DAVID AND JENNIFER ELKINGTON — DISCOVERING THE LEAD CODICES,
The Book of Seven Seals and The Secret Teachings of Jesus — 2014
It is difficult to discuss this book because beyond the sensational discovery that really responds to our deep feeling that there is a hole in our knowledge of what happened after the death of James, Jesus’ brother, the upheaval of the population in Jerusalem against the Jewish establishment and the Romans, and the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. We know that Paul, the self-declared Apostle of the Gentiles, was a Jewish member of the priesthood of the Temple, a persecutor of the early Christians of the Jerusalem Church, and particularly James, and that he turned coats and affiliations and became a Christian when he had a vision on the road to Damascus, while running after James and some other Jews who left Jerusalem after the first attack on James. The book says that Saul had his vision in an area close to where these lead codices were found. Their idea is that he had an encounter with the lead codices themselves, particularly the one with Jesus’ face on the cover and that would have been enough to petrify his soul and turn him from Saul to Paul. I find that rather easy, definitely superficial. I have never believed in this illumination or illuminating vision. What happened is another type of event that we do not know, but I would rather consider a real political meeting with someone who told him and showed him something that changed his perspective and the vision itself is then pure mental construction to justify the coats-turning.
My doubts come from the fact that the book is built on a contradiction. All that is being said about these early Christians in Jerusalem, identified under a dozen or so names from Hebrew Christians to Essenes with the clear motivation of restoring the old Temple and the line of Messiah-kings descending from King David, hence to get rid of the new Temple or at least the priesthood of that new Temple. And at the same time the book says that Jesus who impersonates this project willfully accepts to stand tall, to be resurrected, to stand uprightly, and the last act of this stance is his coming to Jerusalem where he could be greeted as the King-Messiah; he would cleanse the Temple of the money-lenders; would preach in the Holy of Holies (thus recognized as one of the top elite); would have his Last Passover Supper with his disciples somewhere unknown, though the book suggests the seat of some anti-establishment sect; and then would start his descent into sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane (note since the disciples went to sleep instead of staying awake to witness what was happening we do not have any direct witness and testimony); the “betrayal” (??) of Judas and his kiss; the arrest and then the long torture (more than interrogation) by the Romans on the basis of the denunciation of Jesus by the High Priest and others from the Temple; Pilate’s decision; the carrying of the cross; and finally the crucifixion and the death and resurrection.
The only moment when the authors seem to step out of this official story is about the resurrection and reappearance of Jesus to his disciples: the result of the trauma of both the crucifixion and their total lack of courage, their denial. In other words, they really had a vision, a delusion in other words, that was real to their traumatized minds. The authors seem to believe the story is true based on recollections of real events warped or even distorted by the trauma. The conclusion is typical of this acceptation of the basic “truth” of the story. They are believers and just want to deepen their belief, their faith, and these lead codices seem to be one missing link (and there are many missing links from the death of Jesus to the First Council of Nicaea, nearly three hundred years later) of the small period between the death of Jesus and the death of James (not specified in the book in spite of the mention of Robert Eisenman) based on an illegal decision of the Sanhedrin convened at the High Priest’s home instead of the Temple, and subsequent rebellion in Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple. James came back to Jerusalem when he had healed his broken leg and when Paul had stepped out of the Temple, out of Judaism and converted himself to what he had persecuted for several years. What is missing about Paul is whether his motivations were religious or political. He seems to be centered on Rome and the Roman Empire, but what is the real project he may have had about this new religion, knowing that it will only finally be recognized about two hundred and fifty years after Paul’s death. So, the conversion coming from Paul being confronted to the sealed small lead codices with Jesus’ face on the cover is slightly light.
But that is the authors’ tale. The lead codices are not what they tell because in fact we still do not have a full photographic (digitalized and mastered so that it is clear and readable) rendition of these lead codices. The Dead Sea Scrolls only became accepted when Robert Eisenman published a photographic facsimile of them. The few pictures, mostly un-processed and difficult to really read and decipher, are not enough. And we need to work a little bit more on Jesus’ face to really get somewhere. We can process such relief or imprint in three-dimensional digital rendering to really get something that is visible. And how do we know it is Jesus? Do we have a picture of Jesus? Of course, not since this one is declared to be the first. But the lead codices are here on our mental table and we have to process them. And that’s where I have a few remarks to make.
First, their authenticity. I will just trust scientific studies as for that and the tests that are quoted here seem to prove it goes back to the first century AD. Until we have new tests, that is enough for me. And anyway, even if they are fake, not a copy since they are unique, we would have to know who did it and why, and there would be a lot of things to say on this subject.
Second, the language. Palaeo-Hebrew is fine for me, but the authors seem to ignore what this language is. It is a Semitic language, one member of the first family of languages that left Black Africa something like 200,000 years ago to move north to North Africa, Egypt, Libya, the Maghreb, and the Sahara. They do not seem to know Semitic languages are tri-consonantal root languages and what they call “the root nezer” is not a root but a discursive noun meaning the noun “branch.” The root is NZR and the meaning of this root is never specified, but it is neither verbal nor nominal. It is a non-categorized purely “semantic” concept. But what is it? In that field they use this Hebraic discursive word as a root for Greek words. That is perfectly possible, but Greek is an Indo-European language that developed from the last wave of the third migration out of Black Africa something like 40,000 years ago to stay on the Iranian plateau till after the Ice Age when they started moving again around 15,000 years ago. But it is quite clear that a root in Greek has little to do with a root in Hebrew. That’s where Robert Eisenman is important because he shows how a Hebrew root can migrate in a great number of words derived from it or integrating it, and it always keeps its original meaning. He also shows how translating it into Greek, to keep the same consonantal alliterations the Greek language, and the translators, even John when he wrote in Greek in Patmos, use other means available in Greek but that have little to do with Hebrew. Alliterations between two words can exist without any connection between the two words. Think of the word “window.” Some English-speaking people might suppose that the first syllable refers to what it looks like, the wind, but they would certainly not recognize the “eye” in the second half of the word. So you can consider that the alliteration between “window” and “wind” is similar to what could happen in Hebrew, but there is no alliteration between “window and “eye.” And in Hebrew a root that is embedded in a word always keeps its original meaning. That’s why the Hebrew word for “evil” in The Dead Sea Scrolls remains connected to a root meaning “swallow” and a whole discussion can be amplified on whether “evil swallows the wrong-doer” or “the wrong-doer swallows evil.” In the first case the wrong-doer is not the master of his wrong-doing and he has to be protected. In the second case the wrong-doer is the master of his wrong-doing and thus he has to be purified if not punished.
The case of “nezer” is typical. The authors are satisfied with asserting that this masculine word is the root used by the Greek translators to build “Nazarene,” “Nazorean,” and others (note here in English), and the Greek “Nazoraios” (“preserver of old ways”). All are asserted to be derived words from the “nezer” Hebrew discursive word.. But that is not enough, far from it. Just check what http://www.abarim-publications.com/Dictionary/n/n-z-r.html#.XWzfdigzaUl writes on the subject: at least two roots, נצר נזר, (“nasar,” “nazar”) and the first one, “nasar,” has two meanings. And we could discuss a third one indirectly quoted page 27 by the authors as “notsrim” (keepers, preservers, guardians): “Notsriym,”
, as discussed by Fred P. Miller at https://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/nazer2.htm, « Isaiah’s Use of the word ‘Branch’ or Nazarene.” The root is then נצר, “N-TS-R.” Then the plural “notsrim” gives the singular “nostr” and the root is “n-ts-r.” That root refers to “branch” and to “hidden,” neither noun nor verb, thus non-categorized concepts. The least we can say is that it is complicated and that does not really explain who the Nazarenes, or other variations were except that they bring together the concepts of “branch,” “hide” and “guard/preserve,” all of them non-categorized as nominal or verbal. The investigation of the authors in various documents of the time and in various books of the Old Testament or New Testament, does not solve the problem of who were the first “Christians” before being called Christians. I don’t want to solve the problem even with one single hypothesis. Robert Eisenman has convincingly demonstrated the connection between James and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but with the idea that James seems to have been the last Teacher of Righteousness, though the community is older than James and existed probably sometime before, maybe even long before. In fact, the Jewish people are divided into all kinds of sects and communities, from openly rebellious and violent to entirely integrated into the Judean establishment. Local rebellions were common, and some violent “revolutionary” outlaws were numerous officially fighting against the Romans but also victimizing the Jews who were too submissive.
That leads to questions: Could James be the “leader” of two different movements? Were these two movements non-violent or violent? They sure believed in a Messiah, which by the way was a common belief among the Jews, but what was a Messiah? The answer given by the authors is not enough. To reduce the concept of Messiah to a king in close contact with God from the Davidic branch able to unify the twelve tribes of Israel is probably politically correct but definitely not culturally or religiously correct at the time. The Jews did believe in a Messiah sent by God in a way or another, either by the divinization of a worthy king like David or Solomon, or the incarnation of a divine individual into a human being who has to be born as such like Jesus. They did believe there was a place known as Heaven and another known as Hell. They did believe there were angels, archangels, demons, and other supernatural beings. They did believe that their God would eventually hold his promise and send a Messiah to save humanity and then with its second coming to start the apocalypse, the resurrection of all dead people, the Last Judgment, in other words Doomsday. For them Jesus was really resurrected (passive since it was his “father’s” decision). We have to step back from these beliefs to reconstruct history. The authors fall into the beliefs entirely and try to explain that the supernatural was only some psychic event. In other words, they are Pauline authors who accept the principle that acts are not enough and faith is essential. So, they have faith and that blocks their thinking.
They very rightly consider the language used in the lead codices is probably Palaeo Hebrew, that is to say, old written Hebrew used in the liturgy of the Israelite religion at the very least in Mosaic times. They do not seem to identify the writing properly. It cannot be alphabetic since it does not write vowels and “aleph” is not a vowel per se since it can only be written as the initial of a word. They say several times there are letters that they also identify as syllables, plus plain drawings of various items, of course, signifying and significant like palm trees, pomegranates, and 9-branched or 7-branched menorah with at least some dizziness coming from the fuzziness of the two extra-branches on one of them. It is asserted as a 9-branched menorah at first and finally page 195 we come to consider it is a 7-branched menorah with two lower branches of another nature and meaning: “the two lower branches have been mistaken for eighth and ninth branches, whereas they are in reality the branches of the almond tree, implying the menorah’s role as the Tree of Life.” Why then do most menorahs only have seven branches? They are not the embodiment of the Tree of Life? And are we speaking of a real almond tree or of the Tree of Life of the Messianic Jerusalem? On the same page the author accept the idea that the undeciphered symbols of the lead codices are what is said in The Gospel of Truth: “[the] living book was revealed to the eons, at the end, as [his letters], revealing how they are not vowels nor are they consonants, so that one might read them and think of something foolish, but they are letters of the truth which they alone speak who know them…” Of course, it is in many ways slightly absurd because the Sumerian writing system was not alphabetic. The concept of vowels and consonants did not exist. The writing system of the Semitic Phoenicians was not alphabetic since, like the Hebrew writing system it did not contain vowels, except “alef” as an initial letter. The concept of alphabetic writing was developed by the Greeks from the Phoenician writing system. The concepts of vowels and consonants are not Hebraic. But note it can be read, though it sounds foolish, meaningless. So, these signs are letters after all. But it is suggested by the authors that it is a code, like a secret language only known and understood by priests, initiated people. That’s why the authors speak of glyphs, hieroglyphs even. But that would have to be proved. Hieroglyphs are attached to the Egyptian writing system, another Semitic language. It is not alphabetic, and it is probably one of the matrixes that enabled the enslaved Jews to invent what I will call Moses’ writing system: the first mention of anything written in the tables of the Law and the commandments written down by God himself. Strangely enough Moses and the Jews were able to read them. This means the Tables of the Law were written in some Palaeo Hebrew with a consonantal writing system that could be read at the time. Luckily the Sumerian and the Phoenician writing systems were older than Moses, so you cannot conclude God gave the art of writing to the humans, even reduced to the Israelis.
If it is code either there is a simple key behind, and the various written elements are letters shuffled around. Or it is not letters, and we have regressed to a pre-writing symbolic code. The only I seem to know is the use of paintings, carvings and other representative symbolical systems staging two types of symbols: figurative representations of items, objects or animals, at times humans, and geometric symbols that have no representational dimension. Such symbols can be found in Gobekli Tepe, many thousand years before the cuneiform writing system, or the non-figurative symbols in the various caves in the world that were painted from 50,000 BCE to 15,000 BCE? Gobekli Tepe is around 10,000 BCE. We definitely need a lot more visually processed images to be able to enter the question, maybe come close to a partial answer. The brain produces shapes in your unconscious all the time, and the number of these shapes is limited. Some say they represent the architecture of the nervous system itself. But language is the merger of the symbolic dimension of the human mind and the communicational necessity for survival. The linguistic phylogeny of man is quite long and does not start from zero; far from it. Our species inherited from our ancestors some already acquired capabilities in oral communication. We developed it because by becoming long-distance fast bipedal runners we selected some mutations that revealed themselves as being essential for the articulation of vowel sounds and consonant sounds. The hyoid bone is one element, but horses have a hyoid bone and they do not speak, do they? As soon as Homo Sapiens was able to symbolize a word and its referent with any kind of sign he had the ability to develop a symbolic mind which was only the further development of his conceptualizing mind that had enabled him to develop language beyond the simple first articulation of vowels and consonants. That’s what we have to take into account to determine if the “code,” if code it is, is playing on letters and moving them around with some kind of a key, or if it goes back to what symbolic communication was before writing: symbols standing each one for one word or phrase. We actually use that kind of symbolic expression all the time with emoticons, emojis and other symbols that are just concatenated to mean something complex. Anyone who can write, it is not spoken except in comic books, emoticon or emojis can build a very complex language that someone else will be able to decipher. The problem is simple, and the authors make it complicated. To decipher the code will be complicated but first of all we have to have an inventory of the signs and a full and clear mapping of all the “texts.”
The authors themselves give a perfect example. At first, they saw some “scribbling” that was incomplete for their deciphering power and so meaningless. The same inscription proposed to someone who was up-to-the-task of deciphering Palaeo Hebrew came up with the transcription in Hebrew writing letters first, then in the transliteration “yelek be-tum” and a translation “He will walk uprightly” which in fact is a quotation from Proverbs 10.9. And then the authors developed the meaning of this word “tum” meaning “uprightly.” And they found out that this “tum” may be used for a resurrection from lying down to standing up. And it can be used of course for a general mental and moral stance against some kind of opposition or hostility. Beyond this, their considering the stance of Jesus in front of his denunciation and then accusation and finally, crucifixion is covered by this word “tum” because he demonstrated his “uprightly-ness.” And the fact that it is set in parallel to his stance as seen upright after his resurrection is their interpretation and it enables the authors to then consider that the disciples saw him after his “uprightly apparition” in some kind of traumatic illusion, and that is their interpretation. They cannot today defend the idea that Jesus actually resurrected; It goes against our scientific or logical mind. But the case here shows that what is not decipherable at first can be deciphered by an expert in the field and then the meaning can be explored. That’s exactly what we need. We need the lead codices to be entirely, in their entirety, published so that we can start deciphering them.
A last point has to be added here about the stars and their branches. “The six-pointed star is familiar to us today as a symbol of black magic and Israel: it is derived from the famous King Solomon.” (p. 20) In my culture it is the five-pointed star that is black magic and evil and the six-pointed star is both the wisdom of Solomon and the star of David. The Nazis had it right, especially since they did not invent it. The six-pointed star is the cup of God pouring down His wisdom into the cup of man receiving it. “The seven-pointed star denoted Solomon’s father, King David.” (p. 20) I think this is wrong. I found in the Smithsonian Magazine on www.smithsonianmag.com:
“The six-pointed symbol is commonly referred to as the Star of David, a reference to the Biblical king and his legendary “shield.” […] While the hexagram may have become the most common image symbolizing modern Jewish religion and heritage (see: the Israeli flag), the six-pointed star is far from the only or the oldest image of Judaism. For thousands of years, Jews typically used the menorah, a seven-armed ceremonial candelabrum, as a symbol of their faith, according to Haaretz’s Ronen Shnidman.” (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-did-the-six-pointed-star-become-associated-with-judaism-180959693/)
And our authors go on: “However, of particular interest to me at the time was the fact that the eight-pointed star was indicative of the enigmatic figure of Melchizedek, the figure to whom Abraham showed obeisance. Melchizedek appears in Genesis 14 as the King of Salem.” (p. 20–21) The authors are missing something here the octagon as well as this eight-pointed star are standard symbols of the Second Coming of Jesus (just like four is the symbol of his crucifixion), of the coming then of the Messiah that will save humanity and bring the Last Judgment at the end of time, the famous “omega.” Romanesque churches used this octagon for many of their medieval church towers. It has been used ever since in many more modern churches. The octagon was also used to draw the map of Romanesque churches, and later Gothic churches before starting the construction per se. Many medieval churches of great size had eight arches on each side of the main nave between the transept and the narthex, which meant nine columns and thus the Second Coming was associated with the Apocalypse, the Last Judgment or Doomsday.
As you can see, I do consider these artifacts are of interest and have to be finally “published” in proper form so that specialists can start working on them. But at the same time, I consider that after Jesus’ death, and even before, the Roman world was going through an end-times consciousness. The world had changed millennia, in a way. The water stopped going up and even went down slightly. The after-Ice-Age time was coming to its own closure and it had brought great developments in agriculture, in industry, in military activities, in religions, in culture of course, and first of all writing. The Roman empire was confronted with this new consciousness that things were changing so fast that we were coming to the end of one time, of one period. I would even think that the very conscious and elaborate cyclical vision of time developed by the Mayas and their calendars, was present in all human culture because capturing time was essential for their survival and their memory told them things were changing and there were at least successive periods in time and that they had reached such a period in what was then the first year of our modern era. The Roman empire was also starting to recognize that there were many people and many territories beyond their own geographical extension. They could call them barbarians, like the Greeks did before them, but they were conscious they had to stand against them. Just think of Julius Caesar and his wars in western Europe. Add to that the empire, the assassination of Julius Caesar, Augustus and what came after him, Tiberius, Caligula and later on Nero who is alluded to in John’s Book of Revelation as the Beast, 666, and note it equals 18 and this number turns up in the Lead Codices, page 245. What they consider the main codex, the one with Jesus’ face on the cover is a strange association of seals:
“on the left-hand side there are three binding rings; there are four rings at the top and four rings at the bottom; and on the right-hand side, where the book is finally to be opened and the revelation uncovered there are seven seals. Seven is a significant number, associated symbolically with perfection. Eight is symbolic of completion and of Jesus Christ.”
This is a little bit short. Three is the Trinity. Four is the crucifixion. Eight is the Second Coming. Seven is Genesis and of course Jesus’ passion. But 4 + 4 + 3 + 7 = 18, three times six, hence the Beast, Nero, the Roman Emperor, etc. It is quite obvious then that we are here on the same line as John in his Apocalypse. And these are the only numbers we can provide some meaning to. Ten, eleven, thirteen or fifteen do not carry any meaning in the context. We are definitely in a context of the end-times, here cast into an apocalyptic mold. That would imply they might be right on their conclusion concerning Jesus:
“Was Jesus a rebel? The answer to this must be a firm yes. But he was a rebel with good cause: he was in rebellion against what the Temple had become and what it was in danger of doing to the people, the very ‘children of Israel’, now scattered so widely that it would only be the itinerant Paul who would attempt the improbable task of bringing them together. It is commonly said that Jesus was not trying to found a new religion: this is true in as much he was trying to refound an old religion… The centralized Temple had been formed on a focus for a cult of sacrifice, in honor of a fearful God and a strict code of law that was criticized by Jesus Christ. In becoming the sacrifice, Christ freed the people and decentralized the Temple, by allowing them to go hither and thither. He gave them a precious gift: freedom of movement. The old law was, in Gnostic eyes, the Devil. Christ as King ended the Devil’s sway.” (p. 248–249)
Here we are definitely in theology, a theology of the end-times, but not an apocalypse meaning the end of the world, but what I would rather call an epiphany meaning the birth of a new world. But this can only mean anything if we believe in it. For instance, we have to believe Jesus knew what was going to happen after his death, though the final diaspora was to occur after the third rebellion and the final destruction of the walls of Jerusalem in the third war against the Jews:
“The Jewish–Roman wars include the following:
1- First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) — also called the First Jewish Revolt or the Great Jewish Revolt, spanning from the 66 CE insurrection, through the 67 CE fall of the Galilee, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and institution of the Fiscus Judaicus in 70 CE, and finally the fall of Masada in 73 CE.
2- Kitos War (115–117 CE) — known as the “Rebellion of the Exile” and sometimes called the Second Jewish–Roman War.
3- Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE) — also called the Second Jewish–Roman War (when Kitos War is not counted), or the Third (when the Kitos War is counted).” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish%E2%80%93Roman_wars)
Jesus could not know what was to happen one century after his death, though the quotation above implies some kind of at least contextual knowledge by the use of the conditional. I would rather lean towards the idea that Jesus being crucified was his political defeat but the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus enabled the Church of Jerusalem to be both outdistanced by Paul and his Gentiles and eliminated from the political palette. Yes, the Roman Empire had reached an end-time, but that was not the one Jesus may have envisaged and certainly not the one his brother James died for in his turn. But the authors are right: the new religion became possible by presenting Jesus death as the sacrifice of a divine being that had come on earth to save us. Was that Paul’s real invention, or did it take more time to emerge? Difficult to say but the will of the Christians to enter into a religious confrontation with the Roman Empire, turning this opposition into a political rebellion crushed with force and annihilation, was definitely essential for this rather slow birth in something like three centuries. And the sacrifice is still performed every Sunday at least and in some places every day. A long-lasting sacrifice indeed.
Unluckily the book does not give us what is essential now: the content of ALL these books.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
A LITTLE BIT OF HEBREW, ROOTS vs WORDS
There are two separate roots נצר (nasar), which don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other, and one of the form נזר (nazar), which may have sounded similar and which appears to be quite similar in meaning to both of the previous, be it indirectly:
The verb נזר (nazar) means to consecrate or separate oneself, although it doesn’t seem to indicate a physical removal from society (Ezekiel 14:7, Hosea 9:10, Leviticus 15:31). This verb occurs about a dozen times in the Bible, but its derivatives occur slightly more often:
· The masculine noun נזר (nezer), whose meanings split into the concept of consecration (Numbers 6:9 speaks of the “head of his consecration,” which was long, uncut hair) and signs of consecration, namely a woman’s hair, since that probably reminded of consecrated hair; Jeremiah 7:29, and a crown or diadem (2 Samuel 1:10, Psalm 89:40). This may perhaps shed some light on REVELATION 13:1.
· The masculine noun נזיר (nazir), meaning a consecrated one or Nazirite. The entire chapter of Numbers 6 deals with the Nazirite vow, ending with the famous benediction of Numbers 6:24–26. In Genesis 49:26 Jacob compares his son Joseph to a fruitful plant whose branches (literally ‘daughters’) run over a wall, and calls him a nazir to his brothers. In Leviticus 25:5 and 25:11 the word nazir is applied to the vine, which was not to be pruned in the Sabbaticalyear, but it is unclear why this vine is so special (but see JOHN 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches”).
· The denominative verb נזר (nazar), meaning to be a consecrated one or Nazirite, or to live like one (Numbers 6:2–12 only).
· The masculine plural noun מנזר (minzar), which is difficult to interpret. This noun occurs only once, in Nahum 3:17, and seems to mean consecrated ones or princes (crowned ones).
Also see the verb קדש (qadash), which also means to separate or be holy.
The root verb נצר (nasar I) means to watch, guard or keep. BDB Theological Dictionary divides the applications of this verb into five categories:
· To watch, guard or keep, for instance a vineyard (Job 27:18, Isaiah 27:3) or a fig tree (Proverbs 27:18), or men (Job 7:20). From this usage stems the word נצרים (nasarim), which means watchmen (Jeremiah 31:6) or perhaps besiegers (Jeremiah 4:16; see below). None of the sources used reckons this word as a (plural) noun, and BDB Theological Dictionary deems it a passive participle. Our verb is also used in an ethical sense: guarding one’s mouth (Proverbs 13:3) or tongue (Psalm 34:13), one’s way (Proverbs 16:17), and one’s heart (Proverbs 4:23).
· To preserve or guard from dangers (Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 25:21, Isaiah 26:3). From this usage stems the adjective נציר (nsyr), meaning the preserved (Isaiah 49:6 only).
· To guard with fidelity, to keep or observe: loving-kindness (Exodus 34:7), a covenant (Deuteronomy 33:9), God’s commandments (Psalm 78:7), parental commandments (Proverbs 6:20) and wisdom and discretion (Proverbs 3:21).
· To keep (guard) secrets: secret things (Isaiah 48:6), secret places (Isaiah 65:4), or wily intentions of the heart (Proverbs 7:10)
· To keep closed; blockaded or besieged (Isaiah 1:8, Jeremiah 4:16, Ezekiel 6:12)
The root verb נצר (nasar II) isn’t used in the Bible but in Arabic it means to be fresh or bright or grow green. In the Bible only the masculine noun נצר (neser) occurs (four times), and that noun means branch or shoot.
Isaiah uses it three times, once in Isaiah 11:1, where it denotes the Messiah, and once in Isaiah 60:21, where it denotes the crop God expects to grow in Israel. In Isaiah 14:19 this noun conveys a much more negative charge, as the prophet speaks of the king of Babylon as a rejected branch. Finally, the prophet Daniel uses this noun when he talks about a descendant of the daughter of the king of the South (of her “branch”).
August 25, 2011
A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered
By Daniel O. McClellan
Of course, the codices are forgeries and there’s nothing intelligible on them at all, but the Lead Codices page on Facebook is making the claim that translators are furiously working to establish the proper “context” in order to “get it right.” They’ve offered the following translation as a teaser:
Now keep in mind the person putatively responsible for translation is a professor emeritus at a “leading university,” and is, according to Elkington (see here), one of four or five people in the world who can read paleo-Hebrew. Here is the text being referenced (between the wreath and the menorah — and it does not quote Prov 10:9):
This text under this menorah appears several times in the codices. The admin of the Jordan Codices Facebook page (whom I believe to be Elkington himself) is insisting the text above reads as follows:
Now, before my comments were all deleted from the Facebook page (see them all here), I repeated the transliteration of this text as “elek batom,” and the Jordan Codices admin corrected me, explaining that it was specifically Elek ba tom, “not batom”:
This isn’t good Hebrew, though. “Ba Tom” uses as the preposition what’s called an inseparable prefix, namely the letter beth (ב). In order to mean “in uprightness/perfection” it cannot be separated from the word (hence, “inseparable” prefix).
This reading understands the following letter as an aleph:
This letter appears all over the codices, though, facing both directions and in many different styles, and it shares the most consistent similarities with an archaic style of yod (see Steve Caruso’s analysis of the script here and his chart here). There are very few styles of aleph that at all resemble this letter in either direction.
The next letter appears to be a reversed lamed, which agrees with the Lead Codices admin’s transcription. The following is asserted to be a kaph, but again, the style is much more consistently aligned with another letter, namely waw/vav:
The next letter also is problematic. The admin for the Facebook group says it is a beth, but it bears striking resemblance to the mem on the end of the text, and is therefore more likely a nun (which is only a slight modification on the mem):
Again, the form of the letter does not correspond with the reading. The top loop of the beth is always closed. Taken together, in order to assert the Facebook admin’s reading, we would have to posit some of the most rare forms of these letters, gathered from disparate places and times (there is no single script where each of these forms appears). If we did accept the identification of these graphemes, then we would expect other texts to be intelligible where their current identifications render them unintelligible. This is not the case, though. For instance, the top three lines of text on the following image are no further clarified (the portions that are legible, anyway):
It reads as follows with the Facebook admin’s reading:
. . . לגלשאגתלאלגלגבשאגתל . . .
. . . מבתבלאגתלגשבתבלאגתבב . . .
. . . מסרשאלגבבמסרשאלגת . . .
A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!). Davies, who tries to avoid coming down too definitively in one direction or another, also states the following:
One respected academic colleague has identified the words ‘lk btm (‘I will walk uprightly’). Though I personally have been unable to verify this reading, that may yet be confirmed by others.
The same style and limited pattern of letters appears in the text on the left side of this codex:
It would appear to read (following Elkington’s reading):
. . . שאגתל
. . . בלאג
. . . שא
. . . אגל
. . . אגתל
. . . לאגת
. . . שאלג
. . . גלגב
. . . בל
. . . אש
. . . גג
Or something close to this. Again, a very limited set of graphemes are just being repeated over and over. The possibility of fudging an actual sentence into this text does not serve to alleviate the problems with the rest of the texts. They’re simply gibberish, and David Elkington is spreading lies by insisting there are only a few people on the planet capable of understanding the text. It bears repeating that the stylized palm tree on the plate above is absolutely identical to the same tree on the copper codex exposed as a crude forgery by Peter Thonemann.
In conclusion, I disagree with the reading offered by the admin of the Lead Codices Facebook page and I would venture to guess that there is no eminent professor emeritus behind it. It makes much more sense to me that someone forged the codices (which has already been established for several codices) and just indiscriminately copied down a bunch of letters. Someone else came by and with a rudimentary grasp of Hebrew and a lexicon was able to squint hard enough to make sense out of a portion of it. I believe the Facebook page and the idea that an announcement is imminent from the Jordanian government are attempts to drum up hype so that Elkington’s book can sell more copies whenever it actually manages to hit stores. Unfortunately, as Jim West has pointed out, by promulgating this story, even to falsify Elkington’s claims, we do him a favor. I think, however, it’s more important to expose this hoax than to try to prevent a profit from being made. I’m prepared to be wrong about this, but up to this point I’ve not seen any indication that such is the case.
For all the known photos that have been put online, see here.