New Research on the Jesus Tomb and Statistical Probability

Wow, talk about a blast from the past. In my very first post on PaleoBabble, back on May 1, 2008, I blogged about the so-called Jesus Tomb and the mathematical work used to defend the tomb as belonging to Jesus’ family.  You can check out that link for the peer-reviewed analysis of the statistical work before checking out this update on the statistical work (warning: this is an offering to math nerds who read this blog; the rest of you normal people, like me, won’t get as much out of it).

Thanks to Mark Goodacre of Duke and his NT blog for the post that brought this to my attention.

Update on Copper Scroll Paleobabble

I know this will come as a shock, but the claims of Jimmy Barfield, the amateur researcher who claimed to have “deciphered” the “code” of the Copper Scroll (and so, many objects described in it) appears bogus.  Hard to imagine that we’ll have to add Jimmy to the paleobabble dustbin of archaeological cheesiness.

Readers can check out this post by Robert Cargill on the nonsense, as well as this follow-up, which is more substantive in its analysis.

Debunking of “Yahweh Inscription” (Allegedly) from Jebel al-Lawz

Talk about great timing. Just this past Wednesday in my Ancient Israel class at Western Washington University I covered some of the hokey “evidences” put forth by less-than-reputable Christian archaeologists in defense of Jebel el-Lawz as the true location of Mount Sinai. In briefer terms, the Ron Wyatt (see here also) and Robert Cornuke nonsense (see here, here, and here). Cornuke’s adventures (if they occurred) at Jebel el-Lawz, you may recall, were chronicled in a book by Howard Blum (“The Gold of Exodus”) that got reviewed in Biblical Archaeology review under the wonderful title, “Yahoos in Arabia.”

Now, mind you, I do think a good case can be made for Jebel el-Lawz as the location of Mount Sinai (though I’m not married to it). I just think real scholars like Frank Moore Cross of Harvard (now retired) are the people to pay attention to for a defense of that view).1

So now we have the latest archaeo-fiasco. The Jebel el-Lawz view is sullied once more by Christian archaeological amateurism and perhaps fakery. This time it’s an alleged “Yahweh inscription” from Jebel el-Lawz. You can read about the inscription and the claims surrounding it in this debunking by Gordon Franz.  It includes a picture (hand drawing) of the object. The lettering on the inscription, which some experts consider a fake, is not epigraphic Hebrew, nor proto-Sinaitic. It’s Old South Arabian script. You can click here to check a South Arabian alphabet and follow the discussion of the letters more easily.

  1. Note that in saying this, I’m telegraphing the fact that I am not persuaded against Cross’s position by the Jebel el-Lawz debunking by Gordon Franz, the same fellow to whom I’ve directed readers of this post for the Yahweh inscription debunking. I don’t think the Jebel el-Lawz location is without problem, but Franz’s arguments against it aren’t that compelling since they have other answers than the conclusions he draws. It’s just too bad that Jebel el-Lawz gets colored as silly because of people like Wyatt and Cornuke.