Mark’s Right: On Blog Posts as ‘Thinking Aloud’

Loads of academics blog these days.  But that hasn’t always been the case.  However, Mark is no newcomer to the game and Mark has been blogging since the beginning.  In fact, if you take a look at Blogging the Bible, A Short History, you’ll learn that he was one of the first (along with Jim Davila and yours truly).

So when Mark opines that

For me, the blog is something more informal, more chatty than the published paper.  I write differently here from the way that I write in peer-reviewed articles. My tone is much more colloquial.  I speak differently in the classroom, differently again in the NT Pod.  So now that I look back at the blog post in question, I notice that I talk casually about the cross “bouncing out of the tomb”; I use a little cartoon illustration; I speak in the first person a good deal and I speculate openly. It is all round much more informal and colloquial.

Blogs are just a place to think out loud.  That’s all.  They are sometimes witty, sometimes clever, sometimes entertaining, but always, always of a different genre than an academic paper or a publication.  I’ve been of the belief all along, and have said for years, that research belongs in books and articles and blog posts belong in the same category of the 16th Century Flugschrift– a little piece which ‘flies off’ the printer’s bench for immediate, and temporary, consumption.

Personally I can’t think of any reason to cite a blog posting in a formal paper or book (unless that formal paper or book is on the subject of blogging, and then only to illustrate some point of research).

Naturally others are free to cite what they will.  But genre matters and understanding the genre of blogs helps readers deal with them properly and not give them undue weight whilst making an argument.

NB- I do hope, though, that Mark’s being mentioned helps his flagging Alexa ranking…


That’s just sad…  One day, maybe he can catch up…


Would You Like a Copy of Mark Goodacre’s New Book, ‘Thomas and the Gospels’?

Mark sent me a copy and nearly simultaneously so did the nice people at Eerdmans.  Mark’s is signed so I’m keeping it and the Eerdmans direct isn’t so, because I don’t need two copies, I’m giving the second away.

If you’d like it you must

1- Live in the United States.
2- Have a deep and abiding interest in Synoptic studies.
3- Not be unpleasant.
4- Write a tiny paragraph in comments below and tell my why you yourself are particularly worthy.

I will then allow myself quite capriciously to choose the best response, and you’ll be the winner.

UPDATE:  And the WINNER IS-  Sytze van der Laan.  Congrats-  email me your mailing address and I’ll have it to you in days.

Sad Simcha’s Statement Supporting Forgery

Simcha J. is suggesting that all the learned people calling into question the authenticity of the ‘Jesus Wife’ fragment are nothing more than vultures and ‘c-list’ scholars.

First, I didn’t know Simcha had a website and apparently neither does the rest of the world as Alexa ranks him in the 10,000,000 plus range (which means that the only people who visit his page are himself and his mom).

Second, I didn’t know there were various ‘lists’ of scholars but I suppose when you’re an unlearned journalist who makes a living making and promoting D-List films featuring absurd claims and unsupported and unsubstantiated rubbish you like to construct lists so that you feel better about yourself.

And third, Simcha exposes himself for the person he really is and his true aims when he writes on his virtually unknown page

But here’s the scoop: the naysayers are losing this war. 1,600 years ago one group of Christians decided that theirs is the only legitimate version of Christianity. They impaled their opposition and they burned their texts. Thereafter, anything that contradicted the official version became first “heresy” and now “forgery”. It would have been a perfect crime except for archaeology and that terrible bugaboo – a free press. They keep resurrecting the voices of the dead. And the story they tell is not only not a “forgery,” but it’s what the rest of us call “history”.

‘Scoop’?   Only of poop.  Simcha has been out with his super dooper pooper scooper again and dredged up yet another silly claim in an attempt to bolster his pseudo-scholarship.  No one is trying to hide the truth or cover things up and it isn’t the ‘free press’ which has exposed the very fraud-ridden fake findings featured in Simcha’s films, it’s scholars.

But of course he HAS to say such things doesn’t he.  He’s got a film in the works on the fraudulent patently faked piece of farcicalness and if scholars have already managed to persuade the public that they needn’t waste their time on it, then no advertiser will be willing to buy time when it airs because, let’s be honest for a second, Simcha is as interested in authentic scholarship as Emmanuel Christian Seminary is.

Money is the bottom line, the middle line, and the top line.  So Simcha can screech down his silent well as loudly as he likes.  He won’t persuade anyone who knows anything about the subject.  He can call Francis Watson and Mark Goodacre ‘c list’ scholars all he likes but we all know the truth, don’t we.

With thanks to Mark Goodacre for the tweet informing me of the Simcha-esque nonsense.

If Biblioblogs Had Movie Titles… An Observation

If biblioblogs had movie titles… the titles of the blogs authored by the people below would be-

Joel Watts: The Expendables.
Mark Goodacre: The Godfather.
Near Emmaus: 12 Angry Men.
James McGrath: Fight Club.
Chris Tilling: Forest Gump.
Aren Maier: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Rod Thomas: Psycho.
Mark Stevens: The Shining.
Jim West: The Pianist.
Antonio Lombatti: The Great Escape.
James Crossley: The Untouchables.
Michael Barber: Up.
Robert Cargill: Driving Miss Daisy.

‘Raiders of the Lost Relics’

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Matthew Kalman reports

On a hilltop overlooking the Elah Valley, about 15 miles southwest of Jerusalem, an ancient city is yielding archaeological finds that have reignited a debate about some of the Bible’s most colorful characters, including King David.

Qeiyafa, exaggerated claims, and the state of the field.  Give the piece a read.  Very nicely done.

Conference Announcement: The Bible in the Public Square

Mark Goodacre sends along this conference announcement:

Duke University is proud to be hosting a conference entitled “The Bible in the Public Square:” September 9-10, 2012, a special 2-day conference with experts speaking to the role of the Bible in everything from Public Schools and American Politics, to the Middle East and popular culture. We hope you will consider attending this free conference which will address several key issues from top scholars in the field, including:

“Battling over the Bible in Public Schools,” Charles Haynes, First Amendment Center

“Right Dividing the First Amendment? An Evaluation of Recent Decisions regarding the Bible and Public Schools,” Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest Center for Religion & Public Affairs

“The Bible in the Presidential Elections of 2012, 2008, 2004 and the Collapse of American Secularism,” Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University

For the complete conference schedule, online registration, and parking information, please visit:

If you have questions regarding the conference, or would like a hard copy of the flyer that has been included, please contact: Serena Elliott at

Dorothy, Thanks for Your Support

Dot King writes

Jim Davila, a highly respected professor at the leading Scottish university, has blogged about a rather stupid claim of “slander” made against Mark Goodacre, Jim West and Robert Cargill by  Nicole Austin, Associate Producer on The Resurrection Tomb Mystery documentary (The Jesus Discovery in Canada):

“You are repeating the same slander which has dominated the Cargill/West/Goodacre blogs and has kept the majority of true scholars away from this discussion.”

“Prof Davila has links back to stories about the “Jesus Discovery” and also repeats the point made by someone else:

“she is using it inaccurately: “slander” refers to spoken defamation whereas “libel” refers to written”

I’ve been a teeny little busy working on trying to get a few thousand stolen antiquities back to their countries, and have not had time to blog about this, although I have received and sometimes answered many hundreds of messages about it.

So Ms Austin if you’re going to take legal action for “slander” against “the Cargill/West/Goodacre blogs” then please add “the Lobel King blog” to your list. I may quibble over their details, but I agree whole-heartedly with their general conclusion – and the sort of “academic” claims made by the scholars the TV show producers hired should be able to be debated by their peers.

She says a bit more, which you can read for yourself.  And then she concludes

I was unable to fully discuss Jacobovici claims about the 2009 tomb discoveries, but I feel that I would like to go on the record about my views of the majority of his interpretations of archaeological evidence. This is my official, on the record, view:

Indeed.  My sentiments exactly.

No, Yonah Isn’t There

Antonio writes

I promise, this will be the last time I write about it. But Mark Goodacre’s latest post on this is really enlightening. I’d like to add some opinions I’ve been able to collected on this matter. I asked several professional epigraphers: Do think this is YONAH or a decorative motif at the base of the amphora ossuary? So, here are the answers:

Since even Jesus’ divinity was decided by a majority vote, if we had to decide on this as well, the majority of these epigraphers agree on what I wrote some time ago.

Who believes it says Yonah? Deutsch and Charlesworth, Tabor and Jacobovici. Three out of the four have monetary interests hinging on that reading and their copious recent ‘press releases’ won’t change their button into a suit. Believe who you will, it’s a free country (for the time being), but what the four see isn’t seen by anyone else.

Q&A With Goodacre and Meyers

With thanks to Eric for emailing the link-  I especially liked these snippets

EM: I was on the advisory panel of experts assessing the integrity of the claims, the appropriateness of the report and the panel decided that National Geographic should drop it like a hot potato, and they did…. I was the one who blew the whistle on the [James ossuary]…. It was a looted artifact—we didn’t know where it came from.

And this

TC: Tabor, one of the project’s primary researchers, is a professor at UNC-Charlotte. Do you feel any intercollegiate competition?

MG: As far as I’m concerned, the fact that he’s at UNC has nothing to do with how I view his scholarship. I entirely respect him and his scholarship—it’s just I think he’s wrong about this.

EM: I’ve known [Tabor] for years. When he heard I was not too keen on his interpretation, he drove up from Charlotte. We spent four hours together. He presented the data to me. I still rejected it, [and] I took him out to lunch. We have a cordial relationship, if you can believe it.

It’s a great interview with much more.

Another Jesus Sighting!

As the kids say, bahahahahaha! Who knew Mark Goodacre was so wicked?!?!

I’ve spotted the face of Jesus in one of the… [Talpiot Tomb ossuaries]…

As usual I don’t see it… but the very fact that it can be seen by someone with a massive imagination PROVES that Tabor/Jacobovici are right doesn’t it?!  (Sometimes the only proof needed is what one’s imagination wishes…)

The Third Quest, For the Historical Charlesworth

Robert Cargill writes, in responding to Mark Goodacre’s comparison of Tabor’s claims and Charlesworth’s claims re: the ‘Fishy Ossuary’-

The questions I have are as follows:

  1. Who shouted?
  2. Who sight-read the inscription?
  3. How did Dr. Charlesworth interpret the inscription?
  4. How did Dr. Charlesworth interpret the image?

(I almost want to highlight the discrepancies in different color highlighter as a nod to Burton Throckmorton, but I do have a question for Dr. Goodacre: what parts of the narrative can we attribute to Q? 😉


The question is important because Dr. Charlesworth (rather surprisingly) appeared to endorse Simcha Jacobovici’s last sensational claim about the discovery of the tomb and bones of Jesus at Talpiot – a claim that nearly all credible scholars rejected outright.

There’s more which you’ll both enjoy and find instructive.  Let the Third Quest commence…

Who’s Telling the Truth? Charlesworth or Tabor?

Mark Goodacre sets their ‘accounts’ of the ‘discovery’ of the ‘Jonah ossuary’ side by side (and be sure to read his entire post).  You decide which is telling the historical truth and which has fashioned an account based on wishful thinking:

Charlesworth Tabor and Jacobovici
I was moved when I looked through a camera on the end of a robotic arm into a pre-70 Jewish tomb. There in the darkness below my feet was an ancient tomb with bone boxes (ossuaries) clearly made before the massive revolt against Rome in 66 CE. As the camera turned, I saw a door that sealed the tomb in antiquity. Then the camera moved silently past ossuaries. A shout was heard by colleagues near me as an inscription came into view. Then, not much later the robotic arm moved again, being directed by a scientist. None of us could believe our eyes. We were all riveted to a drawing that ostensibly broke the second commandment. What was it? What was depicted? What did the early Jew intend to symbolize? The following day we called in Professor James Charlesworth, an expert in Greek and early Christianity, who was in Jerusalem doing research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. After reinserting the robotic arm and swinging the camera once again over to the third niche, we showed him what we had discovered: first the inscription, then the image. He immediately and independently offered the same interpretation we had come to the day before. He excitedly sight-read the inscription. “The Divine Jehovah raises up from [the dead].” He also offered without hesitation the same interpretation of the fish. What we are looking at, he said, appears to be the earliest representation from Jesus’ followers of their faith in his resurrection of the dead. A quiet shudder went through the room as the implications of his conclusion sunk in.

The Beatles and Talpiot???

There’s a connection (so to speak, analogically) and Mark Goodacre examines it, concluding

The Beatles analogy helps us to reflect on the nature of the case for the association of the Talpiot tombs with Jesus’ family and disciples.  If a filmmaker were to find a tomb in Liverpool in two thousand years’ time featuring names like John, Paul and George, he would not have found the Beatles.  John died in New York in 1980, he was cremated and no one knows for certain where his ashes are.  Some speculate that Yoko Ono still has them.  They are certainly not in Liverpool.  George died in Los Angeles in 2001, he was cremated and no one knows for certain where his ashes are.  Some say that they were scattered on the River Ganges.  They are certainly not in Liverpool.

The filmmaker of the future might imagine that the right way to find the historical Beatles would be to look for tombs in Liverpool, but he would be wrong. He might imagine that John, Paul, George and Ringo all lived together in the same street, as they did in the film Help!  He might speculate that they all died and were buried together too, along with members of their family.   It would all make for an enjoyable fiction, no doubt, and some might find it reassuring, but it would tell the scholars of the future very little about the historical Beatles.  The study of ancient history is more often about coming to terms with the missing pieces than it is about drawing lines between unrelated phenomena.

It’s a good piece with important insights.  Thanks to Mark for it and to ASOR for keeping us all informed about the real issues at hand and how those issues are addressed by real archaeologists.

Why is Simcha Jacobovici Suing Joe Zias?

I’ve heard from sources that Joe Zias has been sued by Simcha Jacobovici.  The reason, so far as I can discern it, is because Simcha is suggesting that a Discovery Channel (or NatGeo) special Simcha produced was pulled and Joe is somehow responsible for the loss of income that decision by Discovery caused Simcha.

I contacted Joe and he did indeed confirm that he was being sued by Simcha for 3,500,000 NIS (about $1,000,000).

I find that passing bizarre.  First, if the Discovery Channel pulled a program, that’s their decision so why not sue them?  If Zias complained to Discovery about the inaccuracies of the program (which, knowing Joe, I’m sure he did), so what?  People have been complaining about the exaggerations and inaccuracies of Simcha’s ‘biblical archaeology’ for years.

Indeed, Aren Maeir, upon meeting Simcha who introduced himself as ‘the naked archaeologist’ retorted ‘you’re not naked or an archaeologist’.  And he isn’t.  He’s a film producer.  So when scholars object to his nonsense, why sue them?  Why not defend one’s ‘documentaries’ in the court of academic opinion?  So why isn’t Simcha suing Aren?

And, even more pointedly, Jonathan Reed famously called Simcha’s work ‘Archaeoporn’!   If that isn’t a slap in the face at Simcha’s supposed contributions to ‘biblical archaeology’ what is?  So why isn’t Simcha suing Reed?

And there are loads of others.  Most archaeologists will have nothing to do with Jacobovici’s projects.  He’s more derided in the halls of academic archaeology than anyone else known to me by reputation or in person.  With good reason: his work doesn’t measure up.

His projects with James Tabor on the family tomb of Jesus have been absolutely excoriated by everyone (except for a very few uninformed dilettantes).  Mark Goodacre went to great lengths to point out the inaccuracies and infelicities of Simcha’s ‘family tomb of Jesus’ rubbish and Simcha never responded to that smacking.

In short- there are a lot of people who have pointed out Simcha’s many failings.  So why is he only taking aim at Zias?  Is he trying to silence Zias because he’s very vocal and willing to make the effort to contact broadcasters in order to tell them that Simcha’s work doesn’t measure up?  I know that Joe can be fiery and opinionated but when it comes to the facts concerning the subject matter which concerns us all, he’s usually right.

I understand quite well that Jacobovici makes a living from his sensationalizing of ‘biblical archaeology’.  But if a show of his was pulled, one really has to wonder why the television station which made the decision isn’t the object of Simcha’s wrath and an outspoken critic, who had and who has absolutely no power to pull anything from any airwave, is to blame.

Simcha, for all intents and purposes, looks to be on a vendetta.  And scholars can’t stand by silently while one of their own is muzzled.  If it ever comes to the point that film makers with financial clout (or magazine publishers for that matter) can hush the mouths of honest academics simply striving to inform the public of the facts, the only ones to blame will be the silent scholars.

I hope the Israeli court tosses the suit out on its ear.

Tom’s Right, But Even More, Real Academics Don’t Peddle Fraud!

As Elkington and his ‘lead codices’ consortium is attempting to do.

According to Elkington (bold and italicized), who we all know is the erudite, scholarly fellow (/sarcasm): Regarding the omission of academic postings on this site, it was set up to release news into the public sphere (due to significant demand) and not as an academic forum (real academics tend not to use Facebook and are not bloggers! – They respectably keep their counsel, which is why they haven’t participated directly on this site, although th … Read More

via The Musings of Thomas Verenna