More on the Predisposition to Find Links to Christianity in Talpiot

Thanks to David Meadows for the nudge in this direction.  Following up on Mark Goodacre’s excellent post on Simcha’s predisposition to locate any link whatsoever to Jesus or Christianity, this video has earmarks which might prove to be more nails in the coffin ossuary on this subject.

Now some screen grabs:

Ossuaries 2-4 in Talpiot B

Ossuary 5 (The supposed 'resurrection' ossuary)

Close-up Detail on Ossuary 2

Now listen carefully to the 4-6 minute marks.  Here is the important bit:

“Although we found ourselves in the wrong tomb, perhaps these finely crafted ossuaries so close to the Talpiot tomb are somehow connected to Jesus or his followers.”

Silliness.  But it is evidence that there not only was predisposition to locate evidence linking it to Jesus and Christianity, but also evidence (via Goodacre and Meadows’ various posts on the footage from 2007) which suggests that there was a presupposition to find a fish.

I also wonder if some of these photos on the website were from 2007 and not from this recent investigation.


Alert the Press! Real Academics Don’t use Facebook or Blog!

According to Elkington (bold and italicized), who we all know is the erudite, scholarly fellow (/sarcasm):

Regarding the omission of academic postings on this site, it was set up to release news into the public sphere (due to significant demand) and not as an academic forum (real academics tend not to use Facebook and are not bloggers! – They respectably keep their counsel, which is why they haven’t participated directly on this site, although they support it).

Someone better alert Bob Cargill, James Crossley, Jim West, Dan McClellan, David Meadows, James McGrath, James Tabor, Mark Goodacre, and many, many others (too many to list)!  Apparently, Elkington feels that Real Academics™ are defined as those people who make sweeping claims and broad accusations behind a pseudonym on a Facebook page (which is exactly what he’s been doing).  This is just as classic as the time he said that Thonemann wasn’t a real Biblical scholar!  He continues on with his ignorant comment:

It takes numerous top level academics to arrive at a reasonable conclusion: not only to translate the text, but to put it into contextual meaning, taking into consideration the cultural, theological and political situation of the time. Some of the direct translation that has already been done would be very open to literalists to have a field day; however, when put into proper context, is exciting, as it largely supports the gospels (what has been translated and contextualized thus far, which isn’t a huge amount – this will take years of study). As you have probably seen from the widespread criticism out there – based on VERY LITTLE information, you can imagine the furore if we let any Tom, Dick or Harry offer their opinion. Of course everyone has a right to their views and opinions; however, we believe that it is the responsible thing to do to let the appropriately skilled individuals put their research out there first – we owe it to the public. Most of what has been published out there by the bloggers has been way off the mark and based on so little given out.

Spoken like a truly naive person.  Of course those who are criticizing the validity and authenticity of these codices are those who have backgrounds in the subject are also top notch scholars (I am not sure what ‘top level academics’ are–does Elkington think this is a game of WoW?  What an absolutely ludicrous thing to say).  Even those who used to initially accept them as ancient have since turned their backs on the idea, or at least expressed a large amount of skepticism towards their antiquity, like Philip Davies.  Like a child pouting in the corner when given a time-out, Elkington is showing everyone his last-ditch effort to establish credibility by stomping is foot, whining, and making faces at his critics rather than engaging them intellectually.

H/T to Dan McClellan for alerting me to this.

Siege of Masada Facing Criticism

Once again, it seems as though archaeology has drawn some critical conclusions about the historical conclusions concerning Masada… David Meadows draws to the new study which suggests that some scholarship on this siege is sketchy.

Based on accepted evaluations of wood consumption for these purposes in traditional societies, on the conservatively estimated number of Masada inhabitants in each time period, the harsh climatic conditions in the desert and Masada’s topography, the researchers were able to conclude that by the time the Romans arrived at Masada and began their siege (73 CE), the entire area was void of timber and firewood, due to 2,220 years of massive exploitation of the immediate environment up to that point. The Romans would have had no choice but to import wood from other areas for their weapon machinery, ramparts and basic living requirements.

The researchers were able to construct a model of the Roman Legion’s timber utilization in various siege scenarios, and concluded that even if the Masada area had more than its normal availability of wood, it still would not have been sufficient for the Romans’ needs, so that in any event, they would have been forced to ensure a continuous supply of wood. As such, the researchers explained, the earlier claim that the region of Masada was more humid some 2,000 years ago, was in all probability not well established.

via Whither Masada Siege Timber? « rogueclassicism.


Loeb Texts to be Digitized!

This is awesome news!

But Thomas and his fellow trustees of the Loeb Classical Library — a 515-volume series of essential Latin and Greek texts with their English translations — are hoping to make things a little easier for non-classicists to mine the literature of the ancients. Along with the Harvard University Press, which publishes Loeb’s compact, colorful print volumes, the Loeb trustees recently announced that they are preparing to convert the Loeb series to a digital format that would allow any authorized user to search the English translations of the Loeb works for specific words, ideas, and phrases. Libraries would buy licenses to provide students and other authorized users access to the digital Loeb, which is expected to go live in 2013. (The Harvard press will continue selling the print versions.)

via News: From Classic to Modern – Inside Higher Ed.


The Inscription from Madaba, Lead Codices, and the Mona Lisa of Galilee

Several new pieces of data have been brought to the attention of the listserv.  One was sent along by David Meadows.  Here (Google translated, since I don’t know Chinese) a blog analyzes the similarities of the Madaba inscription and compares it to the script on the tablet Thonemann looked at.

Dan McClellan takes it a step further and compares the script from that inscription to those Elkington recently has passed around and the inscription from the Madaba tombstone and he has determined that they are indeed by the same hand (and clearly, they are).  Here are some of his comparisons along with those from the Chinese blog:

He also compares the (backwards) yod here (from the lead tablets and the one sent to Thonemann now universally accepted as modern):

And these from the inscription on the tombstone (notice its direction; and Dan also links to a discussion here at Aramaic Designs):

He writes:

It seems the “paleo-Hebrew” script from the codices was also lifted from the tombstone inscription on display in Jordan. There are other letters that clearly share a relationship as well, which I will discuss a bit later. I am hoping to have a photograph of the Madaba inscription itself up shortly. Stay tuned.

The Lead Codices and the Inscription from Madaba « Daniel O. McClellan.

In addition to these, compares the so-called (sensationalized) ‘image of Jesus’ face on one of the tablets to the Mona Lisa of Galilee mosaic.

He does an excellent job comparing the facial features on the cast impression with those of the mosaic.  His case is strong, though I am still not certain it is not from a coin. It is definitely worth pursuing either way.

And one final bit of news, Jim West shares with us another example of why these images and iconography are indeed modern.  Robert Deutsch posted that the image of the chariot and rider in the Thonemann-analyzed tablet (part of the same corpus) was lifted from a modern fake sold to tourists.  Here are the images (click to enlarge).

I had originally thought it was from an ancient chariot on the back of a Tetradrachm (see here) but I now have to admit the fake is a much better analog.

Philip 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 here – not about early Christians, though.”  Anyone who feels he is arguing for their ‘genuineness’ is just not listening (or reading, what have you).  I would argue that this is precisely what the media is guilty of, and we need to be careful that we don’t fall into similar traps.

And perhaps that last comment segues nicely into the tone of a comment I posted yesterday; I think it should be required reading for everyone who is interested in the codices from a lay perspective (so click the link above).

Jim Davila take’s stock:

The Greek is lifted nonsensically from an inscription published in 1958. The forger couldn’t tell the difference between the Greek letters alpha and lambda. The Hebrew script is taken from the same inscription. The Hebrew text is in “code,” i.e., is gibberish. The “Jesus” face is taken from a well-known mosaic. The charioteer is taken from a fake coin. The crocodile has a suspicious resemblance to a plastic toy.

That’s all for this roundup.  More as the information keeps coming in.

Previous Roundups:

New Roundup on Lead Codices and Additional Information

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:

Bill Hamblin (with thanks for Dan McClellan for pointing it out to me) also has a blog up about the similarities to Helios coins:

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:

And these (highlighted by red and black boxes) look a lot like those lead curse scrolls that David Meadows and I had brought up in past posts.

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.

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