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

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

“this is a lie, an absolute untruth”

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A screen capture of an animation offering a closeup of the “Harmatai” or “Arimathea” name from the Canadian version of “The Jesus Discovery” documentary of the doorbell of the apartment that sits atop the so-called “Patio-Tomb” in East Talpiot, Jerusalem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all literally UN-believable.

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

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

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when is a nun not a nun?

My friend and colleague Dr. Mark Goodacre made a keen observation last evening that is worthy of repeating. It relates to recent claims made by Dr. James Tabor that Dr. James Charlesworth has found the letters of the name of Jonah in the image inscribed on the front of Ossuary 6 from the so-called “Patio Tomb” from Talpiot, Jerusalem. The specific issue has to do with the fact that Dr. Tabor wants to interpret a pair of lines on the image as a single line, so that he can interpret them as the Hebrew letter nun, and thereby produce a necessary element of the name of Jonah. The problem (as Dr. Goodacre has pointed out) is that the supposed letter nun is drawn as two separate lines in their own reproduced images!

Indeed, one can test for the clarity of the lines here by returning to the CGI composite image of what is depicted on ossuary 6.  This image aims to represent what the authors of the project used to regard as clear and self-evident and yet it is quite clear that before this new “Jonah” reading had been proposed, they too saw a break in the line that is now held to be a nun.  In other words, before the “Jonah” inscription interpretation, they too could not see the continuous line of a letter “nun”.

That is, Jacobovici and Tabor’s own Photoshopped composite CGI image clearly treats the lines of the desired nun as two separate lines! I’ve dealt with this before, but see below how Dr. Goodacre has refuted Dr. Tabor’s claim with Dr. Tabor’s own published rendering of the image!

Lines from the CGI composite image from Ossuary 6 are depicted as TWO lines, not ONE.

Lines from the CGI composite image from Ossuary 6 are depicted as TWO lines, not ONE.

Once Mr. Jacobovici and Dr. Tabor found something they felt would make a better argument, they jettisoned the ‘stick man Jonah’ argument (or at least rearranged / eliminated his arms and legs), and are now resorting to redrawing (or at least reinterpreting) the image in a more favorable light and angle in order to produce an ‘inscription’ that doesn’t exist. As I stated in my live CNN interview with Carol Costello, Mr. Jacobovici and Dr. Tabor (and reportedly Dr. Charlesworth) have resorted to “Rorschach Test archeology” to salvage something – anything – that relates to Jonah.

So, my friend and colleague, Dr. James Tabor, has recently announced that Dr. James Charlesworth has discovered the name of Jonah at the bottom of an image inscribed on the face of an ossuary that was re-discovered in the so-called “Patio Tomb” in Talpiot, Jerusalem.

While Dr. Charlesworth has yet to publish anything on the matter (the only report we have is from Toronto’s finest news source, The Globe and Mail), Dr. Tabor has released a new image on his post from yesterday, which he has captioned: “Untouched Photo from HiDef Camera.” The image is below:

Image of "Untouched Photo from HiDef Camera" of the bottom of the image inscribed on Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio Tomb" in Talpiot, Jerusalem, supposedly containing letters forming the name of "Jonah."   (Original image available at: http://jamestabor.com/2012/04/19/inscription-on-the-jonah-image-says-yonah/)

Image of "Untouched Photo from HiDef Camera" of the bottom of the image inscribed on Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio Tomb" in Talpiot, Jerusalem, supposedly containing letters forming the name of "Jonah." (Original image available at: http://jamestabor.com/2012/04/19/inscription-on-the-jonah-image-says-yonah/)

First of all, I am quite curious to know what has caused the blurred out areas on each side of this ‘untouched’ image. The blurred out and shadowed area to the right may be caused by Ossuary 5. However, I know of no known obstructions on the left of the image, unless the blurred area is caused by a part of the camera itself.

Second, notice how FLAT “Jonah’s seaweed-wrapped head” suddenly appears in HiDef. From this straight-on angle it appears to be a nearly symmetrical attempt at representing a half-spherical (or hemispherical, or echinus – HT: compsciphi ;-) base of a vessel. Note the difference in shape between the CGI composite representation above and the “Untouched Photo from HiDef Camera” immediately above. Note how distorted the base of the vessel is in the CGI composite, while the actual image is nearly symmetrical, as Steve Caruso has pointed out here and here. Again, Dr. Tabor’s own new images refute his previous claims.

Finally, while this one photo that Dr. Tabor has produced above appears to show lighting and an angle favorable to Dr. Tabor’s argument, other images on their own thejesusdiscovery.org website clearly show that from multiple different angles with different lighting, the lines that form the supposed nun are, in fact, two separate strokes. Additionally, the would-be vertical stroke of the supposed nun clearly extends well beneath the angled, would-be bottom stroke of the supposed nun, clearly indicating that the nun is little more than wishful thinking.

An image from the thejesusdiscovery.org website showing the bottom of the image inscribed on the face of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio Tomb" in Talpiot, Jerusalem. Note that the lines which Dr. Tabor explicitly (and Dr. Charlesworth reportedly) claim to form the Hebrew letter nun are clearly two separate lines, with the vertical down stroke extending well beyond the angled bottom stroke. The traced strokes are highlighted in an inset. (Original image available here: http://thejesusdiscovery.org/wp-content/uploads/wppa/50.jpg)

An image from the thejesusdiscovery.org website showing the bottom of the image inscribed on the face of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio Tomb" in Talpiot, Jerusalem. Note that the lines which Dr. Tabor explicitly (and Dr. Charlesworth reportedly) claim to form the Hebrew letter nun are clearly two separate lines, with the vertical down stroke extending well beyond the angled bottom stroke. The traced strokes are highlighted in an inset. (Original image available here: http://thejesusdiscovery.org/wp-content/uploads/wppa/50.jpg)

See also this close-up from a previous post:

An over-under comparison of the original image (above, available here: http://thejesusdiscovery.org/press-kit-photos/?wppa-album=3&wppa-photo=15&wppa-occur=1) and the same image with the contrast and levels increased for clarity. The red arrow points to a space between the lines that make up the supposed 'nun'. Thus, this is not likely a 'nun'.

An over-under comparison of the original image (above, available here: http://thejesusdiscovery.org/press-kit-photos/?wppa-album=3&wppa-photo=15&wppa-occur=1) and the same image with the contrast and levels increased for clarity. The red arrow points to a space between the lines that make up the supposed 'nun'. Thus, this is not likely a 'nun'.

I believe I speak for many when I say that I am certainly awaiting Dr. Charlesworth’s treatment of this inscribed area. I have stated earlier that one must do some rather strenuous mental gymnastics to arrive at the letters for the name of Jonah in this image, including ignoring lines that are clearly present but do not fit the desired inscription, joining together lines that are clearly not conjoined, reshaping letters, and eliminating any semblance of linear alignment. Again, if these are the epigraphical rules we are following, then my ‘discovery‘ of the name of ‘Yo Yo Ma‘ is not as comical as it is intended to be…

Then again, if Antonio Lombatti’s recent post listing various scholars and their readings of the supposed inscription is any hint, it appears that, yet again, the scholarly consensus (of at least those not working with Simcha on this or another of his film projects) is leaning away from reading “Jonah” the base of the vessel.

“The Resurrection Tomb Mystery” live blog by Robert Cargill

This will be the live blog of the premier of Simcha Jacobovici’s “The Resurrection Tomb Mystery” on the Discovery Channel on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 9:00 PM Central.

This blog will be updated frequently and will be corrected/altered throughout the hour. (Please forgive misspellings and grammatical errors, as this is rapid fire.) I shall edit and make the text into a more coherent narrative when it’s over.

Other live blogs taking place: Mark Goodacre, Thomas Verenna.

=====

9:00 BEGIN

Disclaimer. Use your own judgment. Wise words.

9:01 Preview/Ad Intro. Seen this before.

Jesus’ crucifixion is being reenacted.

Intro Joseph of Arimathea. Wha?

Cut to Church of the Holy Sepulcher. True: no archaeological evidence of resurrection

Unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. OK. What’s the connection?

1980 in Talpiot (I didn’t know they had footage of that. ;-)

Talpiot Tomb: removed 10 ossuaries.

2007: Intro Simcha ‘Re-discovering” the tomb

Rehash 2007 “Jesus Family Tomb” info.

Made same mistake about the Mariamme name.

First talking head: James Tabor

Footage of Simcha doing what he does best: press conference

Simcha plays to the RELIGIOUS outrage (not Scientific)

1981: Archaeologists discover 2nd Talpiot Tomb

Showed Kloner’s B&W photos. Funny how Simcha kept saying this was an unexcavated tomb, when someone has already been in it, photographed it, and published it…

Nephesh pipe was cemented closed.

Simcha believes the tombs possess evidence of of Christianity, perhaps even the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. How/why?

James Tabor is giving a location arguing that because it is between the Herodion, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Hill of Ill Counsel.

Somehow this location is “central” because there are important things on all sides???? There are things EVERYWHERE in Jerusalem. Bathrooms and felafel stands are significant by that logic.

Arimathea evidence is circumstantial. It means, “Two Hills?” That’s all? No evidence has been presented. Anywhere you stand in Jerusalem there are 2 hills!

Cut to Haredim not wanting Simcha to mess with the tombs.

They say he is like a Nazi. Simcha doesn’t appreciate that.

Simcha reminds viewers that he is the son of Holocaust survivors. (He must not appreciate people implying that he is anti-Semitic when they should know better.)

Simcha has negotiations with Haredim’s rabbi.

Simcha agrees never to touch the contents of the tomb.

Simcha’s team does Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) in the apartment to detect presence of tomb.

9:10 COMMERCIAL BREAK

9:13 BACK

Review. Must figure to figure out how to get in.

Historian JAMES TABOR. Archaeologist RAMI ARAV. Narrator notes that Rami Arav was not involved in previous projects.

WALTER KLASSEN is cool! Amazing device. Tremendous potential for archaeology someday!

BILL TARANT (of General Electric Inspection Technologies)’s remote’s camera is very cool. The technology involved is legit. (Too bad it’s debut is with sensationalist documentary). I want one, or want Bill Tarant to sell me one. Wonder how much those cost?

Rome? Why Rome?

And why are we looking for evidence of Christianity? Do we want to find this? Predisposition anyone??

ROBIN JENSEN – expert on Early Christian Art

Earliest Christian symbols date to no earlier than the 4th Century

NOTE THAT THEY TOOK THE FISH THAT IS POINTING UP IN THE CATACOMBS AND ROTATED IT TO THE LEFT!!!! (I have a bad feeling about this.)

Robin Jensen establishes “Sign of Jonah” as symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. But notice she says nothing about SIMCHA’S ‘discovery’. She just provides background.

9:17: Cool music. Setting up to drill.

Simcha wants discovery!

9:18: Drilling. Drilling. Drilling.

Simcha wants to “Puts around with it all.”

Simcha just wants to get in.

9:19 They’re in.

9:19 Commercial

9:24 Back.

Walter Klassen shows up with amazing technology.

Again with the Joseph of Arimathea? That’s the THIRD time he’s been mentioned with absolutely NO evidence of him at all.

Two holes. One to see and one to search.

Simcha’s moment of truth.

Remember, Simcha has claimed that this is all live and real time.

Simcha is a pilot. (I think he said that.)

CGI is well done. Simcha’s CGI folks get an A+ (especially since we see so much of it in the documentary. And the press. And the book. And the website.)

So the niche closest to the door is the owner of the tomb?

Again with Arimathea? That’s FOUR now.

Intro snake camera.

Simcha is looking for a name.

They find ornate ossuary. But that is not evidence of Arimathea.

Others? Who?

Design in the center is a Nephesh? A symbolic reference to the afterlife?

They appear to be looking for something that ‘s not there.

Next niche with 3 ossuaries.

Simcha explains that we should expect to find a graffito. Prophetic!

MARA Greek inscription. Now Mara is buried here?

Note who is in that shot.

Now more of the Mariamme rehash. Like the book, much of it is Lost Tomb rehash.

Oops. Breakdown and stuck.

9:30 Cut to commercial.

(Commercial break side note: Remember – we should not expect to find graven images on Jewish tombs. we should find vessels (which we find on many ossuaries from Jerusalem) and geometric shapes like circles squares, triangles, Xs, and braids.)

9:34 Back!

Discussing the break to the equipment.

How are they going to get that out of there? They can’t go in the tomb.

Simcha sits sad and dejected.

They finally pulled out.

Now they’re looking back in the tomb.

Niche 3 Human skeletal remains.

The camera posses over a pelvis, but the re-enactment cuts to a skull.

Last niche. Last Chance.

Rami Arav points where he wants to look. Remember, Simcha says this is real-time.

Simcha finds something.

Walter spots a pair of intersecting lines, but calls it a cross.

“Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya!”

Correct: 4th century CE

If the cross… speculative and circular.

Better cut to commercial so people don’t think about it to hard.

Maybe when they come back from commercial, they’ll just assume they’ve found a cross and move on.

9:39: Commercial

9:42 Back

Wonder what we’ll find at the climax of the show?

Simcha: We have a pillar, a “Christian cross”, and a Mara inscription

But Tabor wants more.

SIMCHA SEES SOMETHING!

SIMCHA MAKES THE DISCOVERY!

There’ the vocals of the “Jesus Face” video.

It’s a NEPHESH (RAMI). Great thinking Rami!!! Stick with that!

“Handles!” Yes. Stick with that too!!!

SEE WHEN THEY TURNED IT TO THE SIDE, THEY CALLED IT A WHALE, A FISH

THE SYMBOL OF XN RZRXN. (That’s shorthand for Christian Resurrection.)

Cut to CGI Photoshopped image!!!

THAT IS NOT THE IMAGE!!! THAT IS COMPLETELY PHOTOSHOPPED!! SHOW THE REAL IMAGE

There HOLY CRAP! LOOK AT THEM OVERLAP THE TAILS AND DIGITALLY INK THE “FISH IN THE MARGINS”.

NOW THEY’RE GLOWING! SHOW THE ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH!!!!

AND THEY KEEP SHOWING THE PHOTOSHOP IMAGE. AND IT’S ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ON ITS SIDE!!!! OUT OF ORIENTATION.

Tabor explains that they have the ‘earliest xn evidence ever.’

AND THEY KEEP SHOWING THE PHOTOSHOP IMAGE ON ITS SIDE!!!!!!!!!!

AND NOW, THEY’VE FOUND THAT THEY WANTED TO FIND.

Cut to Kloner’s photographs.

Are they mixing up the ossuaries?

FISH?

And there is ARIMATHEA AGAIN! Where the heck is the evidence for Arimathea?????? NOTHING. Yet how many mentions now, FIVE?

9:48 Commercial.

Ouch. that hurt my head.

WTF?? DID YOU SEE THEM DIGITALLY INK THE CIRCLES/OVALS IN THE BORDERS? HOLY CRAP! THEY SHOWED AN OVAL, THAT WASN’T CLOSED, AND THEY INKED IT WITH GLOWING INK INTO OVERLAPPED TAILS LIKE JESUS FISH ON THE BACKS OF CARS!!!!!I feel like I’m driving through Colorado Springs!

Why not show the actual ovals?

9:52 Back.

Summary coming back from commercial assumes they found Jonah.

INSCRIPTION.

“That’s it baby!”

Greek inscription. 4 lines.

JAMES CHARLESWORTH shows up.

I wonder if he’ll find the name of Jonah in the bottom?

YHWH??

“I am lifted up says Jesus,” says Charlesworth. Really? That’s what you read?

“From the dead????”

I wonder if Simcha liked Charlesworth yelling Yahweh.

Again great CGI. Simcha is great at CGI.

“GOD YHWH RAISE UP RAISE UP” in alternating lines of Greek Hebrew Greek Hebrew

YHWH is a problem in Jewish ossuaries

Now it’s “LORD JESUS RISE UP! RISE UP!”

What just happened?

The tomb where Jesus is dead and buried only a few meters away is celebrated by Christians who believe he is resurrected?

95% convinced.

James Tabor is the 95%! :)

Charlesworth speaks:

WHALE. HUMAN BEING.

Good grief. The sound editing on Charlesworth’s quote was horrid. They chopped that up into a gillion pieces. I wonder what he really said?

[Here’s what I added after re-watching the recording. This is Charlesworth’s quote as it stands in the documentary:

“The significance of what we have seen for the first time, and any eye has seen for 2000 years, is that we have a <em>whale</em>, with a mouth that’s closed, not a whale that’s swallowing someone, and out of that mouth comes a human being. [cut] This symbol here in Jerusalem, near where Jesus was crucified, not far away, is the symbol of the [terrible cut] belief that Jesus [cut] is raised. [cut] This is within [cut] decades [cut] of Jesus’ death.”

It’s almost like he originally said something other than ‘symbol of the belief in Jesus…’ It also sounds like he originally said something other than ‘This is within decades of Jesus’ death.” The question is: what did he originally say? Simcha and Tabor said elsewhere that ‘they probably heard him preach” and “they probably knew him.” Did Charlesworth originally echo that and say something like, “This is within the time of Jesus’ death?” or “This is within the first decade of Jesus’ death?” And why did they change it? All I know is he got butchered. ]

Tabor explains how it is possible that Christians celebrated Jesus’ SPIRITUAL resurrection, while the dead and buried bones of Jesus are just meters away.

Summary is awful. Someone should debunk that in 2 minutes in a CNN interview.

10:00 DONE

Summary:

40 minutes of digging and rehash of Jesus Family Tomb

15 minutes of speculation.

The narrator states at the end that now it’s up to scholars. The problem is that scholars debunked this bunk a month ago, literally 2 weeks after the book was released.

We kept being told, “Just wait for the documentary. You’ll see the actual pictures.” But there were none. There were better pictures on the website. The documentary kept showing a rotated vessel and inked circles to make them look like ‘fish’. And you now see why they rotated the fish from the catacombs scene. It’s a visual trick to prime the brain to see similar fish.

Again, they found what they wanted to find. They knew better. They said “Nephesh.” They said, “Handles.” And yet that didn’t fit what they wanted to find. So, the Photoshopped it and rotated it and inked the circles in the margins to make Jesus fish and sold it to the audience.

Then, they translated the inscription into saying precisely what they needed it to say to support what they wanted to find.

We learned nothing new. There were some dramatic reenactments. The camera and robotic are were cool. Klassen and Tarant are to be commended. Hopefully they can be used in a real excavation in the future.

But I’m very sorry: there is no evidence of Christianity in either of those tombs. They resorted to showing digitally manipulated images (the so-called “Jonah fish’ rotated to its side, AND the glowing Jesus fishes) to try and convince the viewer. But only those who really want to believe will be convinced.

I seriously kept waiting for Giorgio Tsoukalos to show up and make my joy complete and say that aliens, not Joseph of Arimathea, put the ossuaries in there.

And what was with all the references to Joseph of Arimathea? If I didn’t know any better, based upon the continued references to Joseph of Arimathea, and yet ABSOLUTELY ZERO evidence presented about him, I’d argue that there WAS originally a segment on evidence for Joseph of Arimathea that got edited out, perhaps when Discovery cut the time from 2 hours to 1 hour, or perhaps when certain images of mailboxes and green signs appeared in the internet. Either way, it was a lot of narrative investment in talk about Joseph of Arimathea without a single shred of evidence to support it.
(SEE UPDATE BELOW!)

They should have reported the graffito inscription of the rather interesting inscribed Greek vessel on the side of the ossuary. That would have been a solid contribution to archaeology. Problem is, Discovery Channel doesn’t want to buy a documentary titled, “Rather Interesting Inscribed Greek Vessel: DECODED.” They want “JESUS SPIRITUALLY, YET NOT PHYSICALLY RESURRECTION TOMB MYSTERY.”

What’s interesting is that they blamed believing xns last time around for not wanting to believe Simcha had found the dead and buried bones of Jesus. Weirdly, this time around, they’ve been saying that Christians should want to believe this because they found evidence of Resurrection. However, as Dr. Tabor explained, they found evidence of SPIRITUAL resurrection and exaltation, not PHYSICAL resurrection. How are xns going to react to the claim that Jesus wasn’t PHYSICALLY resurrected? Doubting Thomas please sit down. You never touched him.

And we can expect Simcha to say, “See the xns don’t WANT to believe this discovery,” and then from that attempt to deduce that therefore his discoveries and conclusions are true.

But, of course, it’s not just people of faith who are disagreeing, but scholars.

I do like how they’ve already ditched the Jonah stick man argument and are now desperately looking for the letters of the name of Jonah in a Rorschach Test. Is someone trying to save face? When you dig yourself in a hole, put down the shovel.

Final thoughts:

A) There is no ‘Jonah’s Great Fish.’ It’s some sort of Greek vessel like we find on dozens of other ossuaries from Jerusalem. The image used in the documentary was actually a CGI, Photoshopped composite turned on its side to make it look more like a fish. See here.

B) There are no ‘fish in the margins.’ They are simple ovals or circles that surround the image along with a number of standard geometric shapes, including a simple braided border, stacked triangles, squares with X’s in them, and simple ovals or circles. In fact, the image of the so-called ‘fish in the margins’ that Simcha’s team had first released on their website was shown to be Photoshopped; They added ‘digital ink’ to extend the lines of the ovals to make them look like fish with crossed tails like the ‘Jesus fish’ you’d find on the backs of cars. They added glowing ink in the documentary.

C) There is no cross. It is nothing more than a pair or intersecting parallel lines.

D) They claim that the inscription possesses the Tetragrammaton, the personal name of God, but the only scholars who read the personal name of God are already working with Simcha on this or previous projects.

E) Finally, there is no ‘Jonah.’ They had been arguing that the half-spherical base of the vessel was the ‘seaweed wrapped head of stick figure Jonah.’ But, this was SO absurd, they just last night, they’ve changed their position and are arguing that a bunch of randomly etched lines spell out the Hebrew name of “Jonah.” The problem with this is that the first three letters of the name of Jonah in Hebrew, yod, waw, and nun, are essentially differing lengths of straight or slightly curved lines. They are looking at these simple lines and trying to make letters out of them like one would look at a Rorschach Test and make it be something. Their previous “stick figure Jonah’s head’ argument was so weak, they appear to have ‘cut bait’ (no pun intended) and have moved on to “Rorschach Test Archaeology.”

F) There were no additional images to convince scholars of anything. This was very disappointing. The website has better photos. I learned nothing new about the claims tonight. And since the Jesus Discovery website doesn’t show all of the images that are available (like the one peering behind Ossuary 5 that reveals the handles at the top of the vessel on Ossuary 6 – Remember, fish don’t have handles!), then we’re left with beig forced to conclude that there IS no more evidence, and the reason that they kept referring to the Photoshopped CGI image is because any closer look at the photos will contradict their conclusions.

G) At the end of the day, the entire documentary is essentially an apologetic for the belief in a spiritually, and not physically resurrected Jesus. In 2007, Simcha claimed he had discovered the bones of a very dead Jesus buried next to his wife and his family. This year, Simcha claims to have found the earliest ‘evidence’ of Christian celebration of a resurrected Jesus. This means that we must ignore biblical accounts like those of ‘Doubting Thomas,’ who wanted to touch the body of the physically resurrected Jesus, and redefine ‘resurrection’ as the ‘spiritual resurrection and exhalation.’ Simcha and Dr. Tabor seem to be setting out to find apologetic evidence for a set of modern beliefs that understands Jesus as ‘spiritually’ resurrected, but not ‘physically’ resurrected.”

Because they obviously don’t have the evidence, and yet they claim this evidence, the question we must ask becomes this: who would benefit most from the discovery of first century evidence of a Christian belief in a spiritually, but not physically resurrected Jesus?

Who do you know who believes in a physically unresurrected, but spiritually resurrected and exalted Jesus?

The answer to that question will tell us much more about the possible motive behind Simcha and Dr. Tabor’s otherwise circumstantial and highly spurious conclusions.

OK. Done. Time for bed.

In the words of Gerald Ford, let us hope “our long national nightmare is over.” :)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. It appears the הרמתי (“Arimathea”) signs were added/replaced more recently than the remainder of the mailbox and doorbell signs
  2. The apartment has only been around since around 1980! Remember the tomb was DISCOVERED when construction workers were building the new apartment in East Talpiot (or Armon HaNetziv), East Jerusalem, a West Bank neighborhood that was annexed by Israel following the Six Day War. The apartment is only a few decades old, and the הרמתי (“Arimathea”) signs appear to be even more recent than that.

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

This is all literally un-believable.

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

Camera tricks involving lighting, angles, zooming, and framing/cropping to support a claim, which are contradicted by subsequently released photos of the same object. Where have we seen this before? Unfortunately, it appears to be a systemic problem of the entire expedition, and the credibility and integrity of all of the images involved with the documentary are damaged by these quite amateurish camera tricks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all literally UN-believable.

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

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

YouTube: “Jonah’s Seaweed Wrapped Head” on the “Jonah Ossuary” from “The Resurrection Tomb Mystery”

I’ve created one more YouTube video that critiques the image that is claimed by filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and Dr. James Tabor to be “Jonah’s Seaweed Wrapped Head” on the so-called “Jonah Ossuary” from a tomb in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. The ossuary is featured in a forthcoming Discovery Channel documentary entitled “The Resurrection Tomb Mystery.”

And just as I’ve written before, the “Seaweed Wrapped Head” of “Jonah” is actually an attempt at a half-spherical base of a Greek vessel etched into the side of the ossuary. Nothing more.

The “seaweed” is nothing more than an etched version of “coloring in” the base, just like the artist “etched in” the top of the vessel (Simcha and Dr. Tabor’s “fish tail”) and many areas of the geometric border surrounding the vessel. Note that the lines are drawn as you’d expect one to draw them were they attempting to represent a half-spherical base.

Finally, the lines that comprise the extra “legs and arms of stick man Jonah” are nothing more than attempts at reproducing the ring of lines that quite commonly appear just above the bases in vessels, as the video clearly shows. Unless you are going to put forward Rorschach tests as archaeological evidence, there is nothing else there.

what handles? these handles. and fish don’t have handles

Question: Why aren’t the following photos on the thejesusdiscovery.org website?

Answer: Because they reveal without any doubt that there are handles of the same size, shape, and location on both sides of the top rim of the Greek vessel. And fish don’t have handles.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website.  Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Strangely, this image does NOT appear on the thejesusdiscovery.org website. Image courtesy Dr. James Tabor.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Note the handle on the left side of the top of the vessel. Note also the digitally altered 'fish in the margins', where someone placed ink of the same color as the engraved areas into the image.

The image inscribed on the front panel of Ossuary 6 from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Note the handle on the left side of the top of the vessel. Note also the digitally altered 'fish in the margins', where someone placed ink of the same color as the engraved areas into the image.

An over/under comparison of an image of an inscribed on an ossuary from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Note the handles on the side of what Tabor and Jacobovici call a "half fish."

An over/under comparison of an image of an inscribed on an ossuary from the so-called "Patio tomb" in Talpiyot, Jerusalem. Note the handles on the side of what Tabor and Jacobovici call a "half fish."

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YouTube Tutorial on Correcting for Perspective in Photoshop: “Jonah Ossuary” Edition

I have created a new video on my YouTube account, which is a tutorial explaining how to correct for perspective in Photoshop. The tutorial was prompted by the release of a CGI image of the so-called “Jonah Great Fish” image inscribed on Ossuary 6 discovered in a tomb in Jerusalem, as well as other images released by Dr. James Tabor and Mr. Simcha Jacobovici in their book, The Jesus Discovery.

The video is here:

Give it a watch (and apologies in advance for the 26 minute length).

the “jonah ossuary” theory has finally “jumped the shark” (only, it’s a tropical fish)

I recently read the latest post by Dr. James Tabor on his jamestabor.com blog.

While arguing that the image on the front of Ossuary 6 should be viewed as a fish seen from its side, Dr. Tabor states at one point:

“Jerry Lutgen showed our image to a couple of marine biologists in Florida recently and they both immediately identified it as a fairly accurate drawing of a common fish.”

I know this to be true because the same Jerry Lutgen made the same comments on my blog, where he wrote:

I circulated the “fish” image to three fish experts, two staff members of a large marine biology center in the US and one a renowned ichthyologist from Israel.

When asked if they saw a fish or an inanimate object like a vase, both of the US fish guys had no trouble seeing a fish. As one of them said: ”I would have guessed it was a depiction of a fish more so than a vase”

In response to the question; “is it a fish”, the reply of the Israeli ichthyologist is compelling. He states:

I believe that it is a triggerfish from the BALISTIDAE family. It is the only family presenting a first dorsal fin transformed to a strong spine; same for the ventral fin…

What Dr. Tabor didn’t mention in his blog is that Mr. Lutgen’s ichthyologist friend identified the Ossuary 6 image specifically as a triggerfish of the family Balistidae. I have included a picture of a triggerfish below.

Queen Triggerfish (Image via Wikipedia)

A Queen Triggerfish (of family Balistidae), rotated 90-degrees clockwise to place specimen on its side and in the necessary orientation to correspond to the so-called "Jonah Ossuary." (Image via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:4987_aquaimages.jpg)

Of course, the problem with this (and perhaps the reason Dr. Tabor didn’t mention it) is that triggerfishes are tropical fish that range from 20-50 cm (not meters, centimeters!) long, with the largest species (the stone triggerfish) maxing out at one meter long:

Triggerfishes are about 40 species of often brightly colored fishes of the family Balistidae. Often marked by lines and spots, they inhabit tropical and subtropical oceans throughout the world, with the greatest species richness in the Indo-Pacific. Most are found in relatively shallow, coastal habitats, especially at coral reefs…

The largest member of the family, the stone triggerfish (Pseudobalistes naufragium) reaches 1 metre (3.3 ft), but most species have a maximum length between 20 and 50 centimetres (7.9 and 20 in).

You read that correctly: the “Jonah’s Great Fish” tale has become so precarious, that the theory of a “fish” depicted on Ossuary 6 has come to rely on its similarity to a 50 cm tropical fish.

I would show you an image of a “seaweed wrapped head of a stick figure” coming out of the mouth of a triggerfish, but the only photo I could find of a triggerfish of the family Balistidae in relation to a human is this picture of a triggerfish bite to a human hand received from a ill-tempered specimen:

Triggerfish bite

A triggerfish bite. No wonder the artist of the "Jonah Ossuary" drew a stick figure: they are easier for tropical fish to swallow.

Therefore, as a public service, I have provided the chart below to demonstrate the mental back flips one must perform in order to arrive at the conclusions Mr. Jacobovici and Dr. Tabor are drawing from the evidence before us:

The Anatomy of the "Jonah Ossuary" Theory. These are the steps one must accept in order to conclude that a 50 cm tropical fish is the inspiration behind the image of a supposed "great fish" inscribed on Ossuary 6.

The Anatomy of the "Jonah Ossuary" Theory. These are the steps one must accept in order to conclude that a 50 cm tropical fish is the inspiration behind the image of a supposed "great fish" inscribed on Ossuary 6.

I’m just not certain that this is the דג גדול (“great fish”) that Jonah 1:17 (2:1) was talking about.

Why would an artist choose a 50 cm tropical fish, more likely to be found in the tropical and subtropical reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba than in the Mediterranean (Joppa to Tarshish), to represent a “great fish” capable of swallowing a man?

And why would said artist spend so much time illustrating the relatively intricate geometric designs on the “body” of the vessel “fish” and then make a stick figure human?

Not to add yet another fish pun to the mix, but I now believe the entire “Jonah Ossuary” theory has officially “jumped the shark.” For those not familiar:

Jumping the shark is an idiom created by Jon Hein that is used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show sensational archaeological theory when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery. The phrase is also used to refer to a particular scene, episode or aspect of a show the supposed “evidence” in which the writers use some type of “gimmick” in a desperate attempt to keep viewers’ interest.

I’m sorry, but I don’t know how else to say it. There are no fishes on the ossuary. The “fish in the margins” are not fish. (They are oval decorations.) The “half fish” is not a fish (It is a vessel with visible handles on each side). And the “Jonah fish” is not a fish. (It, too, is a vessel with handles on each side.) The “seaweed wrapped head” is not a seaweed wrapped head. (It is the base of the vessel). And the inscription does not say what Mr. Jacobovici and Dr. Tabor say it says (see also here).

I have no problem with Dr. Tabor’s argument that the “sign of Jonah” and the iconography of a “great fish” are symbolic of resurrection. None whatsoever. It has much merit. The problem is, we simply don’t have fish or the “sign of Jonah” in the “Patio Tomb,” not with the iconography, not with the inscription. And with the recent appeals to parallels with tropical fish, I’m afraid all we’re now at the moment where Fonzie “jumps the shark,” only in this case, it’s a tropical fish, thereby signalling the beginning of the end of this entire ordeal.

(And the Resurrection Tomb documentary hasn’t even aired yet.)

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