Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 August 12

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August 12[edit]

Starting a political consultancy in India[edit]

Hello. I wish to know what is the status of political consultancy in India. Are there established players in the field which provide assistance to poltical parties on policies, strategy, voter issues, demographics etc.? I actually want to start such a consultancy in India (in a few years time) and wish to know what are the main issues I should take care of / focus on. Basically how to go about doing it. I know this is a pretty big question to ask on the refdesk but I hold you people in high esteem, and I'm sure you'll be able to help. Aside: I actually came up with the idea of a political consultancy before I knew such organizations already existed. My sad life is full of entrepreneural ideas that someone else had already thought of :( My motivation in starting a political consultancy in India is altruistic first and profit-seeking second - I hope to make political parties more centered on real issues that affect voters. Thanks. --ReluctantPhilosopher (talk) 07:42, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

You are unlikely to find someone on the Reference Desk with expertise in this field. The experts are busy working for politicians. My recommendation would be the following: Before you start your own consultancy, spend a few years working for an established consultant whose work you respect. I would think that in this field, experience and contacts are key. The experience would be the best way for you to be able to answer the questions you have posed, which really no one else could answer for you. To find work with an established consultant, you will first have to identify them. Sometimes they are mentioned in news articles. Besides this, you might try contacting the offices of politicians whom you admire and ask if you might have an "informational interview" on careers in the field with a member of the politician's staff. Your objective at these informational interviews should be to learn more about the field, but, maybe more important, to put together lists of names (for example, of consultants or their staff) to contact for further information gathering. Eventually, you are likely to find someone who knows of a position (and might even recommend you for it) or possibly someone who wants to hire you. Otherwise, you can approach consultants with whom you'd like to work to try to convince them to hire you. Marco polo (talk) 12:41, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

I am interested in American lobbying. My college major was politcal science and then I attended law school. During the academic year and summers, I interned as a law clerk with a Senate subcommittee. It also helped to be active in political campaigns for office and to advocate for issues that were personally important to me. Most people interested in politics concentrate their studies in political science or history. I found that people involved in the field are happy to share information. Communications is another effective major. Personal networking, as Marco Polo recommended, is crucial. 75Janice (talk) 02:07, 13 August 2009 (UTC)75Janice

Purpose of cylinder at back of Renault FT-17 tank[edit]

What is the purpose of the "tail" apparatus on this Renault FT-17 tank, including the cylinder and chains? (This tank is exhibited in the Compiègne Forest at the location where the armistice of the First World War was signed.)

From the side
From the back

David.Monniaux (talk) 10:27, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Question moved to the Science RD:

Jewish homosexuals adopting children[edit]

Is it possible to Jewish homosexual couples to adopt a child? Will this child be Jewish? Since Jewish implies having a Jewish mother, I suppose that male homosexuals will have a problem...And what if only one woman in a female homosexual couple is Jewish? Since we don't know which one is the mother and which one is the father, it could be argued that the non-Jewish is the mother, and therefore, the child is not Jewish.--Quest09 (talk) 10:37, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes but if the Jewish one turns out to be a real mother you will be wrong then probably. Also if they both want to be the father it will complimacate things. ~ R.T.G 10:57, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
If you look at our article Who is a Jew?, you will see that a person does not need to be born to a Jewish mother to become a Jew. There is also the possibility of conversion. I think that if a homosexual couple wanted to raise a child as a Jew, there would not be a problem, assuming that at least one of them belongs to an accepting Jewish congregation. The Jewish (adoptive) parent would be welcome to bring his or her adoptive child to the synagogue, where the child could undertake the study needed for conversion to that denomination of Judaism. Upon conversion, the child becomes Jewish. Marco polo (talk) 12:30, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

I keep hoping Sammy Davis, Jr. will come back to life and set the record straight: Judaism is a religion. Believe it, and you, too, can become a Jew. Don't believe it, and it doesn't matter one bit who's your mama or who's your daddy. DOR (HK) (talk) 02:45, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

As far as being "born Jewish", wouldn't the religion of the actual mother figure into it? And if the mothere was not Jewish, then presumably the child could convert at some point. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 08:35, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
The Nazis seemed to have a rather different view, DOR (HK). They got rid of many people who were Christians, atheists, Lutherans or what have you, purely because they had one or more Jewish ancestors back to the 4th generation, and they were thus considered to still be too Jewish to be tolerated. Their current religion didn't come into it. But you're right, one can convert to Judaism from any other faith. Which means Jewishness is not just about genetics, but equally it's not just about religion. -- JackofOz (talk) 13:08, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Select Retail Holdings Limited[edit]

Hi, this company has taken over one of the largest supermarkets in Ireland. I can't find anything to base an article on, even a stub. No website no real facts except that they own this supermarket chain (Superquinn). Are they English or Irish etc? Do they own other companies? What made them succesful enough to take on an important supermarket chain? We could have at least a stubby article on this one so if anyone knows a good source of info please share. ~ R.T.G 10:54, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

This article from the Indo at least names the members of the consortium. Seem to be a group of Irish investors. Fribbler (talk) 11:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
They're registered with the Companies Registration Office, which gives their address as SCD House, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4. It says the company was registered on 07/11/2002 under another name, and changed name in 2005. You can download more detailed info from, but they want a (fairly nominal) sum for each document. From the free info, you really can't tell very much, and that 2002 registration doesn't mean the company as it exists now has been trading since then - accountants often register companies and then sell them on as off-the-shelf companies (it's a perfectly legitimate thing to do), so you can't tell when the current owners acquired it unless you download the company info sheets. There is no registration under that name in the UK's Companies House. It's likely that the company is nothing more than a holding company, as its name suggests - that it isn't an existing retailer, but is instead just a group of investors and managers formed for the purpose of owning and running that supermarket. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 11:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
That will make a start lads thanks. If anyone comes across more please add. ~ R.T.G 11:20, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Do non-Christians children have piggy banks?[edit]

I mean, pigs have a symbolic meaning utterly different in different parts.--Quest09 (talk) 11:16, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

On piggy bank it says that the piggy bank has both English and Indonesian appearances independantly. ~ R.T.G 11:19, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
So, vaguely related, I wonder if other countries use the synonym for wages, "bringing home the bacon"? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 13:19, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I can't imagine that there are any restrictions on the children of atheist parents using a piggy bank. Googlemeister (talk) 14:19, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I certainly used to have a piggy bank, and have never been a Christian. Algebraist 14:54, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Your answer is the closest thing to a real answer to his question. If one exception is sufficient, then the answer to his question is, "Yes." Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 19:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
What do piggy banks have to do with Christianity? Just because a Jew or a Muslim won't eat pork doesn't mean they can't keep their change in an attractive, pig-shaped bank. They don't think pigs are evil or unlucky or anything. -- (talk) 14:59, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Hard to tell what exactly the OP is getting at, but I read it as referring to the pig as a symbol of greed, and that by "Christian" he may have meant "Western". Tempshill (talk) 16:21, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I would think it was more along the line that Muslims consider them unclean, whereas Westerners consider them delicious. TastyCakes (talk) 16:32, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
And presumably westerner muslims live in constant cognitive dissonance. Algebraist 16:33, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Not to mention vegetarians of all stripes ;) TastyCakes (talk) 16:42, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
There are Christians/Westerners who don't eat pork (SDA). (talk) 16:50, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Anyway, pigs are amusing, even if you don't eat them. I think that's the basic issue in regards to the banks. -- (talk) 17:04, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Pigs are a symbol of fertility and often the staple livestock in East Asia - so yes, lots of piggy banks there, often garishly painted gold --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 02:44, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

The OP seems to be starting with the assumption that all non-Christians are either Jewish or Muslim. Perhaps that’s the case where he/she lives, but it must be a pretty odd place.DOR (HK) (talk) 02:53, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

All is an exaggeration, but the "vast majority" of British Asians in Bradford have Pakistan or Kashmir as their origin, and some of the remainder will be Bangladeshi in origin. Admittedly the Bradford article does note sizeable Hindu and Sikh populations too. AlmostReadytoFly (talk) 08:27, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
How did you know the OP was from Bradford? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 07:30, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I was wondering the same thing. My assumption is that he is an admin and has access to the OP's IP adress. TomorrowTime (talk) 08:25, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Admins don't have access to users' IP addresses - only WP:CheckUsers can see them, and they can only look at them under particular circumstances - not just to satisfy curiousity. Warofdreams talk 10:26, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
That puts me at ease a bit. I'll admit I don't particularly like the idea of admins having free access to IPs. TomorrowTime (talk) 11:02, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm not an admin or a checkuser, I was merely pointing out that that idea of a place where the vast majority of non-Christians are Muslims is not so odd. AlmostReadytoFly (talk) 11:04, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Here is a "kosher piggy bank" for sale: [1] -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:27, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Marquis de Crecy 1800s[edit]

An ancestor, James Binion-Cooper (1789-1851) was an ironfounder in London. According to family legend he was in business with the Marquis de Crecy. I am seeking information. I have found Alice de Crecy, widow of French Baron in 1881 London census. Had her husband died in France? Was he a son of Louis -Alexandre Verjus of France. Had he gone to London after the French revolution? (talk) 11:30, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

See Louis de Verjus. His son, Louis-Alexandre Verjus, marquis de Crécy, was born in 1676 and died in 1763, so he would not have been alive after the French Revolution. There were other Marquises (I guess that's the plural) who succeeded him, so you would need to find out which one was alive during the Revolution. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 19:43, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
The plural of a French word ending in 's' or 'x' is the same: un marquis, deux marquis. —Tamfang (talk) 23:16, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

collection of poems[edit]

i am looking for a large collection of poems which can be sorted by theme, time period, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:12, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Oxford Book of English Verse? --TammyMoet (talk) 16:55, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Split Duchies[edit]

Does any body know the word for a duchy that is split among more than one son after a dukes death? Like the Ernestine duchies, the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderborg duchies, and the Bavarian duchies. I thought it was stem duchy until I read the article.

Technically appanages if the heir ruled before the death of the duke. After the death of the duke, only the younger dukes held appanages and the heir held the remainder as duke. I can't find an English jargon word for the split duchies so you could use any descriptive word such as partition or division.
Sleigh (talk) 17:17, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Do you mean a retrospective word for the previous duchy, before the split? —Tamfang (talk) 23:17, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Value of a bee hive[edit]

My Grandfather recently discovered he has a bunch of bees living in a hollow tree on his property. Is there any value to these (IE. Can he sell the rights to someone who will then come and collect them)? He lives right around the KY-OH-IN border area. Thanx, (talk) 17:27, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

No. They can only be easily removed when they are swarming, and even then I don't think it's normal for any money to change hands.--Shantavira|feed me 17:33, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Is there any use for them at all? (talk) 17:35, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Just like bees in an artificial hive, they will pollinate surrounding plants. While true that you won't get any honey or wax from them, most of the money made by modern commercial beekeepers is from renting the hives out to farmers as pollinators, and the honey/wax/royal jelly/etc. is just extra on top of that. There is actually a large number of different bee breeds, so the otherwise-unspecified wild bees ("mutts") in your tree aren't of particular value - especially if there is concern that they might be africanized. Most beekeepers probably won't pay you to take your bees away - if anything they might charge you to do it, though many will probably do it for free, as a public service. -- (talk) 17:46, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Maybee he could just let them bee? Tee hee. -- (talk) 18:10, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Do-Bee or Don't-Bee, that is the question. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 19:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
It's not relevant to the OP but modern beekeepers in the US charge farmers like that, British beekeepers usually keep them in one place and just sell the honey. --Tango (talk) 18:18, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Tango, do you have a reference for this surprising fact? Or would looking one up slow you down in your crusade to combat the insidious American Bias? A simple internet search for "pollination services" shows a good number of beekeepers in the UK that offer these kinds of services.
At first I thought that you were thinking that Britain does not have the vast industrial farms of the American midwest, but I'm sure you understand that not all of the USA is like that, and that there are areas OUTSIDE the USA that are. APL (talk) 00:40, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
I can go and find a reference if you like, but my actual source is personal knowledge from discussions with my Grandfather who has been keeping bees for decades. If you read my comment carefully you will see I said "usually", I'm sure there are exceptions. --Tango (talk) 18:51, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
My Grandfather is a beekeeper and he usually collects swarms for free in exchange for keeping the bees. I'm not sure about nests, but I can't see him paying anyone for them, at best he would do it for free and keep the bees. They won't be worth much because you can't offer any assurances that they are good quality bees. --Tango (talk) 18:18, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Working on my book again...[edit]

A while back, I asked a question for a christian fantasy book I was writing. I've hit another speedbump, and I need some help. Does anyone know of a species of demon (not one specific demon) that could be considered the high guards of hell? Any answers will be much appreciated (One other thing: will I get sued if I make hell ruled by a triumvirate?) Library Seraph (talk) 18:42, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Sued by who? One of Satan's lawyers? (Pardon the possible redundancy) Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 19:07, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Ho ho, you made me chuckle nicely. Cheers. Prokhorovka (talk) 19:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
There's an outside chance you could get sued by D.C. Comics or (less likely) Neil Gaiman, who depicted a (temporarily) triumvirate-ruled hell in his Sandman series, but only if your version resembled his in detail; the mere concept is too general to fall under copyright (literary ideas are not in themselves copyrightable), and anyway may well not be original to Gaiman. [Update: it seems to have originated in earlier D.C. Comics works which Gaiman was utilising as back-story, but that's not to say that those stories originated the concept, either.)
Aside from the low probability of actual legal action, there is also the possibility that some readers may assume you lifted the idea from Gaiman [in particular or the D.C. Universe more generally], and adversely criticise you, with deleterious effects to your reputation and sales. However, all professional writers and editors know that broad ideas become common property and that writers are inspired by and riff off each others' ideas all the time, it's how well you make fresh use of them that counts.
At this point you may now wish to scrupulously avoid learning anything more about Gaiman's version, to ward off any possibility of unconscious influence or unjust suggestion of plagiarism. Alternatively, you might go ahead and read the Sandman series in order either to avoid any further accidental similarities at all, or to make explicit allusion to it, thus paying hommage. Again, writers frequently do this: for example, I've just finished reading a novel by Arthur C Clarke & Stephen Baxter in which advanced quantum wormhole technology makes it easy to see anything, anywhere (I'll avoid further spoilers) and examines the far-reaching consequences for human society. This was ultimately inspired by the late Bob Shaw's stories published in the 1960s and '70s in which he used the concept of "slow glass" to the same end. Clarke and Baxter avoid any possible criticisms from those who don't understand the dynamics of literature by dedicating their book to Shaw, using the title of his first slow-glass story - [The] Light of Other Days - as that of their novel, and mentioning it and him in their Afterword. (talk) 20:27, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
You might check around the article Christian demonology. It is quite complex. Classification of demons may be of some help. I don't see a lot of classification by species—they all seem to be just "demons" though they are individually of different rank and specialization. -- (talk) 19:24, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Dante's Inferno would have a derth of information for you. Livewireo (talk) 20:28, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I think you mean plethora. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 20:31, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
...yes. Derth is the opposite of what I mean. This is what I get for sleeping in class. Livewireo (talk) 20:37, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I hope it wasn't a spelling class.  :) -- JackofOz (talk) 21:06, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Maybe the class was in the 16th century, when "derth" was still an acceptable variant? Algebraist 21:18, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
...though not of plethora.--Wetman (talk) 22:12, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Bulbous bouffant! —Tamfang (talk) 23:19, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Of course the Monster Manual would be of use here. The First Edition actually sorts the demons and devils by level. They used a variety of source material and, of course, made up some stuff. Tempshill (talk) 23:32, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
There is a role-playing game In Nomine full of stuff like this. You can probably find the demon species with a web search. (talk) 01:50, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Rather than a triumvirate, why not a five-person body? DOR (HK) (talk) 03:03, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Lawyers. --Dweller (talk) 11:31, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

I might make my hell ruled by a different number of demons than just 3 (Although not to do with the sigil of Baphomet, because anythinbg to do with satanism makes me feel like throwing up). As for the high guard, I guess I'll have to go look myself. I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't have to go digging through the demon articles again *Sigh* Library Seraph (talk) 14:05, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

You're writing about demons in hell but satanism is a problem? Adam Bishop (talk) 14:29, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Since you're writing a Christian fantasy, it may not be much help; but guards of hell apparently exist in Islamic tradition, though they're angels (assigned to prevent escape?) rather than demons. According to Hell#Islam, 'The gate of Hell is guarded by Maalik who is the leader of the angels assigned as the guards of hell also known as Zabaaniyah." Deor (talk) 14:42, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Deor, I may look into that; I have been drawing inspiration from other mythologies. Oh, and Adam, I'm writing a christian fantasy; the reason I haven't asked any questions abotu the angels (who are my priotagonists) is because I'm finding them easier to write about than the demons. Library Seraph (talk) 15:00, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Library Seraph, to relieve your nausea, bear in mind that most supposed "satanism" was/is no less literary invention (sometimes by people who believed their own fantasies) than your own work. Very few people actually practiced "satanism" in the sense you use the term, and many of those who did were just the punks of their era, out to shock. Consider, too, that the concept of "Satan" as an evil entity was itself a largely literary-theological invention, as modern Christian theologians such as Elaine Pagels (see her The Origin of Satan) acknowledge. The original "satan" was merely a loyal servant of the Hebrew God who carried out the latter's tasks on Earth, which sometimes involved testing humans with adverse circumstances. This was conflated with poetical references to the (actual or hoped-for) downfall of a human ruler (Nebuchadnezzar II?) - "How art thou fallen, oh Lucifer, son of the morning" as I recall, where "Lucifer" was in literal terms the morning apparitions of the planet Venus - to form the basis of a whole fantasy history about rebellion in heaven, elaborate demonic hierarchies in Hell, and so on. (talk) 01:12, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

Now that i think about it, I may not actually have a triumvirate. I think that term usually implies a bit more co-operation, and less outright conflict that what I have. Sorry for any trouble I put anyone through Library Seraph (talk) 00:00, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

How does SWIFT work?[edit]

I am wondering how SWIFT works?

I mean say for example a Bank in Russia (which has no presence in Canada) is getting funds from a Bank in Canada (which has no presence in Russia).

Also note that no Paper money changes hands. (Banks dont do most of their business now a days with Paper money contrary to the popular belief)

So why would a Russian bank accept a wire transfer from the Canadian bank?

In other words, the Russian bank will be making money for the new client based on the fact that this new client owns money abroad.

Are there some sort of regulations like say from the Reserve Bank of each country to facilitate this kind of transaction?

The same question goes for Western Union which uses the CHIPS system. How does it actually work?

Anyways I am also looking to read some books on the banking systems and how they work. Recommendations welcomed.

It seems to me that the banking industry is a secret. No university teaches courses on how they really work. Like Bank Drafts, Certified Cheques, Money Orders, Wiring funds etc. They do teach Finance, Economics, and Business, but not Banking. I think all the people who work for banks learn about it as they work, not in books.

--33rogers (talk) 18:59, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Member institutions own CHIPS, and it maintains a very simple account (I think on a daily basis). Membership is contingent on a bank having met strict checks. When bank A sends to bank B, CHIPS merely keeps a running total. In practice, for large banks, the amount of transactions in one direction roughly balances - if it does not, after a given accounting period, the bank that is in debt to the system must compensate it, often with a physical instrument or the (notional) transfer of bullion (a great deal of the gold held in the United States Bullion Depository is owned by banks; to settle the debt some portion need only be reassigned from one bank to the other - nothing need be physically moved). Smaller banks aren't members of these schemes, and so instead maintain accounts at larger banks that are. For example, I've CHIPSed money from an account in a credit union in California to a bank in Scotland, and the paperwork shows Natwest as the intermediary. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 19:47, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
University-level subjects on banking are usually taught under Finance or Law, depending on whether you are more interested in the monetary or the legal aspects of it. Googling turns up a number of subjects which may interest you. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 02:41, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

On the secrecy angle, would you also consider insurance, real estate, consulting, truck driving and circus management to be “secret”? None of them are taught as subjects per se. DOR (HK) (talk) 03:07, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

SWIFT and CHIPS are fundamentally different systems. SWIFT provides a secure and reliable network for the exchange of financial instructions and other messages between its members, but SWIFT member firms do not hold money in accounts at SWIFT. If a Canadian bank is paying a Russian bank then the two banks must either have nostro accounts with each other (i.e. be correspondent banks) or must each hold accounts at a third-party agent bank. CHIPS is a netting engine, so CHIPS runs intraday balances for its members which are then settled at the end of the day through accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank. So SWIFT can carry payment instructions in any currency, whereas CHIPS can only process payments in US dollars. All of this information is available at and at Gandalf61 (talk) 13:09, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Oldest New Testament copy[edit]

Where is the oldest New Testament, especially books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Acts. What year are they? How do they know the age (DNA, carbon testing, or what)? Have qualified scientist verified the age? Where are they where one could view them? --LordGorval (talk) 23:23, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Useful snippet of an article... there are lots of books in the New Testament, and different books have different ages (and different fragments that survive). Nothing is older than a century after it was written (only copies of copies of copies survive, nothing original). The oldest piece is a snippet of the gospel of John (Rylands Library Papyrus P52) that dates to around 125. There are a number of different ways that it is dated, including scientific and textual. -- (talk) 23:45, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
The oldest substantially complete manuscripts (as opposed to fragments) are from the 4th century, such as Codex Sinaiticus... AnonMoos (talk) 00:47, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
One important method of estimating the age of a manuscript is to use Palaeography, the study of ancient writing. In most languages, different letters, different ways of writing individual letters, and different overall styles of handwriting go in and out of fashion, so by comparing many examples of ancient texts it's possible to work out roughly what was being used when (much as with the changing styles and techniques of ancient pottery). Similarly, actual vocabulary changes as old words fall into disuse and new ones are coined or introduced from elsewhere, and studies can establish roughly (or occasionally more exactly) when given changes occurred. The ideas expressed in texts are also subject to change and development, and their evolution through time can often be estimated.
A new textual example or fragment can therefore be compared with the existing body of knowledge to suggest approximately when it was written. Obviously this can rarely give an exact age, as some scribes would have been more conservative than others, and with no universal fast communications some innovations or ideas would spread unevenly.
These methods are of course dependent on degrees of assumption, are limited by what texts are available and have been studied (so new ones can change our understanding of how early or late some factor appeared or died out), and cannot themselves eliminate the possibility of faking by someone as knowlegeable as the examining scholars. (talk) 03:16, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
The "original version" of the Bible is now online (this is the Codex Sinaicus referred to above). Read more about it in this BBC article. Jørgen (talk) 07:05, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Where is the the oldest complete Latin version and the oldest complete English version? --LordGorval (talk) 11:52, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Codex Amiatinus is the oldest Latin one. Adam Bishop (talk) 14:23, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Parts of Biblical books were translated into Old English (some excerpts allegedly by King Alfred himself), but the earliest complete translation into English was by Wycliffe and his followers in the 14th century... AnonMoos (talk) 15:09, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Which English? Old English? Middle English? I am not sure if people who only know modern English would be able to read those languages. For example, here is a passage from the Middle English version called the Ormulum.
Forrþrihht anan se time comm
þatt ure Drihhtin wollde
ben borenn i þiss middellærd
forr all mannkinne nede
he chæs himm sone kinnessmenn
all swillke summ he wollde
& whær he wollde borenn ben
he chæs all att hiss wille.
I can't read it, but it is Middle English. It is not complete and is from the 12th century. As noted above the Wycliff version is the earliest known complete version. Googlemeister (talk) 15:18, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Whatever -- if you're not willing to consider 14th-century English to be "real" English, then the first translation into "real" English (according to your personal definition) is logically the first translation which was made after the date you have chosen to assign to the beginning of your "real" English... AnonMoos (talk) 16:07, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
In my opinion, it isn't "I can't read it". It is "I refuse to see if I can read it." Simply reading it phonetically, it looks like "For bright in the time come that our Drighton would ben born in this middle lord for all mankind need. He chose him some kinsmen all we like some he would and where he would born been he chose all at his will." That is not perfect modern English, but it is rather sensible. In fact, it is very close to the accepted translation. -- kainaw 20:22, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
I would have thought that Tolkien had penetrated far enough into the public consciousness that "middellærd" would ring a bell. Deor (talk) 22:33, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
My point is valid. We are not talking about something that is comprehensible but contains odd words and phrasings such as you would have from say the period of Shakespeare, this stuff looks more German then English. If you have an archaic form of a language that is incomprehensible to modern speakers of the language, you are going to have a hard time convincing people that it is in fact the same language.
Addendum, the sample I provided was 12th century, not 14th. Googlemeister (talk) 16:16, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
It is easy to see that the language that extract is written in is not mutually intelligible with Modern English, so it is a different language. The problem comes in working out where to draw the line between Middle English and Modern English. There is a standard date for that, I believe, but it is pretty arbitrary. The language changed gradually so Late Middle English and Early Modern English would have been mutually intelligible. --Tango (talk) 17:35, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
There are so many different phases of Middle English it's not really fair to compare the Ormulum with Wycliffe. Wycliffe is certainly hard to read, but it is fairly intelligible, like Chaucer, though not as recognizably English as Shakespeare. The Ormulum is only Middle English in the sense that it came after the Conquest. It was barely influenced by French, if at all, and at the time and place where it was written it is really pretty much Old English. (Though it does have lots of Norse in it, which would also be an important part of Middle English.) In any case, we can all agree that Wycliffe is English and his Bible is the first complete translation, right? Adam Bishop (talk) 20:09, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
Since Ormulum is not complete, yes I would agree the Wycliffe is the oldest complete English translation of the New Testament that is known regardless of whether the language used in the Ormulum is English. Googlemeister (talk) 20:39, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
It should be noted that using 'hard' science (such as carbon dating) no document in existance has been dated to before 1200AD. On most things like this carbon dating is accurate to about +/- 700+ years, the error rating given is the error of the lab extracting the C14, not the error in what that C14 actually means for the dating. This is something that few people understand. For example a sample might come back and say 1300BC +/- 200 years. Thats 200 years error at the lab who is trying to measure the amount of C14, it says nothing about the error in calculating what amount C14 should have been present at all the years intermediate years. And it says nothing about when the wood used actually used to write on, just when the tree died, and it says nothing about how carbon could have been absorbed by the paper over 2,000 years etc. This is why carbon dating has so little weight in historical circles. Its useless. I would take anything before 1500AD with a grain of salt, there is not really any way to know, history and science can give us good educated guesses, but they are probably wrong, alot.-- (talk) 04:06, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Surely you mean "This is why carbon dating has so little weight in historical circles dealing with documented history. It's useless when establishing the age of documents."? I wouldn't freely dismiss carbon dating for the eras before established civilisation where the mistake margin of a thousand years doesn't make such a drastic difference. TomorrowTime (talk) 06:26, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Your account of Carbon dating inaccuracies doesn't seem to fully tally with that given on the Carbon dating article, and no reputable scholars doubt that we have manuscripts dating far earlier than 1200 A.D. (there are Egyptian papyri over three times as old). It's often impossible to date a manuscript exactly to a specific year (unless the scribe explicitly wrote down a date), but it's often quite easy to date a manuscript to a specific historical period (i.e. kingly reign, part of a century, etc.) -- and language scholars generally have no difficulties at all telling apart the English of 975 A.D. from the English of 1175 A.D. from the English of 1375 A.D... AnonMoos (talk) 07:03, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
So bottomline anything before 1500 AD for validity of New Testament copies should be taken "with a grain of salt." --LordGorval (talk) 12:13, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
No, that's not the bottom line at all. Where did that come from? Adam Bishop (talk) 12:56, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
No, that is not the "bottom line" of the accepted consensus of mainstream scholarship... AnonMoos (talk) 12:59, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
What source of book or manuscript was the Codex Sinaiticus copied from? (talk) 20:50, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
That's unknowable at this date, but in many cases scholars can trace the development of the various textual traditions (Byzantine, Alexandrian, etc.) in great detail. See textus receptus, Alexandrian text-type, Byzantine text-type, Caesarean text-type, Western text-type ... AnonMoos (talk) 12:40, 16 August 2009 (UTC)