Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Comments on ABC's Nightline Feature on the Talpiot Tombs

Last night, ABC News broadcast a short feature as part of their Nightline programme about the Talpiot Tombs. You can view it here:

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If that does not work, try this link instead. The story is here:

"Jesus Tomb" Controversy Rages

I thought that the feature was fair to those involved and I have no complaints about the way that they used the footage they recorded with me yesterday afternoon here in Gray Building at Duke; I think they did a great job. I thought it was a shame that Robert Cargill could not be included in the piece, though, especially as I was the only dissenting voice represented on screen. And of course, most of what I said did not make the cut, including discussion of the inscription and a chance to talk about the cluster of names in Talpiot Tomb A -- they even invited me to comment on Simcha Jacobovici's Beatles analogy (and I enjoyed mentioning John, Paul, George, Martin, Alan and Ziggy). But that is very much par for the course. It's remarkable how much information they manage to cram into this short format.

One feature of the report is worth an extra comment. When they discuss the "vase" or "vessel" interpretation, they quite fairly invite the audience to decide for themselves, "Vase or fish?" However, the image they then give to the audience as the basis for comparison is the Composite, CGI recreation of the image (see Robert Cargill's critique) and not the actual photographs. The CGI version is constructed on the basis of the fish interpretation, including the tapered "tail", and it does not incorporate features like the upper handles that can be seen in the actual photographs (see again Robert Cargill's critiques).

Two features in the report surprised me. I have read everything available on the tomb and have looked at all the materials that they have made available but haven't yet seen the documentary that airs on Thursday, so I was surprised to see a clip from the documentary in which James Charlesworth says "I am lifted up, says Jesus, I am lifted up! . . . apo tou thanou [?], from the dead!", surprised because the ossuary says nothing about "Jesus" at all. It will be disappointing if the documentary gives the impression that the inscription on the ossuary mentions Jesus because it does not.

The other thing was Simcha Jacbovici's suggestion that those who disagree with him are reacting because of "theological trauma". I knew there was something wrong with me. Now we know why I saw the face of Jesus in the side of one of the ossuaries!


Jim said...

it's sad to see a scholar of charlesworth's capabilities completely lose it in support of bogus and unsubstantiated claims

Jim said...

oh yes- and in anticipation of the inevitable 'you can't talk about a senior scholar like that' rubbish let me just quickly add- being a senior scholar doesn't give one a license to peddle absurdities. scholarship is self authenticating- ex opera operato. it isn't based on the reputation of the person behind it. good scholars can say stupid things and bad scholars can say smart things. hero worship has no place in academia.

Daniel said...

As an observer of the "Tomb Sideshow" for the past seven years, I continue to wonder when this insanity will end.

When will someone in academia have the guts to stand up and actively petition that James Tabor be removed from his post as HEAD OF THE RELIGIOUS STUDIES DEPARTMENT at UNCC?

At this point, it really seems like Tabor is trying to see what he can get away with. Who could blame him? Falsifying evidence, breaking into tombs...UNCC's Chancellor Philip Dubois is content to let the circus continue unabated. He apparently has no idea how these incidents are destroying the prestige of his university.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Sad to see someone fall in love with a hypothesis like that.

Speaking of ... any chance you'll be reading Richard Carrier's new book, trying to bring a bit more rigour to the discipline of history?