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?