a one man ventriloquist: glenn beck’s misrepresentation of the dead sea scrolls

Glenn Beckyou have got to be absolutely kidding me.

joel mentioned it. jim brought it to my attention. and now i must vomit.

just when you thought glenn beck couldn’t get any stupider, this one-man intellectual gulf oil spill has spewed forth yet another gusher of sheer misinformation madness. my first inclination was to blow off mr. beck with a response in the form of a quote from the adam sandler cult classic, billy madison:

Mr. Madison Beck, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

however, because glenn beck chose to tread on the treacherous triumvirate of biblical studies, archaeology, and religion that is the dead sea scrolls, i feel compelled, nay, obligated in my role as a member of an apparent scholarly squad of biblical ‘discovery’ debunkers to respond.

first, let me assure you that i have no political or anti-conservative bent. i am a political moderate, with an appreciation of pundits on both sides. there are smart liberals and there are smart conservatives; glenn beck is neither. mr. beck is not as cunning as bill o’reilly, not as witty as keith olbermann, not as smart as rush limbaugh, and not as hot (intellectually) as rachel maddow. glenn beck lacks the political acumen of george will, the savvy of paul begala, the objective demeanor of juan williams, the strategic humor of james carville, the ingenuity of thomas friedman, the inquisitive journalistic tenacity of steve inskeep, the experience of david gergen, the brains of jeff greenfield, and the influence of matt drudge. rather, our friend mr. beck, apparently suffering from diarrhea of the mouth, is little more than an annoying sideshow – an overly dramatic, undereducated, sub-populist, train wreck, that makes the otherwise media-wise rupert murdoch look like a fool for signing him.

so what has mr. beck said that has so roused my intellectual ire? beck recently touched a nerve – a nerve i’ve sworn to defend – by pontificating upon the dead sea scrolls. beck, who apparently feels that his single theology class at yale before dropping out qualifies him to expound on the scrolls, recently made comments so utterly and fantastically false, that i dropped what i was doing and began to write this response.

in his amateurish attempt to imitate and channel the dilettantish ways of jim barfield, simcha jacobovichi, ron wyatt, noah’s ark ministries international, and vendyl jones, beck invoked the dead sea scrolls in a nonsensical rant that began with comparing children to empty clay pots and ended with the recitation of portions of the declaration of independence.

A Fragment of the Dead Sea Scrollslisten as beck speaks concerning things about which he knows nothing (beginning at the 0:36 second mark) and read along:

Beck: You know the… Dead Sea Scrolls. You know what they are? Stu, do you know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are? …

Stu: Well, of course I do.

Beck: No, come on. Most people don’t. I’m not…

Stu: I heard of them. I don’t really know.

Beck: You don’t really know, do you. You have no why they were there.

Stu: Nu uh.

Beck: Sarah, average person doesn’t know. Any idea? Take a guess on what, why the Dead Sea Scrolls are there, anything else.

Sarah: Something religious.

Beck: OK good. Even though I’ve explained this on this program a couple of times, I’m glad to see that, I’m glad to see that even the people that work with me everyday don’t even listen.

Stu: Well, there’s, we were actually talking about American Idol last night. The guy won! It was unbelievable.

Beck: All right. So here’s what happened. When Constantine decided he was going to uh… cobble together an army, um, he did the uh… Council of uh… Nicaea, right, Pat?

Pat: Yea.

Beck: Council of Nicaea. Um… and what they did is brought all of the religious figures, uhh, together, all the Christians and then they said, “Ok, let’s uh, put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s, you know, you guys do it.” So they brought all their religious scripture together, and that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else. And then they said, “Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and… off with their head!” Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time that they said, “They are destroying all of this truth.” Whether it’s truth or not is, is up to the individual, but that… at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved and so they rolled up the scrolls and they put ’em in clay pots and they, they put ’em in the back of caves where no one could find them. They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicaea and Constantine. That’s what those things are.

this is absolutely, fundamentally, unequivocally false! allow me to make two key points:

  • the dead sea scrolls were written between approximately 200 bce and 70 ce. the council of nicaea met in 325 ce. not even close.
  • there is nothing whatsoever christian about the dead sea scrolls. no portion of the new testament is represented in the scrolls.

i don’t know where to begin. arguing that the dead sea scrolls were hidden to hide them from the council of nicaea is like arguing that we won the war of independence over the british because of our advanced computer technology; the timing is off a couple of hundred years. perhaps glenn beck is confusing the dead sea scrolls with the nag hammadi library, a cache of early christian gnostic texts written in coptic dating to the third and fourth centuries ce and discovered in the upper egypt town of nag hammadi in 1945. but of course, facts are secondary in the mind of glenn beck. what really matters to the likes of beck is massaging and distorting these facts until they fit whatever preconceived argument he’s already formulated in his mind.

in this regard, the comments glenn beck made about the dead sea scrolls closely resemble the deteriorated state in which the dead sea scrolls were discovered: they came forth from the mouth of a dark, seemingly bottomless cave, covered in bat guano, and smelling like bullshit, which is exactly what glenn beck has offered up in his latest attempt to portray himself as a biblical historian. the difference, of course, between the dead sea scrolls and glenn beck is that the dead sea scrolls at least tried to keep their thoughts and ideas hidden away to themselves.

in attempting to discuss religion and the dead sea scrolls, glenn beck has achieved something astonishing. he is a one-man ventriloquist: his lips are moving, but he’s actually talking out of his ass.

the copper scroll project gives an exclusive tv interview

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

jim barfield and chris knight, amateur archaeologists and directors of the copper scroll project, have finally landed a primetime television interview!! the two met with glc (god’s learning channel) founders al and tommie cooper, live from their satellite-access living room studio. the ark-eologists (they literally are looking for the ark of the covenant, see 17:10) – gave an exclusive, sit down interview to al and tommie and filled them in on their exciting summer. click here to watch the video hosted by waytozion.org.

there is but one word to describe this video: classic. it is simply classic!!! you must watch the first 10 minutes of this video. it is so, so very worth it. seriously. and set aside your whole, ‘watching the video only dignifies their actions’ argument. trust me, this is worth it. at least watch the first 10 minutes of this painfully long 1 hour 45 minute video. the last 90 minutes are admittedly excruciating, as jimmy barfield talks about himself for most of the interview. barfield does allow chris knight to get in a few words (on his cue), but most of the interview is barfield attempting to synchronize significant events in his own life with significant events in the life of the scrolls and the nation of israel, thereby providing irrefutable evidence that barfield’s interpretations are correct, god revealed this revelation to barfield personally, and that their mission is the father’s will. the bulk of the interview is rehash of barfield’s earlier videos, but the first 10 minutes are pure television gold.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project.

after you get past the bob ross-inspired painted landscape background of the sea of galilee and the ceramic lion lying down with the lamb in front of the coffee table holding up what can only be described as the last remnants of the garden of eden, the interview will blow your mind.

===

here are a couple of great lines from the interview:

speaking about the fact that their dig was cancelled shortly after it was begun, a bewildered barfield says at 2:58:

‘there’s no one gonna disrupt the timing of the father.’

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

that is to say, the fact that barfield and the copper scroll project were shut down shortly after it was discovered that the israel antiquities was working with them must be a part of the will and timing of god. it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that the iaa was embarrassed to be seen working with a bunch of amateur observers (including a fire marshal and a compact tractor salesman), who were raising funds and claiming to be ‘leading’ an excavation for the copper scroll. it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that a group of archaeologists began to question why the iaa would be mixed up with a group like this. no, the shutting down of the copper scroll project is all a part of god’s big plan.

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another great line from barfield speaks just as much about the israel antiquities authority as it does the copper scroll project nonsense. at 4:12 in the video, barfield claims that he met with shuka dorfman, head of the iaa. barfield claims dorfman gave them the ok to dig. describing this unprecedented opportunity, barfield says:

what they’ve [the iaa] done was an un…, is an unprecedented dig in israel. they dug, the antiquities authority of israel dug on the research on a fireman from oklahoma. [laughter] that was unprecedented.

The Tabernacle treasures Jim Barfield says are described by the Copper Scroll and buried at Qumran.

The Tabernacle treasures Jim Barfield says are described by the Copper Scroll and buried at Qumran. In case you missed them, here they are on one of Jimmy Barfield's powerpoint slides.

i could not have said it better. the idea of the iaa following the ‘research’ of a fireman from oklahoma with no archaeological training and a ‘kindergarten’ level understanding of hebrew truly is unprecedented.

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barfield hit a little closer to home when he actually referred to the archaeologists that have critiqued the copper scroll project and shown that the entire campaign is sheer and utter nonsense.  in an exchange with al and tommie cooper, barfield states:

barfield: there are gentlemen throughout the world that are angry at me, that hold a ph.d. they are…uh, you can go on the web and you’ll see that they are just hammering me!

al: why?

barfield: i don’t know.

tommie: because he’s an upstart.

al: oh, you don’t have the post hole digger thing on your name.

barfield: there ya go. i don’t have the uh, credentials. i don’t have a string of letters behind my name. and with all due respect to these men, i’m, i’m not trying to take over their, their occupation, i just happened to figure out something – i found something – and i just wanna, i just wanna present it to israel, and if i’m correct, and if they’re still there, i wanna get ’em back into the hands of the israelis. so, there’s no reason for them to be angry with me. i’ll be out of their way soon if they will just let me dig. one way or another we really need to find out.

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about he Copper Scroll Project

Jim Barfield on GLC talking about the Copper Scroll Project

first, the sheer lack of understanding of the value of an education is striking. post hole digger? really? only the uneducated don’t realize they are uneducated. only the uneducated don’t appreciate what it means to have an education. i would never claim to know what a fire marshal does because i visited a fire station. nor would i claim to even pretend to be able to know how to fly a helicopter because i enjoyed riding in one. i don’t have training in that field. therefore, i don’t pretend to be an authority in that field, even if i’m very enthusiastic about it.

i simply have to laugh a this notion that not having ‘credentials’ makes barfield’s ‘accomplishment’ more significant. it does not. what has barfield accomplished? what has he found? having no credentials does not mean barfield is impressive, it simply means he lacks credentials – proper education and training in a field he obviously doesn’t understand. and bashing the educated doesn’t make you smart just like bashing the rich doesn’t make you wealthy!

i do not sign my name:

Robert R. Cargill, AA, BS, MS, MA, MDiv, PhD

i don’t sign my name this way because letters behind one’s name does not make one any more correct than one without a formal education. rather, it is one’s methodology and willingness to submit to critical peer-review that determines whether or not one’s theories will stand up to scientific and critical examination. i am not objecting to mr. barfield’s lack of education. i’m objecting to his methodology, reasoning, and conclusions. were jimmy barfield’s conclusions the result of sound methodology and critical cross-examination, and found to be credible, i’d accept them whether he went to college or not. but he didn’t. mr. barfield has devised an absurd set of timelines and coincidences, interwoven them with his own life and a political and religious ideology, and is attempting to sell it to the public without even stopping to consider the last 60 years of accepted, tested scholarship.

second, mr. barfield is incorrect about scholars’ anger towards him. stop saying we’re angry. we’re not angry. not in the least. we’re scholars. our job is to point out real research, expound on its significance to the public, and warn the public about charlatans and fakes. the copper scroll project is, in my professional judgment, nothing but circularly reasoned nonsensical speculation. that’s it. there is not a single shred of evidence to support a single thing barfield says, and most existing evidence points to the contrary. he has found nothing. simply crying ‘if you’ll only let me dig deeper’ is laughable. there’s an expression about digging oneself into a hole. put down the shovel mr. barfield. there’s nothing there.

mr. barfield misunderstands a few things. the copper scroll was not authored by jeremiah. all of the treasures are not buried at qumran. the qumran tower is not a pyramid (that’s still my favorite). the date press to the south of the southeast potter’s station is not a ‘fountain of intercourse’ where married couples take a bath after they do it. it’s all sheer nonsense! we’re not angry, we’re just informing the public of the multitude of problems with your outlandish theories.

Jim Barfield accidentally mentions the name of the IAA 'archaeologist' working with the Copper Scroll Project.

Jim Barfield accidentally mentions the name of the IAA 'archaeologist' working with the Copper Scroll Project.

third, did barfield really say, ‘i’ll be out of their way soon if they will just let me dig?’ really?? where are you going to dig? who is going to permit your excavations? the iaa? no one in the state of israel is going to let you and your metal detector go anywhere near qumran. not anymore. and did you really say, ‘one way or another we really need to find out?’ one way or another? mr. barfield, please articulate what you meant by ‘or another.’ if you cannot dig in a permitted excavation, what is this ‘other’ way you will be digging?

and did shuka dorfman really approve barfield’s excavation as barfield claims? did he really summon the two main iaa qumran archaeologists for judea and samaria and instruct them to proceed with this excavation following barfield’s research? i highly doubt that. in the video, jim barfield keeps referring to this unnamed ‘archaeologist’ that was assigned to their project, but no name is ever mentioned and the ‘archaeologist’ page on the copper scroll project website is blank. either there was no archaeologist, or the archaeologist has ordered barfield to never use his name in association with the copper scroll project. which is it?

(by the way, at 45:22 in the video, barfield accidentally says the name of the iaa archaeologist helping him with this dead sea scrolls treasure hunt at qumran. barfield refers to him as ‘yuval.’ so the question becomes: what qumran archaeologist working for the iaa in judea and samaria named yuval was working with the copper scroll project? and was he really working for/with barfield, or is barfield making this up?)

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Chris Knight holds up a facsimile of the Copper Scroll that Jim Barfield made

Chris Knight holds up a facsimile of the Copper Scroll that Jim Barfield made

another interesting statement comes at 8:07 when barfield is explaining how they want to continue to work with the israel antiquities authority. they are disappointed with the iaa because they did not allow him to ‘dig to the proper depth,’ but barfield claims that they were, in fact, sanctioned by the iaa and working with iaa supervisors. what’s more, barfield claims the iaa paid for the excavation at qumran:

they’ve [the iaa] been wonderful to us. they’ve done some… they’ve done some wonderful things. and it didn’t cost us anything. they paid for the, the diggers. they paid for the… they paid for everything… the equipment. so now they’re working on the word of a fireman from oklahoma. that gives me some credibility.

that the iaa paid for everything (the equipment, the diggers, etc.,) is troublesome. if this is true, i must ask: why was the iaa working with these people? and why is the iaa paying for it. that is, unless the iaa was going to dig at qumran anyway, and they let the copper scroll project bunch tag along and observe, in which case barfield is misrepresenting his role on this excavation. what is even more troublesome for the iaa is barfield’s continual claim that the iaa is ‘working on the word of a fireman from oklahoma.’ scary indeed. i know of only two other people who routinely praise the archaeologists working for the iaa digging at qumran. strange bedfellows indeed.

an even more problematic question must be asked: if the iaa is paying for everything: why is the copper scroll project raising money?? why does barfield need to raise money of the iaa is funding the excavations?

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still another great exchange takes place at 8:42 when tommie asks barfield if he actually knows hebrew:

tommie: jim, did, did you, um, study hebrew, do you, did… to know how to read hebrew?

barfield: i’m on about a kindergarten level. at best. and people say, ‘well how in the… and these ph.d. guys are jumping all over this. how did a guy with a kindergarten level understanding of hebrew figure this copper scroll out? it’s not that hard. here’s what i did: i used an investigative technique… i used a very technical piece of equipment. it’s called a uh, strong’s concordance. that thing works wonderful… i got the strong’s concordance number and i added it to it in case anyone ever questioned where i came up with this word at. i could show them. and it worked beautiful.

i don’t know where to begin. barfield admits to having a kindergarten level understanding of hebrew. this perhaps explains why barfield can’t tell the difference between mishnaic-style hebrew and biblical hebrew. and yes, we ph.d. types are ‘jumping all over this.’ think of this: barfield is claiming to have properly interpreted the text of the copper scroll, but only reads hebrew at a kindergarten level and can’t tell mishnaic hebrew from standard biblical hebrew. this probably explains why barfield believes jeremiah wrote the copper scroll.

and a strong’s concordance? for mishnaic hebrew??

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finally, at 23:38, we are told why barfield and knight are doing what they are doing and how they are doing it. according to knight:

Jim Barfield disappointed that the Copper Scroll Project was not allowed to 'dig to the proper depth' to allow them to find the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield is disappointed that the Copper Scroll Project was not allowed to 'dig to the proper depth' to allow them to find the treasures of the Copper Scroll

jim and i were friends since 03, and when we… he discovered the copper scroll and he deciphered it, as we began to pray about it and really f… try to figure out why in the world would god reveal to jim and m… myself to associate with him and helpin’ him to s… to research the copper scroll, and we could only come to one conclusion, and it was, and it was sealed our mission: was that the items are to be retrieved and returned to the nation of israel.

according to knight, jimmy barfield ‘discovered’ the copper scroll. jimmy barfield ‘deciphered’ the copper scroll. and most shockingly according to knight, god apparently revealed all this information to jimmy barfield for the specific purpose of discovering the items from the tabernacle and returning them to the nation of israel (before the palestinians get them).

again, i am speechless. i literally have nothing to say to that.

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another bombshell from barfield comes at the 35:31 mark:

because jeremiah… it, it is my undying opinion that he was the teacher of righteousness written about in the dead sea scrolls.

wow. just wow! jeremiah, who lived in the 6th century bce, is the ‘teacher of righteousness’ written about in mishnaic hebrew on the copper scroll (dating to the late 1st/early 2nd century ce). go figure. this must come from barfield’s kindergarten level understanding of hebrew.

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one final area of concern comes when barfield mentions that someone from the travel channel heard about him and interviewed him for a program called ‘secret worlds.’ i resolutely do not believe that any network, production studio, or director would have the lack of sense to put jimmy barfield on any television show. i have a feeling that any producer who gives barfield air time will suffer greatly from tarnished credibility. it will most likely be a black mark on their resumé, and will cause legitimate  archaeologists to avoid them from barfield forward.

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in sum, i am not out to make fun. i am not out to waste time on nonsense. it is important, however, for scholars to address ridiculous claims made by amateurs with the same vigor we critique those within the academy. popular amateurs are not exempt from peer-review simply because they avoid it. it is the responsibility of real archaeologists and scholars to help the public as well as production companies to understand when they are being lied to and being fed mere speculation. it is the responsibility of the academy to provide credible original research and to protect scholarship from claims from the likes of jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project.

n.b. don’t miss the commercial break at the 49:00 mark. again: classic!

now you can pay to hear the madness

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

(you have got to be absolutely kidding me…)

come one, come all and see the greatest show on earth. it’s jimmy barfield, director of the copper scroll project, and he wants you to pay him to come to speak to your group.

here, on the copper scroll project’s newest web page, you can read all about what jimmy barfield will tell you if you will only contribute to his fundraising cause. just think, now you can pay to hear madness: schedule a meeting with jim barfield and the copper scroll project team, give them some money, and maybe you too can help bring about the rebuilding of the third temple and discover some really cool treasure all at the same time. because that’s what real archaeology is all about: finding treasure with a metal detector, bringing back the third temple, and keeping land away from the palestinians, right jim?

because the page is either mis-formatted or intentionally disguised, i’ve cut and pasted the text here. here’s what the page says:

SCHEDULE A MEETING
Schedule a presentation and learn details of what the Copper Scroll is and the incredible information that it contains and hear the story of how Jim Barfield discovered the key to understanding this most important document.

The Class will consist of:

• The events leading up to Jim Barfield’s discovery of the Copper Scroll locations
• The history of the Copper Scroll from the academic scholars and Jim Barfield’s personal view of the history of the scroll
• How the initial discovery was made and Jim Barfield’s resulting research
• Jim Barfield’s four trips to Israel to verify his findings at the actual locations listed on the Copper Scroll and how he was required to disclose the information to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
• Learn about the amazing artifacts and vast treasures that may be contained at the locations described by the ancient scroll.
• Jim Barfield’s relationships that resulted from his research on the Copper Scroll including:

• A Leading Temple Rabbi (his name is being kept secret until the right time)
• Gershon Solomon of the Temple Mount Faithful
• Vendyl Jones, a prominent Copper Scroll Scholar
• Shuka Dorfman the head of the Antiquities Authority of Israel
• Tamar Yonah, a great friend and supporter of our project and Talk Show Host for Israel National Radio
• William McKay, the producer of the TV series “Against All Odds” has called and offered to produce the documentary covering the story of Jim Barfield’s discovery and the dig that is to soon follow.
• The entire class will be presented with a PowerPoint Presentation, a projector and laptop will be available if your group does not have the necessary equipment for the class.
• Your group will also see the photo that is becoming so famous…the buried opening of the cave that most likely contains, the Alter of Incense, the Tabernacle of Moses, Jeremiah’s title deed to the Land of Benjamin, and most importantly “The Ark of the Covenant.”
• Be among the few that will see this presentation before the cave is opened, or before Jim Barfield is robbed of his discovery and unscrupulous men open the cave with out him.

Jim Barfield is raising funds to return to Israel to do the excavation required to unearth the most exciting discovery since the Tomb of Tutankhamun was opened by Howard Carter in the early 1900’s.  In order to do the required excavation a large amount of funding will be required and Jim Barfield and his associates are working hard to make this happen before the land that contains the locations listed on the Copper Scroll is given to the Palestinians.

Required provisions for Jim Barfield and/or Chris Knight to be able to do the Copper Scroll Presentation;

• Transportation costs (airfare or $0.54 per mile)
• Lodging
• $40.00 per day per diem for food per person
• Request for donations to support our Israel Excavation

Contact Jim Barfield at this email address [address xxx’d out so as not to promote the cause] to make the arrangements.

i simply do not know where to begin. perhaps i can start with listing just a few posts that have attempted to combat this kind of fake, sensationalistic, pseudoscience, amateur, did i mention fake, nonsense that barfield and his ‘team’ are attempting to pass off as archaeology:

  1. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/the-insanity-continues-jim-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project-get-another-jpost-article/
  2. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/transcript-of-tamar-yonahs-interview-of-copper-scroll-project-director-jim-barfield/
  3. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/new-article-by-dr-robert-cargill-pseudo-science-and-sensationalist-archaeology-an-expose-of-jimmy-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project/
  4. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/how-not-to-pad-your-ratings-the-copper-scroll-project-facebook-marketing-scheme/
  5. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/this-is-why-we-must-fight-pseudoscientific-fake-archaeology/
  6. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/now-busted-the-cover-up-begins-jimmy-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project/
  7. http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/copper.shtml
  8. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/cargill2_08261.shtml
  9. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/more-dilettantism-the-copper-scroll-project/
  10. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/post-ashamed/
  11. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/the-post-essay-and-barfield-are-misrepresenting-the-iaa/
  12. http://drjimsthinkingshop.com/2009/08/27/pseudoreality-and-archaeology-virtual-reality-and-qumran/
  13. http://asorblog.org/?p=259
  14. http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2009/08/copper-scroll-code-cracked.html
  15. http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/the-copper-scrolls-dr-robert-cargill-on-the-insignificance-and-the-abuse-of-the-copper-scroll/
  16. http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/copper-scroll-the-jim-barfield-saga-continues/
  17. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/oklahoma-ark-eologist-arson-investigation-skills-to-find-lost-temple-treasure/
  18. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/claim-oklahoma-government-officials-to-lobby-top-people-in-israel-on-behalf-of-copper-scroll-treasure-hunter/
  19. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/jim-barfields-israel-adventure-continues-hebrew-roots-teacher-sets-up-meeting-with-archaeologist/
  20. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/jerusalem-post-puffs-jim-barfields-copper-scroll-treasure-quest/

now, barfield is making himself available to the public for his own mini ‘copper scroll lecture series.’ but there is one line that sticks out like a sore thumb from barfield’s web page above:

Jim Barfield is raising funds to return to Israel.

and there it is. simply put, jimmy barfield has told the world exactly what this project is all about: raising money. ain’t that the truth!

this line really caught me off guard:

• Be among the few that will see this presentation before the cave is opened, or before Jim Barfield is robbed of his discovery and unscrupulous men open the cave with out him.

what? ‘his‘ discovery? what discovery?? the iaa found out barfield was making false claims about his role in this ‘expedition’ and cut him off, and now they are doing their job (excavating) and barfield fears that they will find ‘his‘ discovery? without him?? again, we are privy to what this entire copper scroll project is all about: credit and publicity for jimmy barfield. barfield has now twice betrayed his motivation: money and credit/publicity.

as for the line:

A Leading Temple Rabbi (his name is being kept secret until the right time)

i shake my head. literally. perhaps the identity of this ‘leading temple rabbi’ is being kept secret because it is as real as the ‘amazing artifacts and vast treasures that may be contained at the locations described by the ancient scroll.’ or, perhaps more likely, the identity of this ‘leading temple rabbi’ is being kept secret for the same reason that the name of ‘the archaeologist’ has been removed from the website and overdubbed in their videos (note the audio at 0:28, 1:26, 2:18, 3:50, and 5:11): they both asked jimmy barfield not to use their names for fear of being linked to sheer and utter nonsense.

as far as this claim is concerned:

Your group will also see the photo that is becoming so famous…the buried opening of the cave that most likely contains, the Alter of Incense, the Tabernacle of Moses, Jeremiah’s title deed to the Land of Benjamin, and most importantly “The Ark of the Covenant.”

i simply am at a loss for words. the line is written in such a manner that if some unwitting group were naïve enough to believe this claim and actually pay money to invite jimmy barfield to speak to their group, he would actually show them these items (the alter [sic] of incense, the tabernacle of moses, jeremiah’s title deed to the land of benjamin, and most importantly the ark of the covenant) that exist only in the fantasy world of jimmy barfield’s mind. how is jimmy barfield supposed to find the altar of incense if he can’t even spell altar?? and really, jeremiah’s title deed to the land of benjamin? the ark of the covenant?? they will see a picture of a cave. that’s it. what’s inside of it is sheer and admitted speculation.

seriously, it’s time for this nonsense to stop.

just remember, as p.t. barnum said, ‘there’s a sucker born every minute.’

thoughts on the new hoard of bar-kokhba coins discovered in a judean hills cave

A hoard of Bar-Kokhba coins recently discovered in a Judean desert cave.

A hoard of Bar-Kokhba coins recently discovered in a Judean hills cave.

the discovery of a large hoard of roman and jewish coins dating to the period of the bar-kokhba revolt was announced wednesday, sept 9, 2009 at a press conference at hebrew university in jerusalem.

congratulations to boaz langford, amos frumkin, boaz zissu, hanan eshel, and earlier cave explorer gideon mann on their work over the years and this recent find.

the discovery:

stephen smuts over at biblical paths has an excellent blog about the hoard of bar-kokhba coins discovered in a cave in the judean desert. i shall not attempt to replicate it here. avi joseph at gnews and brian blondy at the jerusalem post have also reported on the find. according to the jerusalem post:

The massive discovery marks the first time Israeli researchers have ever found a large hoard of ancient coins from this era. The gold, silver and bronze coins, 120 in all, were discovered in an undisclosed location within the ‘Green Line’ of Israel. The unlocking of the almost inaccessible cave also yielded iron weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, a juglet, a silver earring and a glass bottle.

many personal treasures left by jewish refugees were discovered. however, there was one particularly glaring object that was absent from this cave: there were no scrolls. (at least the archaeologists have not reported the discovery of any scrolls or written documents tucked away with this obvious cache of domestic valuables.) i found the absence of scrolls striking, especially since the article repeats the interpretation of the cache of objects as the remains of fleeing jewish refugees:

The artifacts are believed to be solid evidence proving the theory that Jews found refuge in the Judean Hills during the time-period.

and:

Prof. Frumkin added “this discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean desert.” The researchers believe that the Judean Hills cave served as a hiding place, with its proximity to the ancient city of Betar, for a dozen or more Jewish fighters.

interesting. again, there were no written manuscripts discovered hidden and among all of the other personal ‘valuables.’ this begs the question: did jewish refugees carry with them scrolls while fleeing jerusalem? were scrolls as common as ‘weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, a juglet, a silver earring and a glass bottle’ among jewish residents fleeing jerusalem? were scrolls not considered valuable? or were they so valuable that they were not carried and buried with the rest of a fleeing jewish refugee’s personal possessions?

most poignantly: what does the absence of scrolls say about the minority theory that claims the dead sea scrolls are not the product of a qumran community, but rather the belongings of jewish residents fleeing jerusalem?

Coins dating to the period of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt.

Coins dating to the period of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt.

now of course, absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. but, there is no doubt that jews fled the roman suppression of both the great revolt of 70 ce and the bar-kokhba revolt. archaeologists have discovered dispatch letters from bar-kokhba himself, marriage contracts and land deeds, weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, juglets, jewelry, glass bottles, textiles, and many, many coins. but the fact that there is evidence of jews fleeing jerusalem and hiding objects in the desert does not necessarily mean that the dead sea scrolls discovered near qumran are among the objects hidden by jerusalem residents. when one couples this new discovery, in which just about everything but scrolls was discovered among the hidden personal treasures of jewish refugees, and one adds in the years of research demonstrating the congruity of ideology within the dead sea scrolls (especially the sectarian manuscripts), and one couples with this the evidence of obvious reoccupation and expansion at qumran, it all bolsters the tested, albeit aged and still not disproved majority theory that the dead sea scrolls are indeed a product of the jewish residents of qumran.

but i digress.

political undertones:

as always, one cannot help but sense that political undertones of the statement in the jerusalem post article that reads:

With this find, Prof. Zissu said that the distribution of the coins in the region helps to further “indicate the geographical extent of the Jewish presence outside of Jerusalem” during the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. Prof. Zissu further explained that “since there is not a definitive historian (from the era), we have to rely on the information we find from the coins and discoveries.”

it seems that every archaeological discovery made ‘within the green line of israel’ offers some evidence on jewish presence in the holy land. jewish presence in israel and palestine in ancient times from the iron age through the bar-kokhba revolt is undisputed. however, it is always interesting to observe that this presence is regularly, yet not so subtly highlighted as rationale for a continued presence in the west bank today.

some thoughts and predictions:

fun fact: bar-kokhba (and his coins) was my initial choice for a dissertation topic before the qumran visualization project came along. that decision determined my (and unfortunately, another’s) fate for the last four years.

let me guess: jimmy barfield will revise his ‘scientific’ arson investigation-inspired methodology and claim that this is one of the lost treasures of the copper scroll.

i can’t wait: norman golb (this time, without the assistance of his son) will self-publish some pdf and slap it up on his university of chicago website attempting to link this find somehow, someway to his slowly dying theory that the dead sea scrolls aren’t really from qumran. just wait for it…  it’s fascinating to see golb’s support disappear with his son’s 80+ aliases. but again, i digress…

congratulations again to archaeologists langford, frumkin, zissu, eshel, and the rest of the team and the university!

this is why we must fight pseudoscientific fake archaeology

A reproduction of a section of the Copper Scroll.

A reproduction of a section of the Copper Scroll.

people are more likely to believe what they read when they cannot distinguish credible sources from unreliable ones. because the academy has largely failed to address phony archaeological claims, amateurs like jimmy barfield possessing a small army of religious supporters and some video and technical know-how can make ridiculous claims (and i mean ‘ridiculous’ in the literal sense) and many will believe them. the latest example of this nonsense is third temple votary and joel rosenberg fan scott richards, who claims:

The ancient style of Hebrew used and the seemingly obscure landmarks sited [sic] lead some scholars to believe that it would be impossible to actually determine where the treasures, estimated in the billions of dollars would be located now.

That is, until an unlikely scholar took a crack at breaking the Copper Scroll code.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post:

JIM BARFIELD IS not the typical biblical researcher, and is the first to admit that he lacks the Indiana Jones background one would expect. He has no prior knowledge of the language, archaeology, or geography of the region. Instead, he is a retired Oklahoma Fire Marshal who once excelled in investigating arson.

so despite the fact that jimmy barfield and his copper scroll project have been thoroughly ignored and/or debunked by the archaeological academy and disowned by the israel antiquities authority, some fundamentalist is going to want to believe what he says and promote his views.

again, the academy must stamp out these spurious and ultimately harmful claims as they are made. failure to do so will allow the cancer that is pseudoscientific ‘ark-eology’ to spread, and will only make it more difficult for legitimate archaeology to be heard and appreciated.

(with thanx for the heads up from stephen smuts)

now busted, the cover-up begins: jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project,' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

jimmy barfield and his copper scroll project disciples have been hard at work responding to a barrage of charges of false claims, pseudoscience, and manipulative marketing. the most recent example comes from their facebook page. this blog revealed on august 27, 2009 that jimmy barfield publicly encouraged his followers to go to their jerusalem post article by supporter shelly neese and pad the ratings by attaching positive feedback (click here to see image of copper scroll project facebook page as of aug. 23, 2009 :

One last request….could you all go to the end of the article at the link below and please rate it…..the higher we get on the ratings the better the chance will be that they do the next article. Shelly Neese has another article just waiting in the JPost office if can get enough of you guys to help out…so…if you would please give it a high rating…we need support from Israel. Thank you, Jim. (August 23)

i also noted that barfield placed a picture of the ark of the covenant on their page.

well, after exposing this not-so-subtle marketing scheme, barfield and his disciples removed the request by barfield to pad the jpost article with positive feedback and the picture of the ark of the covenant. the screen capture below shows the page as of august 23, 2009 (with my annotations in red).

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page. Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 23, 2009). Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

the screen capture below shows the copper scroll project facebook page on august 31, 2009, after i posted the exposé of their marketing scheme (my annotations in red).

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 31, 2009)

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 31, 2009). Note that the picture of the Ark of the Covenant has been replaced with a pic of the Shrine of the Book, and that the post encouraging followers to pad Shelly Neese's Jerusalem Post article has been deleted.

it seems someone doesn’t want the rest of the world to see how the behind-the-scenes media manipulation works in jimmy barfield’s world. so, after reading this post on aug 27, it appears that barfield attempted to remove the evidence of his fluff marketing scheme. he deleted the post encouraging his supporters to rush to the jpost article and praise it, and he reposted the link to the tamar yonah interview, but only after removing the pic of the ark of the covenant and replacing it with an image of a scroll and the shrine of the book.

it’s a good thing that everything ever published on the internet is cached (and that i screen capture things when i see them ;-).

i shake my head.

the insanity continues: jim barfield and the copper scroll project get another jpost article

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project,' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

the insanity continues.

apparently, the copper scroll project is listening to the criticisms made on this blog here and here and here and on the bible and interpretation site here and here and on jim west’s blog here and here and here and here and on dr. jim linville’s blog here and eric cline’s comment on the asor blog and on todd bolen’s blog here and on steven smuts’ blog here and here and on richard bartholomew’s blog here and here and here and here and on….. well, you get the picture.

jimmy barfield is listening, and is now attempting to refute the scholars that are beginning to question openly his copper scroll project and their findings (including their claim that the copper scroll was written during the time of jeremiah, and that all of the treasure is buried beneath ‘the pyramid with the top cut off’ (i.e., the tower), and that the copper scroll was the only dead sea scroll to be discovered in a ‘legitimate’ excavation by archaeologists). in the past few weeks, we’ve had some gems, such as what barfield stated in the ‘setting the record straight’ section of his august 2009 update:

b. With all respect to those with the stacks of letters behind their names displaying their degrees, we lowly firefighters have learned to work and play well with others. We on the project have, and will, always try to remain respectful of others no matter what their level of education. The objective is to learn from each otherr [sic]- not attempt to humiliate or discredit those that are progressing. That simple trait may have been a key factor in the success that the Copper Scroll Project has enjoyed to this point.

mr. barfield, i’m not trying to embarrass you. that is your own doing. i am simply trying to show readers why the iaa doesn’t call you anymore, why no scholar accepts a single thing you are saying, and why your circular reasoning makes no rational sense.

but there is more. for instance, barfield responded to my pointing out that he studied with vendyl jones:

d. The research about the history of the Copper Scroll is my own. Although Vendyl Jones does agree with me on many points, the determinations are mine and not influenced by Vendyl in any way. It is my studies into the Dead Sea Scrolls and my Biblical research that shaped my conclusions to form the Copper Scroll report.

e. With all respect to Vendyl. He is not, nor has he ever been, a member of the Copper Scroll Project or the team.

or this one in response to my questioning why the copper scroll project went back and overdubbed the name of the archaeologist ‘working with them’ (they occur at 0:28, 1:26, 2:18, 3:50, and again at 5:11):

g. We removed the name of the IAA archeologist from the site to allow him to focus on his job and not have to answer loads of distracting questions.

or this one in response to my pointing out that barfield has never been the leader of an excavation:

h. We on the Copper Scroll Project had no authority over the excavation, nor did we pay the IAA one single shekel for what was done at the sites.

now, the copper scroll project has released an entire video that appears to have been shot before in response to scholars’ calls for evidence. (i shall address this in another post.)

but make no mistake: jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project folks are listening.

the problem is, the iaa is listening too. as i have said in earlier posts, the iaa has completely disowned jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project. of course, they had a meeting with yizhak magen and yuval peleg, and barfield and company were sure to take lots of pictures of them keenly looking at barfield’s ‘research.’ as a result, barfield and his team were allowed to watch magen and peleg’s ongoing ten-year excavation, but at no time did they lead the excavation. likewise, magen and peleg completely disagree with barfield’s interpretation, and said as much in this week’s jerusalem post:

“We have dug all over Qumran,” Magen said. “This stuff isn’t there.”

magen went even further:

Yet Magen, one of the leading archeologists on the project, has confirmed to Metro that the digging has ceased.

“We did tests and we didn’t find anything,” Magen said. “There is nothing there.”

When asked why the permit for the excavation remained active, Magen clarified that while the dig was technically ongoing, Barfield’s “theory did not hold up.”

“For 30 years, each person has come with their own theory,” he added. “And they amount to nothing.”

however, something in the article struck me as odd. according to shelly neese:

Peleg, with Magen’s consent, agreed to be the archeologist for the excavation.

the wording in the sentence appears vague, and perhaps intentionally so. the article nowhere says that the iaa endorsed or sponsored the dig. perhaps this is because the west bank, where qumran is located, falls under magen and peleg’s authority as the representatives of the civil administration of judea and samaria. or, it could be that magen gave peleg permission to let barfield and company tag along. neese’s article makes it appear that peleg was working for barfield and his dig. barfield has already stated that the iaa was not paid ‘one single shekel’ (august 2009 update). however, observers usually have to pay somebody to tag along, and barfield has already stated on the copper scroll project fund raising page that:

The CSP has set up a 501(c)3 just for this purpose and has established four separate budgets ranging from the bare bones of $18,185 up to $148,000. Depending on the amount that can be raised will determine how many volunteers and how much equipment will be available for the excavation. The IAA will require trained staff to do the excavation along with Yuval Peleg, the archeologist who will be managing the dig.

in fact, barfield specifically said he was raising money to pay for the following:

Depending on what is raised will determine which budget they will go with. Understand this. If the cave opening is where Jim thinks it is…all it will take is four men, a couple of shovels and a lot of work to reveal the opening for a magnificent find. It is the cost of food, shelter, the IAA staff and transportation that makes the cost soar.

somebody got paid for something!! your supporters gave you a lot of money to pay for something, but you are stating that the iaa got nothing.

where did all the money go? did you give it to the iaa? did you pay your archaeologist? or did you pocket the money?

which is it?

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