For years there have been various efforts among bloggers (primarily) to get word out rapidly when some bogus claim hits the press. Recent examples would include but would not be limited to the ridiculous ‘Nails of Jesus’ hype and the overblown ‘Lead Codices’ story.
The press, it seems, is totally uninterested in the facts and too often seems drawn to the most bizarre stories concerning biblical and archaeological subjects. Seldom do they contact scholars for their opinion and if they do, they plop their remarks at the end of the bizarre account and give a sentence or two before moving on.
And when overblown claims are debunked, the press doesn’t bother to take notice.
So it’s time to take the bull by the horn (double entendre intended) and flood the Associated Press (the primary source for most news stories) with debunkings and corrections.
Here’s my suggestion: when some ridiculous claim is made by the Simchas of the world and someone writes or discovers a reasonable, responsible, scholarly debunking each and every one of us copy the link and the text of the debunking in an email (and it has to be in the body of the email, the AP doesn’t allow attachments) and submit it to the AP. You can submit via email or snail mail at the contact information provided here (I’ve bookmarked the page myself).
Here’s how I envision it working.
1- Simcha (or anyone) makes some absurd claim about something with which we are familiar and the press picks it up and starts to run with it.
2- Cargill (or anyone) refutes the absurd claim (as Cargill did the nails of Jesus ignorance).
3- Each and every person concerned that the truth be fairly represented and the public not be left with the opinion that the loons are right copies the post, along with the link, and sends it via email to the Associated Press.
It’s not a time consuming process and the more we do it and the more who do it, the more likely that the Press will actually take notice.
It’s time to take our field back. I’m going to make every effort to do it and I’ll do it as long as it takes even if I turn out to be the only one (because that’s just how I’m wired). I do, though, hope you’ll consider doing the same (even if you’re a mennonite and you hate my guts). This isn’t about any of us, it’s about getting word out to the public which accurately reflects the state of our present knowledge regarding biblical studies and archaeology.
I wish you well in your endeavours. The medical and scientific communities have been trying something of the sort with only limited success for some time. You might care to have a look at:
though journalists want a good story. Perhaps we could figure out how to write press releases that are both interesting and true
Along the lines of Mike Wells, maybe a satire of sorts would work. That might be a tall order, even a strange and unfamiliar land for the usual Christian discourse, but in the end it might be an effective one for rounding out a Christian discipleship; and, more importantly, it would identify or gain access to the larger culture of media while critiquing it therein, thus gaining some clout within the plausibility structures of media, marked by controversy and iconoclasm. Though this medium is tricky, as it is hard to balance things and not go too far over the line and be too raunchy. But whoever got anything done by being safe?
I, personally, think the Christian community all to often rely on the steadied, sober pen of a direct and no-nonsense argument; this tends to be narrow and, oftentimes, a somewhat stuffy medium (this low-style of argumentation even implicitly eschews the cultural idiom rather than interacting/countering/transforming it therein).
Indirection of meaning via satire could be a fresh way of grabbing this “bull” by the horns.
For instance, an Israeli Canadian is rumored to have found the nails of Jesus’ cross — are you kidding me??! If that is not fodder for a satirist then I don’t know what is!
I mean, as if the Jewish community haven’t suffered enough from the political fallout of their alleged prosecution and execution of Jesus, now they got evidence that Caiaphas had the balls to put his own name on the nails! — Not only that, but he was so very proud of this act that he brought the nails to his grave!! Talk about kicking ass and taking names.
Biblically, though, we know this simply cannot be true. Why? Because if it were the case that an archeological dig recovered the actual nails which in fact crucified Jesus, there’d be Pontius Pilate’s name inscribed on the nails as well…
[i.e. both Gentile and Jew were responsible for the death of Jesus — see Romans 1:18-32 AND NOT JUST Romans 2:1-3:8.]
“…if it were the case that an archeological dig recovered the actual nails which in fact crucified Jesus, there’d be Pontius Pilate’s name inscribed on the nails as well…”
Or, rather, there wouldn’t be any names inscribed on them and there would be no way of knowing what they had been used for. Unless, of course, they were still embedded in whatever it was they had been hammered into. And so we are Left with room only for conjecture and wishful thinking. Which is exactly the problem with any evidence which might relate to, or could be passed off as relating to biblical stories.
no, no, no — if that was the case then my punchline wouldn’t work!