Discovery, Enraged scholars...an insult to all concerned
- While reading some on-line newspapers this morning I ran across the following article by a scholar named Byron McCane from SC, which in my opinion spells out what is really happening with the latest controversy. The article has been edited and shortened to emphasize the important points, the only item which needs correction is his mention of two archaeologists, whereas it should read, one archaeologist and one biblical scholar.
"The publicity for the Discovery Channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus has a disturbingly familiar ring. First came the James Ossuary; then The DaVinci Code, next the John the Baptist cave, and now the lost tomb of Jesus. The two archaeologists involved in The Lost Tomb of Jesus, for example, already have a well-known track record for sensationalism.These programs go for the quick buck. Everything is crafted to generate interest, to make sales. The disturbing trend in recent documentaries toward profit-driven sensationalism, however, is an insult to all concerned, and especially to those of us who are scholars of these subjects. And that is why it is scholars who should bring this train of sensationalism to a stop."
For several years I have asked colleagues to boycott these film makers, producers, magazine editors, and others exploiting the profession, some have listened and a few have been co-opted and easily bought out out by the lure of fame and fortune. In fact, one of the better known TV channels recently ran an ad on www.craigslist.com looking for a Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls expert. They found two, one who claims to be the prototype for Indiana Jones and another expert who published a book about the tomb of John the Baptist in the Qumran cemetery. The author of the latter asked for a meeting as I had criticized his work and during the meeting he related to me that the tomb of John the Baptist in Qumran contained the headless body of an adult male. The following day I informed them that tomb photos, notes and adrawing clearly showed an adult male in the tomb, however he had a skull. I never heard from then again. I believe the documentary will appear on the History Channel in the
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- At 10:42 AM 3/4/2007, Joe Zias wrote:
>[...] these film makers, producers, magazine editors, and othersWhich doesn't mean that very popularized shows are wrong. ANE
>exploiting the profession, [...]
knowledge shouldn't remain in technical archeological reports that
get published 10-20 years after the excavation, or papers on
conjugating Sumerian verbs. ANE knowledge is not "by the researchers,
for the researchers" but "by the researchers, for the people", the
people who directly or indirectly subsidize almost 100% of that research.
The "Zachi Hawas Show" of a few years ago on National Geographic
practically jumped out my memory as a contrasting example. Part of
that show was the sending of the robot up the pyramid shaft - lots of
suspense that ended in an anticlimax. But ZH & NG, didn't sugar coat
the anticlimax. They didn't claim that the shaft being blocked must
mean that something extraordinary is hidden behind (the Ark, the Holy
Grail, a stash of Kryptonite, whatever).
[and since I can't resist a lame joke - do you think the theme song
in Jacobivici's Purim party is "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum"?]
[100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]
Ariel L. Szczupak
AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91401
Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203