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.