Philip did respond to my inquiry earlier this morning with a similar statement, but I shall repost Jim’s since he appears to have permission from Philip (I didn’t ask and feel it irrelevant now to do so).
This is precisely what I had expected of his response, however. It is in line with what the appropriate academic response should be–one of caution, of curiosity, rather than one of carefree assumptions that the title of the article would imply. I especially like that Philip has clarified the difference between “doesn’t appear to be a forgery” and “genuine” as there are different implications to both statements, and he is right to show the distinction.
We shall watch this story closely to determine what precisely can be said and what shouldn’t be said of these artifacts and whether they can have any bearing on the origins of Christianity or on Jesus specifically (which, at this point, seems doubtful).
I shall also be keeping an watchful eye out for the misuse of this information, since such things abound on the interwebs. Which internet/televangelical apologist will jump on these first, I wonder?
I also think we should be cautious with the terminology as well. Should we really be calling these ‘Jesus slabs’ or ‘Jesus Scrolls’? Do we have any information these are related to Christianity at all? I haven’t read any study saying anything like that (just the article where the nonexpert sensationalized what appear to be eschatological beliefs of the scroll author). Perhaps we might best be suited to call them ‘Messianic plates’ or something quite similar, which best reflect the data we have now, until we can determine the full extent of the translation of the ‘script’?