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.

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.’

transcript of tamar yonah’s interview of copper scroll project director jim barfield

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 following is a transcript of this week’s (august 23, 2009) ‘weekend edition‘ on arutz sheva’s israel national radio. host tamar yonah interviews copper scroll project director jim barfield. you can download an mp4 version of the interview to listen along while you read the transcript here.

i shall comment further on this matter tomorrow. for now, here’s what jim barfield told tamar yonah.

=== BEGIN TRANSCRIPT ===

0:05 [Tamar Yonah]: Well can you imagine what would happen if in this secular new world order-type world that we live in, a world where we’re supposed to be so enlightened and religion is old hat and old fashioned and primitive, what would happen if, just if, the Bible was proven to be true? What would happen if the Ark of the Covenant and treasures from the First and Second temple were discovered? Well, we have with us joining us now, Jim Barfield, and Jim is the Director of the Copper Scroll Project. And you can go to his website while we’re doing this interview and check it out, it’s called, it’s at www dot copper hyphen scroll hyphen project dot com. Copper Scroll Project with a hyphen in between each word. Copper Scroll Pa-, Project dot com. And you can go there and look at some of the, um, things that he’s done so far in trying to do an archaeological dig, to try to find th-, the treasures that the Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls is telling everybody maybe where these treasures are. Here to tell us more about that we have again joining us Jim Barfield. Hi there, Jim.

Continue reading

on the insignificance and the abuse 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

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

i have a new op-ed feature on the new ‘in my view‘ section of the bible and interpretation website entitled ‘on the insignificance and the abuse of the copper scroll.’ in the piece, i examine the copper scroll, its history, and discuss recent abuses of it to sell books and raise money. I highlight  a retired firefighter turned amateur ‘ark-eologist’ who claims to have ‘unlocked the secret’ to the copper scroll, and who believes it to describe the treasures from the first(!) temple (a la vendyl jones).

give it a read here.

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