’, as observed by Christian clergy, are humans, a sub-category of humans, a new species of Homo Sapiens, or just a category of normal humanity with some psychological or mental health issues.  

Either way, in the modern era it is entirely possible to conduct research of the type described in the novel to test the whole concept of ‘demons’.

Having said that, it would make sense, as observed in the novel, to maintain a degree of separation between those conducting the research and those controlling it, i.e. it’s best not to fraternise with demons at this point as you don’t know where they’ve been!

I hope this hasn’t put you off considering the other research referenced in the novel? And, as a bonus, here’s a third avenue of potential research.


3. There is a third area of research, and not unrelated, that is also worthy of consideration. You can access and read more about this on my Academia profile here:

Mulholland, B. (2021). 'Can archaeology inform the climate change debate?' Academia Letters, Article4385. 

#highereducation #Ireland #Mensa #thrillers #mystery #horror #occult #demons #Crusades #Templars #Hospitallers #politics #archaeology #history #Byzantine #Christianity #Church #liturgy #climatechange #globalwarming #COP 

Available to purchase from good book stores, and also:

Bernard Mulholland, Nazareth Quest (2022).

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar

Grateful for this notice from the Oxford University Byzantine Society. This is a prestigious seminar series that offer considerable insight into this rich and varied research area.

In brief:

Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar

Hilary Term 2023

Time: Wednesdays, 5pm

Venue: Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles & on-line on Microsoft Teams: Click here to join the meeting

Conveners: Marc Lauxtermann, Ine Jacobs, Ida Toth



(W1) 18 January Joshua Hitt (St Hilda’s College), ‘The Poetics of Age in Twelfth-Century Byzantine Literature’

(W2) 25 January Olivier Delouis (Maison Française d’Oxford), ‘Teaching Greek grammar to one’s son: an unpublished manual by Nikolaos Artabasdos Rabdas (14th c.)’

(W3) 1 February Kateryna Kovalchuk (Wolfson College), ‘The Diegesis: a Hagiographical Text for Commemoration of the Encaenia of Hagia Sophia’

(W4) 8 February Yan Zaripov (St Hilda’s College), ‘Theodore Prodromos’ Epigrams on the Old and New Testament: Narrative, Rhetoric, and Classical Mimesis’

(W5) 15 February Lilyana Yordanova (Ecole française d’Athènes), ‘In the name of the ...lotus? Reinventing Christian monumental art and elite culture in the long 15th century’

(W6) 22 February Robert Wizniewski (Univ. of Warsaw), ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire? Clerics and their income in Late Antiquity’

(W7) 1 March Nikos Zagklas (Univ. of Vienna), ‘Τhe Cinderella of Byzantine Literature: Rethinking Schedography in Middle and Late Byzantine Periods

(W8) 8 March Zachary Chitwood (Univ. of Mainz), ‘A Cloister for the (Grand) Komnenoi: Dynastic Rivalry and Memoria at the Foundation of Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos’

Tom Alexander
Secretary, Oxford University Byzantine Society (OUBS), 2022-3.

#highereducation #Byzantine #Byzantiun #Oxford #Rome #Medieval #art #archaeology #history

Analekta Stagōn kai Meteōrōn - Analecta Stagorum et Meteororum

Grateful to AIEB for this notice.

New Scientifc Journal: Analekta Stagōn kai Meteōrōn - Analecta Stagorum et Meteororum

Dear Scholars of Byzantium,
My colleagues and I would like to bring to your attention the publication of the first issue of Analekta Stagōn kai Meteōrōn - Analecta Stagorum et Meteororum. It is a new biennial scientific journal dedicated to the history and heritage of the monastic community of Meteora, published by the Academy of the Metropolis of Stagoi and Meteora. Its first, celebratory issue aspires to open new horizons in the study of this preeminent cradle of Orthodox monasticism, through interdisciplinarity and different conceptions of monastic culture. It features research as diverse as the history of Thessaly under the Serbs, collections of Russian artefacts, the practice of monastic confinement during the Ottoman period, and the history of printing.
As a closing note, I am sharing with you the link to our page:
On behalf of the editorial team

#highereducation #research #postdoc #PhD #Art #archaeology #history #Byzantine #Byzanz #Byzantium #Medieval #blog #blogger 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Open-access databases of the National Hellenic Research Foundation

Grateful to AIEB for this notice.

Open-access databases of the National Hellenic Research Foundation

The Institute of Historical Research (IHR) of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF) provides open access to 16 databases concerning Byzantine History and especially Byzantine Greece: on the scrutiny of a large body of primary and secondary sources by members of the Section of Byzantine Research of the IHR/NHRF and associated scholars, the databases provide various search possibilities in certain types of texts (historiography and hagiography) and in specific topics (e.g. gastronomy, bookbinding, imported ceramics, raw materials, natural resources and agricultural products, domestic and wild fauna, Greek merchants), as well as a catalogue of the Byzantine documents kept in the archives of the monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos, notes found in manuscripts of the same monastery, the diplomatic transcriptions of Greek post-Byzantine documents kept in the archives of the monasteries of Mount Athos, a gazetteer of late Byzantine conflicts, a prosopographical index (for the Venetian colonies in Greece), a catalogue of western religious orders in Greece. Of special note is the “Kyrtou Plegmata” platform, which offers search possibilities in the trade and communication networks in and around Greece from Prehistory to the 19th c. 

The IHR/NHRF also provides open access to a number of e-books regarding Byzantine History: 

#highereducation #research #postdoc #PhD #Art #archaeology #history #Byzantine #Byzanz #Byzantium #Medieval #blog #blogger  

Thursday, December 29, 2022

New online resource: Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism

New online resource: Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism


The ERC project Purism in Antiquity: Theories of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy (PURA), based at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, is delighted to announce the opening of its Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism (DEA), accessible at www.atticism.euDEA collects our work on the lexicographic entries in the Atticist lexica and their linguistic history; the major scholars and works of the ancient and Byzantine Atticist debate; and the transmission of the lexica in the medieval and early modern periods. All contents are open access, peer-reviewed, and are published under a Creative Commons license. At the moment, DEA contains 50 entries dealing with Greek words or linguistic phenomena discussed in Atticist lexica. Each entry is divided into an initial section that collects Greek texts in English translation, and a second section that contains a philological and linguistic commentary on the use of the lemma throughout the history of Greek (Ancient, Byzantine, and Modern Greek where appropriate). A search tool allows users to search the content of these entries. User guides provide assistance in navigating the various sections of the site.In the future, DEA will open its sections Scholars & works, and Transmission: Manuscripts & Editions. Other instalments of lexicographic entries will be uploaded throughout the lifespan of the project. DEA has been made possible by an ERC Consolidator grant (grant agreement no. 865817) and by collaboration with the Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities. Contents have been created with the Cadmus program, developed by Daniele Fusi. Our partners include the Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale “A. Zampolli” – CNR Pisa, a member of the Clarin-IT cluster, and Edizioni Ca’ Foscari – Venice University Press. We also acknowledge the invaluable collaboration of PURA's Advisory board.The PURA team hope that this resource will be useful to all those interested in the use of the Greek language, its evolution, and ancient theories about linguistic correctness. Much of our work may be of interest to scholars working on Byzantine literature, scholarship and linguistic history, so we encourage you to visit DEA.

#highereducation #research #postdoc #PhD #Art #archaeology #history #Byzantine #Byzanz #Byzantium #Medieval #blog #blogger 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas Letter 2022 from the International Association of Patristic Studies

As we collectively turn our minds to celebrating and commemorating a number of religious festivals at this time of year it is perhaps appropriate to share this Christmas message from the International Association of Patristic Studies - Association Internationale D'Études Patristiques. Wishing everybody a Merry Christmas and a truly Happy New Year.

Dear Members of AIEP,

The holiday season always invites us to reflect on how we have used the time that God has given us. This is undoubtedly necessary and beneficial both on a personal and institutional level. The AIEP Executive Committee also believe it is important that we reflect, in order to make our members aware of the great effort we are undertaking to update and modernize our association. This effort also implies an immense challenge, which is not to lose sight of the mission AIEP’s founders entrusted us with “to promote the study of Christian antiquity, especially the Church Fathers, and to connect all academics dedicated to this fascinating field of study.”

Some of the tasks carried out this year are:

Enhancing our Youtube channel with interesting videos on "Research in Patristic Studies in the 21st century: Challenges, Possibilities and New Methods". Also continuing with the section dedicated to thanking members who have contributed significantly to expanding AIEP.

Updating our database and email addresses so as to provide all members with useful information regarding the field of Patristic Studies. This task has been and continues to be difficult and for this reason we apologize to some AIEP members who have not received this information properly.

Remodeling our website, which will allow all members of our association to find information referring to the immense production carried out by AIEP members more efficiently.

Keeping the Facebook group updated, which is undoubtedly a way of linking and generating friendship among AIEP members.

These tasks would have been impossible without the help of Fernando Soler, Paolo Bernardini, Alyson Nunez and Margrethe Kamille Birkler. We also want to especially thank the National Correspondents of the 54 countries in which AIEP is present, for helping us disseminate information regarding activities related to Patristic Studies and for connecting members of their country.

Next year, we will continue to improve these activities already begun and start new and challenging initiatives. Finally, we would like to thank all AIEP members for their continued support and friendship and share with you some of the many reflections on Christmas that the Fathers and the great authors of Early Christianity offer us as strength and spiritual nourishment: 

Augustine of Hippo: (Sermon 185, 1)

Wake up: God has become man for you. Wake up, you who sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will be your light. For you precisely, God has become man. You would have died forever, if he had not been born in time." 

Leo the Great, Pope (Sermon on the Nativity of the Lord 1, 13)

«Today, dear brothers, our Savior has been born; Let us rejoice. There can be no place for sadness, when life has just been born; the same one that ends the fear of mortality and instills in us the joy of the promised eternity”.

Ce message vous est envoyé par le canal du service d'informations de l'AIEP-IAPS. L'AIEP-IAPS n'est pas responsable des informations ou des annonces de réunions communiquées. Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez contacter l'organisateur directement. / This message is being passed on as a courtesy to members of AIEP-IAPS. AIEP-IAPS is not responsible for the information or the meetings being publicized. For more information, please contact the sponsor directly. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Nazareth Quest by Bernard Mulholland


Book review of Nazareth Quest in Mensa Magazine:

‘Irish Mensan Bernard Mulholland is well known for his academic publications. An archaeologist and historian with a PhD from Queen’s University in Belfast, his thesis was published as The Early Byzantine Christian Church – and his other works include The Man from Mensa, a look at Mensa’s history and research projects.

Now, in a complete change of direction, Bernard has published his first novel. Nazareth Quest is a dramatic thriller set in the historic lands of Israel.

Invited to join a team of archaeologists in Nazareth, to survey the archaeology beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, Brendan Mallon leaps at the opportunity.

Crusaders, both Templars and Hospitallers, have been intimately associated with the history of Christian churches in Nazareth for more than a millennia, and now these archaeologists find themselves tasked with uncovering secrets of these ancient orders. What first drew these Crusaders to Nazareth, and could the archaeologists reveal the hidden truth behind many of the mysteries that have transcended time?

Forced to battle, first with soldiers of Christ and then for their very existence against a demon overlord with ties to the British monarchy, the archaeologists each have to dig deep to discover the route to their own salvation.

And, more than that, to then decide whether to join a quest to recover holy relics associated with the Last Supper‘.

Editor (2022), ‘Bernard’s on a Nazareth Quest’, Books, Mensa Magazine, November, p. 12.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Nazareth Quest - a novel by author Bernard Mulholland

Nazareth Quest - a novel by author Bernard Mulholland.

Invited to join a team of archaeologists in Nazareth, Israel to survey the archaeology beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, Brendan Mallon leapt at the opportunity to do so. Crusaders, both Templars and Hospitallers, have been intimately associated with the history of Christian churches in Nazareth for more than a millennia, and now these archaeologists found themselves tasked with uncovering their secrets. What first drew these Crusaders to Nazareth, and could the archaeologists reveal the hidden truth behind many of the mysteries that have transcended time.

Forced to battle, first, with soldiers of Christ, and then for their very existence against a demon overlord with ties to the British monarchy. The archaeologists each had to dig deep to discover the route to their own salvation. And, more than that, to then decide whether to join a quest to recover holy relics associated with the Last Supper. 

#Crusades #Templar #Hospitaller #Christianity #Christian #Church #Israel #SistersofNazareth #archaeology #history #religion #Desposyni #JesusofNazareth #Nazareth #Mary #Theotokos #Bible #soldiersofChrist #demon #novel #author