The Earliest Christian Documents

The Jordan Times is reporting that preliminary results conducted by the Royal Scientific Society labs of Jordan indicate that the collection of metal books unearthed in northern Jordan may indeed represent the earliest Christian texts ever discovered.

AMMAN – Preliminary lab results indicate that a collection of metal books unearthed in northern Jordan may indeed represent the earliest Christian texts ever discovered, according to experts.

According to the Department of Antiquities (DoA), initial carbon tests to determine the authenticity of lead-sealed metal books billed as the greatest find in biblical archaeology since the Dead Sea scrolls have been “encouraging”.

“We really believe that we have evidence from this analysis to prove that these materials are authentic,” DoA Director Ziad Saad told The Jordan Times.

The tests, carried out at the Royal Scientific Society labs, indicate that the texts may date back to the early first century AD, at a time when Christians took refuge from persecution on the east bank of the Jordan River.

The codices, which were retrieved by Jordanian security services from the black market last month, are believed to be part of a greater cache of 70 lead-sealed books allegedly uncovered in Jordan and smuggled across the River Jordan into Israel.

You can read the report here.

Additional tests are being conducted by the University of New Mexico, the Getty Conservation Institute, and Sheffield University.  Final conclusions about the authenticity of these documents cannot be made until the results of the carbon testing are released.  Although many bloggers have declared these findings to be a hoax, only the final results of the carbon dating can affirm whether the documents are authentic.

Read more about these documents:

Christian Writing from the First Century

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary


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2 Responses to The Earliest Christian Documents

  1. Daniel says:

    Well, at the very least, we will find out if the material (ie the lead) dates to the right time. One would think that one could acquire old lead if one had the connections. 2000 year old lead is pretty cool.

    As to the images and other things on the lead, that is another thing that has to be discerned through other methods. It seems the skepticism expressed has more to do with the images, letters and words than the actual lead.

    Hopefully the news reporting agencies will restrain themselves in their reporting.


    • Daniel,

      Thank you for your comment. I am kind of skeptical about the Jordanians dating the material. I would rather see an impartial institution deciding whether the documents are authentic. Before saying the thing is a hoax, let us wait until the final results are published.

      Claude Mariottini


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