Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Old Daily Mail article on the fake metal codices

FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: [UPDATE: Oops. I got this from the Agade list and didn't note the dateline, which puts it in April. Sorry about that. I'll leave the post up, though, since it recaps some of the major issues. And the good news is that, since this is actually an old story, even the Daily Mail is currently leaving it alone. Thanks to Jim West for pointing out the date.]

The Daily Mail has a long article on the codices which sums up most of the information and, especially, misinformation published thus far about them. With the exception, of course, of Peter Thonemann's demonstration that the Greek on one of the codices is an obvious and crude forgery. Somehow they missed that one.
Is this the first ever portrait of Jesus? The incredible story of 70 ancient books hidden in a cave for nearly 2,000 years

By Nick Pryer

Last updated at 3:02 PM on 4th April 2011

The image is eerily familiar: a bearded young man with flowing curly hair. After lying for nearly 2,000 years hidden in a cave in the Holy Land, the fine detail is difficult to determine. But in a certain light it is not difficult to interpret the marks around the figure’s brow as a crown of thorns.

The extraordinary picture of one of the recently discovered hoard of up to 70 lead codices – booklets – found in a cave in the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee is one reason Bible historians are clamouring to get their hands on the ancient artefacts.

If genuine, this could be the first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ, possibly even created in the lifetime of those who knew him.
The image in question looks very much like an attempt at a reproduction of ancient Helios imagery. As Bill Hamblin comments, "This is kind of like seeing a portrait of Jesus on a pancake."

Most of the rest of the article contains material I have already commented on at length in earlier posts, so I will focus on a few specifics.
Astonishingly, one of the booklets appears to bear the words ‘Saviour of Israel’ – one of the few phrases so far translated.
I certainly haven't seen that. Photo please. In any case, "Savior of Israel" is a perfectly good title for God (cf. Isaiah 43:3, 45:15) and need not have anything to do with Jesus.
A sealed book containing sacred information was mentioned in the biblical Book of Revelations.
Revelation, dammit, Revelation!
This interpretation of the books as proto-Christian artefacts is supported by Margaret Barker, former president of the Society for Old Testament Study and one of Britain’s leading experts on early Christianity.
As I noted back in late April, Margaret Barker has not made a public comment on the plates since Thonemann' debunked the one conclusively.
If genuine, it seems clear that these books were, in fact, created by an early Messianic Jewish sect, perhaps closely allied to the early Christian church and that these images represent Christ himself. However another theory, put forward by Robert Feather – an authority on The Dead Sea Scrolls and author of The Mystery Of The Copper Scroll Of Qumran – is that these books are connected to the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-136AD, the third major rebellion by the Jews of Judea Province and the last of the Jewish-Roman Wars.
Robert Feather is a metallurgist who has written a highly speculative book on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is not an "authority" on the Scrolls.
The spiritual leader of the [Bar Kokhba] revolt was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who laid the foundations for a mystical form of Judaism known today as Kabbalah, which is followed by Madonna, Britney Spears and others. Yochai hid in a cave for 13 years and wrote a secret commentary on the Bible, the Zohar, which evolved into the teaching of Kabbalah. Feather is convinced that some of the text on the codices carry the name of Rabbi Bar Yochai.
Again, where is the photo? But it would be interesting if this turned out to be correct. I suspect that the codices were originally concocted to appear to be ancient Jewish texts and then somewhere along the way someone (Elkington?) got hold of them and then torturously tried to map early Christianity onto them as something that would sell better. And so it has.

Oh, and the Zohar is a medieval pseudepigraphon.
Saida, who is in his mid-30s and married with five or six children, claims he inherited the booklets from his grandfather.
I like this one. What, did he lose count? Or, more likely, does this indicate that the Daily Mail has not actually interviewed him, at least lately, and so could not clarify this point? Indeed, if you look at the article carefully, it never says that any of the people mentioned in it were interviewed for it.
The artefacts have been seen by multi-millionaire collectors of antiquities in both Israel and Europe – and Saida has been offered tens of millions of pounds for just a few of them, but has declined to sell any.
You believe that, do you?
The samples were then sent to the Swiss National Materials Laboratory at Dubendorf, Switzerland. The results show they were consistent with ancient (Roman) period lead production and that the metal was smelted from ore that originated in the Mediterranean. Dr Northover also said that corrosion on the books was unlikely to be modern.
If the lead is Mediterranean, that would be interesting. But unless and until the report is made public, I am disinclined to take much stock in rumors about what it says.
The director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, has few doubts. He believes they may indeed have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.
I have commented on Ziad al-Saad's perspective here and here.

To recap: All indicators are that these metal codices are modern fakes. They may be written on ancient lead, which can be obtained without too much difficulty, but I have seen no evidence that the writing and iconography on any of them are genuine, but rather considerable evidence that they are fake. I have summed up the case against their authenticity here and here. It is perhaps encouraging that some of the more reputable mainstream media have begun shying away from accepting the codices as genuine, and it is left to the Daily Mail (and other still more goofball sources to which I am not going to link) to carry on the charade.

For more background, go to the last link above and follow its "background here" link for many, many more posts on the subject.