Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Breaking: "More Ancient Manuscripts Recovered!" Let's Just Wait and See. . .

The AP is reporting that seven ancient manuscripts have been recovered by smugglers by Jordanian officials. The press report seems a bit sensationalistic, but here it is with my comments in red:
AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan's archaeology chief says security police have recovered seven ancient manuscripts from local smugglers. [Seven--an appropriately biblical number!]

The writings are part of 70 manuscripts that Jordanian archaeologists discovered five years ago in a cave in the north. [So, 7 out of 70--this is sounding a bit contrived, but, again, we shall see. As Jim Davila points out: here the story claims the manuscripts were found by Jordanian archaeologists. . . but two sentences later this is contradicted!]

Later, they were stolen and most were believed to have been smuggled into Israel. Jordan has demanded Israel return the manuscripts but has gotten no response.

Ziad al-Saad says the manuscripts were reportedly found by a Bedouin. [So which is it? Did the Jordanian archaeologists find these documents or did a Bedouin? This story is not exactly screaming "reliability".] He says the relics could be among the earliest Christian writings in existence but tests are under way to date them and check their authenticity. [Let's wait and see what the tests say. This smacks of sensationalism if I ever heard it.]

Al-Saad said on Tuesday that if verified, the relics could be the most significant find in Christian archaeology since the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Um. . . yeah, see the above comment.]
Okay, everyone. . . breathe.

We just went down this route and, as I explained then, after the dust settled the "find" of was exposed as a fake, thanks primarily to work of academic Bible bloggers ("bibliobloggers"). In fact, this report sounds very similar to that story, making me wonder if the manuscripts in question are in fact related to that con-job.

The story says tests are being done. . . let's just wait and see about that.

Remember: real scholarship is presented in peer-reviewed journals and conferences and not simply in press conferences.

H/T Jim Davilia, who in turn tips his hat to Joseph Lauer.

2 comments:

Peter Kirk said...

I suspect this is not just a similar story but the same story, or an update on it. The details seem almost the same as in this BBC report from March. Usually by "manuscripts" we think of something on papyrus, parchment etc, but it would hardly be surprising if AP used the word for books written by hand on lead tablets.

Peter Kirk said...
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