(Larry Hurtado): My colleague David Reimer pointed me to the recently-published news story about a cache of lead tablets that purport to come from the first century, and (if genuine) may cast some further light on the setting of Jesus and earliest Christianity. So far, I have seen only this online news item in the Daily Mail:
We’ll see how this story runs. The chance of the items being a modern creation is real, and we’ll all have to reserve judgement until all appropriate scientific tests have been conducted. And that will require that the items be put into the public domain and properly provenanced.
Is provenance an important consideration when considering the authenticity of things?
If we don’t know where something first surfaced, and who the discoverer was and where he got his information, does that make the object or text useless to historians?
Yes, proveance is important. Lack of provenance tends to raise greater concern that a given item might be a fake.
Jim Davila has some good stuff on this find on his blog (there are a couple of entries for this week – see http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/). He says he remains sceptical. Oh, Jim . . .