Richard Carrier on the Lead Tablets of (Not) Jesus!

Richard Carrier adds his noteworthy expertise to the mix and rightly calls out those who are championing these tablets as Christian artifacts.  His most worthwhile comment (IMHO) is this one:

All the media stories misquote people, and then make wild inferences and represent them as facts (this is a really good example, BTW, of how little you can trust media reports about these sorts of things, so remember this the next time this happens).

via Richard Carrier Blogs: Lead Tablets of Jesus!.

Indeed.  Continue reading!

2 Responses

  1. I am disappointed at the tone of the coverage of this “find”. OK, I’ve done it myself with those scare quotes.Well, I did that on purpose. The point is that while it is absolutely correct to treat the find with the deepest scepticism – and indeed to treat it as a potential fraud until actually validated – it is wrong to draw dogmatic conclusions at this early stage.

    Carrier is right about the pop-sensational garbage that the press produces. The popular press very often (ok, we can agree that is most of the time) abuses science, history, whatever, in order to turn a buck. They trivialise hars science and research in order to turn it into entertainment, and – yes- as a former journalist I know well that an editor’s job is to adopt as many prejudices as sit easily with both the readers and the advertisers. That is the nature of the game.

    But going beyond schlock journalism, there is some interest in this find. What id interesting to me is the reaction to it among sceptics, as well as among historians.

    I know that everything about this find seems shaky. I also know that the dating methods that can be brought to bear in this case are not likely to satisfactorily give a very precise date for the find. On top of that, the contents are amenable to all types of interpretation. From what I’ve heard they consist of not much more than a set of very vague and time-worn images capable of being interpreted in a multitude of ways to tell almost any narrative.

    What I can’t understand, though, is that people like you should be hoping against hope that the little bits of lead can somehow be dated to a precise time that is contemporaneous with Christ.

    This stuff should light you up with excitement!!

    Of course it wouldn’t prove anything about xtianity, but surely the discovery of a contemporaneous source regarding the legend would be wonderful and powerful stuff to research and explain.

    You guys should be begging for more evidence. Believe me, I have some friends who operate in the field of biological research. They crave real evidence and finds. You guys should too. It would be a wonderful step to have verifiable contemporary evidence of Jesus’ life. It would prove nothing about his claim to deity, but would provide another powerful lead in determining why the Church gained such a grasp on the minds of people.

    Welcome evidence when it arrives.

    And by all means treat any “find” with rightful scepticism until it is validated. Just don’t throw it out straightaway. But in the meantime, a guarded “This would be pretty cool if it’s proven to be true”. Would be good.

    Remember: if a dogmatic “This can’t be true, it’s a fake” is turned over by further analysis, your whole argument risks being thrown out at the same time.

    Whatever, I hope that these things are shown to be the real deal. That won’t prove anything about religion, but it will add significantly and importantly to the historical debate.

  2. When I said: “What I can’t understand, though, is that people like you should be hoping against hope that the little bits of lead can somehow be dated to a precise time that is contemporaneous with Christ” I meant to say that people such as you should really be hoping that the find is valid and should be excited about the possibilities that would arise from such a validated source.

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