Oh, and a hoax…
Going with the flow. I have two posts that I wanted to put up this week, but I’m going to hold back because there is something I want to address.
Or so they say. This story has been getting spread about the internet the last week or so. I’ve seen it pop-up several places, everywhere from magick blogs to the facebook page of a friend who is a Catholic priest and very excited about this. So I decided to put aside some time this afternoon and rant and analyze this.
So if you don’t want to read the link above, let me summarize it. A British couple are currently hiding out in Gloucestershire (but don’t tell the Jordanian hitmen) after recovering a collection 70 books believed to contain an early account of Christ’s life written sometime in the first century by early Christians who fled to Jordan in the 70s.
A lot of people are getting into this story, but there a lot of little problems with it that add up to bigger questions. I’ll start with a reading of the news story before I expand my discussion. Yes, I could just link all the data and other people doing the work, but part of my issue with this is that anyone can pick up some of the concerns with the text with reading and googling.
First thing I noticed is the couple are described as archaeologists and David, the hero of the story is also an author. Yet there are no credentials. Granted this could be an oversight, but in pretty much any news story when you mention an expert you put their credentials, where they studied, where they work, what they degrees are, etc. Every expert the Elkingtons consulted within the article have their credentials mentioned yet the Elkingtons are left blank. Where did they study, what is their area of focus, and who is sponsoring this dig? Why is he sometimes called Dr. but often not? Archaeologists, despite the media image of Croft and Jones, don’t fund their own digs, they don’t decide to pack up, go to some random dirt pile and start digging. No, a museum, university, or government branch has a location site, permissions, equipment and hires people to excavate and analyze the findings. The article mentions none of this, and quite frankly if this were real what museum or university wouldn’t fight to get that information included in the press release that they just uncovered the real story of Christ? Suspicious point.
David (who gets all the press, despite the idea that it is a husband/wife team) is also an author. Of what? Well two books, first is In the Name of the Gods, a book about Templars and an energy-sound-spirit connection, and an upcoming book based on how awesomely exciting and dangerous his current quest for these early Christian books have been (this will link up to Feather later). Not only is he writing a book on it, because it is so much like Indiana Jones (his own admission) but Robert Watts, producer of Raiders of the Lost Ark has contacted them about making it into a movie. Amazing how this story is just coming to light and already a book deal and a movie proposal. Don’t worry folks, it gets more suspicious. (Also the constant reference by Elkington to how much like a movie it is seems odd. The researcher was like Ms. Marple, the owner is like a mafia boss, then he’s like Gollum…) But suspicious point two.
The books are written in ancient Hebrew, a fact we’ll touch more on later, which is odd. Aramaic was more commonly used (and probably Jesus’s mother tongue) though Hebrew and Greek were both widely used in that area and time frame in different circumstances.
The article lacks anything primary. All the research that is done is relayed by David, not cross-referenced to the experts; he’s talking for them, they’re often unnamed, who tested the metals? So that’s the issues with the news story just as it is, time to go down the rabbit hole?
Dr. David (or Paul?) Elkington. An archaeologist, author, real-life Indiana Jones, curious where did he study and get his credentials? Turns out he studied as an artist at the Bath Academy of Arts. Nothing against artists, trained or otherwise, but I prefer my archaeologists making ground breaking discoveries to have some relevant degree in history or archaeology. So not an archaeologist, historian, or anyone qualified for such a dig. Suspicious points abound.
When investigating the source of the books, where they were found and by who, two stories emerge, sometimes on the same website or paper. Five years ago they were uncovered in a flash flood in Jordan, or they were uncovered in a flash flood and in the Jordanian trucker’s family for a hundred years. New stories once you branch past the telegraph (which I’m dealing with because it was the first I came across and the most widespread) don’t always agree. The language it is written in is is often mentioned as Hebrew as well as an unidentified Phoenician language, and then rare occasions in Greek. The name of the man who owns the books changes, not drastically, but enough to be suspicious, then again David Elkington is sometimes Paul Elkington, so many everyone on this adventure have multiple names. Whether there were found in Jordan or Egypt changes. The story shifts more than the sand it was apparently buried under. Now just because news papers disagree on stories doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it does start to make the story questionable as we have to wonder why are these mistakes present, why aren’t they corrected? 5 years, 100 years, big difference. Jordan, Egypt, big difference. Hebrew, Greek, Unidentified, big difference.
Now one Peter Thonemann, MA, DPhil, lecturer on Ancient History at Wadham and Keble Colleges (look credentials!) was an expert that Elkington asked to help with the translation of the texts a year ago, yet he isn’t mentioned in the news articles generally for some reason. He translated the Greek on the cover (wait, wasn’t this written in Hebrew, or an unidentified Phoenician language?) and came up with an odd sentence fragment that made no sense, but mentioning a name Abgar. A bit of research on Thonemann’s behalf turned up not just the name Abgar, but the entire fragmented sentence on the cover of the book. What profound Judeo-Christian source did he uncover? A Roman tombstone for Abgar from Madaba Jordan c. 108 CE and on display in the Archeological Museum in Amman. Thonemann let Elkington know this, but Elkington, with the academic insight of his art degree, went public anyways.
What makes the story more amusing is that the books were previously discovered/released by Robert Feather as an early Qabalistic text with the location of the treasures of the Temple of Solomon. At that time there were only more then 20, now the number is 70. At that time the Israel Antiquities Authority said they are useless and a hoax because they contain a horrible mishmash of languages, images, and sentence fragments that really don’t match up. Letter soup that is grouped together to look intriguing until you start translation. This was denounced as a hoax, and then a month later with a much better back story Elkington arises with the same documents.
The only thing lending any credibility to this is that apparently the corrosion on the metal dates back about 2000 years (but again not properly cited who did this research, sometimes it was an “initial” test, other times seems more of a proper study) and the fact that the Jordanian government apparently wants them back.
Recently some more data came to my attention while writing this as Ananael posted on it in the process of my editing, and a friend knowing what I was doing sent a link.
The image of Jesus on the codex is considered currently to be Helios, but there is also a theory that it is The Mona Lisa of Galilee. I’m not totally convinced by this, but it makes an interesting case, and if all the data from the author is right it means this forgery is less than 30 years old.
From Ananael’s post there is a link showing how the letters themselves show the age of the books is wrong as some of them are from a form of Aramaic that is from the second and third century it also contains so far to my knowledge the only article so far pointing out that Elkington doesn’t have credentials to be involved with this sort of thing.
When I saw the title of the article I was curious, after reading it I was suspicious after some googling I realized it is a hoax. I can’t say by who or for what end, but all signs point to hoax.
Some good reading for those wanting more information on this:
Heavy metal secrets from a Mid-East cave