Ancient Sealed Metal Plates with Perhaps Secret Temple Texts discovered in Middle East?

UPDATE: See the latest updates about this discovery at Jordanian Lead Plates: Authentic or Forgery?

David Larsen at HeavenlyAscents.com has pointed out an interesting recent discovery (see his posts here and here).  A collection of dozens of books made from metal plates have been found in Jordan that initial tests show date from the first century AD.

Now this certainly sounds exciting, particularly to the Latter-day Saints. As we know, Joseph Smith said that he received and translated ancient sealed gold plates, in what became The Book of Mormon.

This find is interesting for a number of reasons:

  • The books are written on metal plates (lead and copper)
  • They are bound by rings on one side (also known as codices)
  • Many of the books are “sealed” on all sides
  • They appear to be from the first century AD, and may be the earliest Christian documents ever found
  • Scholars have noted that, if authentic, this could be bigger than the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • They appear to be written in an archaic Hebrew script
  • Some appears to be written in code
  • The sealed nature, and code appearance of the text, suggests that these may contain “secret teachings,” perhaps even “Temple based documentation”
  • A number of recognizable symbols appear, including the menorah (which can be seen in the photos above), branches, fruits, trees, and of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), associated with the enthronement rituals of ancient Davidic kings, and with the coming of the Messiah

Dr. Margaret Barker commented on the discovery:

“The Book of Revelation tells of a sealed book that was opened only by the Messiah. Other texts from the period tell of sealed books of wisdom and of a secret tradition passed on by Jesus to his closest disciples. That is the context for this discovery. So if they are forgeries, what are they forgeries of?”

Extensive investigation must still be done to verify the authenticity of these plates and their meaning.  If they are genuine, this could be a huge discovery. (See an update of this discovery from the BBC News).

See below for the full press release issued today about the find:
Sealed

7 Comments

  1. Jonathan N
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    This is fascinating. Where did you get the photos? Can you provide the link/reference?

  2. Posted March 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    See the links to David Larsen’s blog at the beginning of the post. I made the high contrast adjustment images from the originals.

  3. Jonathan N
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Nice job on the high contrast images! However, I did follow those links but never found these photos.

  4. Posted March 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Go to David’s post here:
    http://www.heavenlyascents.com/2011/03/22/biblical-scholars-weigh-in-on-discovery-of-metal-plates/

    Then go about half way down where he says “You can also see images of the plates in question here and here.”

  5. Merlin Fields
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Let us all pray that these artifacts do not fall into the hands of the Vatican.
    We will never learn the truth of what these books have to reveal, if they do

  6. Restored Gospel Evid
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Before we get all worked up over this alleged “discovery,” we ought to be cautious enough to, as pointed out by Bryce, to wait for them to be authenticated. Let’s wait to see what tests, translations, authentication methods show. Plus, let them first be considered by scholars, forge detectors, scientists, ancient language experts, & others who may be able to determine if they are real, or fakes. The buzz word on the Net, as of 4-11-2011, is that they are fakes. If so, someone, or a number of people must have spend a lot of time to forge 70 books! If they are not fakes, who made them & for what reasons? Let’s not forget that we’ve had Mark Hoffman types throughout history. There’s another obvious fake, the so-called “Book of Hagoth,” he’s the guy that went up into the northern lands of North Americas(?), by boats, (Alma 63:5–8). As with everything else, not only should caution be used, but also spiritual discernment & prayer too.

    http://www.provopulse.com/?q=node/1538

    FAIR LDS Apologists have noted other forgeries & caution the Church to be careful.
    http://en.fairmormon.org/Forgeries_related_to_Mormonism/Mentinah_Papers

    In 1913, the 1st Presidency of the Church warned & cautioned about counterfeit to the gospel & spiritual gifts. (A Warning Voice,” Official Letter, quoted by Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April, 1970, p. 55).

    In April 1970, Lee gave a talk about sensational stories, dreams, etc., that spread like fire fire throughout the church, at times. He cautions the Church to be careful about possible counterfeit spiritual gifts, etc., (Conference Report, April 1970, p. 55-56). Gerald N. Lund, The Coming of the Lord, (SLC, Ut: Bookcraft, 1971), 10-11.

    So let’s be careful, cautions & wait a bit & see how these new discoveries turn out. Besides, it’s not like we don’t already have a lot of evidences of writings on metals, etc., right?

    However, if you want Temple Evidences, study early to later Christian writings & art works. There are tons of evidences in these areas of study.

  7. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yes, they are probably forgeries. See the latest update here:
    http://www.templestudy.com/2011/03/31/jordanian-lead-plates-authentic-forgery/

    For a summary of some interesting authentic metal plate discoveries in the last century, see here:
    http://www.templestudy.com/2011/04/07/authentic-ancient-metal-plates/

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