Newly Found Lead Codices – Christian or Kabbalistic?

Lead Codices

In Israel, a new archaeological “discovery” of sorts is buzzing and making bold claims that they may be the next “Dead Sea Scrolls.” They include a collection of scrolls as well as 70 lead codices (ancient scripts bound in book form, rather than as scrolls). However, we have conflicting reports on the nature of these “newly found” artifacts. They are owned by “Hassan Saeda, a Bedouin farmer in Galilee who says they have been in his family’s possession since his great-grandfather found them in a cave in Jordan, a century ago.” Although there is still a lot of skepticism surrounding these artifacts, there are some strong voices that are willing to attest to their authenticity, wanting to avoid another possible Shapiro Affair.

Christian or Kabbalistic?

Right now we seem to either have two camps on the theory of origins and contents of these manuscripts. However, this may be a result of the various text which may be present among the collection. According to one source, these manuscripts “could hold a contemporary account of the last years of Jesus.” According to another source, they appear to be Kabbalistic with references to Bar Kochba and Shimon bar Yochai, and “the nature of the content indicates a magical incantation style of writing.” Both reports confirm that the manuscripts are not just comprised of Hebrew or Greek text, but images and symbols which are in need of deciphering. Some of these codices are also said to be sealed and have created speculation that they may possibly be “secret writings referred to in the apocryphal Book of Ezra.”

How can these theories be so divergent? Just look at the early theories surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls, and all of the controversy and imagination that has lead to cloak & dagger speculation in the last half a century, including John Allegro’s laughable “The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross.” When indecipherable manuscripts come to light, it seems sensational imagination rules the roost.

One legitimate reason for the diverse interpretation may simply be there are multiple types of documents contained within the cache, not dissimilar to the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. The different scholars are merely examining two different texts, which contain seemingly polar information. The quick evidence I see for this is the one article’s description of the codices, compared to the photo made available in the other article (the photo I have included at the top of this article). In the first article, the codices are described as being “tiny credit-card-sized volumes.” However, in the photo you can see that this particular codex is much larger than this.

Conclusion

Either way, we will have to wait and see what turns up by way of translation and authentication. Either way, it will be an exciting journey. Hopefully, the reports will be out sooner than later, and the texts of these discoveries will find their way to the public much sooner than the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Geniza Fragments or the Oxyrhyncus Papyri.

Update: Further Reading

I have just been made aware of these other (and more extensive) articles on this discovery:

Also, here is another (better) image of a codex:

lead codex 1
Lead codex with cryptic text and images visible

Follow Up

I have posted my first follow up here.

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Comments

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15 thoughts on “Newly Found Lead Codices – Christian or Kabbalistic?”

  1. I’m so glad you’ve been able to get back to blogging. I really enjoy the information you are sharing and your insights about history and archaeology.

    Darren Reply:

    Thank you for your kind words, Lisa! Your encouragement is a shot in the arm! Keep up the great work yourself!

  2. Has anyone noticed the following: One of the smaller Codex books – the one which is sealed on all four sides with lead rings – is different that the others? One side is clearly sealed as if it were a binding…but the top, bottom, and leading edge of the other three sides are sealed with SEVEN LEAD RINGLETS…or SEALS. Does the significance of SEVEN SEALS from the Book of Revelations and these SEVEN RINGS SEALING THIS BOOK ring any bells?

    Darren Reply:

    Ken – Thanks for posting! Unfortunately, I don’t count seven seals on that one. I count twelve. And I’m not sure Hashem would allow “that” book to fall into the hands of mere mortals. But it is really interesting that it is completely sealed. Can’t wait until they open it up & take a peak…

    Dan Reply:

    Ken, your right! Darren, look at this picture: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/03/29/article-1371290-0B63F32D00000578-224_224x279.jpg if you look at all five rings on the left as BINDINGS and the rest of the rings as SEALS, then Kens postulate is correct. Now, if this is a forgery then THERE is your reason for it.

    Darren Reply:

    The two big problems I see with this whole bound codex thing are 1) It appears that the Jews didn’t use the codex form until the early Middle Ages (see http://www.fathom.com/course/72810016/session2.html), and 2) If you are considering the rings on the left as the binding, why wasn’t it bound on the right, rather than the left, as the standard for Hebrew texts?

  3. Darren, Consider this, what if these are BOTH Messianic and Kabbalistic? Suppose if you will, Jesus,John and at least Paul were kabbalah masters? And suppose the Gospels and Pauls letters were Kabbalah texts? While on the plain text reading these documents offer comfort,support and instruction in simple language for the masses, while providing the “keys to the kingdom” for other kabbalah masters. Or another way of putting it, Milk for the masses, meat for the enlightened. Jesus said many would hear,but, few would truly understand everything He taught. His parables would take on massive “new insights” to Jesus teachings. Time will tell.

    Darren Reply:

    Jeff – I don’t have a problem accepting that. However, we have to remember that actually labeling it “Kabbalist” is a bit anachronistic. But I believe we both know what we mean. Jewish mysticism was around long before the Gospels were written, and I believe, as you suggest, Jesus, John & Paul were all conversant with Jewish mysticism as their teachings reflect.

    We don’t want to make the mistake, however, of superimposing Gnosticism upon the Jewish mysticism of the early believers. Once we have the full text of these codices we will know more as to their origin and their teachings.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. I’m neither standing with the Elkingtons, nor with any Consensus or pressure group. I just want to make my point that texts has been written on lead before and after first century AD. One can’t change this fact even if he or she doesn’t have much confidence in my academic credentials.
    For details of other Leaden Books please consult:
    1. An Inquiry into the Nature and form of the books of the ancients… 1873 London Pp 28-35
    2. Septuaginta-Studien. II. 1904 Pp.14-17
    3. The Gnostics and their Remains. London Pp.147-153
    4. Une Excursion Gnostique en Italie.Paris 1852. Plate I tillplate.xii
    5. The Septuagent in context. Brill 2000. Pp.267-268
    6. Ancient Jewish Magic. Pp.114 and 144-146 etc.
    7. Curse Tablets and binding spells from the ancient world.Oxford. 1992

    And what about Job 19:24.
    Muzaffar
    archeohistorian@gmail.com

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