“Joseph of Arimathea,” mailboxes, close-ups, camera tricks, and the integrity of digital images

Jim West recently posted a rather troubling exposé of a particular scene in the recent The Resurrection Tomb Mystery/The Jesus Discovery documentary. As a side note, it involved an image to which Dr. James Tabor himself publicly scolded Dr. West for publishing, claiming (among other things):

“this is a lie, an absolute untruth”

and

“It is odd that such a family of that name lived in that building but we made nothing of it other than it was interesting–it is not in the film.” (Emphasis mine).

Apparently, it was NOT a lie (as we shall see below), and (as we shall also see below) Dr. Tabor’s statement that the claim involving Joseph of Arimathea and the mailbox not being “in the film” wasn’t exactly accurate. (Either that, or it was grossly misinformed.)

Jim’s post was interesting to me because it answered a question I had asked during my live blog of the American version of the The Resurrection Tomb Mystery documentary, namely, why are there so many references to Joseph of Arimathea when not a single shred of evidence was put forth in support of that claim during the documentary? Jim’s post revealed what I had suspected during the live blog (see the summary): there had been a segment dedicated to attempting to tie Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb, but it was apparently edited out/deleted from the American version of the documentary. However, the Canadian version of the documentary retained the segment (in contradiction of Dr. Tabor’s comments on Jim West’s blog).

I updated my live blog with the text below, but have elevated that update to this full post.

April 26, 2012 - Jim West is reporting that in the Canadian 90-minute version of the documentary, there IS, in fact, a segment dedicated to the signs on the apartment mailbox and buzzer that have little signs that say הרמתי, or “Arimathea” on them.

An image of the mailboxes and doorbells of the apartment that sits above the so-called "Patio Tomb" in East Talpiot, Jerusalem. Note the different shade of green, typeset/font of the inscribed letters on mailbox 4 in comparison to the other signs. Note also the color of the slightly greener sign next to the doorbells.

An image of the mailboxes and doorbells of the apartment that sits above the so-called "Patio Tomb" in East Talpiot, Jerusalem. Note the different shade of green, typeset/font of the inscribed letters on mailbox 4 in comparison to the other signs. Note also the color of the slightly greener sign next to the doorbells.

A screen capture image from the Canadian version of "The Jesus Discovery" documentary of the doorbell of the apartment that sits atop the so-called "Patio-Tomb" in East Talpiot, Jerusalem.

A screen capture image from the Canadian version of "The Jesus Discovery" documentary of the doorbell of the apartment that sits atop the so-called "Patio-Tomb" in East Talpiot, Jerusalem.

The green sign above mailbox 4 appears to be a little different shade of green than the rest of the green mailbox signs. Likewise, the little green sign to the left of the buzzer seems to be a slightly lighter shade of green than the rest of the buzzer signs. A screen capture image of the apartment mailbox and buzzer system from the Canadian The Jesus Discovery documentary appears to reveal that the small green doorbell sign that read “Arimathea” may have been added/replaced more recently than the other signs above and below it (which would explain the slightly different color and typeset/font).

What is more, note that when the camera zooms in on the buzzer, there appears to be an animated over-sized sign that reads הרמתי, which is blown up so large that it now partially covers the speaker!!! Likewise, the names of the other folks appear to be blank, while the enhanced הרמתי sign is clearly visible.

So, based upon this comparative evidence, I shall speculate (and mind you this is only speculation) the following:

  1. It appears that someone replaced the standard/old green sign (that appear on nearly all of the other mailboxes) on the apartment #4 mailbox with a more recent, slightly lighter green הרמתי (“Arimathea”) sign in a slightly different typeset/font. (We don’t know who or why it was added/replaced, but it appears to have been done.)
  2. It appears that someone replaced one of the smaller standard/old green doorbell/buzzer signs (that appear next to nearly all of the other doorbells) with a more recent, slightly lighter green sign. (Again, we don’t know who or why it was added/replaced, but it appears to have been done.)
  3. Furthermore, it appears that the new, slightly lighter green הרמתי (“Arimathea”) sign wasn’t enough to convince viewers, so for the close up of the buzzer, an ADDITIONAL zoom of a much larger, possibly handwritten(?) הרמתי (“Arimathea”) sign was placed next to the doorbell with the slightly greener doorbell sign beside it, AND, all of the other doorbell signs are somewhat obscured. Again, the side-by-side images on Dr. West’s blog clearly show that a larger “Arimathea” sign has been digitally zoomed next to the doorbell for the documentary close-up.

Also note that all of this supposed “evidence” is referred to by the documentary as an “omen,” as if the fact that someone named הרמתי (“Arimathea”) lived in this apartment for the past 2000 years, and that fact is supposedly further evidence that the tomb beneath the East Jerusalem apartment is the tomb of Jesus.

But let’s be honest – that’s IMPOSSIBLE given the fact that:

  1. It appears the הרמתי (“Arimathea”) signs were added/replaced more recently than the remainder of the mailbox and doorbell signs.
  2. The apartment has only been around since around 1980! Remember the tomb was DISCOVERED when construction workers were building the new apartment in East Talpiot (or Armon HaNetziv), East Jerusalem, a West Bank neighborhood that was annexed by Israel following the Six Day War. The apartment is only a few decades old, and the הרמתי (“Arimathea”) signs appear to be even more recent than that. Now, it could very well be the case that a new family coincidentally named “Arimathea” moved into the apartment after everyone else (which would explain the replaced, slightly lighter green signs), but I would consider this to be highly coincidental, and certainly would not be evidence that the tomb beneath the apartment has been in the “Arimathea” family since the first century.

And yet, this is all some sort of “omen” that Simcha and his camera crew are on the right track in finding the “Tomb of Jesus.” This is similar to other suggestions Simcha has made in the past, like those he made in this interview with Drew Marshall (see the 1:40 and 8:43 marks), where he suggests that the “timing” of the Talpiot Tomb discoveries themselves was some sort of more-than-coincidental, “strange” omen, and not the product of a well-organized production schedule and press campaign designed to broadcast documentaries in the weeks before and after Easter.

This is all literally UN-believable.

So, not only does this “Joseph of Arimathea” segment appear to have been deleted/edited out of the American 60-minute version of the film (which would explain the absence of any “evidence” for Joseph of Arimathea despite the multiple reference to Joseph of Arimathea throughout the documentary), but it also appears to have been enhanced (at least the digitally enlarged הרמתי sign) specifically for the documentary.

It appears we have yet another example of camera tricks involving lighting, angles, zooming, and framing to support a particular claim, which is then contradicted by subsequently released photos of the same object. Unfortunately, it appears to be a systemic problem of the entire expedition, and the credibility and integrity of all of the images involved with the documentary are damaged by these quite amateurish camera tricks and film making blunders.

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74 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Zwinglius Redivivus and commented:
    Cargill expands significantly my earlier remarks.

  2. I spoke with several of the families there, some of whom have been there for decades which is why, aside from Arimathea in light green, the rest are all faded due to the sunlight on the names over the years. It certainly looks suspicious…on par with the rest of the manipulated photos of the amphora. Furthermore, on the mailbox is another name written on a tag below the light green panel. Who is the real Arimathea?

  3. I must admit that I am somewhat surprised to discover that this segment is in the longer version of the documentary after all given the earlier insistence that it was not. It is the kind of thing that makes one wonder if it has really been worth spending the time discussing the documentary claims in such detail because it detracts from any attempt to take the claims seriously.

    It’s worth adding that the film does attempt to link the site of the tomb to Joseph of Arimathea also by means of a dubious etymological argument, but see Richard Bauckham’s decisive critique on my blog at http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/joseph-of-arimathea-and-talpiyot-tomb-b.html .

  4. [...] topic consistently and directly in the manner many might expect). I hope I get sent a review copy!Bob Cargill and Jim West discuss the alleged “Arimathea” name among the residents in the Talpiot [...]

  5. Mark, Unfortunately, I agree. With this documentary-driven ‘archaeology’ that appears to being executed under the rules of film making (including, apparently, animation props and speculation) rather than the accepted rules of scientific inquiry and archaeological method, it seems that the camera tricks that may be acceptable in the film making world are tainting the credibility of the rest of the digital images. Again, that’s what concerns me in all of this: the tainted credibility of the Digital Humanities.

    There is ABSOLUTELY ZERO evidence tying this (or any) tomb to Joseph of Arimathea. The mere fact that Jacobovici and Tabor even ATTEMPTED this claim based upon the nameplates on doors and the even more problematic claim that the name means ‘between two hills’ and therefore since the tomb lies between two hills, it must be the tomb is absolutely tragic. The apartment across the street is ALSO between two hills – did Joseph of Arimathea live there too? Every tomb in Israel is between some two hills. It’s an absolutely absurd claim by any professional standard, made even more absurd by the omen-driven claim that a nameplate (that appears to have been a prop) somehow adds to the ‘evidence’ of the initial claim. Then again, we’re dealing with film making fantasy, not real archaeology.

  6. Bob, what I said was an absolute LIE was the story Joe Zias spread far and wide that Simcha paid a family who was NOT named Aramati to nonetheless put up a sign on their door and claim that was their name in order to fake this supposed omen. In truth, omen or not, that family has lived there for years and is listed clearly in phone books as Joe knows. When Jim West first spread this lie from Zias I responded, and yes, at that time, to my knowledge, in any cut of the film I had seen, no point was made of this. That it now does appear in the Canadian longer cut, which was produced subsequently, is simply a later development. It does not imply any kind of duplicity or deception. The fact is a family named Aramati lives above that tomb…so be it. It proves nothing historically and no one would ever claim it did. But it is interesting and in terms of filmmaking, I can see why it might be included in a longer version. Notice here on your blog Joe is no longer charging this, but just talking about labels on boxes, not families who live there and have lived there and their proper names. Inside the building the permanent sign by the door of that apartment clearly says Aramati in Hebrew and it has been there long before we even set foot in the building.

    So far as any “shred” of evidence associating this tomb with Joseph of Armimathea, as I have explained elsewhere, and in our book, it all has to do with the overall hypothesis related to both tombs. If Talpiot A is the family tomb of Jesus, and we have presented the evidence as we see it, then the one in all of our sources for the permanent burial of Jesus is Joseph of Arimathea–it is as simple as that. If it is Jesus the baker, or some other Jesus of the time, then there would be no presumption of any such connection, even in a cluster of three tombs on the same ancient property.

    You comments on photo tricks and so forth are delusional in your last paragraph and I am losing respect for your integrity in this whole matter.

  7. James,

    You still failed to address even a single point I raised.

    1) Are the lighter green “Arimathea” signs more recent than the darker green ones?
    2) How did the large, white, הרמתי suddenly appear on the doorbell in the close-up?

    You just went off on Joe, but I didn’t ask about him. I merely pointed out the discrepancies of these two photos EXACTLY as I have done with other photos you have released to the public.

    So, just for the record, I’m still waiting for:

    - the names of the “four art historians” you consulted on your Jonah iconography.
    - any measurements whatsoever of any of the ossuaries using the laser measuring capabilities of the camera
    - the three questions I last asked you about the so-called “Jonah Inscription” namely,
    —-1) Does the supposed ‘waw’ extend all the way to the right border (like in the HiDef image) or not (like in your diagram)??
    —-2) Does the supposed ‘yod’ have a ‘Herodian loop’ (like in your diagram), or does it more resemble the modern square script zayin??
    —-3) How do you account for the quite obvious lines that do not fit your desired inscription??

    My point is that you’ve stopped answering logical questions and you are instead conveying your ‘losing respect for [my] integrity in this whole matter.’ Why would you lose respect for my integrity? I’m simply asking the natural, logical next question. When you present new photos, and I ask, ‘OK, how is THIS congruent with THIS previous photo?’ you’re response as a scholar cannot be, ‘I’m losing respect for your integrity.” That’s dodging the questions – pure and simple.

    And how are my comments ‘delusional’? That’s a pretty hefty throwaway accusation, but again, you offer no explanation or evidence. You just brush me and my questions aside as if they are invalid. Show me where I’m missing something.

    And, please show me ONE PIECE OF NON-CIRCUMSTANTIAL, NON-SPECULATIVE EVIDENCE that ties Joseph of Arimathea to this tomb. One. That I can’t logically refute in 30 seconds with a reference to the apartment across the street.

    I can understand if you’re getting frustrated angry. I’d be getting frustrated and angry too if I made unsubstantiated claims and each new photo/piece of evidence I release in support of each new week’s new claim completely calls into question all the previous claims and images. I’d be frustrated too if you called me on a mistake. But, I’d CERTAINLY not say I’m losing respect for you for doing your professional job as a scholar!!!

    I am dealing in facts and evidence. Again, I’d ask you to support your claims with the same.

  8. James,
    one more thing: you stated above “That it now does appear in the Canadian longer cut, which was produced subsequently, is simply a later development.”
    correct me if i’m wrong, but did Simcha GO BACK and RESHOOT that scene specifically for the CANADIAN version? OR, was it shot, and then edited OUT, but only out of the AMERICAN VERSION?

    simcha shot it. you made the claim. you tried to tie a modern family name in an apartment that was built after 1980 to JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA. you then broadcast it in CANADA.

    how is that ‘it’s not in the film?’

    cheers,

    bc

  9. the entire bldg. was given a serious amt of money in order to comply with the work carried out over an extended time period, as well as a lesser amt to those in the neighboring bldg,.number 10. According to tenants, two families in 8 refused to go along with it and refused to sign and thus were not allowed to see the agreement. Furthermore, those in the bldg were told not to speak to anyone, but some are and are waiting for the Christians to come and buy the bldg and turn it into a Holy Site as they were promised. Neighbors reported to me that they already had been recently approached by someone who told them to wait and sit tight until the film/book appears and they are waiting… just don’t talk to ‘strangers. In fact, one of those directly involved , who was staying at Mishkanot Shaninim where the symposium was held was taken around Jrsm by a real estate agent, looking at apts running 7 figures and up a winter or two ago (December) Sound familiar? Details available upon request.

    Cheers

  10. I am not angry at all Bob. We are talking past one another and I was clear as anyone could be with Joe’s accusation which you have now quoted and said “was NOT lie we we will see,” showing you have no understanding at all of the issues and now you are losing it with a kind of blasting accusatory post that I have no intention of responding to.

  11. I’m an Associate Producer on the show. You obviously work according to the idea that if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. What is all this nonsense about the mailbox about? What is your point? Does an Aramati family live in that building or not? You can check that with Jerusalem directory. Obviously they live there. So what’s the point of all your forensic analysis? That we enlarged the mailbox sign? First of all, we didn’t. But even if we had, so what? If we come to film an interview with you at your home, and we want to show your mailbox and your name has faded, and we put a new piece of paper with your name over the faded one, what exactly would be wrong with that? And what nonsense are you talking about when you seem to imply that we claim that Joseph of Aramathea’s family has been living there for 2,000 years? All we do is claim that it is an “irony of history”, which it is. I hope Professor Tabor stops lending you credibility by responding to these ridiculous charges. I think with the mailbox argument you have finally positioned yourself, along with your friend Jim West, at the internet blogging fringe.

  12. James,

    Will you at least explain the discrepancies between the photos? I only care about the visual evidence.
    Please explain the green signs, and the ginormous white sign by the doorbell.

    Cheers,

    bc

  13. Nicole,

    The is indeed an ‘irony of history’ here. How do ‘omens’ affect your argument one way or another?

    And if I am fringe, how come there is no groundswell of academic support rushing in to support your claims?

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. And writing the name of the Arimathea family on a white piece of paper and blowing it up next to the doorbell for a close-up is NOT extraordinary evidence. It’s more of an ‘irony of reality.’

    Cheers,

    bobcargill

  14. Excellent post Dr. Cargill! Thanks for insisting on accountability to actual evidence and sound and sober methodology.

  15. No one claimed it was “evidence”. It’s an interesting footnote. But by doing all your “forensic” analysis, you create the appearance of an argument where none exists. You take an anecdote and you turn it into a conspiracy so that you can once again claim that there is “no evidence”. You can debate the evidence, Bob, but there’s lot of it. The fact is that our team did not sit around blogging all day. We spent 4 years investigating a tomb. We raised a lot of money, mobilized a lot of people and pushed the boundaries of Jerusalem based archaeology by creating a robotic arm. Our findings made front page news around the world. We didn’t dupe anybody. Every piece of information you have, you got from us. Furthermore, top scholars were consulted at every stage. We found what is arguably the first “Christian” cross ever discovered. Those that say that there are no Christian crosses in the 1st century should consult the work of Italian archaeologist Francesco Paolo Maulucci. We found a Judeo-Christian fish. That isn’t the filmmakers’ assessment, that is the assessment – on camera – by Professors Rami Arav, James Tabor and James Charlesworth. You want to disagree? That’s fine, but don’t act as if the filmmakers are suffering from some kind of delusional fantasies. We found the earliest image of Jonah. That wasn’t our assessment, that was the assessment of the same three professors. But, to make sure, we also checked with distinguished art historian Robin Jensen who said – on camera – that it looked like a Jonah image to her. This same sentiment has been echoed by Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem district head of the IAA. But just in case that wasn’t enough evidence, we found the only statement of resurrection faith ever discovered on an ossuary. You want to argue about its meaning? That’s fine. You also want to argue that its proximity to the so called “Jesus Family Tomb” and an image that many scholars see as Jonah is coincidental? That’s fine too. But no amount of blogging about mailboxes will change its uniqueness or importance. Then, for good measure, Professor Charlesworth has now discovered the word “Yonah” inscribed in the fish’s head. You want to play forensic digital detective? That’s fine. But the fact is that Prof. Charlesworth reads it as “Jonah”, that Prof. Haggai Misgav states that it’s an intentional inscription and that Robert Deutsch – one of Israel’s leading epigraphers, specializing in small inscriptions on gems – reads it as “Yonah”. Again, it’s a free country so debate all you want, but don’t accuse us of manipulations and a lack of evidence.

    As for why more scholars have not chimed in, I think you miss the point. The important thing to remember is that almost no scholars have joined your slanderous campaign. The vast majority of scholars have preferred to stay out of the mudslinging debate that you and Jim West have been leading. This should cause some reflection. You have created a Soviet style atmosphere where scholars are afraid to comment. I cannot tell you how many scholars write to us but refuse to be quoted because they fear the poisonous pens. Even Robin Jensen, who was totally on side and very helpful, is second guessing herself and has distanced herself from the production. At the same time, scholars who do support us are totally ignored by you and your fellow naysayers. For example, noted art historian Professor Jas Elsner said that it “looks like a fish” to him, and Professor John Dominic Crossan is convinced that it is a Jonah image. Please don’t repeat the mantra that no one supports the new findings. On the contrary, take stock of the fact that this time not a single Israeli archaeologist has aligned himself with you and your naysayers. So go back to the mailbox argument and we’ll get back to our work. In fact, it is you – not us – who is the true PR expert. For our part, we have to discover something before we make it into the news. For your part, you’ve learned the trick that all you have to do is make some outrageous statements against the discoveries and you end up on the same broadcast. Nonetheless, let me assure you there are more revelations down the line and, of course, they will probably be timed with Easter. So rest assured we will be giving you an opportunity to get on CNN again.

  16. nicole,
    i am posting your comments (as an associate producer on the documentary and an employee under simcha’s direction) in their full form without reply (other than this comment).
    i shall let others comment for themselves.
    cheers,
    bc

  17. Nicole,

    Of the names you mention, could you tell me which ones are independent scholars and which ones are (or have been) employed by or associated with Simcha?

  18. List of scholars who disagree: Eric Meyers, Mark Goodacre, Robin Jensen, Ada Yardeni, Gershon Galil, Levi Rahmani, André Lemaire, Christopher Rollston, Eshel Esther, Antonio Lombatti, just to name a few.

    JD Crossan posted on his Facebook wall of Feb 29 (a day after the MSNBC Cosmic Log post which makes it appear like he agrees) stating that the figure looked like a Nephesh Tower.

    And for those curious about Robin Jensen, just look at her letter at the ASOR Blog (http://asorblog.org/?p=1698). It is pretty clear that she was silent not because she agreed with anything Simcha and Co. presented and the was later browbeat into retracting her statements, but that she was bound by a confidentiality clause. Once that clause was lifted she spoke up. It is also clear that what she said was warped by the film makers. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Simcha and Co. have warped what a scholar said. Just ask Francois Bovon (http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=656).

    Yet, while the list of scholars of who disagree is impressive; it is a logical fallacy to appeal to authority. Besides, even the most eminent of scholars can be wrong. E.g. Cyrus Gordon thought the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone was authentic. Or the now infamous interpretation 4Q341 as a medical text.

  19. I’m going to answer you, Paul, because you’ve obviously missed my point. 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. In a typical “when did you stop beating your wife” question, you want to know which of the scholars that I mention are “independent” and which, by contrast, are “associated with Simcha”. This is a topsy-turvy universe you live in. First, they are all “independent” scholars. We have no scholars in our employ. In fact, when we don’t consult a lot of scholars we are attacked for going it alone, and when we consult many scholars they become targets of slander for being tainted by their association with us. For your information, when the broadcaster of our film was going to be National Geographic they put together a group of independent scholars and asked them to watch the film, report on it and meet to discuss the issues in Washington DC. Later, the Discovery Channel did the same. As it turns out, many of the scholars now criticizing our conclusions are those very scholars. Are they no longer “independent”? Should we now disregard everything that Rollston or Bauckham have to say because they served on those panels with Charlesworth and Tabor? Of course, you realize that this is plain nonsense. But it has an ugly side. The ugly face of this argument is the demonization of people you disagree with. According to this logic, anybody “associated with Simcha” is no longer independent. Does the same thing work in reverse? Is anyone associated with Cargill no longer independent? How about West or Goodacre? More to the point, how about anyone associated with a seminary or Christian college? It’s interesting that in your world associations with theological institutions do not disqualify you from being an “independent scholar”. But associating with an independent documentary production company that has been awarded some of the most prestigious prizes in journalism, makes you less “independent”. Sorry, Paul, in my world journalists are perceived to be far more “independent” than theologians.

    Furthermore, Justin provides us a list of scholars who disagree with us. You missed the point. I didn’t provide names so as to win a head count, I provided a list of world class scholars who support the Simcha/Tabor/Arav/Charlesworth interpretation of the findings because Bob was insinuating that no serious scholar would support such a thesis. The rest is a matter of debate. More importantly, as I wrote before, it’s very hard to provide a head count because of the Soviet atmosphere that the present blog represents so well. Robin Jensen was not “warped by the filmmakers” (whatever that means). All you have to do is see Simcha’s response to her on ASOR where he quotes the actual tape that was shot with her. I’m sorry to cloud the issues with the facts, but her statements on Jonah and the fish are on tape. Respecting her request, we haven’t posted them on the web or used them in the film. As for the reference to Father Bovon, again, his complaint is not that he was misquoted. His complaint is that he didn’t know to what end his interview would be used. That’s called journalism, Justin. We have three Emmys in “Investigative Journalism”. We never share our findings with our interview subjects, but we have never – ever! – misquoted anyone.

    So let’s look at the two responses to my posting: One attacks the scholars who support the thesis by insinuating that anyone who associates with Simcha is not “independent”. The other resorts to a scholar head count and then attacks the filmmakers for having “warped” (sic) various scholars. It’s all ad hominem and it demonstrates the weakness of the arguments against the findings.

    In conclusion, I don’t hold much hope that you guys will stop the “potato head” cartoons (see main page on Cargill’s blog), the forensic analysis of mailboxes, the personal slander, the demonization and the marginalization but I do know that, at the end of the day, the facts will continue to speak for themselves.

  20. Thanks for the response Nicole. I thought your tone was a bit shirty, but it is Friday, I guess it’s been a long week?

    Please note, I didn’t attack the scholars, I’m sure they are all lovely people and highly qualified. I’m simply interested to know who is *independently* persuaded by the case made, and who is making the case. Think of it like a court case: if John, Dave, and Sally say that the defendant is innocent, that’s significant if they’re members of the jury – rather less so if they are part of the defence team.

    As for whether the process works in reverse, put it this way:

    Lets say, hypothetically, that Dr Cargill claims at some point in the future to have found the *actual* stable that Jesus was born in, basing such a claim on little more than a dubious interpretation of a crude graffito that *might* look like a bit like a donkey given enough squinting, wishful thinking, and photoshopping. Let’s further suppose that Dr Cargill just *happens* to support this with a popular book and glossy TV documentary, which just *happens* to be released in time for Christmas, when he stands to make the largest possible pile of cash from it. And, purely hypothetically, let’s also suppose that when Dr Cargill’s presents his evidence, his claims are within a few days so savagely battered by so many well qualified people that it seems impossible to find anybody not associated with Dr Cargill or his project who are willing to support his claims. Please be assured that I would be asking a very similar set of questions – it’s nothing personal Nicole.

    Have a good weekend.

    PS: How about me you, and Dr Cargill give that stable documentary a shot? We could call it “The Nativity Conspiracy” and split the money three ways. Dr Cargill has the smarts, and you’ve got the contacts. As for myself, well I am wholly without any advanced qualifications relevant to the study of Archaeology or early Christianity, and in a sane world, my views on these would simply be ignored – so perhaps I could be our group’s Simcha?

  21. Nicole:

    Wonderful response. If this makes it through Cargill’s filter, let me sat that you are 100% correct.

    I would give more credibility to almost any working journalist than any of them. At least the journalists involved have to study the issue before they produce a story, when these guys had fixed opinions before they had seen the evidence.

    Worse, the Cargill-West-Verenna-Goodacre asshole society has realized that they can control the debate by threatening to mercilessly ridicule anybody who stands up to their slander. That ridicule gets linked to endlessly, so anybody who disagrees with them has to have the stomach for personal attacks on the Internt. Given that most academics don’t have that stomach, it gives them a godfather-like control of the debate.

    The proof is when April DeConick came out and said she saw the image as a fish, several of them made their way over to her site to get her to change her mind within hours.

    “April, all the cool kids are coming to our party. You don’t want to be seen at Simcha’s house. You have a nice reputation and it would be a shame to lose it. Heh, heh.”

    Have these guys any shame?

  22. I am disappointed to see, Nicole, that you charge me with slander, indeed that it apparently dominates my blog. I have always laboured, both in relation to the recent project and the one from 2007, to be fair and accurate, to state any objections in a calm and reasonable way, basing them solely on the evidence presented. I have tried to illustrate my critiques as clearly as possible and to present my questions in a professional way. My difficulty here is that if you regard this kind of honest, rigorous critical analysis as “slander”, then I am afraid that it is quite impossible to have a serious discussion about the claims made in the Resurrection Tomb Mystery program, the Jesus Discovery book and the associated websites and articles.

  23. i see the defenders of simcha and tabor are keeping it classy…

    donovan from philly, i’ll actually post your comment in-full with the language. it’s an appropriate testimony to those who have rallied to the defense of simcha and dr. tabor.

  24. Nicole IS aware, is she not, that the word ‘slander’ is, in fact, a legal term, and that as an employee and representative of Associated Producers, Ltd., to accuse someone of ‘slander’ publicly carries with it potential legal, let us say, difficulties?

    I know that as an employee of Mr. Jacobovici’s Associated Producers, Ltd., she can speak on the company’s behalf. I only mention it because ‘slander’ is a particular accusation that, were it made in the reverse about Mr. Jacobovici, recent precedent may indicate that Mr. Jacobovici would, in fact, consider legal action against the one making the accusation. It certainly is not the kind of accusation one would make about scholars whilst in the process of suing yet another scholar for, amongst other things, that same accusation…

    It’s just odd to me, that’s all. A peculiar choice of words, ‘slander’ is… I count four times.

    bc

  25. [...] ‘net to defend and defame. You can find two comments she has left at Dr. Cargill’s blog here and here where they are defending $imcha and defaming actual Scholars. I’m not sure I would [...]

  26. I haven’t been following this discussion since, to be fair, comments usually aren’t that interesting. Here, in the case of Simcha’s paid supporters, I’ll simply observe that nothing ‘nicole’ and the others have said is relevant since none of the people who work for him are scholars. Their views are the views of the ignorant.

    I seriously doubt that they have thought about the subject for more than 5 minutes and their ‘views’ are spoon fed to them in the same way that a baby bird has its mother’s regurgitated stomach contents thrust into its mouth.

    The accusation of ‘slander’ is just a red herring – more of the same ‘smoke and mirrors’ which has characterized this whole fiasco. From shifting claims to accusations of ‘ganging up’ on poor benighted besieged Simcha/Tabor it’s all pure rubbish.

    The good news is, next week or next month ‘nicole’ and the others will have another project to work on. They’ll probably make up some new nonsense about Jesus living on Masada for awhile and then they’ll issue press releases and find a few under-educated dilettantes or ‘on the payroll’ flunkies (like John and Nicole) to peddle the nonsense.

    And they’ll forget all about ‘the jesus discovery’ because, when all is said and done, they’re just passing through the academic landscape as tourists.

  27. C’mon Bob, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill and Nicole is right. A family living there with that name is terribly ironic, and thats all they said. My opinion of you is starting to lean towards a conspiracy theorist rather than a serious scholar. It’s time to move on….

  28. I was one of those given a preview of the film back in January before the whole matter was made public in the press conference. For the record, the images of the mailboxes were in that version. Since I live in the UK I have not seen the film since, and did not know they were absent from the version shown in USA.

  29. Just to follow up on Nicole’s comment above, I mentioned the charge on my own blog and have had nothing but support. I would like to suggest that it is time to refrain from the rather toxic charges made against critics of the film and instead to focus on the criticism of the content of the film, book, website and article.

  30. What I found really interesting about Nicole’s comments was the obvious dichotomy established between what comprises “investigative journalism” and what comprises “scholarship”. I think what really is at issue here is that it took investigative journalism methods four years to create an argument which could be debunked by scholars in a matter of six or so weeks, part time.

  31. Rogue,

    I’ve also wondered about the ‘investigative journalism’ claim. Nicole seems to imply that as an ‘investigative journalist’ the rules are somehow *different*, where she can be clever and crafty, but the *scholars* must be above the fray and therefore cannot engage in the *investigative* tactics she allows herself as an AP at Ass. Prod. Then she laments that *bloggers* don’t act like *scholars* probably b/c when they do simple *investigative journalism* they can undo what it took Ass. Prod. four years to manufacture.

    I agree with you.

  32. I’m curious as to who the “true scholars” Nicole mentions might be. It’s amazing they’ve been so intimidated by Goodacre and Cargill that they haven’t been willing to come out yet.

    At any rate, this whole “associations with theological institutions” bit is another red herring, as is insinuating that people like Goodacre and Cargill are “theologians” (contrasting that with supposedly neutral “investigative journalists”). For one, neither Goodacre nor Cargill are theologians, nor are they in the employ of seminaries or “theological institutions.”

    I’m currently in the top secular Religious Studies department in the USA (that is, the top-ranked state school department in the NRC rankings), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I do not know of a single person in the department who takes any of these claims seriously. In fact, one of the reasons there has been little response from the UNC-CH faculty is because responding to such things as this can have the perverse effect of giving the impression that the matter is “debatable” and therefore plausible. It’s really a catch-22: either one responds and lends credibility to the possibility or one doesn’t respond and the silence is leveraged into “potential agreement.”

    Nicole implies that “investigative journalists” are more neutral and therefore credible than those associated with “theological institutions,” but in this case, the money to be gained is on the journalism side, which belies her argument entirely.

    At any rate, I’d love to meet these “true scholars.” they must be true giants in the field, fear of Goodacre and Cargill notwithstanding.

  33. All that said, I’m going to agree with Goodacre’s comment above and suggest we get back to examining and critiquing the evidence, although that apparently may be construed as slander in some circles.

  34. Thanx Jason. And agreed.

    Remember, in the same response where Simcha conceded he was ‘neither an archaeologist nor an academic,’ he also referred to me with the outright lie that I am ‘an ordained minister with a PhD.’

    (Still brings a chuckle to my face…which keeps me from being angry about the fact that he wrote the lie (and Dr. Tabor published the lie on his blog) in an obvious attempt to harm my credibility in the field of Second Temple Judaism.)

    The point is that Nicole appears to take her cues from Simcha, and the attempted denigration of those associated with Christianity, Christian colleges and universities, and seminaries is systemic at Ass. Prod. Ltd.

    (Of course, such invocation of religious preference is NOT allowed in the reverse direction, as any comment that Simcha can possibly misconstrue to be a comment about HIS religious preference has in the past been immediately met with an accusation of anti-Semitism from Simcha (a precedent coincidentally established by the very same aforementioned response from Simcha.) So it’s OK for Simcha and his Ass. Prod. “investigative journalists” to attempt to question the religious motives of scholars, but the reverse is apparently ‘slander’.

    Go figure.

  35. And Jason, what do you mean I’m not a ‘giant’ amongst the ‘theologians’?

    In my latest rankings of US News and World Theologian Reports, I’m right up there with the all-time ‘giants’:

    1. St. Paul
    2. Augustine
    3. Aquinas
    4. Calvin
    5. Luther
    6. Goodacre
    7. Jonathan Edwards
    8. Cargill
    9. Rob Bell
    10. Mark Driscoll

    See? Luminaries! (but dang! Goodacre beat me. ;-)

    And everyone knows that while Calvin threatened those who opposed him with burning at the stake in a pile of their own books (ask Michael Servetus), I am apparently feared because of my tendency to takes one’s own digital image and point out with many ‘distracting‘ (see 2nd par. after 2nd image) bright red arrows online precisely where it has been Photoshopped or the obvious has beenignored.

    Terrifying, no?

    Trust me, most people would rather choose death by fire than have to suffer the ‘attacks’ and ‘slander’ brought about by my MacBook Pro and 10 minutes in Photoshop…

  36. The problem, Jordan, is greater than whether or not someone named “Arimathea” or “Harmathai” lives in the apartment. There is reason to believe that no one named “Arimathea” lives there, and that the apartment has been empty, or occupied by individuals named “Tal Ilan” (see Hebrew sticker just beneath light green sign on mailbox #4), or another person named ‘Sidis.’ (Note: I am not claiming this, but it’s a claim that has been made. See below.) There has been a claim made that the light green “Arimathea” signs were added as props to the apartment prior to filming of The Restoration Tomb Mystery/Jesus Discovery specifically for the purposes of the film and thereby that this coincidental ‘irony of history’ was manufactured for the film. This specific claim (that someone named “Arimathea” living in the apartment was manufactured specifically for the documentary) is what all the screaming and yelling is about. In fact, Simcha has actually filed a civil law suit against one scholar for, among other things, making that very claim. And, since Simcha and another scholar are now involved in a legal dispute, I’m betting we don’t see the evidence supporting the claim and potentially exonerating the scholar until the trial, meaning we’ll have to wait a while to see if the claim was true or not. But since Simcha’s employee, Ms. Austin, has conceded that the “Arimathea” claim is merely a ‘historical irony’ and not ‘evidence,’ we have a situation where Mr. Jacobovici is suing someone for claiming that the ‘historical irony’ was a prop manufactured for the film.

    (Thus, you can understand the tragic irony of an Ass. Prod. Ltd. employee making the charge of ‘slander’ against some of us (Dr. Goodacre, me) for critiquing the evidence: by making the demonstrably and obviously false charge of ‘slander’ against a number of scholars (especially since the employee confused written ‘libel’ with spoken ‘slander’), Simcha and his Ass. Prod. Ltd. company have potentially exposed themselves to the very kind of defamation law suit that he has filed against another scholar. Now THAT is what I call an “irony of history,” but I digress…)

    Of course, a family surnamed “Arimathea” or “Harmathai” may have purchased the apartment and then sub-let the apartment as I concede in my post above. But they would still have moved in after the rest of the occupants (hence the newer, lighter green sign), who themselves didn’t move in until after 1981 when construction was complete. Remember, a construction crew accidentally stumbled onto the tomb during construction, meaning they didn’t know that a tomb was there, meaning there certainly not been a 2000-year chain of custody of the family of “Atrimathea” protecting the site. At the very most, they moved in after 1981.

    My point is that the entire ‘Arimatheas live here’ argument is completely irrelevant to begin with, and is probably the reason that someone lobbied so hard to have the scene completely cut from the U.S. version of the documentary. I actually believe Dr. Tabor when he says ‘it wasn’t in the film,’ because, as he explains above, it was his understanding that although they shot the scene during filming, they removed it from the U.S. version. I also believe him when he says that Ass. Prod. Ltd. producers put the deleted scene back into the longer Canadian version without his knowledge, making his statement to Jim West that “it’s not in the movie” false (even though it was not his fault).

    My point is that Ass. Prod. Ltd. Associate Producer Nicole Austin has confirmed above that the entire point was only to highlight an ‘irony of history,’ and in doing so concedes that the entire line of argumentation regarding the “Arimatheas” living in the apartment above the tomb was sheer coincidence (and likely the reason it was cut from the U.S. version). Its inclusion only makes the rest of the arguments look similarly speculative. It has nothing to do with anything, and yet they included it to perhaps in an attempt to persuade some viewers who think ‘omens’ and ‘coincidences’ are actually evidence.

    If you take a moment to think about this ‘omen-driven’ or coincidental ‘irony of history’ line of argumentation, it really is quite nonsensical. ‘Omens’ have no place in a scholarly debate. It’s as nonsensical as waking from dream in the middle of the night and noting that the clock on the nightstand happens to read 3:33 AM, and somehow interpreting that as an omen telling you that whatever you happened to be thinking about in the dream when you awoke is somehow ‘true’ and an ‘omen’ from above instructing you to treat the dreamt thought as divine instruction. It’s silly, and has no place in scholarship, and yet there are many who take omens and coincidences quite seriously. I believe that’s why the “Arimathea coincidence” was included in the Canadian version: if evidence doesn’t make the case, why not rely on omens and coincidences?

  37. Don’t you think the mail-box image is actually one of many indications that we should consider the genre of the film to be entertainment, rather than serious documentary? It’s the sort of thing that belongs in the Da Vinci Code.

  38. Dr. Bauckham,

    I agree wholeheartedly. In my opinion, there is as much validity in the “Ancient Aliens” documentary series (on which I also have appeared to debunk) as there is in this Jonah/Jesus claim. I don’t say that to be mean (especially toward my colleague Dr. Tabor), but the fact is that there is just as much ‘evidence’ to support this Jonah/Jesus claim as there is for von Däniken’s aliens (that is, little-to-none).

    There is a Greek-style vessel on the front of an ossuary (which is common on Jewish tombs), and much geometry (intersecting parallel lines, not a ‘cross’; ovals, not ‘digitally inked’ ‘fish in the margins’; an inscription that is not Greek/Hebrew/Greek/Hebrew and does not say what they claim it says; and decorative lines at the bottom of the image, not a Rorschach style inscription selectively omitting and altering inscribed lines to make the name of ‘Jonah’). ALL of the evidence that would support the claims of Christianity are heavily disputed by scholars, and resorting to ‘ironies of history,’ coincidences, and omens does not strengthen the case.

    They did entertain, and did demonstrate the potential of Klaussen’s robotic arm and Tarant’s camera, and they did (re-)discover a previously published tomb and ossuaries, but the claims attempting to tie it to Christianity are wanting.

    They found what they wanted to find: apologetic evidence for the early Christian belief in spiritual, not physical resurrection. They needed to find the dead and buried bones of Jesus (2007) and THEN find “Christian” evidence of the celebration of his resurrection in very close proximity to it. That’s what they set out to find, and that’s what they found. They will argue otherwise, but that’s the scholarly debate. We get to have that debate. No need to call names or sue one another, it’s just a debate about some claims pitting an entertainment company (Ass. Prod. Ltd.) against the scholarly community.

    But all the addition of the dramatic fights with the Haredim, the drama of the drilling and the broken cameras, etc. are just as you say: entertainment – not science, not archaeology – ENTERTAINMENT! And they have every right to make a buck while entertaining. It’s the American (and Canadian) way. But as scholars, we must also reserve and preserve the right to call it what it is: entertainment, and more importantly what it is NOT: archaeology.

    Thanks again for your comments and cheers!

    bob cargill

  39. The problem is that Simcha and Co. blur the line between entertainment and scholarship. When it suits their purpose they claim one, and then, when circumstances change, they claim the other. This means that as scholastic evidence mounts against their argument they can claim entertainment. I find the claim of “doing investigative journalism” as if it is a way to insulate Simcha and Co. from critique interesting, because all the same critiques (esp.the lack of hard evidence) apply to journalism.

  40. Justin, well he won’t be helped by this Canadian Supreme court ruling from 2009 either.

  41. I started off telling you that I’m an Associate Producer of the film that you guys are all worked up about, and that you are engaged in ad hominem attacks against the filmmakers, not legitimate critiques of the content. You certainly proved me wrong. You showed me that you are all true “scholars”. Cargill is still speculating whether an Arimathea family lives in the Talpiot building, even though I told him he can get that information from a Jerusalem telephone directory! I guess true scholars can’t look up names in phone books. For his part, West has weighed in with very “scholarly” arguments. He called me and my colleague John McGinley at Associated Producers “ignorant”. But that wasn’t enough. He follows up by calling us “dilettantes” and “flunkies”. But he still wasn’t finished. All we do, according to West, is “peddle….nonsense”. Now, in case we point out that these are personal attacks, West has already given his response by calling any such defense on our part “pure rubbish”. By the way, the other posts were also very enlightening. I especially like the fact that Simcha’s name gets written with the first letter as a dollar sign. Very scholarly. The most amazing thing for me is to read that journalists are not objective, but people who take oaths to defend the Christian faith are the epitome of objectivity. Mind you, I’m not against Christianity, but I would hardly call theologians objective.

    Bob Cargill, you keep saying that you are not an ordained minister. Is the word “ordained” the problematic word? Let’s face it, you have a Master of Divinity from Pepperdine University whose mission statement is “that God is revealed uniquely in Christ”. That’s objective. I’m sure that all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists etc. would agree. Also, your Master in Divinity is described by Pepperdine as a “three-year professional program designed to prepare recipients for various ministries in the church.” What about Jim West? He’s nobody’s flunkie. He’s as objective as they come. Of course, he is the Pastor of Petros Baptist Church and an Adjunct Professor at an institution that calls itself a “School of Theology….designed to train believers for more effective ministry”. Quartz Hill School of Theology with which West is affiliated “affirms that each believer is a priest before God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit”. But the problem is not just the so called “scholars” who attack us on your site. For example, let’s look at the college where Chris Rollston teaches, Emmanuel Christian Seminary. On their homepage they state their number one goal: “…Commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and awareness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church”. I’m sure the New York Times has the same goal. The most amazing thing for me is to see how your fellow bloggers pride themselves in the fact that they do no work. We have spent four years pursuing our investigation, but the naysayers proudly proclaim that they can “debunk” in a few days what it took others years to discover. Amazing! I guess the less time you spend thinking about the issues, the greater your debunking skills are. If that’s the case then Jodi Magness is the greatest scholar of them all because she posted her objections 30 seconds after Prof. Tabor published his article. On second thought, Jim West is the best scholar of them all because he attacked our findings before we announced them.

    Having said all this, thank you for all those who weighed in to defend us and to seek a modicum of sanity in the midst of what West calls this “academic landscape”.

  42. And here’s where we cross the line from examining the *claim* and the *data*, to critiquing the *person*.

    Note: John McGinley is an employee of Associated Producers, Ltd.

  43. No I’m not critiquing you, I’m critiquing your methodology. I’m demonstrating to you that your so called photo analysis is silly. Also, you say we sensationalize, but I notice that you bill yourself as a “private tutor to Nicole Kidman”. WOW! You also say that you don’t like to “talk about it”, but the only place I found this info is on your site and in your bio. Anyway, it’s certainly impressive scholarship.

    Note: Bob Cargill is an employee of University of Iowa and he gets paid by them too.

  44. Two words: paper trail.

  45. Nicole, I’m not sure you know what you are talking about regarding academic and divinity degrees. It is a strawperson.

  46. John, you are actually very good with graphics. You should do publicity graphics for a living.

  47. You know, while I wouldn’t mind worshiping with Dr. Cargill, I’m not sure he is nothing more than an agnostic – and as far as Pepperdine, yeah… you obviously haven’t read his blog for long as that school is criticized.

    John… glad to know that high school photoshoppers can still get work in this economy:

    http://unsettledchristianity.com/2012/04/oh-dear-now-we-know-why-john-works-with-simcha/

  48. No no, let her go. This will be fascinating!!

    With John McGinley and Nicole both firing away double barreled, we’ll get a great window into the behind the scenes culture and mentality at Associated Producers.

    Why do you think I’m approving their comments??

    Wait til Simcha and Dr. Tabor see this. Actually, wait til Joe sees this…

    (screenshots!)

  49. “The court says journalists should be able to report statements and allegations, regardless of whether the comments are true or can be proven, if there is a public interest in having the information disseminated to a wider audience.” Wait a sec! So, it is not legal to act as if false information is fact if is it of “public interest”?!

  50. It seems that attacks are the only recourse of those without a good argument.

  51. Yeah, but the only ones coming after us are Simcha’s Associated Producers employees (Nicole and John). Let them show the world what it’s like behind the scenes there.

    I’m not going to let them drag me into a tit-for-tat. I’ve consistently used their own claims, visual data, and on occasion, some attempts at humor to argue against the claims. They obviously do not see the difference between critiquing a claim and a person.

    The sad thing is, I’m almost certain that when Dr. Tabor gets back from his conference and reads this he’ll be horrified and embarrassed, now that Simcha’s representatives are making this very personal, betraying a complete ignorance of higher education, and completely misrepresenting the critiques of scholars. As for Simcha, he’s online tonight (see comment from Simcha at April 30, 2012 5:34 PM), so there’s a chance he’s read all this. Then again, maybe not.

    I shall refrain from attacking Simcha, or Dr. Tabor, or John or Nicole personally. They’ll need to answer for their claims, and I’ll let them hit me. I shall continue to address the claims, and potential motives for the claims – nothing more.

    That said, the fact that Nicole said nothing about her ‘slander’ charges actually tells me a lot. Her silence on that front say far more than her ad hominem attacks against anyone who ever attended a Christian university, agnostic or not ;-)

    bc

  52. John,

    That’s a great infographic, but it isn’t really picking at the methodology of his *arguments* more than poking fun of his methodology of composing his *infographics.* :-)

    For example:

    First of all, the images you’re using are taken from different contexts and periods of time with no claim of being unaltered, where the inscription photographs of — for example the Jonah inscription — were taken all at the same time, claiming to be unaltered images.

    Bob’s critique shows how some images were altered favorably in context of “The Jesus Discovery” claims and how the claims associated with the images also changed over time. Your critique does not show how the images you present were altered favorably in relation to any claims Bob has made (except perhaps the “Archaeologist” tag, which is a title that he has earned through documented achievements), nor how Bob’s claims have changed over time.

    Finally, Bob’s critique upon the Arimathea name tags shows discrepancies between claims made about the film by Dr. Tabor and how they match up to what is actually in the film as well as how the name tag changed during production. Your critique is about an identification subtitle that was (I assume) consistently applied throughout the program in which it was featured.

    Methodology of argument.

    Peace,
    -Steve

  53. [...] “fake scholars”) Cargill and Mark Goodacre (along with Jim West). Austin then makes the following statement (my emphasis): According to this logic, anybody “associated with Simcha” is no longer [...]

  54. Bob, you must be suffering from what Simcha calls “paradigm collapse trauma” because you answer absolutely none of my questions and you now are playing the victim, claiming that you are being attacked and promising that “I shall refrain from attacking Simcha, or Dr. Tabor, or John or Nicole personally”. Further, you say that you will continue to address the claims, “nothing more”. You also seem shocked at the word “slander”. But isn’t that what you do? First of all, John and I are repeatedly attacked on your site as ignorant flunkies because we work for AP. Are all journalists who work for CNN also flunkies? How about for Associated Press? What about your so called analysis of “PhotoShopping,” where you imply that we have manipulated images to deceive the public? Is that slander? Where did you get the originals, if not from us? How about your performance on CNN where you state:

    1. “The ONLY scholars who accept Simcha’s claims are working with or for Simcha on this or some other project”. This is totally made up. Are you upset that Simcha did not call you to be interviewed for this film? April DeConick says that it looks like a fish to her. Is she “working with or for Simcha”? James Charlesworth says the image is a Jonah image. Is he “working with or for Simcha”? How about Yuval Baruch? How about Dr. Natalie Messika, archaeological mapper for the IAA? How about Jas Elsner? How about JD Crossan? What a horrible misrepresentation of the facts!

    2. “It’s a Greek vessel….but that DIDN’T STOP THEM from PhotoShopping this image, turning it on its side and then distributing it to the public so it looks more like a fish”. What a horrible, desperate, insinuation. Can anyone read that without concluding that we knowingly took a Greek vessel and manipulated it into looking like a fish so that we can mislead the public? What utter nonsense. We invited you to take the images and enhance them – being the expert that you are – any way you want. We shared the originals with the press. You got your images from us. We’ve repeatedly asked you to provide one image of a Jewish ossuary with a “Greek vessel” on it that looks like a fish. You haven’t done that. You just keep repeating the mantra that this is a common image – despite the fact that every Israeli archaeologist disagrees with you – and insinuating that we are pulling the wool over the public’s eyes. But when I point this out to you, you wrap yourself in victimhood and act like you are the object of personal attack.

    3. “There are no fish in the margins….what they did is they took digital ink and they got the same color as the inscribed area and they extended the circle so that it crossed the back so that it forms the tail….like a little Jesus fish….and then they put that on the museum replica and they sent that out to the public”. Again, what a gross misrepresentation of the facts. You call this fair, scholarly comment? All this was in one single interview! Insinuation after insinuation that anyone who disagrees with you is one of Simcha’s flunkies and that we PhotoShopped images and used digital ink to trick the public. Shame!

    4. “ONLY people working with and for Simcha say that it has the NAME OF GOD rendered into Greek”. Is Bauckham working for Simcha? He says that it’s the Tetragrammaton inscribed on the ossuary. Is Charlesworth working for Simcha? Tabor? Arav? Even Greg Snyder says that it’s the name of God and argues that its presence on the ossuary makes this a very “unusual” tomb. In fact, Rollston is the only one – I guess other than yourself – who doesn’t see the Tetragrammaton on the bone box. You state the exact opposite of the truth. There’s a word for that in the dictionary.

    5. Then you stated that we “abandoned” the idea of the Jonah stick figure and replaced it with the idea of a Jonah inscription. Did you make that up on the spot? We have never abandoned the interpretation first proposed by Professors Arav, Tabor and Charlesworth. Only you can see the discovery of a Jonah inscription in the middle of a Jonah debate as an abandonment of the original thesis. Is Prof. Misgav, who sees a deliberate inscription on the ossuary, working “with or for Simcha”? Is Robert Deutsch? What utter nonsense.

    6. You continue to push your idea that the name “Arimathea” on the mailboxes of the building on top of the tomb are manipulated, implying that no such family lives in the building and that it is a stunt engineered by us. I have repeatedly told you that the family is listed in the Jerusalem directory and instead of abandoning this horrible line of misinformation, you ignore me, you ignore the Jerusalem telephone directory and continue to raise the same issue over and over again. The sad thing is that you and your supporters are being marginalized daily – not because you disagree with the ideas put forward in the documentary or book – by your bizarre habit of attacking people personally, accusing them of knowingly misleading the public and then crying “foul” when presented with the facts.

    Foul on your Cargill.

  55. The question being ignored is: WHY would 1st century christians use a jonah motif when they had the ressurrection of Christ to look to?In reading Mt. 12:39-41 & Luke 11:29-32 one does NOT get the impression that true followers if Christ would use Jonah at all. They would use Jesus. As Paul said later in 1 Cor. 15:20 “But Christ has indeed been raised…’ We believers do not preach Jonah being raised from the whale, we do not use his image because it means nothing, we use Christ because that is where our hope lies.

    I question this whole jonah image being used by true Christians even in the 4th century as there is no reason for them to do so. I would not call this discovery an archaeological piece of evidence for early christians. At best, it was used by the Jewish people who did not believe in Christ.

    I am surprised and saddened by the fact that christian scholars have not raised their voice against this supposed discovery and the claims of the JT & C group.

  56. Wow, I was away for the weekend and had no idea that Cargill’s blog was entertaining such a flurry of posts and that I have even, according to Jason Staples, who is linking to this discussion on his blog, been awarded a M.Div. from Duke–in 1965 at that–how old would that make me? I would hate to damage Duke’s reputation by spreading such inaccurate reports or being classed as such a senior citizen, when in fact I am only 66 :-) I don’t have any theological degrees. I am, however, like Bart Ehrman and countless others, one who began in the field of biblical studies from an evangelical Christian background, and moved completely beyond that perspective. If one holds the view that Jesus’ corpse, flesh and bones, was resuscitated, transformed, and transported to heaven, no matter where one studies or teaches and what degrees one has, it seems obvious that such a conviction puts one in a vastly different place when it comes to the historical investigation of the Talpiot tomb, or any potential tomb of Jesus, than one who holds that Jesus, like any other human being returned to the dust–as Ehrman, Crossan, and many others, including me, would unhesitatingly hold as self-evident and have stated in dialogue with evangelicals. It would indeed be deciding a case before it is heard and I think such a person would be unqualified to make any kind of objective academic assessment when it comes to this particular subject. So maybe that is the operative question in this regard, not what degree one has or from what background one comes? In other words, in the interest of full disclosure, one who thinks Jesus’ body was taken to heaven and thus could not be in any tomb in Jerusalem, might want to point that out, as that surely would be a case in which theological convictions would prejudge the results of any historical-critical methods of inquiry. I know, since we have written one another privately, that Bob and I agree on this point but I have no idea if others who have jumped in here, West, Goodacre, Bauckham, Staples, hold such a view. Craig Evans, one of the more vocal “Talpiot tomb” critics is pretty clear about where he stands, even appearing on programs like John Ankerberg, defending Jesus’ literal, “bodily” ascent to heaven. That is what has always puzzled me about the point that Eric Meyers, Jodi Magness, and others have made that they believe the tomb Jesus was put into is under the Dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre–and thus not in Talpiot–but since that tomb is notably “empty,” and they surely don’t think Jesus was taken to heaven, bodily or otherwise, presumably they would have to think he was taken somewhere–I guess in Jodi’s case she has said he was moved from a rock hewn tomb to a ditch or trench burial. But how would that site preclude, for an historian, a secondary burial site as Amos Kloner and others, me included, have suggested? See my post: http://jamestabor.com/2012/04/14/why-people-are-confused-about-the-earliest-christian-view-of-resurrection-of-the-dead/

  57. Dr Tabor, Nicole, et al,,

    What seems to be missing in all the diatribes here is a recognition that the vast majority of the objections which have been offered have been largely due to the manner of presentation. Had Dr Tabor’s B&I article been the sole (or even initial) presentation — without some of the photo irregularities of the first version — the entire tone of this discussion would likely have remained at the scholarly level and surely would not have descended into the ad homines we have seen over the past few days. Consider all the temperate responses on the ASOR blog and elsewhere up until the documentary itself came out. Once the documentary came out, calm discussion seems to have gone by the wayside and now we see the producers of the documentary taking things ‘personally’ and driving the conversation into an area which takes it out of the scholarly realm and puts it more into the pub-on-friday-night realm. I am a Classicist and my objections all along have been that there have been irregularities and/or insufficiencies in presentation of evidence for the claims made — I really don’t care who agrees or disagrees with either side (it’s not like one ‘keeps score’) — and that such presentation, while it might make for compelling television (especially in the 90 minute version), would not get a passing grade if presented as a university paper in an ancient history/archaeology class. My primary interest, e.g., in all this is the inscription, which takes on a life of its own in the documentary and elsewhere, and while I definitely have problems with the reading ‘upso’, even if it is there and is a form of a verb meaning ‘to rise up’, it is first person singular and would mean ‘i rise’. It is not imperative, it is not third person singular. This is a very basic difficulty with the arguments presented and it is further obfuscated in the documentary by the three or four different versions of the translation … when you start messing with the ‘person’ of a verb, you change the meaning entirely. Amos, amas, amat and all that …

  58. Welcome back James,

    Simcha’s employees get a bit more rowdy when you’re not around to maintain the respectful tone. Hope you had an excellent conference.

    I believe it important to continue to separate the debate over the multiple beliefs in the afterlife, resurrection, etc. that we can deduce in the first centuries BCE and CE, and the separate debate over whether or not the contents of the Talpiyot Tombs in East Jerusalem provide any apologetic evidence for said beliefs.

    These are two separate debates, and one does not need the Talpiyot Tombs (either of them) to have that debate. As you have shown quite insightfully on your blog for years, dating back to 2006 and before the first Jesus Family Tomb movie, there is a debate to be had about the various views of resurrection and after-death fate of the body and soul in Second Temple Judaism. (Of course, as religious scholars, we can have that debate without subscribing to one view or another (or any!) of these views.) However, THAT debate has little to do with the archaeological debate about the contents of the so-called “Patio Tomb” in East Jesusalem, that is, unless the Patio Tomb is being held up as some form of apologetic evidence for a particular view of resurrection that was suppressed and branded as heresy in the first centuries CE. Still, whether or not the Patio Tomb has Jewish ossuaries with vessels (or fish), or whether the inscriptions speak to general thoughts of resurrection or markedly ‘Christian’ views of resurrection (or resurrection at all), it does not diminish from (or, imho, add to) the debate about resurrection in the first centuries BCE and CE.

    They’re two separate things.

    BTW, what do you make of accusations of ‘slander’ toward Mark and Me, the criticism of objectivity of ‘religious scholars’, and conversations of otherwise personal nature from Nicole and John while you were away. I know they work for Simcha and not you, but what is your opinion on those matters? Should one’s personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) be the topic of conversation (as Nicole and John seem to be arguing)?

    Cheers and welcome back!

    bc

  59. To rogue classicist: In my article on Larry Hurtado’s blog -
    http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/bauckham-on-the-talpiyot-tomb-inscription/
    I summarised the various options for translating the inscription that have emerged so far. You may be interested in it if you haven’t seen it yet. Curiously, there has been no further discussion of that since I wrote that article. To me it remains puzzling and I do wish we could have some more expert opinion. I am now sure it does not mean what the film proposes (at least not the whole of any of their options), but I am not sure precisely what it does mean.

  60. To Nicole: I no longer think that the divine Name occurs in the inscription. This interpretation was based on a misreading of the first letter of line 2 as an iota. See my article here
    http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/bauckham-on-the-talpiyot-tomb-inscription/

  61. Nicole, would you mind telling me what “paradigm collapsing trauma” is and, if you don’t mind, could also add what paradigm do you think people have that is collapsing?

  62. That wouldn’t preclude a secondary burial site, James. I don’t think anyone has made that claim. But the problem is that Talpiot Tomb A doesn’t seem to be that second burial site, as the names don’t seem to correlate fully with what the earliest sources tell us about Jesus’ family. That’s the problem in all of this: claims are being made on the basis of unconvincing evidence, and then when anyone points out why the evidence is unconvincing, the argument is suddenly shifted to the question of whether it’s possible Jesus’ body was taken to a secondary burial site.

  63. Dr Bauckham … I did see that (and I think I linked to it) and it is a good summary of the problems. For my part, I don’t see a psi at all (I think the right ‘branch’ is merely a scratch from movement), but lacking higher quality straight on photos, I’m unwilling to say more than that. I’m personally curious whether Kloner or his team recorded the inscription either in text or photograph …

  64. Joel,

    I’m still trying to figure out what Nicole meant by “we” when she said:

    “We invited you to take the images and enhance them.”

    I remember Dr. Tabor asking me if I wanted to do that, but not Nicole. Is she communicating with Dr. Tabor? Are they working on this together?

    Her response is fraught with problems, and I see Dr. Bauckham has begun to address some of them. One line I found particularly humorous (although I don’t think she intended it that way) was her line:

    We’ve repeatedly asked you to provide one image of a Jewish ossuary with a “Greek vessel” on it that looks like a fish.”

    I think at this point, I believe I’d be wasting my time attempting to explain the concept of ‘circular reasoning’ and ‘begging the question,’ as the principles of logic don’t seem to be in play here.

    Anyway, I have to teach today (last week!), but if others haven’t pointed out the problems with her ‘Six Theses’ by the time I get back, I may respond to a few.

    Cheers,

    bc

  65. Thanks for your interesting comments, James. I must admit to greatly preferring your tone to that of Nicole Austin and John McGinley. I have been absolutely shocked to see the manner in which they engage with critics of the project.

    To address one point that you make, James, I am concerned at the attempt to use this to discuss early Christian views of resurrection. The difficulty, as I see it, is that this can imply that the reason people have difficulties with the hypothesis is because of prior religious commitments rather than the actual evidence presented about the tomb in question.

    It is analogous to the discussion of the names in Talpiot Tomb A. I have repeatedly drawn attention to what I see as evidentiary difficulties with the claims made, e.g. the fact that there is no literary record of a “Judas son of Jesus”, something that weakens the claims of remarkable correlation. It is no answer to the evidentiary claim to suggest that the interpreter has difficulties with the idea of Jesus being married.

  66. Can you imagine if someone actually had other photographs of the site from 1981, that had yet to be published, and was just holding on to them? That would be amazing, no?? ;-)

  67. Agreed Mark. In fact, since people don’t come back from the dead, odds are that Jesus IS actually buried somewhere. While it’s true that some Christians don’t want to believe the claim that Jesus’ bones have been found (as it would cause ‘trauma’ for their religious beliefs), the fact is that for most scholars, we don’t care about the theological ramifications. (Obviously some do, but most of us, no). Rather, we care about the argument and the evidence being put forth in support of it. The problem isn’t that scholars don’t want to find Jesus’ bones (no matter how much Simcha and his employees regurgitate that strawman), it’s that we’re not convinced by the evidence. Much like the lines at the bottom of the inscribed image on Ossuary 6 (that Charlesworth is purported to have found letters that form the name of Jonah), where there are too many lines that must be ignored in order to make the ‘inscription’ possible, so too are there too many incongruities in Talpiyot A that must be ignored to make that claim possible. (I did notice your “Texas Sharpshooter” post, which is exactly the logical fallacy used in Talpiyot A and the purported ‘Jonah’ inscription.)

  68. Thanks, Nicole, for discontinuing the “slander” accusations with respect to my work in your most recent blog comment. Although it is somewhat difficult to disentangle the substance from the rhetoric in what you say, I think it is important to draw attention to the difference between summary statement and detailed defence. What you are drawing attention to here are summary statements made in a short interview on CNN. Of course in that context Dr Cargill is only able to provide summary statements; we’ve all done the same kind of thing. The issue is what stands behind the claims in question and on each one, he has presented detailed evidence, frequently illustrated clearly, and he has maintained an open forum in comments in order for people to weigh in, should they wish to do so, and to offer critique. Indeed, in his willingness to allow a right to reply, he has even allowed some extraordinarily rude and personal remarks against him to be seen here, and I find that telling. My rule of thumb is that the resort to ad hominem is usually a sign that the cupboard is bare.

  69. Nicole,

    There are problems with your six theses above. Allow me a quick stab at responding cordially.

    1. I stopped saying this when Dr. DeConick voiced her support, which came after the CNN interview. Were I to say this line again, I’d obviously say “only one or two.” And Dr. Crossan didn’t even appear in the second movie, did he? At least not in the U.S. version. He sure enough appeared in the promo, but was that footage from the first or second movie? Besides, I seem to recall that Dr. Crossan stated that he doesn’t think it’s a fish on his FB page. Maybe it sounded something like this:

    John Dominic Crossan
    February 29
    “It looks like a fish until you stand it on its “tail.” Then it looks like (i.e., is) the symbol for a burial monument (or:nephesh tower). I attach the comparison based on Rahmani’s Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, showing his drawing and photo of the left side of Ossuary #231.”

    Again, your grasp of ‘facts’ is questionable, and reminiscent of a politician ‘spinning’ facts to suit his/her claims (even if they do misrepresent another’s views or words). And I’m not aware of ANYONE at the IAA who agrees with the ‘fish’ claims, only that some have said quite generically that it’s ‘significant,’ a confusion of ‘mention’ with ‘endorsement’ that I’ve already blogged (see middle of post here).

    2. I’ve addressed this above, as well as multiple times here. Dr. Tabor first described (and captioned) the now admitted Photoshop-produced “CGI composite” image as a ‘blowup’ and then after my post, corrected it to read ‘composite’ or something. Your CGI composite doesn’t even match the ‘museum quality replica.’ Apparently, Ass. Prod. Ltd. can’t even get its reproductions to match.

    3. You didn’t even attempt to address my argument here. It’s an ABSOLUTELY FAIR AND TRUE comment, CORROBORATED by the fact that the day I posted my post, someone went back to the thejesusdiscovery.org website and uploaded the ORIGINAL image. SOMEONE PUT DIGITAL INK IN THE IMAGE, AND DID NOT ACKNOWLEDGE DOING SO! Fact and fact. And AFTER I posted my post, your website then quickly uploaded the ORIGINAL, uninked image AND acknowledged that the ‘fish in the margins’ image was ‘marked’ by altering the caption to say ‘highlighted and marked.’ The fact that you would ignore reality in this “fish in the margins’ case and just write ‘shame’ suggests 2 things: 1) either you were unaware that this series of events actually transpired (again, giving you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you personally didn’t know that the first uploaded ‘fish in the margins’ image had been inked and unacknowledged), or that you are attempting to distract from being caught and have no defense other than being upset at me for pointing it out. SOMEONE PHOTOSHOPPED THAT IMAGE, UPLOADED IT, and DID NOT ACKNOWLEDGE IT, AND THEN, after having that fact exposed, UPLOADED THE ORIGINAL and ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE INITIAL IMAGE HAD BEEN ‘MARKED.’ Please deny that THAT happened. The fact that the ink doesn’t match the engraved lines is a completely different argument, as we went from this (uninked, which wasn’t added until AFTER I exposed that you had uploaded an inked image) to this (inked) to this (Jesus fish in the margins). You can type ‘shame’ all you want, but facts is facts, and someone PHOTOSHOPPED that image with digital ink, and only THEN uploaded the original image.

    4. As Dr. Bauckham has pointed out, he’s altered his reading. Charlesworth, Tabor, and Arav are ABSOLUTELY working with Simcha as THEY ALL APPEAR IN THE DOCUMENTARY!!! You fail to mention that Prof. Misgav doesn’t read what you claim Dr. Charlesworth reads. Again, there is a difference between someone ‘mentioning’ your findings and someone ‘endorsing’ what you claim.

    5. Again, which lines are the stick man’s feet? Have they moved at all? And what of the lines that AREN’T letters? Once again, Prof. Misgav doesn’t see what you claim to see (does he). He may see letters, but what do his letters say? Please, let’s stop with the spin and address the facts.

    6. Listen carefully, and more importantly, go back and read VERY CAREFULLY: When have I EVER argued that the mailbox signs were ‘manipulated?’ All I’ve ever said is that the “Harmathai” signs were added at a later date. Look carefully. That’s right, go back and read. Try and find it. I’ve never claimed you ‘manipulated’ the signs. Someone ELSE may have argued that, and I may have made reference to that in offering background to the dispute, but all I’ve said about the “Arimathea” signs is that a) they appear to have been added AFTER the others (which I think your team has conceded may be the case as the “Arimatheas” moved in later), b) that you digitally zoomed in/blew up the white sign next to the doorbell, which you argued would have been OK to do because:

    “we want to show your mailbox and your name has faded, and we put a new piece of paper with your name over the faded one, what exactly would be wrong with that?”

    c) that Dr. Tabor said explicitly that the “Arimathea” claim would NOT be in the film, and yet it was placed back INTO the Canadian version after being edited out of the US version (and I believe Dr. Tabor that this was done without his knowledge), and that d) the entire “Arimathea” claim is a moot point, as the building was only built after 1981, and they didn’t know there was a tomb beneath it, meaning any claim that the “Arimatheas” had been custodians of the tomb for 2000 years was not possible. You even conceded that the entire claims was a mere ‘irony of history.’ But NOWHERE have I ever said you ‘manipulated’ the green signs. I know you may have WANTED me to say that or HOPED or WISHED I said that, but I haven’t. So, you conflate (or ‘lump’ as I’ve lamented before) me together with others, as you have done repeatedly above in the comments. I am only responsible for me, and your desire to lump me together with others and attribute their comments to me only further demonstrates the lengths to which you will go to turn this into a stereotyped, ad hominem spin campaign instead of arguing on the facts.

    I’ll refrain from making any ‘shame on you’ comments in conclusion, and simply allow readers to decide who is dealing in facts and evidence, and who is attempting to spin (and at times, misrepresent) data into ‘support’ for their claims. Most scholars tell me not to waste my time responding to folks who are employed to promote the sensational findings of their bosses (not just Simcha, but all those I debunk). But I find it necessary and proper, on occasion, to respond and point out the continued flaws in your reasoning. Note that at no time above do I mention you personally. At no time to I attempt to point out your education, where you went to school, what you may or may not personally believe. Unless you attempt to use your beliefs as evidence of your claims, or invoke a family member’s opinion as evidence of a claim, one’s personal beliefs and family are off limits. I deal with your claims and the facts. That’s all. That’s all I should do as a scholar. If you want to make fun of where I went to school, be my guest (I do it all the time. Read my blog ;-) But I choose not to do that to you in return, even after you’ve engaged in that against me.

    All I can and should do as a scholar is deal with your claims and the evidence. Everything else is an attempt to distract from the claim and data.

    Cheers,

    bob cargill

  70. I find this whole post and the original one by Jim West ( http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/on-the-location-of-the-jesus-discovery-and-the-claim-to-a-connection-with-joseph-of-arimathea/ ) rather amusing. First, Jim West claims “the apartment owner was asked to add the Arimathea nameplate and the building was promised that if he did so Christian folk would buy the place and turn it into a religious attraction.” To follow that up Bob Cargill and his Photoshop expertise pointed out that the name plates are “a little greener” then the rest.

    It’s interesting to note that at no point has anyone actually done a little research to see if anyone with the name “Arimathea” actually lives in the building. With all the Ph.D.’s, M.A.’s, B.A.’s and other such distinctions roaming around here you would think someone could pull that off.

    So let’s start with Jim West. He seems about as informed as his “source”, which is to say, not at all. I might be “ignorant” or an “under-educated dilettante” or an “’on the payroll’ flunky” like Jim pointed out in a previous reply, but even I know to check a source of information before posting it and I’m just a graphics guy or a marketing guy…I really can’t keep track of all the names he calls me. You might be a scholar Jim, but you’re not very bright.

    Now on to Bob. I must say you are also very handy with Photoshop. I bet you could also do publicity graphics. But the problem I have with your graphics is that you point to what you want people to see and not what’s really there. Here is the photo of the mail boxes without all your wonderful arrows.

    http://i1059.photobucket.com/albums/t432/JohnInMarketing/img_0004reduce12.jpg

    And now here is the same image with MY wonderful arrows.

    http://i1059.photobucket.com/albums/t432/JohnInMarketing/mailboxeswitharrows.jpg

    Did you just forget to point out all the other tags that are different or did you just point out the ones that support your “claim”?

    You also state: “3. Furthermore, it appears that the new, slightly lighter green הרמתי (“Arimathea”) sign wasn’t enough to convince viewers, so for the close up of the buzzer, an ADDITIONAL zoom of a much larger, possibly handwritten(?) הרמתי (“Arimathea”) sign was placed next to the doorbell with the slightly greener doorbell sign beside it, AND, all of the other doorbell signs are somewhat obscured. Again, the side-by-side images on Dr. West’s blog clearly show that a larger “Arimathea” sign has been digitally zoomed next to the doorbell for the documentary close-up.”

    I’m going to guess that you actually haven’t seen the 90 minute Canadian version of the film. (Because if you have then there’s a good chance that you did so illegally. A DVD of the show is not yet available for purchase and since you live in the US you shouldn’t have seen a program intended for a Canadian audience.) If you actually watched the film then you will know that CGI is used to blowup the name tag and morph the Hebrew into English for the viewers to read.

    Continuing on you say “It appears we have yet another example of camera tricks involving lighting, angles, zooming, and framing to support a particular claim, which is then contradicted by subsequently released photos of the same object. Unfortunately, it appears to be a systemic problem of the entire expedition, and the credibility and integrity of all of the images involved with the documentary are damaged by these quite amateurish camera tricks and film making blunders.” In fact none of what you say is true. If you actually watched the version instead of going on hearsay and a screen capture you would know that the name was transformed using CGI. No camera tricks were involved and it had nothing to do with lighting. It also wasn’t a film making blunder. However, what all this demonstrates is an obvious lack of knowledge on your part. Just like when you appear on TV and they CGI your name on the screen, all we did was enlarge the nameplate and then change the Hebrew into English. Not trying to hide anything, not trying to make the audience believe something that isn’t there.

    Another piece of brilliant research on your part: “Also note that all of this supposed “evidence” is referred to by the documentary as an “omen,” as if the fact that someone named הרמתי (“Arimathea”) lived in this apartment for the past 2000 years, and that fact is supposedly further evidence that the tomb beneath the East Jerusalem apartment is the tomb of Jesus.”

    And you continue “The apartment has only been around since around 1980! Remember the tomb was DISCOVERED when construction workers were building the new apartment in East Talpiot (or Armon HaNetziv), East Jerusalem, a West Bank neighborhood that was annexed by Israel following the Six Day War. The apartment is only a few decades old, and the הרמתי (“Arimathea”) signs appear to be even more recent than that. Now, it could very well be the case that a new family coincidentally named “Arimathea” moved into the apartment after everyone else (which would explain the replaced, slightly lighter green signs), but I would consider this to be highly coincidental, and certainly would not be evidence that the tomb beneath the apartment has been in the “Arimathea” family since the first century.”

    Anyone who actually watched this version would know that Simcha never claimed that the “Arimathea” family lived in the building for 2000 years. How ridiculous is that? All he states is that it’s an “omen” or an interesting coincidence that a family with that name should live in the building, given who he believes is in the tomb. In no way does he claim it is evidence for anything. Here is exactly what is said in the film:

    In one of those ironies of history, today there is an “Arimathea” family living in the building over the tomb.

    Simcha sees this as an omen. He’s convinced that if he can enter the tomb he will find something monumental. But so far the obstacles seem insurmountable.

    Bob, what would you do if a student submits a paper to you and the basis of his argument was something someone said on a blog and a screen grab of a film he’s never seen? I don’t think he gets a passing grade on the paper let alone on the course.

    You are an assistant professor Bob, you should know better then to post something that you haven’t properly researched or maybe haven’t even researched at all. You say that Nicole and I are “betraying a complete ignorance of higher education”. If this is the kind of “evidence” or “argument” a few “higher” educated people put forth then yes, I would gladly ignore those with a “higher” education.

    But what do I know…I’m just the graphics guy.

    Oh, and just so everyone knows; there IS a family with the name “Arimathea” that lives in the building and have done so for a long time…even before the filming stated. It’s as simple as looking it up in a phone book. No fancy Photoshopping needed.

  71. @John McGinley, there’s an internet meme that applies to your response (which is really more of a rant): “he who types the most has the most to prove.”

    I take it that the following was your point in typing the rambling paragraphs above: “…at no point has anyone actually done a little research to see if anyone with the name “Arimathea” actually lives in the building.”

    You miss the point. The point is not whether someone named “Arimathea” lives in the building. The point is that someone obviously enlarged the name “Arimathea” on the door outside the apartment building so that it would show up clearly on camera. Thus, another example of manipulation of images/reality in an attempt to demonstrate that the fantasy of the “Joseph of Arimathea Country Estate Tomb Complex” is actually true.

    Rather than attempting to defend what happened in the production of the SImcha/Tabor documentary, I would advise all of those involved in the production to turn 180 degrees and start distancing themselves from the entire endeavor. Geraldo Rivera managed to finally gain some distance from his participation in the “Al Capone’s Vault” fiasco, but it still hounds him to this day, 26 years later. Learn from this particular bit of media history and try not to repeat it.

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