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.

Keeping Up with the Jacobovicis

The blogosphere is already heating up with responses from scholars to the new “discoveries” of $imcha Jacobovici and James Tabor. Those interested can keep up with the responses of professional scholars via the ASOR blog, which seems poised to become a clearing house of sorts for this topic (ASOR = American Schools of Oriental Research, a scholarly society focusing on archaeology, epigraphy, biblical studies, and the ancient Near East).  Here are some posts already on the site:

Eric Meyers’ review of “The New Jesus Discovery”

  • Eric Meyers is an archaeologist at Duke University

Brief Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B

  • This post is by Christopher Rollston, a specialist in Northwest Semitic epigraphy (inscriptions). Since this latest Jacobovici and Tabor effort goes back to the Jesus Family Tomb, building on that monument to the non sequitur, Rollston revisits the inscriptional material of that tomb.

And other posts by scholars from other blogs:

Robert Cargill

Antonio Lombatti (on the “Jonah and the whale” image in this new tomb)

Jim West



$imcha Jacobovici Defends Himself

Simcha Jacobovici has written a 46 page defense of his “nails of the cross” discovery. Sad to say, his delivery mechanism was James Tabor’s blog. No doubt it will be filled with backtracking, denial, and otherwise hair-splitting parsing of what he “meant.” The person with casual interest will probably not even bother wading through it, allowing Simcha to say, “Hey, I responded in detail,” to the masses whose eyes will glaze over thinking he’s done due diligence. Those people will also never find or read the critiques of his defense that will surely follow.

Simcha, we already know why you went public with this and what you meant. You are an attention-seeker who needs to cash in so you can keep your film career going. It isn’t rocket science. Why not just ask James Cameron for some cash — maybe you can catch him when he’s not out bonding with cannibals.

Nailing $imcha Jacobovici

A few more posts by scholars still engaged with Simcha Jacobovici. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel.

Here’s one more from Mark Goodacre, who discusses the non-extant textual material that $imcha uses to build his vacuous argument.  And then Todd Bolen reports on the work of Gordon Franz, who’s looked into $imcha’s theory.