The Mystery of the Ancient Books Goes On

Apr 24, 2011 No Comments by

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the seventy ancient books said to be found in a Jordanian cave. That story continues. Kimberley Bowes is a Greek and Roman archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania. He has joined a chorus of dissenters who regard the seventy metal/lead books to be fake.

Fake Christian relics are relatively common, Bowes said. “Modern people’s urge to find material evidence from the first two centuries of Christianity is much stronger than the actual evidence itself. This is because the numbers of Christians from this period was incredibly small — probably less than 7,000 by 100 A.D. — and because they didn’t distinguish themselves materially from their Jewish brethren.”

“The ‘British archaeologist’ who is named as apparently trying to get these things into a Jordanian museum and who is one of the few who has actually seen them, one David Elkington, is not an archaeologist,” said Bowes.

When the news of their existence first hit the headlines, international media embraced them wholeheartedly.

“Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the early Christian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history,” reported the BBC.

Steve Caruso, an Aramaic translator says he has incontrovertible evidence that the codices are fake.

“I obtained photos of all the text that was available, and spent the past week looking over them,” said Caruso, who is also a teacher who is consulted by dealers of antiquities to analyze inscriptions on ancient artifacts. “I noticed there were a lot of old Aramaic forms that were about 2,500 years old. But they were mixed in with other forms that were younger, so I took a closer look at that and pulled out all the distinct forms that I could find,” Caruso told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. “It was very, very odd — I’ve never seen this kind of mix before.”

“There were inconsistencies in how they did the stroke order, which you would never have seen. Scribes had very specific ways of doing things,” Caruso said. Furthermore, several characters appeared “flipped” — a mistake that would imply they were hastily copied rather than original.

Another analyst Peter Thonemann added more. “The image they are saying is Christ is the sun god Helios from a coin that came from the island of Rhodes. There are also some nonsense inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek,” Peter Thonemann told the press.

He believes the codices were forged within the past 50 years.

The Israel Antiquities Authority doubts the legitimacy of the booklets as “a mixture of incompatible periods and styles without any connection or logic.”

Because the codices were removed from their discovery site, the chance of authentication is further reduced.

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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