FAKE METAL CODICES WATCH: At the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, Dirk Jongkind reports
that Philip Davies has published an article on the metal codies in PEQ
. I have not yet seen the article, so at the moment I am relying entirely on the blog post. Apparently Davies agrees that the copper codices (including the one shown to Thonemann) are modern fakes, and he allows that the balance of probability is that the lead ones are modern fakes as well, but he does not entirely rule out the possibility that they are ancient.
I will have to look at the article. What we know so far is that (1) one of the codices, a copper one, is an obvious and crude fake; (2) the supposedly ancient lead codices share so-far indistinguishable iconography with the fake copper one; (3) there are concerns about this iconography in itself; (4) at least some of the lead codices (at least one?) seems to be made of ancient lead (but such lead would not be hard to obtain for such purposes); (5) the source who gave us the codices in the first place admits also to manufacturing hundreds of similar fakes, and thus apparently to having the skills and resources to have faked them all; and (6) that the behavior of the anonymous "team" of supposed researchers has been bizarre and suspicious. (I am not referring to Barker or Davies, who have been appropriately cautious.)
The indications are pretty compelling that the whole thing is a hoax and that is clearly the way to bet at present. I agree with Davies that the story is intrinsically interesting and worth (someone else's time) trying to unravel. I agree also that it is worthwhile to have experts examine the actual supposedly genuine codices, if nothing else to study the manufacturing techniques of the forgery. In fact, if I were the one who had access to them (i.e., Elkington), I would be making in my highest priority to make that happen. Funny that doesn't seem to be happening here ...
Again, here are the conditions that need to be fulfilled
if anyone expects the scholarly community to start taking this seriously.
Much additional background here
UPDATE: The article is available in electronic format: EDITORIAL: MYSTERIOUS BOOKS FROM JORDAN
142, 2 , 79-86), but it is behind a subscription wall. Having now read it, I stand by the comments above and have only the following to add. Davies writes:
It seemed a further oddity of this affair that Elkington was anxious to consult as widely as he could from among scholarly experts, while insisting on confidentiality. This pattern did not seem to fit a publicity-seeking fraudster.
I have not accused Elkington of being the forger and I don't think it is likely that he is. At the same time (as Davies acknowledges in n. 4), Elkington failed to make Thonemann's debunking of the copper codex public, so Elkington's motivations and actions are hardly above reproach.
Also, Davies's effort in n. 4 to leave open the slight possibility that the codex shown to Thonemann
is actually ancient is desperate. The Greek phrase in question makes sense in its context on the tombstone but is grammatically and contextually incoherent on the copper plate. It is a single line copied from the tombstone inscription and put on the copper plate by someone who was too lazy even to pay attention to what they were copying.
UPDATE: You can read the editorial for free here
(HT Daniel McClellan.)