Members of the Society for Old Testament Study Call on Jordan to Release Information on the ‘Lead Codices’

Members of the Society for Old Testament Study have collectively, at the Summer Meeting which just concluded in Manchester, sent a letter to the Editor of the Times asking Jordan to release information relating to the so called ‘Lead Codices’.

The Letter appears with the signatures of C. T. R. Hayward, University of Durham; Professor J. R. Bartlett, Trinity College, Dublin; Dr Margaret Barker, Temple Studies Group; Dr Walter Houston, University of Manchester; and Dr Janet Tollington, University of Cambridge in the Times, with the full list of signatories included on the Times website and graciously provided by Jim Aitken via a Facebook group interested in the Codices:

CALL ON JORDAN TO BREAK ITS SILENCE – Letter to the Editor Published in The Times, 1 August 2012


It is a year or more since reports of the discovery of at least 40 lead codices, apparently found in Jordan and possibly of ancient provenance, but currently in illegal private possession. Scientific tests have been conducted on one of these codices and much discussion has taken place among scholars and in the social media. There are many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries, but possibility cannot as yet be definitively excluded.

Since the discovery became known, there has been silence from the Jordanian authorities, who, we understand, have identified the site where they were once deposited, and have taken possession of additional codices from the same collection. The lack of any official announcement is strange, and we still await news of plans for the repossession of these objects, for their proper examination to determine whether or not they are genuine antiquities.

Whether ancient or not, these intriguing and possibly important finds require an urgent official response. Even a modern forgery on this scale must be investigated, and if they are ancient even more research will be required. We ask the authorities in Amman to make an immediate and detailed statement about the finds and their intentions regarding them.

This matter is not just of national and cultural importance for the Kingdom of Jordan but also for all those interested in the antiquity (and the controversial antiquities markets of the Middle East).

Professor Philip Davies, University of Sheffield
Prof Robert P. Gordon, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge
Prof. Lester L. Grabbe, University of Hull
Prof C.T.R. Hayward, University of Durham
Prof J.R. Bartlett, Trinity College, Dublin
Dr Margaret Barker, Temple Studies Group
Prof John F A Sawyer, Perugia (in absentia, with permission)
Dr Walter Houston, University of Manchester
Dr Janet Tollington, University of Cambridge
Prof. David Wulston, St. Peter’s College, Oxford
Dr Diane Edelman, University of Sheffield
Dr Helen Jacobus, University College London
Dr Johanna Stiebert, University of Leeds
Prof. Dr Reinhard Kratz, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Rev. Dr K. White, URC Northern College, Manchester
Dr. Constantin Jinga, University of the West, Timisoara, Romania
Prof. Eun-Woo Lee, Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary, Seoul, Korea
Ms E.A. Harper, University of Cambridge
Dr Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham
Dr Adrian Curtis, University of Manchester
Dr Deborah Rooke, University of Oxford
Dr Jennifer Dines, University of Cambridge
Dr Dwight Swanson, Nazarene Theological College, Univ of Manchester
Dr Heather McKay, Edge Hill University, Manchester
Tarcisius Mukuka, St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham
Ms CM Crewe, Manchester University
Dr. Sandra Jacobs, Kings College London
Ms Irene Jones
Dr Bruce K. Gardner, University of Aberdeen
Prof. Alistair G. Hunter, University of Glasgow
Dr. Tim McLay, University of Durham/ Scholar’s Publisher Inc.
Mr Andy Lie
Dr Sarah Nicholson, University of Glasgow
Dr Paul Joyce, St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, Professor elect, King’s College, London
The Rev. Paul Winchester, University of Oxford
Dr James McKeown, Queen’s University of Belfast
Jeffrey Spence, Trinity Western University, Canada
Jason Silverman, Leiden University

This is exactly the sort of thing that biblical scholars, and their scholarly societies, should do when claims are made in our field. I’m proud to be a member of SOTS, where actions speak as loudly as words.

Tagged: ,