On Jordan Find: It Is Too Early To Say Anything, Updated April 3, 2011
It is April Fools Day, but this is a serious post. I am seeing numerous posts picking up on the BBC story about a Dead Sea Scrolls level find in Jordan involving supposed early Christian texts. This is the third one of these kind of events this decade: the James Ossuary and the Gospel of Judas come to mind.
A writer for Christianity Today asked for my feedback. What I wrote to him, I say to you.
It is way too early to get excited. We know next to nothing about the find. Its provenance is less than clear (discovered by a flash flood or sitting with a Bedouin for the last number of years or is it both?). No real solid information about the texts have been released. Dating the lead text will be important to judging its significance--and making it clear how we get to such a date. So as with the Ossuary and Judas's Gospel, it will take some time to sort the laundry out. If I may use a sports analogy, we are early in the first quarter (American sports fans) or early in the first half (European and World football fans [soccer for those in the USA]). The game has some way to go before the result is clear.
For the CT piece, see http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/metalplates.html