Reactions to the BBC Report on the Lead Codices

For those who don’t know, the BBC has finally put out an article refuting a story they had published a few months ago on the Lead Codices, and for those of us who have been ‘on the case’ since the beginning, we feel it is about time.  There are some very useful parts to the article.  For example, on the lead codices in general, Kevin Connolly writes:

And they are astonishingly heavy. Some are no larger than a credit card but some are the size of large-format modern paperbacks. The largest that I handled probably weighed 4 or 5kg (about 10lbs).

You can see why the publishing industry was eventually won over by the flexibility and portability of paper.

But that is where the supply of undisputable concrete fact about the collection – which some people refer to as the “Lead Codices” – more or less runs out.

Indeed.  But there are some troubling bits.  I am aware that journalists have to give some consideration to bias and attempt to give a ‘balanced’ report when possible, but why does ‘balanced’ have to mean speculation?

Mysticism and magic swirl in the dark air as Mr. Saeda enlarges on the possibilities he sees in the codices.

They might contain the real story of the destruction of the Jewish Second Temple by the Romans, he says.

Or they could fill the gaps in our knowledge of the early Christian movement. They might even hold the key to universal happiness.

But they don’t give us this; no translations have been released to the public by any authority and nobody knows–least of all Mr. Saeda–what the translations will reveal.  But the translations are irrelevant.  Why?  Because these are fakes.  They are poor fakes at that, and many scholars have already noted the signs of this on their own blogs.

Still, Joe Zias makes an appearance in the article, where he remarks:

The golden rule in archaeology, he says, is simple – when you hear extraordinary claims, ask for extraordinary proof.

Mr Zias says the world of archaeology has changed since Hollywood gave us first Indiana Jones and then the Da Vinci code.

No longer is the archaeologist a nerdy toff with a shovel and a Shorter Oxford Dictionary of Latin. Suddenly he or she, is a swashbuckling figure solving the sinister mysteries of antiquity.

They are still searching for the Holy Grail of course – except that now the Holy Grail is not just the find itself but a story of danger and adventure in the process of searching that secures you a deal for a book or a documentary.

Give the whole article a read, but be sure to come back.  Back now?  Good.  Here are some of the reactions from the academic community on the Biblioblogosphere about the article.

Jim West writes:

The BBC may be slow, but when they finally get around to the topic they do a far better job than the Discovery Channel and the History Channel do!

Jim Davila remarks aptly while echoing my own feelings:

The BBC has known for a long time that the codices are fake. It looks to me as though they are trying to squeeze the last dregs out of the story, while laying the groundwork for eventually correcting it with the truth. They should have done that months ago and their conduct has been reprehensible.

Mark Goodacre chimes in:

One of the disappointing things here is the lack of reference to the earlier article by Robert Pigott, which needs explicit correction. After that article appeared on 29 March, I wrote a friendly email to Robert Pigott (5 April) explaining that the consensus among experts was that the codices were fakes, and offering to point him in the direction of some clear, helpful blog posts and articles by experts. He never replied.  Nevertheless, progress is progress even if it is done in this way by a different writer apparently unaware of previous mistakes.

I suspect more reactions will appear as the story circulates.  As for now, I’d like to direct everyone to my article on Bible and Interpretation as it contains all the details and links about this subject: Artifacts and the Media: Lead Codices and the Public Portrayal of History.


One Response

  1. […] may have fallen from a carnival barker’s jacket (or a priest’s robe). As several people have reported, the BBC has also finally partially caught up with bloggers regarding the Jordan Lead Codices (it […]

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