I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jewish Christian Lead Codices, Economist Article and Margaret Baker



I have written in other blog posts about the Jewish Christian lead Codices found in Jordan and Israel. Many have jumped on the band wagon to discredit them but their authenticity is still very much open. It would seem certain quarters are desperate to discredit them at all costs. Phillip Davies writes: "Prince Hussein addressed the Seventh World Archaeological Congress in Amman earlier this month. During a preliminary meeting of government officials and other interested parties, it was proposed that he should announce (a) that lead codices have been found in Jordan and were worthy of study; and (b) that scholars and institutes were invited to come and study them. Barbara Porter, the Director of ACOR (American Center of Oriental Research) urged the government not to make the announcement and so it was abandoned. The reason for this compliance, I understand, is that the government backed down is that it does not want to upset its relationship with ACOR, which has a great deal of influence in Jordan. It funds numerous excavations and bring a lot of money to Jordan.  ACOR became a private institution in 1993. No reason was given by Dr Porter for her veto and no public statements have been made by any party. Any members [of SOTS] with connections to ACOR or senior personnel may like to write and ask the reason for this action, which seems hard to understand."

A recent article (March 1 2013) in the Economist also criticised those who were too quick to condemn the codices as fakes. Daniel O. McClellan one of the critics writes about the article on his website: "The article broadly promotes suspended judgment and urges testing, wagging a finger at those who find the evidence of their forgery to be conclusive. The response of the blogging community to the codices is collectively characterized as “denunciation and ridicule.” I cannot say that I am pleased with the article’s insight or approach. The call to suspended judgment appears to me to be more an axiom than an informed conclusion."

The article in the Economist states: "WHENEVER discoveries are announced that could possibly be of great importance for religious history, there tend to be blazes of publicity followed by periods of mysterious silence. Such has been the fate of the lead codices, apparently found in a cave in Jordan, whose existence was publicised nearly two years ago. So last August some 38 scholars, mostly from Britain but also from as far afield as Romania and South Korea, wrote an open letter to the Times of London, calling on the Jordanian authorities to break their silence and investigate further a collection of objects which have variously been described as the most important find in Biblical archaeology for half a century, as clever fakes or as crude fakes. As the signatories noted, the lack of any news from Amman was "strange" given the excitement they had initially generated. When the objects came to light in 2011, Jordan laid claim to them, and serious Jordanian archaeologists said there were good initial indications of their authenticity and importance. It was widely expected that there would be an announcement about the codices at an international archaeological conference which Jordan hosted in January, but to the disappointment of many participants, no such statement was made...

...One theory, aired in the Jewish Chronicle, drew on one of of the few pieces of metallurgical analysis whose results have been made known, a test by Peter Northover of the Department of Materials at Oxford University. After scrutinizing two lead codices, he found that the material used was consistent with the possibility of it being ancient, and that the construction of the objects appeared not to be recent...

...Sensibly modest as Mr Northover is, those tantalising hints suggest that the scholars were right to call on the Jordanian authorities to examine the codices more carefully (as laboratories in Jordan are well capable of doing) and share the results with the world. Even a set of 19th-century forgeries would be rather intriguing. And given their supreme confidence, the militant sceptics should surely have no problem with further scientific analysis. From their point of view, it must be a pre-ordained certainty that peer-reviewed laboratory tests in Jordan, or anywhere else, will simply confirm their rightness and give them fresh opportunities to wag their fingers at anybody who took the codices seriously. That makes it slightly puzzling that a couple of the most vociferous sceptics declared that they would have refused, if asked, to sign the letter to the Jordanian authorities asking for more information. From their perspective, perhaps, backing such a request would have implied taking the codices too seriously.

It is surely in everybody's interest that the codices be tested properly. Lead is hard to date, but when it is mixed with other materials impurities emerge, at varying paces, as surface deposits; that can provide some clues about the history of a lead object. Perhaps a cold-war sound-bite is relevant here. During disarmament talks, Ronald Reagan used to exasperate Mikhail Gorbachev by quoting at him, in slightly mispronounced Russian, the saying "doverai no proverai"—"trust but verify." An appropriate riposte to the codices sceptics would be a slight variation on that proverb: "mistrust, but verify". If you are as right as you think you are, you surely have nothing to lose."

It would seem that the case for the Codices is not as closed as many would like to see. The Economists challenge would not be refused by any truly open minded person but unfortunately many academics of the establishment today and their followers are some of the most closed minded human beings one will ever meet.

The well-known scholar Margaret Baker has also continued to defend the codices. She says in a recent article ( 15 Feb 2013) titled "The Puzzle of the Codices":

"One of the greatest archaeological controversies of modern times is unfolding, writes Old Testament expert Margaret Barker.

DOZENS of small lead books have been found. That much is certain. The rest of this amazing story is all shrouded in a web of secrecy, half truth and big money.

About five years ago I was shown photographs of small lead books that had been found in north Jordan – or was it in Israel? There were two stories, because wherever they were found determines which Government rightfully owns them.

They had been found a few years earlier – or they had been found long ago by someone’s grandfather? There were two stories again, because when they were found determines who has any claim to own them, the state or the finder.

The little books vary in size from a bit bigger than a bank card to almost the size of a paperback. They were sealed with rings on all four sides, but some are now broken open. They have about seven or eight pages, but it is hard to count because the metal has been compressed. 

There is writing on them. Some is Hebrew lettering, some is Greek, but most is Palaeo-Hebrew lettering that was used in the time of King David. Some of the letters are forms not known elsewhere;so only a few words have so far been deciphered by the distinguished scholars in England who have been working on them. This ancient script was still used in the time of Jesus on coins and in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was considerd sacred. 

The letters are not engraved in the lead. The pages were cast in moulds so the letters stand above the surface. They are decorated with various symbols. Nothing like them has ever been found.

DATING
Dating lead is very difficult, but the items tested show that their surface has not been disturbed for about 1,800 years, maybe more. They were made in the time of the first Christians. Despite the story about being found in Israel, their most likely hiding place was caves about 13 miles from Pella, where the Christian refugees fled from Jerusalem in 70 AD. Niches to hold the books had been carved into the walls of one cave. 

This cave was not previously known to the authorities and David Elkington, who first showed me the pictures, persuaded the authorities in Jordan to register it as an archaeological site. It is now guarded. 

There have been huge delays in investigating the site and the finds. For some reason they caused a furious campaign of hostile blogging. There were claims online that the finds were forgeries. In fact those wanting to investigate the finds were trying to make sure the codices were safe and available for scholars to investigate. 

They did not want the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls repeated. It took 50 years to make these available for everyone to study. They were kept by certain institutions and only their members and students were allowed to study them and have the prestige of publishing the results. Even fellow scholars were denied access.

Meanwhile, it seems that items from the cave site have been sold, and for huge sums of money. $95,000 for an item was mentioned recently. 

Members of the Society for Old Testament Study published an open letter in “The Times” last July, requesting that the finds be made available to scholars, but there was no response. No doubt several items of a later date are among the cave finds. There are also modern forgeries in circulation. It is unlikely that the entire collection is forged, since there are very few who have the knowledge of early Christianity needed to make such items. Forgeries imitate something already known, and nothing like these lead books has ever been found. 

No early Christian art has survived, but there are vivid descriptions in the Book of Revelation of the images they used. These were all from the Jerusalem temple and especially from the Feast of Tabernacles. The codices are decorated with these Temple and Tabernacles images: the sevenfold lamp, the willow branches carried by priests at Tabernacles, the citrons carried with palm branches by other pilgrims, and the diagonal cross, which was the earliest form of the baptismal cross. It was the mark of the Name of the Lord.

Most startling of all are the faces. There are several images of the same face – just a shining face and sometimes with rays like the sun – with Palaeo-Hebrew writing. These cannot have been Jewish because an image was forbidden, and a face with ancient sacred letters was unthinkable.

At the Transfiguration, Matthew 17 says Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and Revelation 1 says Jesus was with the sevenfold lamp, dressed as a high priest, and his face was shining like the sun.

With the lead books were found small figurines of a man with the same face and he is dressed as a high priest. Hebrews 4 describes Jesus as our great high priest.

SEALS
In Revelation 5, the Lamb is worthy to open the book with seven seals. Many translations say it was a scroll, but the Greek has biblion, book. A sealed book was one of the key symbols of Jesus and the Christians, and it seems that many early Christian sealed books have now been found. Due to delays, intrigues and rivalries and other all too human factors, this priceless treasure is in danger from theft and smuggling...". 

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