Seventy metal books found in cave in Jordan

Kaigen

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Very interesting.

_http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1371290/70-metal-books-Jordan-cave-change-view-Biblical-history.html

more pictures here

_http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9434000/9434907.stm
 

Approaching Infinity

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Yep, very interesting. Here's a clarification from Davies, who is quoted in the article (and whose books are very good!):

Philip writes concerning the news media’s mention of some newly ‘discovered’ materials purported to shed light on the life of Jesus-

I have seen images and also seen one actual lead sheet. I have said nothing publicly yet, but privately I have said only that I think they are unlikely to be forgeries, but I did not use the word ‘genuine’ because it’s not clear what that would mean.

I do not know what these are are, or exactly how old. Like everyone else, I am waiting to see what further scientific tests show. But I have consulted a number of colleagues and so far none has been ready to declare them ‘forgeries’ either. Sensibly, they are going to wait and see. My position too is just that they should not yet be dismissed as ‘forgeries’. I think they are worth taking seriously for the time being.

I am not going to respond to every single inquiry about them, but I’m happy to tell you and indeed to encourage you to post this clarification as widely as you like!

Philip

Further, on the Biblical Studies list he writes

The provenance is known. I have consulted epigraphers, of course. The discovery is about 2 years old and the Easter timing is largely coincidental, forced by an unauthorized leak from a charlatan!

_http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/philip-davies-on-the-newly-discovered-jesus-plates-scrolls-whatever/

And BTW, here's the link to the biblical studies list the guy mentions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biblical-studies/
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
Authentification of these texts rests at the moment in the hands of one individual, the metallurgist Robert Feather.

Feather has written already about the Copper Scroll from Qumran. In The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran (2003), he apparently:

Wikipedia article said:
suggests the number system and units of measurement indicated are Egyptian. He links the scroll with the city Amarna and the Pharaoh Akhenaten.

The following Jewish Chronicle articles fill in some of the background, which is a little murky.

First, one from here, which includes a photo of one of the codices:

Simon Rocker said:
Israel's archaeological establishment believes they are a fake. But could a collection of metal books be an early example of Kabbalah?

Robert Feather is out to prove the sceptics wrong. A metallurgist with a passion for archaeology, he has been asked to help authenticate what he believes could be one of the most exciting religious discoveries since the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The West London Synagogue member has previously published a book on the Copper Scroll, the Dead Sea Scroll thought to hold clues about the location of buried Temple treasure. Now he is trying to establish the origins of a mysterious cache of metal books which could be linked to the Kabbalah.

The objects belong to Hassan Saeda, a Bedouin farmer in Galilee who says they have been in his family's possession since his great-grandfather found them in a cave in Jordan, a century ago.

His collection consists of more than 20 codices (early books), cast mostly in lead and containing cryptic messages in Hebrew and Greek along with symbols such as the menorah. In various places, the Hebrew letters appear to stand for Bar Kochba, leader of the second-century Judean revolt against the Romans; and the talmudic mystic Shimon bar Yochai, who hid from the Romans in a cave for 13 years.

"The first time I heard about the discovery, I was extremely cautious," Mr Feather said. "However, when I was given an opportunity to see and examine some examples, and visit the cave where they were said to have come from, my scepticism was allayed."

The books appear to be "Kabbalah-related and the nature of the content indicates a magical incantation style of writing," Mr Feather said. Before 400 CE, almost all ancient codices were made of parchment. The lead codices "predate any form of codex by several hundred years and this particular material was probably chosen to ensure permanency."

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), however, has dismissed the idea that the books are of any value. Experts who examined some of them, it said, "absolutely doubted their authenticity". According to the IAA, the books are a "mixture of incompatible periods and styles, without any connection or logic. Such forged motifs can be found in their thousands in the antiquities markets of Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East."

Professor Andre Lemaire, an expert in ancient inscriptions from the Sorbonne, was also dubious, saying the writing on some of the codices he had seen made no sense and it was "a question apparently of sophisticated fakes".

Undeterred, Mr Feather instead cites the findings of Peter Northover, a metals analyst at Oxford University. Conducting tests on two samples of metal from one book, Dr Northover concluded that their composition was "consistent with a range of ancient lead," and that it was clear from the surface corrosion that the book was "not a recent production".

The IAA remains unconvinced, arguing that the metal could have been taken from an ancient coffin while the messages could have been fabricated later.

But Sasson Bar-Oz, a lawyer representing Mr Saeda, the artefacts' owner, believes that the IAA did not carry out extensive enough checks. "My opinion, after a lot of time on this project," he said, " is that they are genuine."

Now there is fresh hope for Mr Feather, who was approached to help Mr Saeda because of his expertise in metal. A piece of leather, bearing the image of a crocodile, which also turned up with the metal books, was sent for carbon dating. The results, just back, indicate it is nearly 2,000 years old. But Mr Feather said that the dating needed to be corroborated by other tests, currently being conducted, before he could be confident of its accuracy.

The dry soil of the Middle East is rich in the relics of ancient civilisation. But experts do not want to be caught by elaborate forgeries. Last October a marathon five-year trial ended in Israel of two dealers accused of faking an inscription on an ossuary (stone coffin) to suggest that it might have once held the remains of James, the brother of Jesus Christ. The judge has still to announce a verdict and the 12,000 pages of conflicting evidence demonstrate how difficult it can be to determine what is genuine or not.

Institutions involved with antiquities tended to be "ultra-cautious", Mr Feather said, "because they have burned their fingers on previous occasions. A classic example is that of the Shapira strips."

Moses Shapira was a 19th-century antique dealer in Jerusalem who acquired some leather strips which he thought were early biblical writings. "Initially they were hailed as one of the greatest historical finds of all time," he said. "Subsequently the British Museum dismissed them as forgeries, largely because the text differed from the biblical version of the time. Shapira was so distraught that he blew his brains out in a hotel in Amsterdam," he said.

"When the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in 1947, similarities to the Shapira texts made scholars reassess their conclusions. It is now generally accepted that the Shapira strips were probably the oldest known version of Deuteronomy."

And then there's this report of an underlying dispute between the owner and the Jordanian authorities, who are saying they were found just five years ago:

Jennifer Lipman said:
An Israeli Bedouin man is battling the Jordanian authorities over allegations that he smuggled a collection of rare religious texts out of Jordan.

The 70 lead plates date back two millennia and have been described by experts as "as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls". They are inscribed with symbols of what could be among the earliest example of Christian writing.

Hassan Saeda, from the northern Israeli village of Um-al-Ghanam, claims that they have been in his family for a century.

However Jordan argues the texts were found in a cave five years ago. The government has pledged to "exert all efforts" to get them back.

edit: removal of typos
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
Here's a press release on the texts. This was posted on Scribd by Jim West, who is the List Owner of the Biblical Studies Yahoo! discussion group, frequented by scholars such as Philip R. Davies and Niels Peter Lemche:

SECRET HOARD OF ANCIENT SEALED BOOKS FOUND IN JORDAN

One of the biggest and best-preserved hoard of ancient sealed books, which had been secretly hidden for centuries, has been discovered in Jordan. These could be relics from the Jerusalem Church of the first century. Early indications are that the books date from the first century CE/AD and could be some of the earliest Christian documents. Leading academics consider the find to be even more pivotal than the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

The hoard consists of a collection of ring-bound books (codices) made of lead and of copper. Many of them are sealed on all sides. Scrolls, tablets and other artefacts, including an incense bowl, were also found at the same site. Some of the lead pages are written in a form of archaic Hebrew script with ancient messianic symbols. Some of the writing appears to be in a form of code.

It is known that early Christian writers used sealed books as a code for secret teaching, but no actual book has ever been found. They were heavily persecuted and needed to protect their knowledge. The codices were found in an area to which Christian refugees are known to have fled before and after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. The existence of a significant sealed codex is mentioned in the Book of Revelation: and other Biblical books mention metal plates for the use of Temple based documentation.

There is likely to be considerable academic and political debate about their authenticity, meaning and interpretation.

Initial metallurgical tests (spectrographic and crystallographic) indicate that the books made of lead could date from the first century AD, based on the form of corrosion which has taken place, which experts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially.

The discovery was made by chance some 5 years ago by wandering Bedouin shepherds in a cave within a militarized zone in remote Northern Jordan. The hoard was subsequently acquired by an Israeli Bedouin, who smuggled them across the border where they remain hidden under his protection.

However, legal experts have confirmed that because it was originally discovered in Jordan, the find qualifies as treasure trove and, under Jordanian law, is rightly the property of the Kingdom of Jordan. The find has come to light only now because the British team leading the work on the discovery fears that the Israeli "keeper" may be looking to sell some of the books on to the black market, or worse, destroy them.

David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious history and archaeology, has led the team involved in bringing the find to the world's attention. David has been supported by his wife Jennifer and a small team of leading international academic experts, including Dr Margaret Barker, Co-founder of the Temple Studies Group and former President of the Society for Old Testament Study, and Professor Phillip [sic] Davies, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at Sheffield University and an authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Much further investigation is now needed to confirm the authenticity, meaning and full significance of the find. David and Jennifer Elkington have already briefed the Jordanian Government about the discovery and have offered their help in retrieving the find and in supporting its further investigation. Preparations are also being made for a documentary film and book about the discovery.

It is hoped that an educational foundation can be created to promote long-term research into the wider significance of this find and related discoveries to enable greater understanding of the fragmented, and often conflicting, origins of Christianity and other religious groups, for the benefit of the whole world.

David Elkington said: “It is an enormous privilege to be able to reveal this discovery to the world. But, as ever, the find begs more questions than it answers. The academic and spiritual debate must now commence, and this needs a calm and rational environment in order to be productive. So it is vital that the collection can be recovered intact and secured in the best possible circumstances, both for the benefit of its owners and for a potentially fascinated international audience”.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr Margaret Barker said: “The Book of Revelation tells of a sealed book that was opened only by the Messiah. Other texts from the period tell of sealed books of wisdom and of a secret tradition passed on by Jesus to his closest disciples. That is the context for this discovery. So if they are forgeries, what are they forgeries of?”

Professor Philip Davies said: "My own scrutiny suggests to me and to several of my colleagues that the form of the archaic Semitic script corresponds well to what was used in the era 200BCE-100CE. However much of the writing appears to be in code and many of the images are unfamiliar. The possibility of a Hebrew-Christian origin is certainly suggested by the imagery and, if so, these codices are likely to bring dramatic new light to our understanding of a very significant but so far little understood period of history. The adoption of a codex format may also be relevant: it is known to have been adopted by Christians from about the first century CE."

Note to Editors

David Elkington has been shown many of the artefacts by the current possessor of them, who wished to understand their significance, and was allowed to photograph some of them in their present location for research purposes. But he makes no claim of ownership, which based on the legal advice he has received, rightly rests with the Kingdom of Jordan.

Given the controversy and competition which the discovery of ancient artefacts always promote – both academic and commercial – David is keen to ensure that the find can now be properly and professionally investigated, in a safe and secure place, with the full support of the Kingdom of Jordan and with the benefit of access to the world's leading experts. David has worked to date entirely on a voluntary basis, with the support of many friends, alongside the generous help of many leading experts in this field.

Particular observations from some of the codices include:

* The codices show many symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, which was associated with the enthronement of the ancient Davidic kings in Jerusalem, and later with the coming of the Messiah.

* There are clear images of the menorah (the seven branched lamp), leafy branches and etrogim, the large citrus fruits used at Tabernacles.

* There are also fruiting palm trees, well known from coins of the late second temple period and the time of the Bar Kochba war.

* There are blocks of paleo-Hebrew script, which could be from the Hasmonean period, 2nd-1st century BCE, but the experts consulted to date believe these to be in code.

Further information will be released in due course once the security of the artefacts has been assured.

edit: removal of typos
 

Aeneas

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
One would think it almost unlikely that the truth will come out as the books are in the hands of the Judeo-Christian control system, who most likely will make sure that any newly discovered texts that does not agree with their version of history will be declared to be fakes. :(
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
So there seem to be two camps here:

1. The owner of these 70 or so codices, Hassan Saeda, who is represented by his lawyer, Sasson Bar-Oz. Bar-Oz has brought in the metallurgist Robert Feather to authenticate the things. This is all going on in Israel - presumably the codices were being kept in the owner's house in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Ghanam, though they're probably in safe-keeping somewhere else in Israel at the moment. The Israeli authorities (the IAA - Israel Antiquities Authority) don't really want to know about these texts. They're saying they're forgeries - which means, of course, that they don't have to bother themselves with them. Saeda is claiming that the codices were discovered about 100 years ago by his family.

2. A group of British scholars (led by the husband-and-wife team David and Jennifer Elkington, and backed up by a couple of reasonable academic heavyweights, Dr Margaret Barker and Professor Philip Davies) who are saying that "the find might be as pivotal as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947". They are supported by Dr Zaid al-Saad, the Director General of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. Jordan is claiming that the discovery was made only five years ago, and that therefore the codices must be returned into the safe-keeping of the Jordanian authorities, because they're treasure trove.

So far, apart from a handful of photographs (e.g. see here for the best of these) the codices haven't been examined properly - though both Robert Feather (and another British metallurgist, Dr Peter Northover, who has conducted tests on two samples of the metal) and David Elkington have had a look at them.

So who knows what's going on here? The IAA's comment, "Such forged motifs can be found in their thousands in the antiquities markets of Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East," isn't very helpful for anyone, except perhaps for the IAA. They seem to be deliberately downplaying the significance of these texts without having looked at them properly. That would place Saeda on the back-foot, and would mean he would have less chance of selling them abroad. Also, because archaeology in the region is highly politicised, it's not actually in Israel's best interests to have anything from this sensitive period of Palestine's past (200 BC - AD 100) uncovered. Our present state of knowledge about this period is good enough for Israeli interests - anything new just stands to possibly disrupt things.

These could be fakes of course - but if so, there's a heck of a lot of work been done here. This isn't like those forged ossuaries we've heard so much about recently. Here we've got 70 or so lead and copper codices - and if fake, the metal had to have been sourced from an ancient context. Parallels with the Copper Scroll are useful, imo: at the time of its discovery, scholars were saying, "This has got to be a fake" or some garbled ancient nonsense. The problem there was that there were no parallels to the Copper Scroll, and its contents were truly astonishing: directions to heaps and heaps of treasure buried around the place. Scholars always get cagey when something revolutionary comes along. For instance, there were plenty of archaeologists willing to bet that Dame Kathleen Kenyon had made a mistake in her dating of the massive defences around Jericho to the Neolithic. It was unprecedented - so, ergo, scholars were willing to go on record to say they thought she was wrong. And how wrong they were!

So the codices are written in code. This doesn't come as much of a surprise - much of the Nag Hammadi material also seems to be written in code - i.e. they're esoteric, so what do we expect?

It looks like it will take a lot of time before we find out what these codices are saying - even when, or if, they're deciphered. But I don't think we need to side necessarily with scholarly conservatism here, or with fears of being duped by antiquities forgers (however sophisticated they are - and it's true, they are sophisticated), or with the IAA. Best to keep an open mind, osit.
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
Well, finally, a translation of one line has come through, and the whole thing is tending to look like a fake:

Jim Davila said:
HEBREW-INSCRIBED-METAL-CODICES WATCH: A FAKE.

I have a reply from Peter Thonemann, which I reproduce below with his permission. [...]

Lead Codices, or: One Born Every Minute

Over the past few days, you may have seen a spot of press attention about a cache of lead codices ‘from a remote cave in the north of Jordan’, which allegedly have some connection with early Christianity etc.:

_http://www.thejc.com/judaism/judaism-features/46028/heavy-metal-secrets-a-mid-east-cave
_http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368252/Are-artefacts-discovered-remote-cave-secret-writings-years-Jesus.html
_http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12888421

…and so forth.

On 15 September 2010, I received the following email out of the blue from a certain David Elkington (whose name you will find in all these various news reports) – I’ve edited out only those bits which would reveal the mutual acquaintance:

“Dear Dr. Thonemann,

In relation to a discovery that I have been investigating in the Middle East I was given your email address by a friend […]. I am a biblical historian and specialist in the field of Christian and Hebrew origins. I'm working with Prof. Philip Davies of Sheffield University and Dr. Margaret Barker on a discovery that I made a few years back of a cache of ancient metal codices. They are comprised of lead and of copper - it is one of the copper codices that brings me to you. We think that it has a possible origin in Alexandria at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD - (the Bedouin who brought them to me said that his father found them in northern Egypt). It has an inscription in Greek along the top. A putative investigation has failed to find the meaning, dialect or type of Greek used and we are seeking to find an expert who might help in determining what it says.
Would you have the time and the knowledge to be able to help?

If you can I would be terribly grateful - I could email you a photograph of the codex as soon as you would like, however I would very much like to discuss it in person if at all possible […].

I look forward to your reply

Best Wishes

David Elkington”

I replied that I would be delighted to have a look. (Possibly worth noting in passing that in this email, the codices are said to come from “northern Egypt”; in the current press coverage, they are said to come from “a remote arid valley in northern Jordan”.) I received on the 13 October the following three photographs of this ‘copper codex’ from Mr Elkington:

I'm afraid I don't know how to reproduce the photos here, but they can be seen on the original site from which this quote is excerpted. Thonemann's explanation continues:

Jim Davila (quoting Peter Thonemann) said:
As you will see, the ‘codex’ concerned is identical in fabric and design to the ones being touted on the BBC and elsewhere; the Greek lettering is very similar in style to the ‘Hebrew’ on the codices depicted on the BBC news website. There can be no reasonable doubt that it forms part of the same ‘cache’ from the Jordanian desert (or Egypt, or wherever) – note especially the metal ‘ties’ at the left of the last photograph.

After having a close look at the photos, I replied later that same day:

“Dear David,

A surprisingly easy task, as it turns out!

The Greek text at the top of your photo no. 0556 reads: ΛΛΥΠΕΧΛΙΡΕΛΒΓΛΡΟΚΛΙΕΙΣΙΩΝ, followed by ΛΛΥΠΕ in mirror-writing.

This text corresponds to ΛΛΥΠΕ ΧΛΙΡΕ ΛΒΓΛΡ Ο ΚΛΙ ΕΙΣΙΩΝ, i.e. ἄλυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγαρ ὁ καὶ Εἰσίων, followed by the word ἄλυπε again, in mirror writing. The text at the bottom of your photo no. 0532 is the first part of the same text again: ΛΥΠΕΧΛΙΡΕΛΒΓ, i.e. [ἄ]λυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγ...

The text was incised by someone who did not know the Greek language, since he does not distinguish between the letters lambda and alpha: both are simply represented, in each of the texts, by the shape Λ.

The text literally means 'without grief, farewell! Abgar also known as Eision'. This text, in isolation, is meaningless.

However, this text corresponds precisely to line 2 of the Greek text of a bilingual Aramaic/Greek inscription published by J.T. Milik, Syria 35 (1958) 243-6 no.6 (SEG 20, 494), and republished in P.-L. Gatier, Inscriptions grecques et latines de Syrie XXI: Inscriptions de la Jordanie, 2: Region centrale (Paris 1986), no.118. That inscription reads, in its entirety, as follows,

1 Σελαμαν χρηστὲ καὶ
2 ἄλυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγαρ ὁ καὶ Εἰσίων
3 Μονοαθου υἱὸς υἱῷ τειμίῳ τὸ μνῆμα
4 ἐποίησεν ἔτους τρίτου ἐπαρχείας

’For Selaman, excellent and harmless man, farewell! Abgar, also known as Eision, son of Monoathos, constructed this tomb for his excellent son (i.e. Selaman), in the third year of the province'.

This is a stone tombstone from Madaba in Jordan, precisely dated to AD 108/9, on display in the Archaeological Museum in Amman.

The text on your bronze tablet, therefore, makes no sense in its own right, but has been extracted unintelligently from another longer text (as if it were inscribed with the words: 't to be that is the question wheth'). The longer text from which it derives is a perfectly ordinary tombstone from Madaba in Jordan which happens to have been on display in the Amman museum for the past fifty years or so. The text on your bronze tablet is repeated, in part, in three different places, meaningless in each case.

The only possible explanation is that the text on the bronze tablet was copied directly from the inscription in the museum at Amman by someone who did not understand the meaning of the text of the inscription, but was simply looking for a plausible-looking sequence of Greek letters to copy. He copied that sequence three times, in each case mixing up the letters alpha and lambda.

This particular bronze tablet is, therefore, a modern forgery, produced in Jordan within the last fifty years. I would stake my career on it.

All good wishes,

Peter Thonemann”


Well, he can’t say I didn’t warn him…

I'm not able to go to a research library right now to look up the Milik article, but nevertheless the conclusion is clear. At least one of David Elkington's metal codices (a copper one) is a forgery. It seems very unlikely indeed, therefore, that any of them are genuine.
 

Pashalis

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Seventy metal books 'found in cave in Jordan' could change our view of Biblical history:
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/226600-Seventy-metal-books-found-in-cave-in-Jordan-could-change-our-view-of-Biblical-history
 

Tina

Jedi Master
Here's the photos.

img_0532.jpg

img_0556.jpg

img_0557.jpg

 

Pashalis

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus? The incredible story of 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years :
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/226784-Is-this-the-first-ever-portrait-of-Jesus-The-incredible-story-of-70-ancient-books-hidden-in-a-cave-for-nearly-2-000-years
 

Aeneas

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hi Pashalis. If you read what Ottershew wrote a few posts above you will find that it most likely isn't even close to being a portrait of Jesus.

Ottershew wrote above:

Well, finally, a translation of one line has come through, and the whole thing is tending to look like a fake

Pashalis said:
Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus? The incredible story of 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years :
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/226784-Is-this-the-first-ever-portrait-of-Jesus-The-incredible-story-of-70-ancient-books-hidden-in-a-cave-for-nearly-2-000-years
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
Aeneas said:
Hi Pashalis. If you read what Ottershew wrote a few posts above you will find that it most likely isn't even close to being a portrait of Jesus.

It's okay, Aeneas - I think Pashalis was simply pointing us all to stories being run on SOTT, where there are further readers' comments.

Nobody seems to know for certain whether the codex cache, in its entirety, is a modern forgery. So far we have one metallurgist (Peter Northover at Oxford) who is said to have verified the antiquity of the two samples of lead he was given for testing.

Now we have Peter Thonemann, also at Oxford, who has spotted how debased one particular line of Greek is. His assumption is that it was copied from an exhibit in a museum in Amman. This may be true, and even likely, but there remains the possibility that it was copied in antiquity, when the tombstone could be seen in Madaba from AD 108/109. It's clear, I think, that the copyist had no knowledge of Greek, so it's therefore unlikely that this particular copper codex is ancient. But it could be that the artisan who made it was from the ancient world, and was simply illiterate - and intended to sell this piece to someone else who was also illiterate in Greek. And just because one codex proves fraudulent doesn't necessarily mean that they all are: with a possible value of, say, $250,000 per codex (one figure that has been bandied about), it might have been in the interest of someone who had control of a cache of ten genuine objects to have a whole lot more made following a similar pattern. This may seem counter-intuitive - identified fakes among a cache of genuine antiquities would tend to drive the price of the genuine items down - but forgers of antiquities, while undoubtedly often very skilful, may over-reach themselves through their own wishful thinking, or be forced to do so by members of criminal gangs.

Beyond this, it's really difficult to say what these finds represent. You would think that a scholar could tell you immediately, but it's not quite so simple. On the issue of forgery, scholars at the moment are particularly wary of being taken in by fraudulent antiquities - especially those items with a purported connection with the Bible. Recent examples include the James Ossuary, the Ivory pomegranate, the Jehoash Inscription and the Tel Dan Stele. There is a good deal of controversy about each of these items - and probably quite a bit of wishful thinking too from those who wish to prove the Old Testament "true". Eventually a "scholarly consensus" is arrived at as to whether a certain item is genuine or fraudulent. For example, the Ivory pomegranate is generally reckoned a fake, while the Tel Dan Stele seems now to have been accepted by most as genuine - but nevertheless some careful and thoroughly competent scholars (e.g. Russell Gmirkin) still entertain strong doubts. Niels Peter Lemche summarised the current state of debate on the Tel Dan Stele as follows:

Niels Peter Lemche said:
At the end of the day, is the Tel Dan inscription important for the study of the history of Israel in Antiquity? Of course it is important - if it is genuine. And, until the opposite has been proven, we have to reckon it to be genuine.

A consensus might be right, or it might be wrong; but it's not actually ever the final word. The whole matter is similar to the issue of art forgery. Everyone knows that a certain amount of material in prestigious galleries, and in private ownership, is actually fake. They're sophisticated, there's a great deal of money at stake, and the people involved in the deceptions can often be pretty dangerous.

Politics is also involved, i.e. the reputations of scholars, museums, national states, etc. On the James Ossuary, debate is particularly heated, and the matter has gone to trial, with the judge apparently still considering his verdict:

Wikipedia said:
The criminal, scholarly and scientific implications of this verdict are immense. If genuine, the artifacts are of historic importance and worth millions. An acquittal would be a severe setback for the Israel Antiquities Authority and its special investigators, who accused Golan and his co-defendants of making millions of dollars as part of an international chain of forgers planting sophisticated fakes in the world's museums. It would also be an acute embarrassment for the isotope experts at the Israel Geological Survey and professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University, who spent many days on the stand defending scientific tests they said showed the items must be fakes.

A guilty verdict, on the other hand, would destroy the reputation of one of the world's leading collectors of biblical antiquities and drive the entire Israeli market underground. The Israel Antiquities Authority has made no secret of its desire to shut down the trade in Bible-era artifacts, which they believe encourages grave robbers, who spirit the choicest finds out of the country.

... though it could be said, of course, that the IAA want to control archaeology, with the object of diminishing the impact of anything detrimental to Old Testament historicity, which is foundational for the Zionist project.

Getting back to these codices, any connection with Jesus, by the way, is at the moment simply newspaper hype. Since the things are presently unread, and undated, it's simply impossible to say what they represent. If genuine - and it's a pretty big "if" at the moment - there is the possibility that these items may tell us something about ancient charms and magical texts. Like many magical texts (e.g. in grimoires), they were never necessarily meant to make an enormous amount of sense: the creation of a sense of mystery, and authority derived from ancient scripts (especially Hebrew) was key. In other words, mystification was pretty important here. It's interesting (a) that they're made for the most part of lead, a material often used in the ancient world in the construction of written curses, and (b) that they're sealed shut. This might have been to make sure that they didn't flap about when carried as amulets, or suspended from a nail next to a door. So if they prove to be written in gibberish, this might not surprise us. Who said a text has to make sense for it to work magically? The whole thing, after all, is based on wishful thinking anyway.

edit: minor edits and clarification
 

Ottershrew

Jedi Master
Pashalis said:
Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus? The incredible story of 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years :
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/226784-Is-this-the-first-ever-portrait-of-Jesus-The-incredible-story-of-70-ancient-books-hidden-in-a-cave-for-nearly-2-000-years

In answer to this question (Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus?), James E. Deitrick provides the following answer: no, but if it is, "then there's no avoiding the conclusion he had fabulous taste."

See here: _http://deorientation.blogspot.com/2011/04/jesus-mona-lisa-smile-update-better.html
 
Top Bottom