Have You Heard About Those 2,000 year-old Lead Books?

* 2,000- year-old books/codices made of lead, each page no bigger than a credit card.

* Text is partially in code and contains early Christian symbols, including a depiction of Jerusalem with a cross outside the walls.

* Jordanian government using all its power to obtain them from the Bedouin who is hiding them.

*** Could be more important than the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Wow, that prediction came quickly!)

Hmph. Sounds too good to be true, especially since the lead codices haven’t yet been shown to any trained scholars. A British “team” of “archaeologists” has checked them out, apparently led by a Mr. David Elkington who may or may not hold a college degree in anything related to history or archaeology. (It mentions some training at an art academy but nothing else!) A psychic web site claimed in 2001 that Elkington was “studying for a doctorate” but doesn’t say what he was studying or where this may have been taking place. Does anyone have specific, verifiable information about Elkington’s graduate work and training, or if he in fact has any? With which institutions has he been affiliated? He is called an archaeologist in many news stories. What has he done to merit this title?

I noticed a summary of his book. Any cosmic-New Age synergy going on here? News outlets (led by the BBC) are getting their information on the lead books/codices from him, which should raise some red flags. Why so sloppy? Are news outlets primarily eyeing enhanced ad revenue from the extra web traffic this story generates? Perhaps I am being too cynical.

The BBC has an initial story on the objects. A second story says a credentialed New Testament scholar is examining photographs of the books. (Not the actual objects? How many conclusions can be reached only from photographs?)

My limited experience has taught me that the media rarely gets archaeology right. They are journalists who all-too-frequently restate what others (experts or not) tell them – if it seems interesting enough. Many brand-new, untested ideas have been reported as matter-of-fact conclusions, and early indications are this lead book story could be one of them.

Todd Bolen thinks the books may indeed be ancient but seriously questions the conclusions being reported. He has written an interesting history and analysis of this whole thing. You should check it out, especially before sharing exciting “lead book-Christian origins” stories through Facebook and Twitter.

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Jordan, Misuses of biblical archaeology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Have You Heard About Those 2,000 year-old Lead Books?

  1. Cheryl Jensen says:

    I am so glad you posted this. It’s amazing how quickly people will jump on a story like this without one ounce of validation. I see that you, like me, check the credentials of the so-called experts before buying in. I find people all the time quoted as experts in everything from the mainstream news to the National Geographic channel, who have less than stellar qualifications. Modern day works just like biblical times. People can claim to be anything they want, but it doesn’t make it so. The story has also been twisted as to how the books were found. Some of the articles state that Mr. Elkington found the books, which is not true. He merely examined them, and how he even came across them is a bit sketchy. I also saw one story, still looking for verification, that the Israeli government claims the books are a scam, that this guy Saeda shows up every few years trying to “sell” the books.

    • lukechandler says:

      There are at least two versions of their discovery. One person says they were found in a cave in recent years. Another says they have been handed down in his family for 100 years. Quite twisted. It is one thing to believe the biblical accounts (which I do) but quite another to jump on every “biblical” discovery, many of which are mistaken or downright fraudulent. Thanks for posting, Cheryl.

  2. dwaasp says:

    One Could-Not Expect to See an Accepted Version of a story about JC that was not edited by Romans after 325 AD. These Books like all others in those days were missed by the book-burners. Good thing they were not in the Libraries such as Alexandria etc…

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