It is tiresomely typical of those who have made up their minds (and are not about to be confused with logic, facts, reason or reality of any kind) that they rush to pillage the Scriptures for proof-texts in self-defense (see Jack Meinhardt, “Why Publish Porn?”AO 04:06). The fact is that the verse Meinhardt quotes from John’s gospel—about the truth making one free—is taken grotesquely, even ridiculously, out of context. In its entirety the text reads: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31–32). I cannot imagine Abraham, or Jesus, or Hillel, or John, or Paul, or Augustine or Luther salivating over pornography, ancient or modern.
Gilbert E. Doan, Jr. Ardmore, Pennsylvania
I did not quote directly from the Gospel of John in my defense of our publishing photos of the Turin Erotic Papyrus. Rather, I quoted a letter that appeared ten years ago in our sister magazine Biblical Archaeology Review; it was the letter writer who stooped so low as to quote from John. As for Mr. Doan’s other point, I can’t speak for Abraham and the others, but Augustine did pray to God, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet!” (Confessions 8.7).—J.M.
Bowing to Ignorance
Managing editor Jack Meinhardt did invite reader’s opinions. Here’s mine: I am disgusted at your reticence in publishing items of interest from human history. It was with delight that we subscribed to your magazine, but this adolescent flap suggests that Archaeology Odyssey is not a serious publication.
Anne Lieb Indiantown, Florida
Keep Up the Good Work
Please do not let a very small group of prudish people influence your future decisions to publish the well-appointed articles that we are accustomed to read in Archaeology Odyssey. Thank you for your refreshing magazine.
Gustavo Ramirez New York, New York
It is amazing that readers write to complain about sexually explicit pictures in David O’Connor’s “Eros in Egypt,”AO 04:05, but no one writes to praise the 007marvelous sculpture on the cover of that issue.
Surely the genius of this unknown sculptor in rendering the countenance and form of his subjects so naturalistically was not equaled until Greek sculptors arose two millennia later.
Nestor W. Flodin Mobile, Alabama
Greeks in North Africa
Arthur Segal writes that “the Greeks never managed to gain a foothold in North Africa” (“Leptis Magna: Jewel of the Maghreb,”AO 04:04). He must have in mind only northwest Africa, inasmuch as the Greeks established a very successful colony at Cyrene (east of Leptis Magna), which is also in modern Libya. Italian excavators also uncovered extensive Greek and Roman remains there, as has Donald White of the University of Pennsylvania.
Edwin Yamauchi Miami University Oxford, Ohio
You say that Rx (for prescription) derives from the ancient Egyptian symbol for the Eye of Horus (OddiFacts, in Field Notes, AO 04:05). In fact, the Rx symbol comes from the convention that physicians write prescriptions in Latin. Rx is an abbreviation for recipio, the Latin for “take this” or “receive this.”
Jon H. Allen Fayetteville, Arizona
We asked George Griffenhagen of Vienna, Virginia, a pharmacist and former curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s division of medical sciences, to respond to Mr. Allen’s letter.—Ed.
George Griffenhagen replies:
John H. Allen is right. Prescription orders are the direct descendants of the “bylles” that 16th-century physicians scribbled in coffee houses when they met with their apothecaries. At the top of each prescription order, the physician would write Rx, the designated abbreviation for the directive “recipe” (or “take thou”), from the Latin recipio. By the 20th century, Rx had become a recognized symbol for the term “prescription,” as well as an emblem for the pharmacy profession. It is still used today on prescription orders and product labels to distinguish between medication available only by prescription and drugs sold over the counter.
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