There have always been some archaeologists who for one reason or another have come from a viewpoint that the Bible is untrue and therefore take what little evidence actually exists and weave it into their own story of unbelief. That is why archaeology is not a science but a discipline. A few artifacts can be interpreted in many ways depending on someone’s world view.
Recently the journalist, Simcha Jacobovici has put his own spin on several archaeological artifacts.
From Time World we have this description of his claims and some conflicts with his stories after the fact.
- The son of Romanian holocaust survivors, Jacobovici is an Emmy-winning journalist who has produced several films in the past decade about new finds that supposedly illuminate the true history of early Christianity. Jacobovici’s first foray into the biblical-documentary genre was a 2002 film James, Brother of Jesus that introduced the world to the James ossuary, a bone box with an ancient Aramaic inscription translated as James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. Even as Jacobovici’s film characterized the ossuary as an authentic archaeological discovery, scholars and the Israeli authorities claimed the inscription as a fake. Discovery Channel aired the film but, in 2008, it put the James ossuary on its list of the top 10 scientific hoaxes of all time. Last year, after an eight-year trial about biblical-relic forgery for profit, a judge acquitted two defendants of fraud (one of them had been accused of faking the inscription) but declined to rule on the alleged forgery itself.
- Jacobovici then made a film about the so-called Talpiot Tomb — named after the Jerusalem neighborhood where it was excavated — contending that 10 ossuaries found inside it had held the bones of Christ and his immediate family, including Mary Magdalene. That project had backing from Hollywood’s James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar. Jacobovici then produced Nails of the Cross, a show that claimed that iron spikes excavated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from a tomb in Jerusalem in 1990 were the very nails used to pin the Saviour to the cross. Nails of the Cross aired on Israeli TV and the History Channel.In all this Zias, 71, has emerged as Jacobovici’s nemesis. Retired from his job as a professional anthropologist, he now makes a living guiding bike tours around the Israeli countryside. He knows the murky world of biblical-relic trading as well as anyone, having spent 25 years working for the IAA, the tiny Israeli agency charged with overseeing excavations in 30,000 archaeological sites. He lives in a three-room house in central Jerusalem with his wife and daughter. He says he can’t afford to pay the lawyer he’s hired to defend him and claims he is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the suit.
- The contentiousness between Zias and Jacobovici came to a head in 2011. That year, National Geographic pulled out of a Jacobovici project on another early Christian relic that Zias and others were criticizing — comments that the filmmaker cites as part of the reason for his lawsuit. Reached by e-mail, Jacobovici said he is suing Zias — and not his academically affiliated critics — because Zias “crossed the line from fair comment to outright libel. Specifically, he has accused me repeatedly — verbally and in writing — of ‘forging archaeology’ … a criminal activity, and no free society allows you to accuse people of such activities, unless you can prove that what you are saying is correct. Furthermore, he has accused me of ‘planting archaeology.’ Again, free discourse does not include libelous statements such as this one.”The other critics, however, have not exactly been soft in their commentary about Jacobovici’s work. A panel of academic experts had also assailed the basis for the film about the so-called Jonah ossuary. The film, The Jesus Discovery, which eventually aired on the Discovery Channel in 2012 and also was published as a book, contends that the ossuary, found in a tomb underneath a Jerusalem apartment building, is the earliest known example of an object bearing a Christian symbol referring to the resurrection. The chairman of Duke University’s Religion Center for Jewish Studies, Eric M. Meyers, said of Jacobovici’s claims about the National Geographic pullback: “I was on the advisory panel of experts assessing the integrity of the claims, the appropriateness of the report and the controversial claims about the tomb in which the Jonah ossuary was found, and the panel unanimously agreed not to recommend that the project and film go forward.”
So how many times does a journalist have to be exposed as to the possibility of he or his associates faking or entirely misinterpreting archaeological artifacts before he becomes untrusted? After all his job is to create an exciting “new” TV show or movie which will supply him with money to live. Wanting money to live is quite normal but attempting to establish your ideas based on possible or at least questionable evidence is somewhat akin to wanting to earn money by making counterfeit bills, is it not?
A series by “legacyjoe” also interviews some of the experts in Jacobovici’s movies who claim the clips that were included were made to sound different than what they told Jacobovici. Then they go on to explain why they believe Jacobovici is wrong.