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Ziad al-Saad, the director of the Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, on some miniature lead codices: “They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls,” and “maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”

Larry Hurtado, a leading scholar of early Christianity, responds:

Chill, dude.  Take a breath.  OK, I know that you need to puff public interest in support of your efforts to obtain possession of these items (which he alleges were illegally taken out of Jordan into Israel), and I know that you also want to get as much publicity out of this as possible for your institution, but these comments only make you look silly.

You can read more of his caution here.

In another post, “Let’s Not Play Their Game,” he offers more wise guidance to the scholarly community:

. . . [I]t’s clear that there’s a significant interest to which those manipulating these reports hope to appeal. But, as a scholar of early Christianity, I’m not favorably impressed with the behavior of those doing so.

I don’t like being played with when it comes to scholarly issues. I don’t see the point of fellow scholars speculating in the press as to what these items “might” be. Why play into the game of those who hold the items and could, if they really wish to do so, simply make them available for competent analsys? I understand that it’s flattering for scholars to be approached by the press for comment on something (anything!). But instead, we should all simply say, “No comment until the items are placed into the hands of competent experts.” I tire quickly of the self-serving antics of the people who claim to be in possession of items of great scholarly significance but prefer to conduct their business through press releases instead of inviting competent testing and analysis.


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3 thoughts on “The Most Important Discovery in the History of Archaeology?”

  1. Terry says:

    I don’t know whether it will ever happen, but I would love for an archeologist to discover a complete commentary on Revelation by Polycarp (or someone else who was close to John). I would love to know exactly how the earliest readers interpreted it. Unfortunately, I don’t think this discovery has that potential since it was found in either Jordan or Israel rather than Turkey.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hurtado gives some good cautions. It is a very exciting discovery but so much forgery coupled with competition for “the scoop” should make us wary.

  3. Deven says:

    I am very interested in seeing this story develop. I have been reading recently Bultmann and Bousset and others, and I am struck by how much the DSS have impacted biblical studies, and, I think, clarified some important points in Christological discussion. It will be interesting to see if anything pans out in this particular case.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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