Sunday, April 3, 2011

More Information on the "Ancient Christian Book"

Another article about the alleged earliest Christian book ever to be found appeared today in the London Mail Online News. The article contains several pictures, including one that they suggest might be a portrait of Jesus (see picture on left).

I would encourage you to read the article. It has some additional details about the current owner of the artifacts, and it provides additional helpful information regarding the find.

Does this mean the find is authentic? Not necessarily. None of the key issues raised in my last post have been answered. We still don't know who produced the materials, when they produced them, or what is contained in most of them. Until the pieces are carefully studied, I would take most of the assertions in the article as pure speculation.

One special caution. The reporter for the article is not an expert in the issues relevant to this discussion. Let me share just one example. He notes the articles were discovered in a cave overlooking the Sea of Galilee, near the border between Israel, Jordan, and Syria. That places the find somewhere near the Yarmuk River, which is plausible. He then states the find is "less than 100 miles from Qumran" (fairly accurate), "around 60 miles from Masada" (inaccurate since Masada is south of Qumran while the treasure was found way north of Qumran, near the Sea of Galilee), and "close to caves that have been used by refugees from the Bar Kokhba revolt" (which is also false since most of these caves are near the Dead Sea or in the Judean foothills to the west of Bethlehem and Hebron). In short, the writer doesn't appear to have all his facts correct, and in this case he seems to be trying to use this incorrect data to tie the find to events from the first or second Jewish revolt against Rome. Such a connection is not supported by the geographical location of the find. (Other facts within the documents may someday make that connection, but the location of the find does not.)

That type of inaccuracy doesn't mean the find is false, but it does serve as a caution not to take everything you will read about the find as factual. More study is needed before we can say whether or not this find is truly significant!

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