In 2006, a cache of seventy small books made of lead and bound with wire were discovered in a cave in Jordan where refugees from the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, possible early followers of Christ, are known to have fled. Though debate on their authenticity continues, some scholars have stated their belief that these small books may rival the Dead Sea Scrolls in their ability to illumine the world of the early Christian movement.
So earlier this week, it was announced that a non-profit,The Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books, has been founded to verify their authenticity and study their contents. Dr Margaret Barker, an independent scholar awarded a doctorate in divinity by Lord Williams in 2008 will chair the Centre’s board, and also sit on the evaluation panel, which will be chaired by Professor Robert Hayward, of Durham University. Other members include Professor Philip Davies of the University of Sheffield, and Dr Samuel Zinner, an independent scholar formerly of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The panel will be funded independently of the Centre, and no individual or body will be able to donate more than £500.
From an article in the Church Times
Matthew Hood, an engineer who has studied metallurgy, suggests that it would be “extremely difficult to have artificially manufactured these objects”. He said that 12 rounds of metallurgical tests had already been carried out. Dr Barker believed that there was nothing to which the books could be compared. While there should be “no predetermined idea as to what we should find”, she said that many of the images in the books were familiar to her, including some linked to the Jerusalem temple and Sukkot festival. Others she could “immediately” set in the context of the origins of Christianity, such as a series of diagonal crosses, and faces shining like the sun.
“I was extremely excited at the amount of imagery that coincided with the Book of Revelation,” she said. “It really was quite extraordinary.”
posted by Jon White