A group of about 70 books each with 5 to 15 leaves and bound by lead rings, recently discovered, could be the earliest Christian writing in existence have survived for almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. A flash flood apparently exposed two niches (plugs) inside the cave. One was marked with the Jewish symbol of a menorah.
The plugs were opened by a Jordanian Bedouin a few years ago and the Jordanian government claim that they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin. However, the Israeli Bedouin who has the books said that they’ve been in his family for a 100 years.
Ziad al-Saad, director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities thinks that the books could have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades following his crucifixion. It is thought that they would match or be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”
The books were cast in lead before being bound with lead rings. The leaves are about the size of a credit card and contain ancient Hebrew text, which is in code.
David Elkington, one of the few people to see the collection is leading a British team to get the books safely into a Jordanian museum. He says the relics show symbols “that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.
The Christian images on the leaves are phenomenal and the Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.
There is little archaeology of early Christianity and to say that the discovery of these relics is significant is an understatement.
To read the complete article click on the link BBC News Middle East.
The graphic coverage in the Daily Mail will give you excellent visuals.