Bible Archaeology

Artefacts Discovered in Jordan Cave: An Account of Jesus’ Last Years?

Are artefacts discovered in a remote cave in Jordan the secret writings about the last years of Jesus?

That’s the tantalising title of the report in the Daily Mail:

Artefacts discovered in a remote cave in Jordan could hold a contemporary account of the last years of Jesus.

The find of scrolls and 70 lead codices – tiny credit-card-sized volumes containing ancient Hebrew script talking of the Messiah and the Resurrection – has excited biblical scholars.

Much of the writing is in code, but experts have deciphered images, symbols and a few words and the texts could be 2,000 years old.

… Many of the codices are sealed which suggests that they could be secret writings referred to in the apocryphal Book of Ezra – an appendage to some versions of the Bible.

Texts have been written on little sheets of lead bound together with wire.

The treasure trove was found five years ago by an Israeli Bedouin and may have been around since the 1st century, around the time of Jesus’s crucifixion and Resurrection.

A number of experts have examined the writings, including Margaret Barker, a former president of the Society for Old testament Study with a renowned knowledge of early Christian studies.

She told the Sunday Times how the intrigue surrounding the artefacts was similar to the black market secrecy with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls…

… The owner of the cache is a Bedouin named Hassan Saeda who lives in the village of Um-al-Ghanam in the north of Israel,according to the Sunday Times. He is believed to have obtained them after they were discovered in northern Jordan.

Two samples were sent to a laboratory in England where they were examined by Peter Northover, head of the materials science-based archaeology group.

The verdict was inconclusive without more tests, but he said the composition was ‘consistent with a range of ancient lead.’

However, Philip Davies, emeritus professor of biblical studies at Sheffield University is convinced the codices are genuine after studying one.

He has told colleagues privately that he believes the find is unlikely to have been forged, say the Sunday Times.

You can read more here.

HT:   Joel Watts

UPDATE I:   Apparently, the above is a lot of nonsense:

… Not only are the scrolls fake, most of the reporting on this story in both the Sunday Times and the Mail is, too. Here’s the original three-week-old story from where the Sunday Times ripped this off. They were “discovered” a century ago, not recently, and have been labelled forgeries by all the leading experts.

UPDATE II:    or maybe not!

UPDATE III:   A photo.

UPDATE IV:   The BBC has more details and photos here.

UPDATE V:    Does the above discovery contain the first ever portrait of Jesus?


Sarah Palin: Israel Too Apologetic

Former American vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly on the Temple Mount on a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday, officials who accompanied Palin said.

Palin and her husband Todd arrived for a two-day visit on Sunday afternoon and toured the Western Wall and its adjacent tunnels. They will visit the Old City again on Monday, tour Gesthsemane and the Mount of Olives, and have dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at their official residence in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has already met in Jerusalem over the last two months with a number of leading US politicians considered as likely candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

World Likud chairman and Likud MK Danny Danon and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz served as Palin’s tour guides on Sunday night. Palin was told that Jews were not allowed to pray openly on the Temple Mount and about the Arab riots that accompanied Netanyahu’s decision to authorize the creation of an exit from the Western Wall tunnels in 1996.

“Why are you apologizing all the time?” Palin asked her guides.

Palin expressed regret that she would not be able to visit Nazareth or Bethlehem during her brief stay in Israel, but promised that she would soon come back for longer.

“It’s overwhelming to be able to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith,” Palin told reporters upon exiting the tunnels. “I’m so thankful to be able to be here, and I’m thankful to know the Israel-American connection will grow and strengthen as the peace negotiations continue.”

Rabinowitz said that Palin prayed at the point closest to the Holy of Holies and left a note with a personal prayer. Unlike the incident that occurred when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Western Wall in July 2008, nobody removed her note from the Wall and gave it to the press…

The Jerusalem Post has more here.

And here she is visiting the Western Wall:


Fr John Corapi: Convicted Already?

Has Fr Corapi been convicted already?

Father Corapi, the dynamic and well known evangelist, broke the news on his own website this weekend that he has been placed on ‘administrative leave’ following wide ranging accusations of misconduct by a former employee.  Fr. Corapi is adamant that the accusations are baseless and he decries the de facto policy that now finds accused priests guilty until proven innocent so as to avoid further embarrassment as he puts it, “just in case.”

There seems to no longer be the need for a complaint to be deemed “credible” in order for Church authorities to pull the trigger on the Church’s procedure, which was in recent years crafted to respond to cases of the sexual abuse of minors. I am not accused of that, but it seems, once again, that they now don’t have to deem the complaint to be credible or not, and it is being applied broadly to respond to all complaints. I have been placed on “administrative leave” as the result of this.

I’ll certainly cooperate with the process, but personally believe that it is seriously flawed, and is tantamount to treating the priest as guilty “just in case”, then through the process determining if he is innocent. The resultant damage to the accused is immediate, irreparable, and serious, especially for someone like myself, since I am so well known. I am not alone in this assessment, as multiple canon lawyers and civil and criminal attorneys have stated publicly that the procedure does grave damage to the accused from the outset, regardless of rhetoric denying this, and has little regard for any form of meaningful due process.

I am certainly not in any position to judge the facts in this particular case, but I must believe Fr. Corapi is innocent until proven otherwise.  Beyond that, all I have is my gut feeling and my hope, both of which tend toward innocence.  Time will tell.  I’ve been wrong before.

But beyond the particulars of his own case, Fr. Corapi takes issue with the process, a process which seemingly holds the accused guilty until proven innocent.  The truth is that someone of the prominence of Fr. Corapi may never recover his reputation, even though he be as pure as the driven snow.

It would seem that the destruction of reputations, even of the innocent,  is the inevitable consequence of a zero-tolerance policy administered by those seeking to avoid embarrassment.  In the past, accusations would be ignored to avoid embarrassment destroying lives.  The flip side is that acting on any and all such accusations without meaningful due process will destroy lives too…

Read on here.

You may also wish to read, 36 Hours after Corapi-Stormfall… here.

And over at the Deacon’s Bench (where the story broke), The Corapi case: what we know, what we don’t, here.

The blogosphere is still trembling from The Corapi Quake…

UPDATE I:    Church officials comment on Father Corapi’s case here.

UPDATE II:  Fr John Corapi Tagged: ‘Pedophile’ by Google.