Friday, April 01, 2011

A strong argument for forgery of copper 'codex'

I think that the argument by Peter Thonemann hosted by Jim Davila is a powerful one for concluding the item concerned is a fake. Of course this makes the rest even more suspicious. As Thonemann says to David Elkington:

"The Greek text at the top of your photo no. 0556 reads: ΛΛΥΠΕΧΛΙΡΕΛΒΓΛΡΟΚΛΙΕΙΣΙΩΝ, followed by ΛΛΥΠΕ in mirror-writing.

This text corresponds to ΛΛΥΠΕ ΧΛΙΡΕ ΛΒΓΛΡ Ο ΚΛΙ ΕΙΣΙΩΝ, i.e. ἄλυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγαρ ὁ καὶ Εἰσίων, followed by the word ἄλυπε again, in mirror writing. The text at the bottom of your photo no. 0532 is the first part of the same text again: ΛΥΠΕΧΛΙΡΕΛΒΓ, i.e. [ἄ]λυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγ...

The text was incised by someone who did not know the Greek language, since he does not distinguish between the letters lambda and alpha: both are simply represented, in each of the texts, by the shape Λ.

The text literally means 'without grief, farewell! Abgar also known as Eision'. This text, in isolation, is meaningless.

However, this text corresponds precisely to line 2 of the Greek text of a bilingual Aramaic/Greek inscription published by J.T. Milik, Syria 35 (1958) 243-6 no.6 (SEG 20, 494), and republished in P.-L. Gatier, Inscriptions grecques et latines de Syrie XXI: Inscriptions de la Jordanie, 2: Region centrale (Paris 1986), no.118. That inscription reads, in its entirety, as follows,

1 Σελαμαν χρηστὲ καὶ
2 ἄλυπε χαῖρε, Ἀβγαρ ὁ καὶ Εἰσίων
3 Μονοαθου υἱὸς υἱῷ τειμίῳ τὸ μνῆμα
4 ἐποίησεν ἔτους τρίτου ἐπαρχείας

’For Selaman, excellent and harmless man, farewell! Abgar, also known as Eision, son of Monoathos, constructed this tomb for his excellent son (i.e. Selaman), in the third year of the province'.

This is a stone tombstone from Madaba in Jordan, precisely dated to AD 108/9, on display in the Archaeological Museum in Amman."

One bit of research to do would be to find out when the inscription was first discovered and published. This would be important to help find out whether the items have been available for 100 or for just 5 years.


  1. I would encourage people to write to all those respectable newspapers that reported the story and complain of their lack of objectivity and research. We were all saying they were most likely forgeries, or at the least there was no evidence to substantiate the claims made, but the papers followed a dubious scholar. I says something for proper media reporting!

  2. Looks like the entire batch of metal books is fake.

    Some folks were pretty speedy to object to mistakes and overstatements about all this. If only that speed and concern were as evident when misleading statements about NT textual variants were involved, in commentaries, journal articles, online essays, Bible footnotes, etc.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  3. I found it rather humorous when the reported an expert "admitting" that the book of Revelation mentioned "a sealed book," as if this was likely the very book in question.

    It's a total circus in the media towards the end of every December and March.

  4. Let's wait until the scholars that know what they are doing publicize some informed judgments. Believers and unbelievers alike seem to jump to conclusions. We have only bits and pieces of information now and the 'pick your scholar' game is premature.

  5. 'without grief, farewell! Abgar also known as Eision'.

    "Without grief, REJOICE! AbgarO AND JESUS" -- greek retranslated

  6. Thonemann has a brief article in TLS:

  7. Mormon scholars should be especially gullible for something like this. Here's a mailing I received from one on the last day of March:

    Special Alert: Metal Plates from the 1st Century Testify of Christ.
    If you have not yet read this article, it's a must. A major archaeological discovery provides solid evidence that Hebrews recorded their sacred history on books made of metal plates.

    To see the article click to this link: