This past June Dr. Margaret Barker was on Coast to Coast AM talking about the infamous Jordan Codices. Barker is a legitimate scholar in the fields of biblical studies and Second Temple Judaism. She’s a favorite author of mine, not because I always (or even often) agree with her, but because she’s out of the box.
My fondness for Barker’s work won’t stop me from being critical of her thinking, though. Her thoughts about these codices, which basically the rest of the scholarly community thinks are fakes, for very good reasons, are a case in point. But I don’t have to chime in myself, as a fellow scholar and friend of mine, Dan McClellan, has already done so. Dan is one of a handful of scholars who has followed the codices saga very closely and done a lot of work to chronicle it for the rest of us. I recommend reading Dan’s critique of her appearance.
I recommend readers have a look at this recent post by Dr. Larry Hurtado. It begins this way:
If you want to see a good example of what be-devils any scholarly analysis of practically anything to do with Jesus and early Christianity, have a read of the postings of the Canadian TV self-promoter, Simcha Jacobovici here. . . . [Jacobovici] trashes all the scholars and queries as “sleeper agents of Christian orthodoxy”.
Sleeper agents of Christian orthodoxy? Really? What’s next from Jacobovici? Producing another spell-binding documentary promoting his own heroism against this vast conspiracy? Will we see Fabio play the lead?
It doesn’t get much more inconsequential and insipid than this.
And for those of you who will reflexively conclude that such exposure of the fraud is about insulting faith, it isn’t. So please take a breath. From the concluding pages:
A Facebook group was started in September 2011 to investigate the NAMI/MEDIA discovery and demand an audit and accounting from the NAMI/MEDIA leadership. Many church leaders and members worldwide have posted reminders that religious belief is based on faith. It is not necessary to find Noah’s Ark as proof of one’s faith or morality.
There are several film-makers backed by TV stations making documentaries in 2012 of the search for Noah’s Ark and the hoax. Hopefully, some guides will speak publicly so that finally, all of the guides who were innocent victims in this fraud may be relieved of the burden of silence and secrecy.
Here’s a link to a short post from the Bible Places blog that contains links to Carbon-14 analysis of the wood from the recent Noah’s ark “discovery” (read: fraud). It’s nice that someone bothers to do scientific research and pursue problems (the hoaxers do not) and report all the data (the hoaxers do not report everything in their upcoming “documentary”). Granted, the source for this critique comes from a site that itself many readers (and me) will question in regard to some of its own presuppositions, but this is the sort of research and analytical critique that needs to happen (note that the author of the critique does have a PhD in geology). This sentence in the post says it all:
In short, the burden of proof is on those who claim that they have discovered Noah’s Ark. Their unwillingness to report their data so that it can be analyzed by scholars suggests that they are perpetuating a fraud.
“Suggest” is far too nice.
I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the annual scholarly conferences in religion and biblical studies. I hope to catch a session or two that are about the recent Noah’s ark “research” (one is a session by Randall Price, and then there’s another on recent advances in satellite technology). If I get to those on the schedule, hopefully I’ll have something to share.
Quite an interesting post from Prof. Larry Hurtado’s blog today. The post focuses on an out-of-print book byEdgar J. Goodspeed (Famous Biblical Hoaxes, or, Modern Apocrypha). It was originally published in 1931 (repr. 1956). Hurtado’s post sketches a litany of (in)famous hoaxed “ancient” documents covered by Goodspeed in his book. He notes:
Goodspeed was a shining star of NT scholars in the University of Chicago, and among the most important (if not the most important) American NT scholars of his time. In this book, Goodspeed discusses a number of “curious frauds that when they first appear . . . are promptly unmasked; but a generation, or a century, later, long after their exposure has been forgotten, they are revived by somebody and make a fresh bid for acceptance” (viii). Though ignored by scholars as unworthy of attention, such texts get peddled to the unsuspecting (or credulous) general public, and in these internet-days they can be touted around the world in a matters of weeks. To his credit, Goodspeed took the time to research, describe, and examine critically a number of these items. His book is no longer in print, but is worth perusing still.
Yeah – these internet days. The art of offering claptrap to a gullible public by “researchers” trying to make a fast buck has never been more evident.
Many of you have no doubt heard of the Cardiff giant — supposedly a genuine fossilized human giant discovered in 1869. Despite the conclusive evidence for a hoax, one can still find pictures of the giant on obscure websites where it is assumed tobe evidence for biblical giants. There’s a new book out on the hoax (2010) that looks like a definitive work. It’s entitled, “A Colossal Hoax: The Giant from Cardiff that Fooled America.” You can check out the book’s website here. It just went on my wish list.
This keeps getting better — or worse for those of us who wonder why these Christians can’t just “let their ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and their “No’ mean ‘No’ (to quote James 5:12). Now we learn that those who (supposedly?) made the confession to the hoax really didn’t. Here’s the first paragraph from this link:
The Hong-Kong based organization Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI) announced in April that they had discovered Noah’s Ark. Their press release included brief video clips showing wooden beams of the alleged ark. Yet many noted major problems with their purported discovery. These suspicions appeared to be confirmed with the release two weeks ago of a letter written by two Turkish brothers who confessed to constructing “the ark” for what they thought was a movie set.