Friday, April 01, 2011

Lead Tablets of Jesus!

Many are asking about the mysterious new lead tablets (the Jordan Lead Codices) "suddenly" uncovered that supposedly are going to change the world, proving all sorts of weird things about the first generation of Christianity. I hear according to Glenn Beck, they are the mysterious coded books referred to in the book of Revelation! Holy Sheit!

Not. 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). A noted scholar already proved these were forgeries a year ago. Now they are being bandied about by a couple of New Age loonies pretending to be Indiana Jones and Shortround acting out a Dan Brown novel. I say loonies, because IMO only a lunatic would try this now, given the ease with which they can be proven a forgery, and the fact that these guys knew this a year ago.

For the conclusive proof, see the analysis of "Peter Thonemann on the Lead Codices" (with corresponding "Thoughts" and "On the Lead Codices"). The evidence is so clear this has to be one of the lamest fakes ever attempted, which makes it astonishing that it was ever taken seriously by anyone. For a good full story and background on the guys who are Da Vinci coding this "find" all around town and riling up the knuckleheaded media, see Thomas Verenna's detailed summary and links in "Conspiracy Theorists, Legitimate Scholarship, and Lead Tablets" (and his further updates on this story in his "New Roundup") and his official article at The Bible and Interpretation: Artifacts and the Media: Lead Codices and the Public Portrayal of History. Rogue Classicist also has a good treatment of the media contradictions and dubious characters involved ("Lead Codices").


Janet said...

This kind of thing would make a great April Fool's Day prank, though.

The Nerd said...

What Janet said. In fact, that's what I had assumed this was before clicking through my feed reader. You dropped the ball! Good thing Ben has your back:

Richard Carrier said...


KJ said...

That's almost as bad as the people who still go around saying that "they found the shroud that Jesus was wrapped in!".

Unknown said...

I think I heard from the Naked Archeologist or someone that the tablets were found: stuffed in the Holy Grail, wrapped in the Shroud of Turin, hidden in the Ark of the Covenant, sitting in a back corner of Noah's Ark, which was parked on the Tower of Babel, built right square in the middle of the Garden of Eden?

Rich Griese said...

wait a minute... isn't the legendary Jesus character supposed to have risen from the dead on april fool's day?


Pikemann Urge said...

Well, that 'find' was interesting while it lasted! I wondered, as I read the BBC article, why there were no useful details. I guess it doesn't matter now.

But here are some interesting quotes from the BBC piece - interesting in light of the comments on the blog post Richard linked to:

The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smuggling them out of Jordan, and claims they have been in his family for 100 years.

But tests by metallurgists on the badly corroded lead suggest that the books were not made recently.

Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the early Christian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history.

And this is the BBC!

This is a good lesson about how to read news media. It is not to say that journalists are untrustworthy. It is to say, however, that they don't always have all the facts. Media studies should be compulsory in secondary school.

Richard Carrier said...

I have updated the original blog by adding a few more links of interest, to make it more complete for future reference.

Tom Verenna said...

Robert Deutsch has also posted some interesting analyses on the tablets over at Jim West's blog here:

DM said...

the most eloquent hypocrite that ever lived

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Atheists have just been begging and pleading for some Christian groups to jump all over these "discoveries".

Now that it is apparent that most aren't they are admitting that they are fakes, but what they had hoped for was a big bandwagen follwong that they could pull the rug out from under.

Most of us knew it was a set up all along...these things were "discovered" a hundred years ago and some Jews intended to finally cash in as a another "Easter suprise".


tom said...

Atheists have just been begging and pleading for some Christian groups to jump all over these "discoveries".

Now that it is apparent that most aren't they are admitting that they are fakes, but what they had hoped for was a big bandwagen follwong that they could pull the rug out from under.

Carrier criticizes Glenn Beck (was that part a joke, Richard? I couldn't find a connection with Google searches), the media, and "New Age loonies" for their gullibility or mendacity regarding the tablets, but doesn't say anything about Christian groups.
Who's been begging and pleading?

AIGBusted said...

How did the debate with Holding go?

Anonymous said...

Nice to know you'r also reading Palleobabble. ;)

Timothy said...

Just kindled your latest on my iPad2. Oh the blasphemy. Wonderful to see sharing your brilliance with us still.

I wish you all the best.


Tristan Vick said...

Thanks for the info, I was wondering about those tablets. Sounded fishy to me.

Dr. Carrier sir, have you read this flabbergasting article? Of anybody I thought you would be the best suited to critique this "academic" paper, with your clarity and whit.

AIGBusted said...

Hi Tristan,

I'm no Richard Carrier, of course, but I have begun a blog series critiquing that article:

Richard Carrier said...

I'm sure AIGBusted is handling the McGrews' article well enough. But my chapter in The Christian Delusion also already refutes it, if you read and compare the two. But this is off topic here, so any further discussion of it should be moved elsewhere (like maybe my Christian Delusion blog post).