The Bellingham Herald, the local newspaper in my neck of the woods, ran an article on me today (you have to love the rocket behind me in the picture). The interview with Michelle Nolan was a lot of fun. It was fascinating — she’s a veritable walking encyclopedia on the history of comic books and science fiction. We tried to focus on several of the ideas in The Facade. I actually got several good trajectories for the sequel, The Portent, from the interview.
My title is that of Mark Goodacre’s post. The most telling line in the short note is that Jim Davila, an OT and Second Temple Judaism scholar who is following the codices fiasco closely, notes that “there is no attempt to try to find experts to comment on the piece.”
The archaeo-pornistas masquerading as journalists are either too stupid to find experts (how hard is that with Google?) or just want to peddle twaddle. Take your pick.
Here’s a post from the Bible Places blog that offers a couple links summarizing the lead codices fraud. Here’s a paragraph:
Let’s take stock. The Greek is lifted nonsensically from an inscription published in 1958. The forger couldn’t tell the difference between the Greek letters alpha and lambda. The Hebrew script is taken from the same inscription. The Hebrew text is in “code,” i.e., is gibberish. The “Jesus” face is taken from a well-known mosaic. The charioteer is taken from a fake coin. The crocodile has a suspicious resemblance to a plastic toy.
It also has some links to material that gives the media a spanking for perpetuating its own blather without apology. Another paragraph:
The only other noteworthy news is the lack of it. Trust me, the mainstream media have been informed about the true status of the fake codices. The lack of coverage is not due to ignorance, it’s due to unprofessional indifference. Think about that. When the media report a sensationalist story and it proves to be bogus, they feel no responsibility to inform their readers of the truth. I suppose they might if they think they can get another sensation out of the correct story, but if not, they can’t be bothered. Journalists used to feel a professional obligation to their audience. No more.
Dr. Jim Davila over at PaleoJudaica as this post this morning on the codices. The post features a short, to-the-point, evidence-based analysis by professor Peter Thonemann, of some of the pages of the codices, noting inconsistencies in the story and, more importantly, how the textual contents were copied from a known source in a Jordanian museum!
There are some nice high-resolution photos at the link as well.
How was the professor able to establish fakery so quickly? Simple. Once texts like this are released (that is the key — letting experts see them), it is a simple matter to do what professor Thonemann did: transcribe them and then look up the words in concordances (digital or otherwise). In this case, there were a number of known words (specific forms) and they all happened to occur in the same text(s) — in order (!) once those source texts are checked. This required experimenting a bit with the alpha and lambda letters since they are similar in form (and that was bungled by the forger). Once at this point, you know you have LINES from known texts. The next step is to find where those texts were published through a simple database source. Publications usually note the provenance of a text (where it was found) and where it is now held, in the case of a manuscript or archaeological artifact. Voila!
For any ancient astronaut theorists or cult archaeologists out there — this is *precisely* why the people you blindly follow do *not* submit their work to peer review. It is too easy to be exposed by real experts.It is also precisely why I continually ask people who promote such nonsense, “show me the texts — the specific lines cited.” That demand is never met, which hardly surprises me. When selling snake oil, you don’t hand the recipe to a chemist.
Now, a prediction. None of this will make any difference to “researchers” who want to press some point of nonsense to peddle the paleobabble that makes them money and gives them a following.
Todd Bolen has a sweet post over at his Bible Places blog. I highly recommend it. Here’s one paragraph:
In a nutshell, the problems with this discovery include the facts that (1) we don’t know who owns the artifacts; (2) we don’t know where they were found; (3) the artifacts were not excavated by archaeologists but stolen by thieves; (4) nearly all information about the discovery so far has come from a single source of dubious reliability; (5) claims have been made that this find is more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls; (6) the source of information appears to be positioning himself for fame and fortune.
Well, you know it’s going to happen. This sort of discovery, if valid, will introduce a new wave of archaeo-porn for archaeo-media presstitutes everywhere — and of course their mystic “researchers” across cyberspace who are just waiting for the next piece of antiquity news to twist into yet more revisionist mytho-history about Jesus and the early Christians. What fun!
Here’s a very nice posting (“Lead Codices Silliness“) that sketches the already-encroaching silliness factor. Now Robert Feather has weighed in — the guy who believes the Copper Scroll from Qumran is related to Akhenaten and his Aten-worship. Feather thinks the lead codices have Kabbalah written all over them. No kidding. All that from some pictures on the web. Now that’s scholarship. Is his last name an abbreviation of “feather-brain”? No doubt it will get even wackier (and yes, it can).
I wonder when the likes of Michael Baigent, Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas, and Lynn Picknett will get involved. Then we’ll have a non-sequitur Battle Royal on our hands.
At first glance, you might wonder why this is PaleoBabble fodder. Having just returned from the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (this year in Boston), I was reminded again how even scholars have an insular perspective. This is especially true of New Testament (NT) scholars like Bart Ehrman, who seems amazingly unaware or indifferent to the scholarship both within and outside his field for how early the idea of a godhead came along. For example, there is a spate of recent books dealing with early veneration of Jesus as God, well before the New Testament text was “fiddled with” (Ehrman supposes that textual alteration of the NT books is where that idea comes from). Here are some representative academic titles:
On the pre-New Testament side of things, the above titles by Gathercole and Lee include a good bit of Jewish material from the “intertestamental” period. My own work has focused on the idea of a godhead in the sacred Scriptures of Judaism, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). I just delivered a paper on that subject at one of the conferences I just attended. The paper is entitled, “The Concept of a Godhead in Israelite Religion,” and is written in a somewhat conversational style (I didn’t do much in the way of footnotes; I’ll be adding that sort of thing as I revise for publication). It is also geared a bit to a Christian audience (hence the few references early to a Trinity). I plan to create two scholarly articles from this: one for a Christian academic audience, the other for a broader audience, but I offer it here for those interested.
You can add this to the growing pile of reasons not to trust the mainstream press to get ancient studies right. This time their material is based upon a misspelling.Â Here it is on April DeConick’s blog.