Over at the Bible and Interpretation, Thomas S. Verenna has written an article entitled “Artifacts and the Media: Lead Codices and the Public Portrayal of History.”  This well-researched piece addresses the way news organizations failed to serve their readers in the recent “discovery” of the lead codices. 

I appreciated his conclusion, which begins (emphasis added):

What this treatment illustrates, more than the deception behind the lead codices, is the hijacking of history and the Bible by the media. This isn’t a new problem; it is one that has existed for decades. Some might say this problem dates back to the Roman period, wherein historians like Tacitus and Suetonius used the Acta Diurna which, as far as other sources are concerned, was not nearly as useful except perhaps for those who preferred gossip and rhetoric to factual information. But with the internet, the media has the ability to spread memes much more quickly than it had before and those memes are likely to last longer and remain available longer than inaccuracies presented in the past. While deceptive persons might try to pull the wool over the eyes of others, it is really the media that must be held accountable. It is accountable for giving these individuals a pedestal to stand on and an audience of eager readers who have no idea they are about to be conned into believing a false portrayal of the past.
More scandalous is the complete lack of journalistic integrity, honest research, and thorough fact-checking. These codices might never have been heard of if the authors of the reports for BBC and Fox News (among others) had just checked with the academic community before publishing the “find”. At the very least, the journalists might have used less authoritative language, expressed more caution, and exposed the controversy rather than simply stating, as if doing so made it fact, that these codices were “the earliest Christian texts” and that they held “early images of Jesus.”

The full article is worth reading, as are the comments (especially #3).


SourceFlix has a new five-minute video entitled “The Crags of the Wild Goats.”  The footage of the ibex in the mountains above En Gedi is much more than what the average visitor ever sees.

J.P. van de Giessen has begun a new group on Biblical Flora that you may want to join.

Rachel Hallote makes a case against the repatriation of archaeological artifacts in the current issue of BAR magazine.

Leen Ritmeyer has a brief review of Ronny Reich’s Excavating the City of David: Where Jerusalem’s History Began (previously mentioned here).

Robert Cargill provides more evidence that Simcha Jacobovici’s latest documentary on the crucifixion nails is “perhaps the weakest argument he has ever made—a dubious achievement” indeed.

In the end, Simcha Jacobovici’s claim that he has discovered the nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion is a figment of his vivid imagination, lacking any evidence or basis in reality whatsoever. So, in an attempt to salvage his unsustainable theory, Simcha reaches for the age-old weapon used by all pseudo-scientists: the claim of conspiracy.


From Haaretz:

The crucifixion of Jesus was a significant event in the life of the high priest, Jacobovici notes, and finding the nails is “like finding a soccer ball in the burial chamber of Pele in Brazil in 2,000 years.”
However, according to Joe Zias, who served as curator at the Antiquities Authority for 25 years, the nails which Jacobovici is presenting in his movie were dug up in a different location, more than 30 years ago. Furthermore, the nails found in Caiaphas’ burial cave, and cited in an article published on the dig by archaeologist Dr. Zvi Greenhut, were lost after the excavation 21 years ago. Greenhut and staff at the Antiquities Authority deduce that the two nails in question have no scientific or other significance: Many like them have been found in archaeological digs of the Roman period and are not even cataloged, they say.
Zias also says that the nails, which are 8 cm. long, could not have been used for crucifixion because they are too short. He says that it is most likely that Jesus was in fact tied to the cross and not nailed, because in that era nails were expensive although the wood used in crosses were reused.

The full story is here.  Gordon Franz has covered most of this already.

HT: Joe Lauer


This article in the Jordan Times has some new information about the metal codices, particularly with regard to the seven books recently recovered by Jordanian police. 

Authorities are set to send the recently recovered books to three separate labs for further analysis – in Britain, the US and at the Royal Scientific Society in Amman – in order to determine if the texts are indeed “the greatest discovery since the Dead Sea scrolls” or little more than sophisticated forgeries.
According to Saad, it will take experts three weeks to complete the tests on the recently recovered texts.
“Our position is quite clear; we need to make sure these pieces are authentic before moving forward with our case,” Saad added.
Hassan Saida, the Israeli bedouin farmer who is currently holding the cache at an undisclosed location near his home in the village of Um Al Ghanem, insists that the lead-sealed texts were passed down from his grandfather, who stumbled upon the cache while tending to his flock in northern Jordan in the early 1920s.
Saida has dismissed the department’s claims that the books were illegally excavated from Jordan some four years ago as a “publicity stunt”.
“They [the Jordanian Department of Antiquities] are going about making all these claims about these codices and they don’t even know what they are,” Saida told The Jordan Times recently.
Rather than the records of the earliest Christians, Saida claims he has proof that the books date back even earlier – predating the time of Christ – and are strictly “ancient Hebrew texts” which he intends to place in an Israeli museum.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has previously cast doubt over the books’ authenticity and denied any interest in the texts.

The full article has more details.  Jim Davila recaps the evidence that the codices are modern forgeries (with one caveat).

HT: Joe Lauer


Seven of the seventy metal codices alleged to be from the first century have been recovered by Jordanian police.  From Haaretz:

Jordan’s archaeology chief, Ziad al-Saad, said on Tuesday that security police have recovered seven ancient manuscripts from local smugglers. The writings are part of 70 manuscripts that Jordanian archaeologists discovered five years ago in a cave in the north. Later, they were stolen and most were believed to have been smuggled into Israel. At a press conference in Jordan’s capital, Amman, earlier this month, al-Saad said that there is strong evidence the material was excavated by a Jordanian Bedouin, but that it later made its way into the hands of an Israeli Bedouin.

The full story is here.  This should allow a more thorough and honest investigation than has been done to this point.


Gordon Franz has updated his article about Simcha’s nails, including statements from several authorities that deny that the nails came from the tomb of Caiaphas.

The excavators of Tel Burna have posted the report on the first archaeological season.

James Hoffmeier is lecturing on “The Exodus from Egypt in Light of Recent Archaeological and Geological Work in North Sinai” in Houston on May 21.

The Global Heritage Fund has created “its own spy agency, created to allow armchair archaeologists (as well as real ones), to watch for looting, disasters and other calamities at some of the most endangered sites of human history.”

This July, Thomas Davis will become Professor of Archaeology and Biblical Backgrounds at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas.  Davis is author of Shifting Sands: The Rise and Fall of Biblical Archaeology.  One clear result of the fall of biblical archaeology is that professors now have significantly different titles.

If you believed the recent report about dishonesty by the author of Three Cups of Tea, perhaps you were unaware that it was the work of 60 Minutes.  These are the same folks who brought us the report exposing the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet as forgeries.  The heart of their case was the on-screen confession of an Egyptian artisan.  Yet Hershel Shanks has investigated and determined that it was all a lie.  And 60 Minutes knew it all along.