I have been asking some pointed questions of the admin for a new Facebook group called Jordan Codices, but my comments were all recently deleted (so were Steve Caruso’s). I am suspicious David Elkington himself is the one in charge of the group, and I decided to check on the radio interview posted on the page. It’s an interview of Elkington, and in it Elkington makes a number of assertions that I just find utterly ludicrous. For those familiar with Hebrew and the Dead Sea Scrolls, this short excerpt will require a strong constitution. It runs from the 13:51 to the 15:31 marks on this video (the topic of the codices begins at the 7:39 mark):
- Elkington: Um, we, we’re–we’re–we’re performing more analysis now on the translation and the decipherment of the language. A lot of people have said, “Oh, I’ve seen these things on the web, the, uh, language is–is–is–it’s gibberish; it–it makes no sense. It’s a very odd form of Aramaic.” Well, um, actually the news is this: it isn’t Aramaic. The script is a square script, which means it’s Hebrew, and the form of Hebrew that it is, is called paleo-Hebrew, which is very, very ancient indeed, and there are only four or five people in the world who are familiar with it. And we’re working with one of those, uh, professors at the moment, who thinks he’s on the edge of a breakthrough with the language.
- Interviewer: Wow.
- Elkington: Some of it’s translatable, but a lot of it is still yet to be, uh, deciphered.
- Interviewer: Ok, but paleo-Hebrew would date to a specific time that would, at least in my understanding, would come a long time before–before Christ and the Hebrew of the–of the first century as we–as we know it. Is that not true?
- Elkington: Yeah, that’s very true. That’s a very astute observation, if I may say so. Um, the use of paleo-Hebrew is extraordinary. It would be rather like you and I using Latin today.
- Interviewer: Right, exactly.
- Elkington: It would really make no sense to the large majority of people, but what, actually, it shows, is paleo-Hebrew may well have been the language of Moses, um, Moses on the mountain collecting the ten commandments. So, therefore, the use of it states that it really is like an official temple language, and that they’re using the original words of God, which makes this all the more extraordinary.
First, scholars have been pointing out it seems to be a meaningless mixture and adaptation of scripts, not just that it is “a very odd form of Aramaic.” Next, a “square script” does not indicate Hebrew, and his claim that the script is paleo-Hebrew actually precludes it being a “square script.” Next, there are far, far more than four or five people in the world who are familiar with paleo-Hebrew. This is the most stunning and flagrant lie of the entire interview. Further, though, the use of paleo-Hebrew actually does not indicate great antiquity, since paleo-Hebrew is actually a comparatively modern adaptation of the Old Hebrew script used specifically in texts considered particularly sacred or important. Multiple manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls were written entirely in paleo-Hebrew, and the Tetragrammaton appears in several regular manuscripts in paleo-Hebrew. The Bar Kokhba coins, struck during the revolt of 132–136 use a paleo-Hebrew script that is very similar to that of the codices (except the codices reverse several letters, confuse others, and are missing others). The Samaritan Pentateuch preserves a heavily adapted version of the paleo-Hebrew script. The use of paleo-Hebrew is not particularly unusual. Lastly, the notion that paleo-Hebrew indicates anything at all about Moses is utterly asinine. Even if these texts were from the turn of the era (and they demonstrably are not), that would not bear in the least on the language of Moses.
Feel free to log whatever other observations you want to about this excerpt or the rest of the interview (which I could not finish), and feel free to spread this information as far and wide as possible. This dishonesty, dilettantism, and manipulation should not be allowed to be perpetuated any further, especially in light of Elkington’s quite obvious avarice (how much do you want to bet the release of the translations, etc., will always be dated to just the other side of the publication of his book?).