>The First Ever Portrait of Jesus?

>Many bloggers have written about the 70 ancient books which had been hidden in a cave in Jordan for nearly 2,000 years. The Verdict: most bloggers believe that the metal codices are forgeries.

The media has taken the story of the discovery of these 70 books and focused on the contribution these books make to the study of early Christianity.

One of the sensational claims made by a recent article is that one of the books contains “the first-ever portrait of Jesus Christ, possibly even created in the lifetime of those who knew him.” You can see the so-called picture of Jesus here.

As I said above, many bloggers are claiming that the books are forgeries. You can read their posts by following the links below.

http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/peter-thonemann-on-the-lead-codices/

http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/2011_03_27_archive.html#7454369078247746754

http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/2011_03_27_archive.html#713567844176202329

http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/2011/03/lead-tablets-come-on.html

I am very skeptical about this portrait of Jesus. If the evaluations of the bloggers are true, then, the books are forgeries and so is the portrait of Jesus. However, readers must remember that no one has seen these books yet. The books have not been published and their content has not been evaluated by scholars. The plain fact is that the contents of these books have not been made available to the public yet.

The bloggers’ evaluations of the codices come from examining the photos published in several newspapers. Although the conclusions offered by these bloggers are very strong, it is better to hold judgment until the books are opened and their contents are evaluated by independent scholars.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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