Wednesday, November 10, 2021

More gold-print, "1,000-year-old" Hebrew books from Turkey

HERE WE GO AGAIN: 1,000-year-old gold-embossed Jewish books seized in Turkey. Four books and a scroll written in Hebrew and embossed with gold leaf were seized by Turkish authorities from a smuggler (Tzvi Joffre, Jerusalem Post).

On the basis of the video these do not look like thousand-year-old Hebrew books. They give every appearance of being crude, modern, boiler-plate forgeries or tourist trinkets. Many such have turned up in Turkey in recent years.

The story links to a Reuters/Jerusalem Post article from March of this year which reports on a manifestly bogus "2,500-year-old golden Torah" siezed from someone's car. The object is a codex (i.e., a book with pages and a cover, a format that didn't exist 2,500 years ago) and the Hebrew has Masoretic vowel points (which were invented in the early Middle Ages). What I can make out of the Hebrew is gibberish.

The actual discovery of a complete 2,500-year-old Torah would be a massive international story, bigger than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I have said I was going to ignore the continued slew of Turkish fake Hebrew and Syriac manuscripts unless there was a good reason to mention them. But since the Jerusalem Post has fallen for these, I decided to comment on them.

The Jerusalem Post keeps embarrassing itself with these stories. They really should hand them over to someone like Rossella Tercatin, who knows what she is doing.

If there are reports of ancient Hebrew or Syriac books with gold fonts discovered in Turkey, they are probably modern fakes. You can safely bet they are not a thousand or thousands of years old and they are not worth millions. If (highly unlikely) there is an exception, you can be sure it will rapidly become an international story involving credible experts. If that were to happen, no one would be happier than I.

I have been collecting reports of such manuscripts for many years. The follow-ups I've seen generally conclude they are fakes. I have not seen a single case where one was verified to be a genuine ancient, or even 1,000-year-old, manuscript. See here, here, here, here and links, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And this post is also relevant to the topic of modern fake "historical" manuscripts.

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