maximize the money, archaeology be damned: simcha jacobovici claims ‘new’ evidence of jesus

See? Once you have this inscription, we know Jesus was buried here. Simple, no? I shake my head...

See? Once you have this inscription, we *know* Jesus was buried here. Simple, no? I shake my head...

On December 8, 2012, in response to learning that Simcha Jacobovici had sued one of his more vocal critics, Joe Zias, I left the following comment on Jim West’s blog:

How much do you want to bet that this law suit was filed a couple of months before the release of Simcha’s ‘next big thing’? Wouldn’t it be something if this lawsuit was simply part of a media strategy to intimidate critical scholars by suing someone just prior to the release of some crazy new claim. The cherry on top would be another ossuary claim, because the world doesn’t have enough sensational ossuary controversies. Just watch. Let’s see if this is what happens. If so, Simcha will have proved me correct, and the world will know precisely what this is all about.

Well, what do you know? I hate to say it, but…I told you so.

And now, the press is beginning to be polluted with this: ‘Naked Archaeologist’ finds signs Jerusalem cave was used to bury Jesus’ disciples (Haaretz)

And this: New find revives ‘Jesus Tomb’ flap (MSNBC)

And this: Tomb exploration reveals first archaeological evidence of Christianity from the time of Jesus (eurekalert.org)

And this: The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity [Hardcover]

Fascinating how these stories all hit the wires the same day – Feb 28, 2012 – precisely the same day that Jacobovici’s new book gets released?? And, is it coincidence that said media marketing campaign gets kicked off during the Lenten season just before Easter?

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

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

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

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

no, no you didn’t find the remains of john the baptist

John Electrophoresis Gel

Gel electrophoresis does not work this way.

Come on people, this is getting ridiculous!

Reports out of Bulgaria are that the remains of John the Baptist have been found while excavating a 5th century monastery on the Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan. Yes, that John the Baptist.

But here’s the problem: they didn’t, and there’s no way of ever proving that they did. And they know this. This is nothing more than a small island community attempting to drum up tourism for their local Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The BBC video of the press conference demonstrates as much. This same gimmick was recently attempted by another small island community, who claimed to have found nails from the cross of Christ. Needless to say, the fact that the story is getting picked up is evidence of the success of their campaign.

There is never any way of knowing whether or not the remains of some ancient person are who people claim they are. Remember when James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici claimed that a tomb with ossuaries with names like ‘Mary’ and ‘Matthew’ and ‘Judah’ was the family tomb of Jesus? Really? How can anyone ever prove that the buried remains of someone are who some other ancient person says they were, especially when the remains are venerated relics transported thousands of miles from their original context? A historical John the Baptist would have died in ancient Israel/Palestine. Additionally, there have been dozens of claims regarding the whereabouts of the remains of John the Baptist. What is a DNA test going to tell the discoverers? Running a DNA gel doesn’t return a result of, ‘Yep, it’s John’ (see photo).

Here’s a rule of thumb: if someone claims you’re dealing with the remains of some venerated individual from 2000 years ago a thousand miles away from where said individual supposedly died, you’re probably not.

so here’s my problem with nonsensical charismatic / pentecostal worship

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Prov. 22:15)

unless, of course, the child’s parents and the church authorities are fools as well, in which case, they have no rod. (they’re welcome to borrow some of mine. there’s plenty.)

i don’t know whether to laugh directly at this kid because this is funny, or be angry with his parents and that church’s leaders for allowing this ridiculous nonsense. the child is obviously emulating what he sees on a sunday morning, which gives me even less comfort. i do not see the value in a style of preaching that is little more than a cheerleader screaming theological palaver in a metered cadence.

seriously, what is this? how is this in any way beneficial, worthwhile, or even spiritual? at least someone had the sense to subtitle it with equally ridiculous, phonetically correct subtitles. allowing children to do childish things in an otherwise sacred setting simply because some think it’s ‘cute’ is sheer stupidity. it reveals the foolish nature of the child’s parents and the church’s leaders. it is sheer and utter nonsense. the parents should be embarrassed and the church’s pastor should be canned.

then again, when church is little more than a pep rally, what can you expect?

i’m a fairly smart guy, but i fail to grasp the purpose and value of dancing like a nut in church. church is not jazzercise. seriously, join a gym. if you’re going to jump around like a jackrabbit that’s gotta pee, at least call it what it is: a show. seriously, get a band and some music and sell some tickets. because that’s what it is.

at least someone had the sense to dub some heavy metal over this nonsense. seriously, when church becomes the place to go for a weekly pick-me-up, both church and parishioner have failed. i suggest you leave that congregation, visit a starbucks to get your shot of espresso, and re-examine your life.

(HT:Jim West)

double checking the ‘research’ of jim barfield

a number of posts have been made regarding jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project:

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg in the locus 138 miqveh (ritual bath) at Qumran.

however, i wanted to make sure that the criticism of barfield’s so-called expedition was not unwarranted. so, i got in a plane and flew to the west bank and visited qumran. there, i met up with yuval peleg, the district archaeologist in charge judea and samaria, who personally dug at qumran. yuval told me that jimmy barfield never even so much as touched a trowel. his group never dug a single spade of dirt. they were merely observers – that’s it. peleg said as soon as he saw jim barfield claiming to ‘lead an excavation’ for the copper scroll at qumran, he told them to stop making the claim.

mr. barfield never had a permit to dig. in fact, mr. barfield never dug at qumran. barfield simply claimed to have ‘cracked the code’ on the copper scroll. and once he was exposed raising thousands of dollars to lead a ‘copper scroll project’ to qumran, but never actually digging or finding anything, his excuse was that he was not allowed to ‘dig to the proper depth.’ i asked peleg about this claim. yuval showed me to a probe that he dug at a place where mr. barfield insisted there was buried treasure. peleg needed to dig a probe, so he used it as an opportunity to show barfield he was mistaken. the result was exactly as mr. peleg expected: there was nothing. and to prove it, mr. peleg showed me the probe he dug (right).

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground 1

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground 2

Jim Barfield's Hole in the Ground

anyone who has even dug for a day knows what virgin soil looks like. we see to the right that there is nothing but virgin rock. mr. peleg probed along the wall for the presence of a lower water channel near the locus 138 miqveh. barfield assured peleg that he would find treasure there. yet, when peleg realized that there was nothing beneath the surface but untouched rock, he ended the probe and moved on. his question had been answered: no water channel beneath the wall.

however, barfield still claims that he wasn’t allowed to dig deep enough. this is, of course, the same claim a gambling addict makes when he’s trying to get his friends to lend him more money because this time he’s gonna win it big. there’s just nothing there. and just to make sure, i traveled to qumran, met yuval peleg, and saw for myself. nada.

barfield is presently petitioning the iaa and the israeli government via a letter writing campaign to let him dig deeper at qumran. but i applaud the iaa for not working with amateurs who make claims that are simply not true. i am assured that jim barfield will not be digging or observing an excavation at qumran again. and after meeting with several iaa employees, i am confident that they are doing their best to not only keep people from destroying their sites, but to combat sensationalism and religious zealousness that ultimately threaten archaeological sites.

so in the end, the criticisms of the copper scroll project are all justified and verified. there is no treasure. barfield never led an excavation. barfield never had a permit. barfield is not an archaeologist. the iaa does not work with or endorse barfield or his research. the copper scroll project never dug at qumran, they only observed and ongoing iaa excavation. those are the facts, and above are the photographs to prove it.

by the way, in the video below we can see evidence of the deceptive nature of the copper scroll project. barfield claims ‘we are digging’ at qumran in a ‘tunnel.’ this ‘tunnel’ is one of the places where  jimmy barfield claims treasure is buried. of course, this ‘tunnel’ is actually a part of qumran’s water channel system, which magen and peleg have been studying and excavating for the past 10 years. if you look closely, barfield is, in fact, not digging, but just observing with cameras. the iaa cleaned the channel and moved on. in later videos, barfield criticized the archaeologist digging there for not digging ‘to the proper depth’ so he could find the treasure. but this is merely a water channel, and the iaa was not about to dig beneath a water channel to look for some imaginary treasure. rather, they just excavated the water channel as they had planned to do. barfield and company, however, gave the impression that they were leading the excavation, and that the iaa was digging according to barfield’s ‘research’ when in fact, the iaa was simply cleaning and clearing out the qumran water system, which they had been doing for the past 10 years.

in the end, it is what it is: someone claiming to be doing something that he is not, and raising a lot of money from hard working people who are kind enough to believe him.

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.’

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