An article of faith?
Controversial and startling new evidence is casting light on a part of Jesus’ life that was not previously known, and appears to provide documentary evidence of his work. A lead tablet artifact contains noteworthy references and at least some of the details of his life, and is now the oldest discovered record of early Christianity.
This engraved and encoded metallic booklet/tablet not only mentions Jesus by name, as well as several of his disciples, but it describes some new details about his ministry and work.
However, this artifact will not be readily accepted by many in the Christian church. It has already undergone intense scrutiny and claims of forgery.
But new testing proves that it cannot be so easily dismiss, and does authenticate to the historical period in question.
via Daily Mail:
An ancient set of lead tablets showing the earliest portrait of Jesus Christ have proved to be around 2,000 years old, according to experts.
The metal ‘pages’, held together like a ring binder, were found in Jordan in around 2008 by an Jordanian Bedouin and make reference to Christ and his disciples.
The lead has been analysed and the words and symbols translated and experts say the tablets date from within a few years of Jesus’ ministry.
The codices are covered in eight-pointed stars, symbolic of the coming of the messiah, and they mention the name of Jesus. They also contain the names of apostles James, Peter and John.
These would be the earliest and only Hebrew-Christian documents in existence – and linguistic and metallurgical analysis now suggests they are.
These codices were previously believed to be disproved, and remain highly controversial, as experts announced in 2011 that they had determined it to be a forgery that featured out-of-date writing styles.
This has put authors and historians David and Jennifer Elkington in the crosshairs of controversy, as they have been campaigning for recognition of the documents:
Authors David and Jennifer Elkington have been campaigning since 2009 for the codices to be recognised and protected but say evangelical Christians are trying to brand them fakes.
David Elkington, 54, of Gloucestershire, says he is now trying to prevent the codices from being sold on the black market.
In 2011 Elkington announced their discovery on BBC News and the world’s press followed it up. But a number of scholars came forward to brand them fakes, most without ever seeing the codices.
According to LiveScience.com back in 2011:
“I noticed there were a lot of Old Aramaic forms that were at least 2,500 years old. But they were mixed in with other forms that were younger, so I took a closer look at that and pulled out all the distinct forms that I could find,” Caruso told Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. “It was very, very odd — I’ve never seen this kind of mix before.” The youngest scripts he identified, called Nabatean and Palmyrene, date from the second and third centuries, proving the documents could not possibly have been written during the dawn of Christianity, Caruso said.
“There were inconsistencies in how they did the stroke order, which you would never have seen. Scribes had very specific ways of doing things,” Caruso said. Furthermore, several characters appeared “flipped” — a mistake that would imply they were hastily copied rather than original.
However, new testing on the dates of the metals confirms that the artifact is authentic in that it derived from the time period around that which Jesus lived in – whatever else the document may bring to light, it could not have been forged in the last 50 years – as previous skeptics claims – based on the lead samples.
Indeed, scientific examination of the metal confirms the codices are approximately 1,800 to 2,000 years old.
According to the Daily Mail:
Now tests conducted by Professor Roger Webb and Professor Chris Jeynes at the University of Surrey’s Nodus Laboratory at the Ion Beam Centre, confirm that the tablet is compatible with a comparative sample of ancient Roman lead unearthed from an excavation site in Dorset.
The experts said that the codex they tested ‘does not show the radioactivity arising from polonium that is typically seen in modern lead samples…. ‘This is not witnessed in lead objects that are several centuries old and is not possible to produce by artificial acceleration (e.g. through heating).
The alleged, or apparent, focus of Jesus’ ministry on the Temple of Solomon and the ‘resurrection’ of an older religious system dating to King Solomon and King David of the Bible is seemingly more consistent with esoteric sects and cults that recognized an androgynous (combined male and female) god than with the popularly known conception of Christ and the heavenly father. Some interpretations have suggested that it is the ‘Holy Ghost’ who embodies both the male and female.
Regardless of one’s personal interpretation or religious persuasion, these are interesting developments that fall outside of the mainstream of the modern church. As the Daily Mail reported:
Central to the books is the idea that Christ promoted worship in Solomon’s Temple where the very face of God was believed to be seen – and this is where the episode with the moneylenders in the Bible came from.
According to the Elkingtons the books suggest Christ was part of a Hebrew sect dating back 1,000 years to King David, who worshipped in the Temple of Solomon and believed in a male-female God.
‘A part of the older tradition of the Temple was the Divine Feminine – known to Christians as the Holy Spirit. Jesus had women involved in his ministry.
In the Bible Jesus is referred to as a ‘tekton’ which is usually translated as ‘carpenter’ but actually means a skilled craftsman and could refer to the skill of producing such works in metal.
On the other hand, a more detailed analysis of the writings and symbols may connect it with the existing understanding of Christian scripture.
The full impact of the document has yet to play out, and whether or not it will even be widely recognized as a new source of ancient religious doctrine remains to be seen, though some historians are now claiming that it may be the most significant find since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered back in the 40s and 50s.