Derby Expert Examines Ancient Christian Books
Wed, 03/30/2011 - 1:08pm
A Derbyshire scholar has been called upon to help investigate the origins of a collection of relics which could be the earliest example of Christian text.
...examining photographs of the "metal books" found in a cave in Jordan…There are about 70 of the books, each made of between five and 15 "leaves" about the size of a credit card and bound by lead rings. They were apparently found by a Jordanian Bedouin between 2005 and 2007, when a flash flood exposed two niches inside a cave, and have since been taken to Israel.
Academics are divided as to their authenticity but say that if verified, they could prove as pivotal as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. On pages not much bigger than a credit card, are images, symbols and words that appear to refer to the Messiah and, possibly even, to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Adding to the intrigue, many of the books are sealed, prompting academics to speculate they are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Bible’s Book Of Revelation.
Experts believe the books could date back to the first decades after Jesus’s crucifixion and Resurrection. Department of Antiquities…saying that the find may be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls…“Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”
Important documents from the same period have previously been found there, and initial metallurgical tests indicate that some of the books could date from the first century AD. This estimate is based on the form of corrosion, which has taken place, which experts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially. If the dating were verified, the books would be among the earliest Christian documents, predating the writings of St Paul.