Philip Davies on Lead Codices | Sheffield Biblical Studies

The following is an update from Philip Davies involving the lead codices.  I would add that while Philip does not think they are ‘forgeries’, by the context here he knows that there are modern impressions on the tablets.   In the same vein, I imagine, that he doesn’t believe they are “genuine”–can we really make any claim as to what these are forgeries of?  I’m merely speculating here.  I am not sure what exactly that means; I imagine we will find out when more information is released about them.

[editorial note: Philip had identified modern images prior to the great online debates]

The following is a general introductory summary by Sheffield Prof. Emeritus Philip Davies on the now famous lead codices (some images are available here):

Having long been involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls (and in the campaign to force the publication of many of them) I was approached by a British scholar who had been given access to some finds in a Jordanian cave (just like the Scrolls!). Most of them are lead books, some sealed, covered with letters in the archaic Hebrew script, and ancient Jewish symbols – menorahs (7-branched candlestick), date-palms, stars, bunches of grapes. But there is also a portrait of Alexander the Great, of a crocodile, and possibly a depiction of the crucifixion outside the walls of Jerusalem. I have now looked at about a hundred images, some of which I have shared with colleagues around the world, and I am certainly hoping to make sense of them. I have handled one. They are probably not a hoax or a forgery, but their exact origin remains mysterious. As well as decorative lettering, there is also some writing that looks as if it ought to mean something. So far it can’t be deciphered, but it may be in code.

The urgent problem at the moment is to ensure that the originals remain accessible. Scientific tests need to be done on these to try and establish date and origin, but the present possessor (who may or may not be legal owner) is considering selling them privately for as much money as he can. My colleagues and I are helping the Jordanian Department of Antiquities to recover them and enable them to be properly examined, conserved and displayed.

It is an exciting and mystifyng collection, but I think the time is too early to speculate about what they mean. The only scientific tests so far conducted suggest they are not of recent manufacture. Obviously I hope they are very old, but whatever their origin they should be able to tell us things we did not know before. I plan to continue studying these with my academic colleagues around the world, in the hope that we can begin to make some sense of these curious relics.

Philip Davies

via Philip Davies on Lead Codices | Sheffield Biblical Studies.


10 Responses

  1. There are only two alternatives: either they are genuine or they are fakes. Davies thinks they are not fakes, therefore he must believe they are genuine. Which is amazing, to say the least.

  2. You don’t know Philip. Philip is very specific about the words he uses. He does not believe them to be ‘genuine’ nor did he say they weren’t ‘fakes’. He said they weren’t ‘forgeries’ and they weren’t hoaxes. There is a difference. To clarify, ‘forgery’ would indicate intent to simulate the codices to appear to be something specific (someone forges a text in the name of another, or attempts to copy handwriting or script, to fabricates something known to exist–these codices are unique unto themselves, so I do not believe that ‘forgery’ is the correct word) and they are no hoax (i.e., they weren’t part of some April Fools joke).

    This is speculation until Philip says one way or another, but knowing him, I believe Philip accepts that the lead is ancient; the iconography, on the other hand, is a different story all together. Note that the images are cast, but the lead, according to one test (more certainly needs to be done) has shown that the lead is rather old–how old, that is the question. The images though, Philip realizes (and even states), are quite modern.

  3. You can exegete it as favourably as you like: the fact remains, Davies is out of step with just about every other scholar who’s looked at these fakes. His positive comments about them stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

  4. I’m sorry you’re wrong. Email him if you’d like a straight answer. Otherwise you’ll have to take it from those of us who know him or continue to be misinformed.

  5. I kind of agree with Davies in that these were not created with the intent to deceive. First, it would involve a lot of work to create all these books and pages simply to deceive people for 10 minutes as the creator would have known that a competent expert in the field would reveal the writing as gibberish in minutes. Based on the available evidence, it looks like someone was experimenting with making metal books. We have different material, different sizes, different script style, etc.

  6. No, I’m afraid you’re wrong. As Peter Thonemann has stated “those professional scholars who have had sight of these objects have dismissed them as obvious fakes.”

    All except Philip Davies, who has — astoundingly! –stated that “They are probably not a hoax or a forgery.”

    Davies is way out of the scholarly consensus on this, twist it how you will.

  7. No, I’m really not wrong. If you feel I am, email Philip. How often do you speak with him? My guess is not often. So don’t pretend to speak on things you don’t know about.

  8. […] Davies responded yesterday to some comments by Thonemann about the codices.  He reinforces what I’ve known all along, but others have previously fought me on; he writes “I do love a good story and there is one […]

  9. What I find curious about Davies’ comment is that he says he “obviously” “hopes they are very old”. Why? I would have thought the “obvious” hope of anyone interested in the facts is to know the “factness” of a thing, whether old or recent.

  10. The impression I’m getting is the maker isn’t terribly sophisticated and is hoping for a buyer that is less so. I think the hope was the the press release would generate buzz and then some fool wanting to part with their money would jump in on a suitably antique and mysterious work.

    Davies’ hope is perfectly normal, investigators of all stripes hope to make discoveries of value. When an Egyptologist finds a tomb, I doubt they’re just as happy to find it empty as to find it full. It would be perverse for one to not want to find more evidence. People spend all that time in school to illuminate the past, not keep it in the dark.

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