I have to agree with Jim. Had I been at SOTS this Summer I would have declined to sign the letter to the Times as well. Read his post, it’s quite good. Here’s the core of the matter
I see two issues here. The first is the silence of the Jordanian Government about the metal codices. Since they were quitevocal about the importance of the finds initially, their subsequent silence is indeed noteworthy. My guess is that they have figured out that the codices are fakes and are just keeping quiet and hoping the whole issue goes away and spares them further embarrassment. If I am wrong, it would be helpful to hear what they do think and what they are currently doing about the codices, and to that extent I can support the central point of the letter. But I am not optimistic about the Jordanian authorities providing any important new information.
The second issue is the final sentence of the first paragraph of the letter: “There are many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries, but [that] possibility cannot as yet be definitively excluded.”* I know of no such “many indications that these finds are not modern forgeries.” Many of the codices, including the copper one first shown by Mr. Elkington to Classicist Peter Thonemann, are crude and obvious fakes. At least one of the lead ones seems to have been made of ancient lead, but the Oxford metallurgical report that says this (which was initially incorrectly quoted on the Jordan Codices Facebook page) also doubts that the inscribed areas on the lead went through a period of burial. In other words the evidence is consistent with old lead, which is not hard to come by, having been inscribed much more recently to make the codices. (For the report see the video here, especially from about 8:00 on. I make no judgment about how the incorrect quotation came about. See also here.)
Again, do read it all.
This is one of those things.
The ‘Jordan Codices’ Facebook page seems to be – without anyone’s permission- posting information from SOTS and the SOTS Facebook page. Please know that SOTS is in no way affiliated with whomsoever the anonymous person or persons posting at the lead codices page may be.
I mention this so as to head off any suggestion that SOTS as an organization is in any way supporting the claims of the Codices people. It isn’t. The previously sent letter is a call for openness, not an endorsement.
- Members of the Society for Old Testament Study Call on Jordan to Release Information on the ‘Lead Codices’ (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
From Viv Rowett-
Yesterday I attended the opening of Sheffield’s 65th celebrations, which began with the lecture by Professor Emeritus John Rogerson, formerly head of department [“JWR”], on changes in biblical studies which grew out of innovative work by members of the department; a lecture that I knew would be of much wider interest than just as a celebration of Sheffield’s unique and distinguished contribution, interesting though this is in itself. The history of the department is also closely bound up with the production and publication of much that emanates out of SOTS, and so there is a special relationship to celebrate too.
This enjoyable event began with JWR citing the advice given to a student in 1939 who had expressed an interest in studying the OT: ‘Learn Hittite’. Many of you will know that such advice would not have seemed odd at the time, as it was widely felt that most of the important issues about the OT text had been settled, and that it was necessary to move on to wider pastures in order to find something related to the OT to get one’s teeth into.
Here’s the photo Viv took of the esteemed Prof. Rogerson.
- The 65th Anniversary of the Biblical Studies Department at Sheffield (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)