[b-hebrew] Joash Inscription, a blatant forgery?

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Mar 17 21:15:32 EST 2004

On Wednesday 17 March 2004 11:30, CS Bartholomew wrote:
> What are first impressions worth? The first time I saw  "The Joash
> Inscription" was the image found at  Giuseppe Regalzi's excellent web site:
> http://www.orientalisti.net/ioash.htm
> My immediate reaction to the visual data? It looks too good to be true.
> Reading some of the articles linked to this page I ran into the following
> quote from *R.Altman:
> quote:
> Every element  of the tablet is clear; one neither requires a transcription
> to read the text  nor needs other equipment to examine the tablet. The
> technical term for a  forgery that can be seen by the eye without special
> equipment is "blatant."
> :end quote
> The word "blatant" captures my immediate subjective reaction quiet nicely.
> Of course, immediate subjective reactions are not "science" but having
> several decades of experience with con artists this stone looks
> superficially like a clumsy attempt to "pull a fast one."

My first thought upon seeing the pictures in BAR was "that's interesting."  
Then I read Risa's review, the one with the word "blatant" that caught your 
eye, and I read Cross' review about the language, and I thought "that's 
interesting."  Personally, I think it could be authentic, because a forger 
with a particular (biblical) agenda could find much more significant events 
to forge an inscription of.  Peter has already pointed out that readability 
may or may not have anything to do with authenticity, witness the Moabite 
Stone that he mentioned, to say nothing of the Ugaritic tablets or the 
Behistun inscription and the list goes on.  The Greek papyri and the Nag 
Hammadi documents also come to mind.  Preservation is a capricious thing, 
here preserving something in near-perfect condition, there preserving 
something not at all.  So I don't think Dr. Altman's argument about 
readability necessarily carries much weight.  Cross' linguistic arguments are 
more telling, but no less a scholar than D. N. Freedman has now questioned 
those.  So to all of it, I can only say what I've said all along: "that's 
interesting."  And it is.

Dave Washburn
Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
is like getting a kiss over the telephone.

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