As James McGrath has pointed out on his blog, I have created a Listserv for Bibliobloggers (actual experts) for the purpose of sharing information and creating an accurate Wikipedia page so the correct status of these relics can be disseminated. It has been an amazing joint effort and everyone has put a lot of time into it–even those who felt that they were giving it too much credit by doing so. And thus far the collaborating has been very successful.
However I cannot take credit for starting the Wiki page nor its current status (I made some minor edits, like correcting the last section header, removing some misleading information such as the many “supposedly’s” and “apparently’s” concerning emails which were not necessary, but more work needs to be done–the actual article is a credit to Roger Pearse who has done a great job with explaining the situation overall). I believe this indeed might be the first time this has ever been done. A great deal of new information has come to light as a result of information sharing.
David Meadows, for example, exposes many of the bizarre loopholes in the various reports of the stories here. In fact he does such an amazing job, I see no need to rehash any of it. Every interested reader should go there and check out what he has written.
On top of this, David, Dan, and I have been discussing the many similarities of the cast images on the tablets to coins and other artifacts located at museums in the region. David has highlighted the similarity between the “face of Jesus” tablet with a bust of Apollo at the Jordan Archaeology Museum. See below:
Also highlighted are the similarities between the tablets containing many images (like the alligator, the chariots, the palm trees, and the stars) and coins which are also found at the same museum. First the palm trees (coins dated to the time of Bar Kokhba):
Then the chariots (coin is a Tetradrachm dating to the 4th century BCE):
Now the stars (the coins date to the reign of Augustus):
There are many reasons to doubt these tablets are authentic, but these similarities are uncanny and supply more weight to the conclusion many of us have already drawn: These tablets are fakes.
But we see more than tablets in these latest reports. In this picture here, we see what appears to be unrolled lead scrolls:
Finally, I would like to highlight the additional email updates from Philip Davies, Mark Goodacre, Margaret Barker, and R. Joseph Hoffmann here and here. Both instances show that not only were Philip and Margaret unaware of the fake tablets, but that they have begun to reflect upon the possibility that there are indeed fakes in the lot. Daniel McClellan has argued, in my opinion persuasively, that it makes no sense to send the modern fakes (which Paul/David Elkington and company would have known about) to Thonemann for analysis rather than those which were authentic:
I don’t know why someone would add fake additions to an original find and then send out photos of the fake additions for authentication, only to ignore their falsification and again send out pictures of the fake additions for publicizing. Next, people who create molds for mass production are those concerned about efficiency. Forgers aren’t concerned with efficiency. In fact, forgery often involves excruciatingly inefficient processes. Notice, however, that I say the two plates come from the same “die or mold.” The copper plate image has rounder edges and may have been pressed or stamped, but the lead plate image has much sharper edges, and is more likely to come from a mold. I don’t know for sure, though, which is why I leave it open. What’s clear, however, is that the copper codex is a forgery and at least one of the lead codices shares the same provenance.
Dan also provides a very good explanation of the modern forged tablet in his most recent post here. His analysis is highly recommended reading and conclusions are quite wise:
In light of these considerations, the burden of proof must lie exclusively with those who wish to assert any of these plates are authentic, and until some scientific analysis can show anything ancient is connected with these plates, I see no reason to give the question of their authenticity a second glance.
That about sums up the latest information from the group and from the Blog-o-sphere. More to follow, as more information is released. The biggest threat right now is the media’s failure to catch up with the scholarship going on. Still reports continue to surface about these tablets taking their authenticity for granted, whereas the discussion of these tablets has been ongoing for weeks now with strong evidence for their status as fakes has been argued everywhere. This is why Wikipedia is such an important site to update with the collaboration of experts in the field.
Filed under: Archaeology, Belief, Biblioblogging, Blog Memes, Classical History, Life, Minimalism, New Testament, Scholarship, Society Tagged: | ancient coins, christianity, curse tablets, Dan McClellan, David Elkington, David Meadows, Dilettante, James McGrath, jesus, Jesus tablets, Jordan, Judaism, lead tablets, messianic tablets, Paul Elkington, pseudo-archaeology, pseudo-christianity, pseudo-scholarship, Robert Feather