Avrahaum Segol writes
“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.”
“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].
James was nice enough to have his publisher send along a review copy, for which I thank him very much.
Using the oldest Christian documents that we have—the letters of Paul—as well as other early Christian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity. Tabor reveals that the familiar figures of James, Peter, and Paul sometimes disagreed fiercely over everything from the meaning of Jesus’ message to the question of whether converts must first become Jews. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James to introduce his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.
My review is here.
Week commencing Oct 11 and concluding Oct 18-
Joe Zias told me about this strange little website – called ‘Great Archaeology‘. Hmmm…. So I thought I’d look around. You know, see what I could see. So I thumbed through and first off noticed that they list archaeologists alphabetically by first name, not by last. Then I noticed that they listed James Tabor as a ‘famous archaeologist’. But of course he isn’t an archaeologist at all. Then I noticed that they didn’t list Oded Lipschits! What? No list of archaeologists is complete if he is absent. But see for yourself, look at the “O’s”-
And that’s just one of the unpleasant things Raphael Magarik has to say about Tabor and Jacobovici’s ‘Jesus Discovery’ in Forward Magazine. Here’s Magarik’s concluding paragraphs:
In 1835, rewriting the Gospels was the work of grave scholars, the finest minds of the Enlightenment. Today, it is an enterprise at once more democratic and more susceptible to wealth. Any tenured professor can sloppily reconfigure the Gospels, and any blogger with the will can imagine his own Jesus. But to get a book deal with Simon & Schuster, it helps to know James Cameron.
“The Jesus Discovery” has all the faults of amateurism: It is poorly organized, tendentious and incompetently edited. Paradoxically, it also has the flaws of mass-market television. Its version of Christianity — in which Jesus was a family man, and his resurrection an uplifting metaphor — is a matter of bloodless controversy. The theory is supposed to be sensationalist, and yet the Jesus of Tabor and Jacobovici led a life no stranger than Norman Vincent Peale’s.
In the place of history as Hegelian drama, Tabor and Jacobovici give us a thoroughly middlebrow replacement. “We have never failed to enter a tomb,” they report in one of many sententious asides, “without a sobering and moving sense of the shared humanity that the tomb so tangibly represents.” This is a past drained of difference or strangeness, an assembly of theme music and cheap sentiment without any real historical perspective. Since Strauss, historical criticism has become a principal way of retelling and reinterpreting the Jesus story: Scholarship has given us Jesus the social revolutionary, the apocalyptic Jew and the laconic sage. Compared with these reconstructions, Tabor and Jacobovici’s family man Jesus is not only poorly evidenced, but also tawdry and unexciting.
An amateur book. That’s the finest summary statement I’ve yet seen.
And the version they saw included reference to the ‘Arimathea family’, which James Tabor said the film and the book never referenced.
Let me refresh your memory: back here Tabor said
“… we made nothing of it other than it was interesting–it is not in the film, or the book.” (Emphasis mine).
And I suppose you could say he was right- it wasn’t in the American version but it clearly was in the Canadian version. Here’s the screen grab from the Canadian edition:
Click to enlarge. What you’ll see is the screen shot as well as a photo I was sent of the name plate and which I’ve also referenced before.
So what’s this all mean? In the movie, right after all the pointing to the Hill of Evil Counsel scene, Simcha and Tabor walk into the apartment building and the narration says something close to: “In one of those ironies of history today, there is [zoom in on the label] an Arimathea family living in the building over the tomb. Simcha sees this as an omen …”
Furthermore, they enlarged the white name by the buzzer. This serves to emphasize it, doesn’t it. Tabor wasn’t exactly accurate in the comments he made on the previously cited blog entry. They did use the “Arimathea” mailbox claim in the film. And the comparison between the two images shows they even propped it up for the cameras. Interesting, isn’t it, how stories shift and change according to the audience.
Just on the off chance that any of you (besides Goodacre and Cargill who live blogged the thing) watched the Simcha Special and want to know how it stacked up against other programs airing at the same time, you might be able to find out sometime today when the overnight rankings are posted.
If their Facebook ‘Jesus Discovery’ page is any indication, they probably only had 40 or so watchers. But there may be more… However, I doubt it will be a very impressive number. The vampire is well and truly dead. Give thanks to God.