David Elkington’s Take on Paleo-Hebrew

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?).

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9 responses to “David Elkington’s Take on Paleo-Hebrew

  • Jordan Lead Codices: Case Closed as “Genuine” Forgeries? « The Musings of Thomas Verenna

    [...] Steve Caruso and Dan McClellan were removed from the Jordan Codices Facebook page; both were politely inquiring about the codices in the images and clearly were censored by a nervous hand.  In other news relating to Elkington, the conman himself went on the air today and made some extremely dilettantish comments, showing one and all how little he really knows or, conversely, how good of a liar he is (transcript courtesy of Dan McClellan): [...]

  • Edward Lawrence (@edlawrence365)

    Hello, Thankyou for your input. My comments were also removed from the Jordan Codices facebook page. Although I am the son of David Elkington and I have been trying to put a stop to this nonsense in the interest of others, i merely asked some simple questions eg “Who are this team of ‘experts’? and merely stated a few facts for example Peter Thonemann’s analysis of the books. My comments were not just removed but I was also blocked from the page as well as many friends and family members who also asked simple questions and stated simple facts. Through looking at the page a few times i have noticed a lot of comments pop up and quickly dissapear from users stating that it is unfair that all negative comments are been quickly erased. The page appears to be very heavily moderated and monitored. One facebook user who keeps popping up to dismiss negative comments before they are deleted is ‘Alex Hamilton’ – He is Jennifer Elkington (nee Solignac) ‘s 17 year old son from a previous relationship.

  • A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan

    [...] is a professor emeritus at a “leading university,” and is, according to Elkington (see here), one of four or five people in the world who can read paleo-Hebrew. Here is the text being [...]

  • Biblical Studies Carnival September 2011 Episode II: The Biblioblogs Strike Back | Exploring Our Matrix

    [...] for around $13,000. For more information, see posts by Steve Caruso, Joel Watts, Jim Davila, Dan McClellan, Tom Verenna, Dirk Jongkind, Dorothy King, Jim West as well as the editorial by Philip Davies. But [...]

  • David Elkington Again on the Jordan Codices « Daniel O. McClellan

    [...] before the show ended. I challenged Elkington on his explanation of the Codices’ script (see here). He told me I would be disagreeing with the world’s leading experts and to go back to my [...]

  • David Natanel

    Good comments here. I listened to a several hour interview with Elkington on a very suspect American radio show, Coast-to-Coast. They interview many controversial “researchers” (not bad in itself) but with any serious preperation and almost no critical, meaningful interview questions. Now, as to paleo-Hebrew, I clearly heard a confusion between Language and Alphabet. There is nothing mysterious about either. The alphabet itslef is learnable in a very short time. There is always much to discuss and learn about any ancient langugae, but there must be quite a few thousand reasonable scholars by now, and here in Israel, and around the world, many very serious early Hebrew language scholars. Also, the radio host, an ordained Protestant minister I believe, implied that it would be strange for a Jewish country to want to help prove Christianity. Elkington should have immediately crushed this notion. I suspect Elkington has a book to sell, and wants to be in the good graces of the alternate/conspiracy media. The entire Paleo-Hebrew matter would have been cleared up in an instant with real scholars, even amateur ones.

  • David Natanel

    David Natanel meant to say, “without any serious preparation” in line 4. …mitzta’ir!

  • David Elkington Exposes His Fraud Once Again « Daniel O. McClellan

    [...] codices contained paleo-Hebrew. In a radio interview (see my analysis, with link to the interview, here), he said the following: A lot of people have said, “Oh, I’ve seen these things on the web, [...]

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