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New Find! Everything We Ever Thought Proven Wrong!

Submitted by on April 1, 2011 – 3:48 am10 Comments

We are approaching Easter. The time when the hearts of the young turn to love, and the eye of the media turns to the latest tidbit about Jesus. This year is no exception. I’ll write the framework of the press release, you fill in the blanks:

This week in Jerusalem/Rome/some-wadi-you-never-heard-of, phrenologists/symbologists/religious archeologists announced the discovery/deciphering/forging of 2000/3000 year old manuscripts/burials/inscriptions which will completely rewrite the history of what we know about Jesus/Christianity/Judaism.

According to Dr. Simon Makeabuck, “Sacre Bleu/Holy Cow!,” were the first words out of his mouth when he realized what he was reading/looking at/concocting. “All along we thought that Peter/Paul/Mary were faithful followers of Jesus/Moses/Spaghetti Monster, but this new find shows that there is more to the story than what you heard in Sunday school/synagogue/Pasta House.”

The palimpsest/fragment/inscription is fragmentary, but clearly visible are the Greek/Hebrew/Chinese characters for “D,” “O,” “T,” and, and “S.” Most biblical scholars have reconstructed the text to read ἰδιώτης [idiotes] but Makeabuck insists that scholars who actually know stuff have been misled by learning languages/history/archeology/common sense. Instead, according to Makeabuck, the letters should be reconstructed to read “dots,” and when connected with what appears to be an image of a what seems to be a river, a duck, and an unknown furry creature, the text indicates that early Christians/Jews centered their religious life around the sacrifice of a platypus. “How they got these platypuses from Australia we may never know,” the researcher claimed, “but without question we’ll never look at Passover/Easter the same again.”

The History Channel/Discovery Channel/National Geographic paid Makeabuck $2 million for the rights to his story, which will air on the network the Friday before Easter.

 

As you can guess, I find the the recent “lead codices” discovery and its reporting less than useful. Sorry for not having patience to interact with this stuff; I’ve just finished a conference on the text of the New Testament, where people read papers on their research, get feedback, and then publish in peer-reviewed and edited journals and books. In other words, we work with real texts and you can’t “make stuff up.” But I guess this kind of work doesn’t make it into the news. I’ll simply point you to a couple of external web sites, and let you get back to doing what you should be doing.

Some sober analysis

More solid thinking, with helpful links

From Larry Hurtado

10 Comments »

  • Andrew Johnson says:

    Dr. Kloha,
    Thanks for the post. I’m glad to see our Lutheran scholars taking the needed stand on this sensationalist claim and bringing out our voice in the sea of other scholarship calling out the same.
    However, there is one page that has been released with some text, the image in over at Evangelical text criticism for sure. Dr. P.J. Williams mentions some interesting lettering, the digamma (F), and some of the palmyrene alphabet. Where might a non-elite scholar find some more information on these letters/alphabets?

  • Travis Scholl says:

    Priceless. Looks like good English satire has rubbed off well, Dr. Swift.

  • R. Tinetti says:

    This has me thinking, not only do we need to bring back Mad Libs–we need theological Mad Libs. I’ll look forward to your future contributions to this series. Great start here.

  • Damian Snyder says:

    Jeff,
    So what do you really thin? It is always so hard to tell given that you use such ambiguous language…so why does Joseph Smith get golden tablets while Jesus gets lead.

    • Jeff Kloha says:

      Jesus must have been Lutheran. No gold, only lead. Theology of the cross, you see.

  • Kyle Whaley says:

    What I find interesting, is that they have had these codices for 5 years and they are just now figuring out what to do with them.

    • Jeff Kloha says:

      From what I’ve read, these have been known for some time (some reports say they’ve been held by a family for 100 years). In fact they have been declared fakes by the Israel Antiquities Authority. It is just at this point that someone decided to take it to the media — their motives for doing so are open to interpretation. It has been interesting to see the story “go viral” over the last couple of weeks.

  • Erik Schmidt says:

    Dr. Kloha,

    This is exactly why the Kloha army was formed in the first place; thanks for the tip in the D.A.’s. Actually, the platypus is a good symbol for the theology of the cross. They both just don’t make no sense.

  • [...] couple weeks ago, I posted a few not-so-serious thoughts on the lead tablet “find” from the Holy Land (which seems to have dropped off the [...]

  • Andrew Grams says:

    Unfortunately ABC/Discovery/History Channel will not be calling serious scholars to discuss this year’s find of the century/last thousand years when the blockbuster show is released later in the year. One thing I did not see in your report was whether one needs special glasses to decipher the letters and/or connect the DOTS. In the local congregations we have to do a bit of Snopes-like reporting to counter the mass media/text message report and consumption most folks receive these days. Access to information, no matter how tongue in cheek it is, from the sem is extremely useful. Thank you.

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