The credit card-sized codices that academics speculate are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Book of Revelation, may be fakes.
The books were discovered five years ago in a cave in a remote part of Jordan to which Christian refugees are known to have fled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. Important documents from the same period have previously been found there.
Initial metallurgical tests indicate that some of the books could date from the first century AD.
The cache is believed to have surfaced when a menorah was exposed in a flash flood. How they fell into the hands of Mr Hassan Saeda, an illiterate Israeli Bedouin, remains a mystery, although the fact that he has previous convictions for fraud and smuggling suggests they were not entirely above board.
In an article in today's Telegraph, the writer explains how the Elkington's came to own the codices. With each detail provided by this married couple, the plot thickens. As they describe the details with much embellishment, they sound like they want to sell their story.
The Elkingtons are vague about how they became aware of the treasure trove three years ago, insisting a ''friend'' was emailed images of them.
"When I first saw them I thought they had to be fakes," Elkington says. ''I could see the language was ancient Hebrew and I thought: 'these are bloody good fakes.' But when I researched the sealed books in the book of Revelations I knew these codices had to be examined by experts.''
What is he referring to?
"And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" Rev. 5:1Note that Jesus approached the throne of His Father to receive the book.
"And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Rev. 5:7-10God is in possession of this book, not a couple of treasure seekers and a seller of antiquities. I'll wait to see how these tablets are translated, before I decide to write them completely off as a fake. Perhaps the tablets tell the same type of tall tales as the Gnostic Gospels.