MSNBC is reporting that the earliest Christian may have been found and that it is mixed with pagan elements: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44759608/ns/technology_and_science-science/
Except that it is not Christian. It is from Valentinus- one of the more infamous heretics in the early centuries of the church’s existence. While perhaps not on the level of Marcion or Cerenthius, he certainly was in the same league. Which is to say, he was not a Christian. One might as well say that Joseph Smith was a Baptist. Or that Hugh Hefner was a Puritan. The article does go on to say that he was “eventually be declared a heretic.” But even that is glossing over the facts. Irenaeus was writing against Valentinus during the same time period as the discovered inscription. Were they to actually read Irenaeus’ Against Heresies they would not be surprised to find pagan elements in anything from Valentinus. Indeed, it is surprising to find any Christian elements. Perhaps if the astute authors could put down their heretical readings and consider what actual Christians were writing, such mistakes would not be made.
But I won’t hold my breath.