Avrahaum Segol: Some Facts About ‘The Jesus Family Tomb’ Which The Public Hasn’t Heard

Avrahaum Segol writes

On January 29, 2013 ce. […], “A Feud Between Biblical Archaeologists Goes To Court,” was published online by TIME [World] MAGAZINE at: http://world.time.com/2013/01/29/a-feud-between-biblical-archaeologists-goes-to-court/ .
In the article, very serious assertions were made by Simcha Jacobovici regarding reasons for his choice to single out & sue Joe Zias for libel;  as well as cause for questions raised by Eric Meyers, as a sitting expert/adviser for Nat’l Geographic, regarding lack of integrity to Simcha’s work.
I quote:
“The contentiousness between Zias and Jacobovici came to a head in 2011. That year, National Geographic pulled out of a Jacobovici project on another early Christian relic that Zias and others were criticizing — comments that the filmmaker cites as part of the reason for his lawsuit. Reached by e-mail, Jacobovici said he is suing Zias — and not his academically affiliated critics — because Zias “crossed the line from fair comment to outright libel. Specifically, he has accused me repeatedly — verbally and in writing — of ‘forging archaeology’ … a criminal activity, and no free society allows you to accuse people of such activities, unless you can prove that what you are saying is correct. Furthermore, he has accused me of ‘planting archaeology.’ Again, free discourse does not include libelous statements such as this one.”
The other critics, however, have not exactly been soft in their commentary about Jacobovici’s work. A panel of academic experts had also assailed the basis for the film about the so-called Jonah ossuary. The film, The Jesus Discovery, which eventually aired on the Discovery Channel in 2012 and also was published as a book, contends that the ossuary, found in a tomb underneath a Jerusalem apartment building, is the earliest known example of an object bearing a Christian symbol referring to the resurrection. The chairman of Duke University’s Religion Center for Jewish Studies, Eric M. Meyers, said of Jacobovici’s claims about the National Geographic pullback: “I was on the advisory panel of experts assessing the integrity of the claims, the appropriateness of the report and the controversial claims about the tomb in which the Jonah ossuary was found, and the panel unanimously agreed not to recommend that the project and film go forward.”
I write […] about a physical fact concealed by Religious Studies Professor James D. Tabor & Docu-Entertainer Simcha Jacobovici — which ethically, if not lawfully — both co-authors, and their publishers, as well as producers, should have made public as early as May of last year. 
The factual concealment has to do with etchings I personally found and reported to be present on the disputed “JONAH OSSUARY.” 
In April of last year Simcha provided me with raw photographs taken by the GE Robot of the subject Ossuary.  During my study I observed etchings, not previously observed by Simcha and/or any of the research team. Zig-Zag lines creating a full series of triangular shapes at the base-line under their alleged […] CROSS presented on [the] Ossuary.  
Accordingly, I informed Simcha and his team — including James Tabor — of my discoveries.
During our follow-up discussions, I properly presented [a] set of comparatives which physically established [the] fact that the image alleged to be a Christian CROSS, was wrongly identified.  The totality of context to the alleged CROSS image had not been realized until my original observations.  In [the] full context of the carved etchings, the mistaken and wrongfully identified CROSS was obviously a door; and a clear reference to the Beit HaMikdosh constructed by Herod.  Not a Christian Cross by any stretch of the imagination!! 
I begged Simcha and his associates to make a public disclosure of my observations in their soft-cover edition of the The Jesus Discovery released by Simon & Schuster.  They elected not to do so.  To do so would be to destroy their tortured birth of Christianity  thesis attached to their highly disputed “JONAH OSSUARY.”
If their alleged CHRISTIAN CROSS were set in the light of honest context, any reasonable observer would immediately make reference to Bar Kohkba Revolt Coin and other rare 1st Century Common Era Ossuaries bearing a similar image.  That is exactly what I did. That is exactly what Simcha Jacobovici, James Tabor, their various associates, publishers and producers chose to conceal. It is a pity.
In light of a recent New York Festivals #1 Gold Award 2013 presented on or about April 10th of this year, a public disclosure of their concealment of fact seems only proper.   [see: http://www.newyorkfestivals.com/winners/2013/pieces.php?iid=444343&pid=1 and http://jamestabor.com/2013/04/11/jesus-discovery-film-wins-gold-at-new-york-festivals/ ].  […] In preparing this memo, I reviewed a Discovery Channel video clip of:  “THE RESURRECTION TOMB MYSTERY: A REMARKABLE DISCOVERY” at: http://dsc.discovery.com/video-topics/other/a-remarkable-discovery.htm  
Introduct[ory] to the 3 minute:46 second clip, in printed format, is the following disclaimer:
“The following program presents evidence of a recent archaeological discovery.  Leading scientists and theologians have not reached full agreement on its exact nature or implications and questions remain. We invite viewers to apply their own judgments and interpretive skills.”
The film title and video sequence to follow thereafter [one] hears the narrator refer to the display of a misidentified “Cross” — enhanced — out of context to the fully carved etching, stating:
“In the last of the niches they continued to explore the ossuary with the Cross on it, and its neighbor.” [emphasis added].
The film [& book co-authors] failed to inform the public viewers of known fact upon which they, the viewers, were invited to formulate conclusions and “apply their own judgments and interpretive skills.” 
To ask the very least, are false and misleading documentary presentations unethical??  Do false and misleading presentations become criminal when a public response is also invited, in terms of seeking applied viewer “judgments and interpretive skills?”   Is it not true, that the viewer cannot possibly make an informed judgment or construct an interpretation when Known To Exist Physical Fact Is Concealed?  Since I made it clear, and the co-authors confirmed, beyond any doubt that known to exist physical evidence was present — yet NOT released to the public — was failure to disclose not an intentional concealment of fact?? 
I reiterate the questions:  Is Not Fact Concealed unethical at best, if not plainly criminal?   Does concealment create a fraud in preventing any “viewer” scientists, and theologians or simply reasonable individuals from reaching a studied conclusion of facts; upon which: “… to apply their own judgments and interpretive skills???”  
Can concealment of physical fact be deemed unethical and/or criminal conduct; if so, then may we consider misuse of technical means to enhance photgraphs via CGI [Computer Graphic Imaging] to be a form of wrongful tampering or even an outright forgery? 
Attorney Jonathon Tsevi was also quoted in, “A Feud Between Biblical Archaeologists Goes To Court” wherein an obvious challenge was made to Simcha.  I quote the fully written exchange, because it begs the question now that enhanced & edited CGI has created a misidentified “Christian Cross” to be wrongly placed upon the Ossuary of one […] Jewish soul.   
“Zias’ Israeli lawyer Jonathan Tsevi told TIME that Zias never accused Jacobovici of criminal acts. “Joe never used the terms forging archaeology or planting archaeology, although in essence this is the method Simcha is repeatedly using,” Tsevi said in an e-mail. Zias has also taken Jacobovici to task for using CGI to enhance images of an amphora in the Jerusalem tomb he believes is engraved with the first image of the Christian fish symbol. Jacobovici makes no apology for that. “I don’t think any judge is going to accept that using CGI to enhance a photograph is tantamount to ‘forging archaeology,’” he wrote.” [emphasis added].
Avrahaum Segol
I have to say, he raises some VERY interesting questions doesn’t he.
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About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Professor of Biblical Studies at Quartz Hill School of Theology as well as Adjunct at the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary
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