Dan McClellan has posted several recent pieces on the Jordanian lead codices that are highly recommended. Other than his collection of photos (very cool), he focuses on analysis. For insights into the fabrication of the artistic work on the codices, this analysis is a must read. On the lettering, this demonstration of forgery is short but important. For those who know Hebrew (and some training in the paleo-alphabet helps), McClellan also posted this treatment of the “texts” on the codices (basically a lot of gibberish on them). And finally, here’s a description containing note of some suspicious incongruities on some of the codices pictures on Facebook.
As I suggested might be the case when news of the testing of the codices was announced, the lead is apparently ancient according to the results. I’m kind of amazed that the academic community isn’t saying “who cares?” — I guess they never read Wallace’s The Word. All this proves is that forgers used ancient material, not that the texts themselves are authentic, especially when there is abundant evidence to the contrary.
To the academic blogging community (I’d address the breathless media, but they haven’t listened from the beginning): Let’s use a little imagination. If you were going to fake these, wouldn’t you anticipate your work would be tested this way? I would, and I’d make sure to use real material before copying my content.
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.
Todd Bolen reports today that the lead codices already widely considered to be fraudulent will be undergoing testing by antiquities authorities. For those of you just getting up to speed on this, here’s a link to an overview of the reasons they are considered fakes.
I can only hope that the results of scientific materials testing isn’t allowed to trump the other data. What I mean here will be familiar to anyone who has ever read (or remembers the TV mini-series back in the 70s I think) a book by Irving Wallace called “The Word.” In that thriller, a fake Aramaic gospel was produced on authentic manuscript material via authentic ink dating to the first century. How it was pulled off in the story was ingenious, but relatively simple. So if the lead materials date to the first century, that settles nothing. The other data are still telling.
Here’s the link to the story — seven of the lead codices have been recovered by the Jordanian police. This should mean more intensified testing that, I’m betting, will validate the forgery evidence already put forth.
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.