Talpiot B Fish – With Handles?

Those of you who have been following the discussion over the Talpiot B “fish symbol” will find this of interest. Kudos to Mark Goodacre for posting Amos Kloner’s 1980 photograph inside this tomb before it was sealed (see Tabor’s report) that is available on the “Jesus Discovery” website (NOTE per Mark Goodacre in the comments: this “fish” is the “half fish” on the side of the ossuary rather than the so called “Jonah fish” on its front facade). The “fish” symbol is visible in the photo. You can go to the post and click on Goodacre’s link to a high resolution image of the “fish” to see the point Goodacre is making — the “fish” has handles. This of course would be no surprise if the “fish” is an unguentarium ( a flask), but it’s not expected (!) for a fish.

I took the liberty of adding lines to the left and right-hand of the image so readers could see the point Goodacre is making (click on the links). While the (larger image) left-hand side has the most visibly clear lines (of a handle)

I think the (larger image) right-hand side does as well:


Looking less like a fish all the time.

And then there’s the issue of photo-shopped images of the fish symbol released to the public, as ably pointed out by Robert Cargill.

If you could see me now, I don’t have a surprised look on my face.

More on the New Talpiot Tomb

Lots of material being generated pretty quickly.  Here is a worthwhile overview from Mark Goodacre’s NT blog. The post that Mark directs us to by Tom Verenna that serves as a collection of response is here (just in case you don’t click through to the Goodacre post).

And alas, the archaeo-nitwits in the mainstream media are doing their level best to distort the material to create headlines and garner readers. Goodacre notes:

Meanwhile, there are plenty of reasons for dismay in the media headlines over the last twenty-four hours.  If you did not read carefully on the subject, you would have no idea how tenuous these headlines are — the Telegraph says Christ’s disciples’ remains ‘discovered’ in spite of the fact that there is no mention of “Christ”, his “disciples” or their “remains”.  Or in the case of the Daily Mail, even the reference to the disciples drops out with ‘Divine Jehovah, raise up’: Does discovery of coffin lid prove the resting place of Jesus is under Jerusalem tower block?

Always be wary of newspaper headlines that ask questions.  The answer is almost always “No”.

This is the sort of reason I do not trust Jacobovici. For those who read the comments, James Tabor and I have had a brief exchange. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t drop Jacobovici like a bad habit. Using the clueless archaeo-media to introduce new discoveries is only about generating cash, and that’s what Simcha does. If by “professional” James means the book, then I can say I’m willing to think that will be worth reading and demonstrate some careful thought — at least his credentials give me hope there). But if “professional” refers to endorsing the use of a popular journalistic army of willful or witless distorters to filter the material for the public, I’m not on board. Any good work will get lost in the nonsense. This approach invariably generates a lot of bad thinking and erroneous conclusions that will, to many, become their truth. Since I’ve spent my share of time trying to inject sanity into the world of paleobabble, I have seen many times over that this cycle is very real. I know how it works and the effects it has.  It is in no way responsible.

And in any event, even if one could remove the method of announcement and everything was very professional, at the end of the day, non sequiturs professionally put forth are still non sequiturs. I know that peer-reviewed material isn’t immune from that problem, but review cuts down on it, and allows the writer the kind of input that helps sharpen thinking before things filter down to the uninitiated but interested non-specialists. By this method non get flagged until consumed and absorbed (and purchased) by the populace. It’s the methodological equivalent to using mainstream media connections to announce a cure for cancer without clinical trials, or presenting one’s off-the-radar conspiratorial theory (the academic word would be avant garde) about Zionism instead of getting critical feedback from field experts first. But that’s boring and doesn’t generate sales.

Again, I need to know how this is responsible. It’s a simple, reasonable request.

Just in Time for Easter Cash Flow: The Tomb of Jesus’ Disciples

$imcha Jacobovici has busy. And amazingly, Easter is just around the corner (again). Oh, the irony.

The man who brought us the error-plagued Jesus family tomb, then the nails from the cross, now claims that he has found a tomb which held the remains of at least some of the disciples of Jesus. Granted, the article at the link is just a preliminary news leak to garner interest for an upcoming press conference where the world will get to see what $imcha has discovered.  Still, this announcement isn’t encouraging. Here’s what we learn that supports the new discovery, at least in part:

  • This cave is nearby the alleged Jesus family tomb (I read in another article that the site is considered pre-70 AD; by whom I don’t know).
  • There is a Jonah and the whale symbol in it (a “Christian symbol” the article notes)
  • An inscription with the word “God” in Greek, the Tetragrammaton (the four-consonant sacred name of God: YHWH), and the word “arise” or “resurrected” in Hebrew
  • Apparently the Tetragrammaton is on an ossuary, something that (according to the article) has never been found on an ossuary. That would suggest a Christian, not a Jewish, burial

My first question was whether the site bears any name of a disciple. If not, why conclude it is connected with them? The feeling I get is that the only “evidence” for this is its proximity to the alleged Jesus family tomb, in which case we have a nice illustration of drawing a conclusion based on something one presumes to be true.  But even if the Jesus family tomb was really that of Jesus (which I do not believe, for reasons noted by many scholars since its announcement), do we have anything else in this new site other than walking distance to link it to the disciples?  If that is the basis of the argument, this is a disappointment. It’s not like the disciples were the only Christians before 70 AD who died and were buried. But in $imcha-land, that sort of thinking seems possible. I just have to think he has more than this. Otherwise, it’s just plain embarrassing. In fact, if this is all he has, I’m going to award him this blog’s second Ph.D. in Non Sequitur Thinking.  I hope there is more, since the alternative would mean James Tabor, a genuine scholar, will have sullied his reputation by association with someone establishing a track record that seems fundamentally bent only toward publicity and self-aggrandizement. That would be a shame.