Daily Archives: 28 Feb 2012

A Follow-up And Republication of the Preceding Post

Or, more simply, Bob’s post has found a home on the ASOR blog.  So you can read it there as well.  I find his theory quite interesting.

Bob is probably right on target here. And this tomb of Absalom certainly is closer to the imagery produced in the ossuary Tabor ‘discovered’ than a fish.

XKV8R: The Official Blog of Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

Here’s a thought:

In response to Simcha Jacobovici’s sensational claims of a “Jonah’s Great Fish” icon on a burial ossuary in Jerusalem, Duke University’s Dr. Eric Meyers states the following:

In fact, the image in the book is so poorly reproduced in my copy that one suspects it has been intentionally altered so that no one could see what the the image really is. Indeed, the image actually seems to resemble a nephesh, or tomb monument, like those found in many places in Jerusalem in the first century CE and depicted on ossuaries of this very period (so for example in fig. 13 or 30 of Rahmani’s A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, 1994). A nephesh is the above-ground monument of a tomb that marks the tomb below and the one(s) buried there.

Chris Rollston adds:

I must emphasize that I am confident the engraving  is simply a standard…

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On Those Who Do Not Love Scripture Study

I have become convinced that those who do not love this sweetness [i.e., the study of Scripture] certainly have not the slightest notion of the true food of the soul. For our spirits live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” and what are these words but Holy Scripture itself? Those who do not love this sweetness are dead in spirit. – John Faber Stapulensis

Footage of the Jacobovici Expedition During the Planning Stage!

Ok not really, but…

I post it only because of the connection to pseudo-archaeology, Indiana Jones, and sarcasm. Oh and because I love Psych!

Jodi Magness Too Guts The Claims of Simcha and Tabor

Here, writing among other things

As a professional archaeologist, it pains me to see archaeology hijacked in the service of non-scientific interests, whether they are religious, financial, or other. The comparison to Indiana Jones mentioned in the media reports is unfortunate, as those films misrepresented archaeology as much as they popularized it. Archaeologists are scientists; whatever we find is not our personal property but belongs to (and usually must remain in) the host country. Archaeologists seek to understand the past by studying human material remains (that is, whatever humans manufactured and left behind) through the process of excavation and publication. For this reason, professional archaeologists do not search for objects or treasures such as Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail. Usually these sorts of expeditions are led by amateurs (nonspecialists) or academics who are not archaeologists. Archaeology is a scientific process.

Thank God for real scholars.  Were it not for them we would be left to the misadventures of the money-seekers.

Rollston Eviscerates the ‘Jesus Discovery’ Claim

In a lengthy and meticulous post at the ASOR Blog.  Simcha and Tabor are wrong on so many matters- but their central claim that the image they found is a fish is shown to be false-

By the way, the features of  this ossuary’s ornamentation that Jacobovici and Tabor contend are the “fins of a fish,” are actually a standard feature of a roof, namely, the eaves (which, of course, are important for directing the water away from a building).  Note also that eaves are visible in multiple of Rahmani’s drawings of ossuary ornamentation.  In short, this is not a fish.  It is a nephesh tower or tomb façade. …  the ornamentation on the inscribed ossuary is difficult to press into service as some sort of definitive marker of this tomb as “Christian.”  The most convincing interpretation is that it is a tomb façade or a nephesh tower.  This is not a very sensational interpretation, but it is the most reasonable construct of the totality of the evidence.

Of the inscription-

Regarding the reading of line two, I must  emphasize that I do not consider the reading “Yahweh” (i.e., the Greek form of it) to be convincing at all.  Simply put, this reading is wrong.

Tabor and Simcha are wrong on the whole thing- because they’re wrong concerning their central claims.  This ‘discovery’ is nothing that it has been claimed to be.  Read Chris’s entire post, it’s plenty of proof.  It’s real scholarship.

And Now 3 Are Dead

CNN emails

A third victim of Monday’s school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, has died, according to a statement from MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.  Demetrius Hewlin died Tuesday morning, his family said in a statement released by the hospital.  Student Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead early Tuesday, according to the medical examiner’s office, and student Daniel Parmertor died on Monday.  Two other students remain hospitalized.  The suspect in Monday’s shooting at Chardon High School will likely face charges as an adult, the state attorney general said Tuesday.

Inhuman barbarity.  The suspect should be charged as an adult and he should pay the penalty which any adult serial killer would pay.  Kids in school shouldn’t have to worry about being gunned down by some unhinged beast.  And yet we still, as a country, won’t fact the facts that the easy availability of guns makes all this madness happen.

This Is Why I Like Tim Tebow

Because this is the kind of person he is.

When 10-year-old Presli Collins got the call that she would go on the first date of her life with Tim Tebow, she was able to put her medical nightmare behind her at least for one night. “It made me feel very excited,” Presli told HLNTV. Presli suffers from neurofibromatosis, which forms tumors in the brain, spinal cord and under the skin and has undergone numerous excruciating surgeries, according to Fox News Insider….

But when the Broncos star learned how much one of his biggest fans was suffering, Tebow reached out to Presli to invite her to the Cartoon Network’s Hall of Game Awards. … The pair spent the evening meeting celebs and took a stroll to the chocolate fountain. He “treated Presli like a princess, made her feel like she was the star, which was just amazing,” Lisa told Fox News Insider. Presli walked away with an autographed football, a huge smile and a pretty big compliment. … “Thank you for being an amazing date,” Tebow told Presli.

You’d be hard pressed to name another professional athlete who would do such a thing for a little girl.  Hats off to you, sir.

Gay Bullies

The news reports every incidence of gays being bullied (because bullying is absolutely wrong and intolerable).  But you don’t often hear about gays doing the bullying.  Not because it doesn’t happen- but because it’s inconvenient to report it.

Still every now and again word leaks out about the intolerable bullying waged by gays against non-gays.

A 14-year-old girl in America received death threats and abuse after taking a stand for the traditional definition of marriage.  Sarah appeared before the state of Maryland’s legislature last month where she urged lawmakers not to redefine marriage.  She urged a committee to give her “the best birthday present ever,” by “vot[ing] no on gay marriage.”  But after the youngster’s testimony appeared online she was subjected to vulgar attacks, threats of violence and even death wishes.  One of the comments against her said, “I hate people like this. Most (not all) Americans are [expletive] retards. If I ever see this girl, I will kill her. That’s a promise.”

Bullying is wrong no matter who does it.  And it’s just as despicable if the target is straight or gay.  Sarah is just as entitled to her views as the gay activists are.  This is still America, in spite of efforts to muzzle every voice which protests against moral decline and political correctness.

Other documented responses included: “I’m gonna kill ‘er!”  “Her parents should be exterminated.”  “The [sic] is why abortion must stay legal—to prevent little bigots like this from being Born…”  “Kill this child and his [sic] parent, for my 11 birthday would be a wonderful gift, thanks.”  “Parents like hers should be sterilized…”

Ellen Degeneres didn’t protest this hate speech did she…  No one has offered to pay Sarah’s college tuition have they?  Our society is curved in on itself, curved in on depravity and to such a degree that only depravity is feted.

When gays are bullied all decent people cry out in opposition- because that’s what decent people do.  When people like Sarah are attacked the gay community sits on the sidelines- doubtless hoping the curses come true and certainly not speaking out in her defense.  So who really cares about others?  Those who speak out against cruelty or those who only speak out when it suits them?

The ‘Jesus Discovery’, Scholarly Rejoinders, and A One Stop Shop for Them

As I mentioned earlier the ASOR blog is already hosting responses to the claims being made by the ‘Jesus Discovery’ people (Tabor and Jacobovici).  ASOR is willing, able, and happy to host postings by academic biblical scholars and archaeologists who would like to add their voices to the chorus.

Might I humbly suggest that if you have a post on the topic that you consider sending it to Andy Vaughn and he can get it uploaded on the ASOR site in swift order.  That way all the postings can be located at one site and the media can be directed there.

Andy’s email is asored@bu.edu.  I’ll be sending (and have already done so) media contacts there.  I’ve also made the same recommendation privately to other leading bibliobloggers.  I hope we’ll all ‘pull together’ and show the interested public that when it comes to pseudo-archaeology, we’re all together against it and against the harm it’s doing to our field.

Michael Heiser on the ‘Jesus Discovery’

Seems Michael has about as much patience with pseudo-scholarship and pseudo-archaeology as the rest of us (or most of us anyway).

$imcha Jacobovici has busy. And amazingly, Easter is just around the corner (again). Oh, the irony.

The man who brought us the error-plagued Jesus family tomb, then the nails from the cross, now claims that he has found a tomb which held the remains of at least some of the disciples of Jesus. Granted, the article at the link is just a preliminary news leak to garner interest for an upcoming press conference where the world will get to see what $imcha has discovered.  Still, this announcement isn’t encouraging.

Read the rest.  Unlike Michael’s concluding sentiments, I think Tabor is neck deep in all this with Simcha and has already sullied his reputation.  Sadly.

Eric Meyers Reviews ‘The Jesus Discovery’

Here’s his conclusion

The book is truly much ado about nothing and is a sensationalist presentation of data that are familiar to anyone with knowledge of first-century Jerusalem. Nothing in the book “revolutionizes our understanding of Jesus or early Christianity” as the authors and publisher claim, and we may regard this book as yet another in a long list of presentations that misuse not only the Bible but also archaeology.

ASOR’s Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston on the ‘Jesus Discovery’

Eric and Chris have an important announcement here- and Chris has a followup here.  Read both!

ASOR is going to counteract the nonsense all month in March-

Professors Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston will be the guest editors of the ASOR Blog for the month of March. ASOR plans to invites scholars in ASOR and the field to react to the proposals made by Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in their new book, The New Jesus Discovery. The ASOR Blog will host responses from scholars throughout the month of March, and these responses will be moderated by Meyers and Rollston. The discussion will start today (Tuesday, February 28th) will several posts from Meyers and Rollston.

This is exactly what’s been needed.  So bookmark the ASOR blog and keep your eyes open.

Cargill on the Real Motive of Jacobovici and Tabor: Money

Robert writes,

This is nothing more than a coordinated press release to sell a book and promote a forthcoming documentary. There is no new discovery here; this has been known for years.

REMEMBER: don’t watch what Simcha says – you know he’s going to try and sell the public on his latest speculation. Rather, watch what the scholars say – or better yet, watch what the scholars don’t say, and you’ll have your answer.

As for the ‘substance’ of the argument? Witherington got it right: “one speculation upon another speculation.”

Am I shocked? Absolutely not. This is the kind of nonsense we’ve come to expect from Simcha Jacobovici: maximize the money, archaeology be damned.

I don’t think either of the pair has much concern for archaeology.  It’s all about the money.

Lombatti on Tabor and Jacobovici’s Fishy Claim

Antonio, as always, has frank insight into the ‘fish carving’ recently ‘discovered’ by Simcha and James in connection to the ‘Jesus family tomb’:

 The image found by Jacobovici et al. is not unique at all. Similar representaions have been found on Jewish ossuaries (see Rahmani and Figueras). The one over here was taken randomly from Rahmani’s volume. I’m not convinced that the fish shown in The Jesus Discovery book is a whale eating Jonah. It might be, but I’m skeptic. Much more interesting is the fish-like graffito found on ossuary n. 402 (Figueras) on which there’s also the name ישוע (Jesus). That would be worth investigating and, maybe, writing a book as well (I’ll post on this ossuary later on, don’t have much time now…).

So if these images are not unique, there goes the main claim to fame being put forth by the ‘discovery’.  Thoroughly unsurprising, isn’t it, that a button is being made into a suit by Simcha and Tabor.

Listen Up, Luther…

Zwingli was being as friendly as he could be when he wrote his Amica Exegesis, id est, expositio eucharistiae negocii ad Martinum Lutherum and published it on 28 February, 1527.

Bucer had tried to bring the two parties together- but he failed.  But he kept trying (and failing) up till 1529 and beyond.

Zwingli tried to balance brotherly concerns with theological specificity and after beginning in that spirit he spent most of his time in the book describing his problem with Luther’s notion of the physical presence of Christ in the elements of the Supper.  Christ is only present for the true believer, and that spiritually.  Without real faith, one is simply chewing bread and drinking wine.

So Zwingli pleaded for an end to the conflict between the two.  Unsurprisingly, Luther was unpersuaded.  Interestingly, whilst Luther’s works were freely allowed in Reformed Switzerland, in Germany it was a different story: Zwingli’s writings were suppressed.  I guess Luther was afraid the Germans would see the truth.

There’s Little Time Left to Register for Refo500 Oslo

All the details are available here.  Registration ends on the 1st of March.

Read here the PDF with the preliminary program.

Place of the conference  The conference will be held at the Faculty of Theology, Blindernveien 9, only a few minutes walk from the university campus.

Registration  – Registration can be made online, click here to go to the registration form. The registration will become effective on receipt of payment of the registration fee. Closure of registration: March 1, 2012. In case you do not want to participate in a panel and want to register after March 1, please contact Jon O. Flaten for registration possibilities.

Tim Stanley: ‘I’d Go to Church Just to Reduce the Probability of Spending Eternity in Hell with Dawkins’

No kidding…  And he concludes his fun essay with this:

One of the reasons why I go to Church is that I don’t want to run the risk of spending eternity in Hell with Richard Dawkins. Even a 1.5 percent risk isn’t worth running. I’d rather go to Heaven with the androids.


Tabor Tries Again to Sell the ‘Jesus Family Tomb’ Tale…

And he’s added a big fish and the story of Jonah to the mix just to spice it up:

Using a remote-controlled camera on the end of a robotic arm, investigators have found what could be the earliest evidence of a Christian iconography in Jerusalem, engraved on a set of “bone boxes” inside a nearly intact 1st-century tomb.  One of the limestone boxes, known more formally as an ossuary, carries a Greek inscription calling on God to “rise up” or “raise up” someone. Another box shows the carved image of a fish, perhaps with the prophet Jonah in its mouth. Allusions to fish and the “sign of Jonah” came to be widely used among early Christians, but not among Jerusalem’s Jews.

Those discoveries alone would be enough to get biblical scholars excited. But the investigators in this case are the same people who claimed five years ago that ossuaries from a nearby tomb were engraved with the names of the biblical Jesus and his family. They’re putting forth this new find as supporting evidence for their earlier claims, and resurrecting the topic in a newly published book (“The Jesus Discovery”) as well as a Discovery Channel documentary that’s due to air this spring.

And then the report says

This does reopen the whole question about the ‘Jesus Tomb,’” James Tabor, a scriptural scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, told me.

No it doesn’t.  It only opens up the wallets of the silly and the gullible who fall for all manner of unsubstantiated hype around Easter.  Timing is everything and so is marketing, since ‘there’s a sucker born every minute’ and to get the suckers to buy there has to be shiny packaging and huge claims.

“We now have the new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus’ earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead — with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away,” Tabor and Jacobovici wrote.

No we don’t.  We have a purported find made under questionable circumstances.   And even Crossan, who seems to be open to the possibility that the thing is important, dismisses the supposed connection- and so does Witherington, who apparently learned his lesson after the whole James Ossuary fiasco and his own attempts to make money with a book on it:

Crossan said that was too much of a leap. “There’s nothing that associates [the Patio Tomb] with Joseph of Arimathea,” he said.  He said the two tombs may well have no relationship to each other: “This whole area is riddled with tombs, as far as we can tell.”  Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary, voiced a similar view. “The attempt to connect [the Patio Tomb] to the other tombs is sheer conjecture, unless the tombs were connected,” he told me.

It’s just more marketing by the Discovery Channel team of ‘biblical archaeologists’ and here, most pertinently, we all need to remember- neither Tabor nor Jacobovici are archaeologists.  They’re marketers and promoters of their own ideas.  That’s all.

If you want to buy the book (that’s the aim of all the publicity- to get you to buy the book), go ahead.  But I recommend you wait a few weeks.  It’ll end up in the dollar bin soon enough, along with its predecessor.