Nazareth archaeology causes breakdown in peer review system – Pt. 2

My preceding post reviewed the background involved in submitting an article to the prestigious British journal, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly (PEQ). That article deals with Ken Dark’s adventurous conclusions regarding the Sisters of Nazareth Convent site, and with his several “interim” publications relative to the site. The Sisters of Nazareth Convent is about one hundred meters from the Church of the Annunciation. It has long been known that kokh-type tombs are on the premises (one with a surviving rolling stone), as well as above-ground structural remains. Dark proposes a novel and complex theory which my article shows to be totally indefensible. He argues that an habitation was constructed on the site, that it was abandoned, and that the site was … Continue reading

Nazareth archaeology causes breakdown in peer review system – Pt. 1

The peer review system is broken in Biblical Studies. Three scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have recently been unable to elicit a reasoned (not to mention appropriate or fair) evaluation of the Nazareth archaeological evidence from one of the most prestigious British journals in the field of Biblical Studies, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly. The scholars in question are Philip Davies, noted “minimalist” at the University of Sheffield; Frank Zindler, biblical researcher and past president of American Atheists; and yours truly, René Salm, manager of this website and author of The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. Readers of my nazarethmyth website will know that for some years I have contested Ken Dark’s work at Nazareth. Dark … Continue reading

Latest News from Aleteia

I am now approaching the midpoint of writing my forthcoming book, NazarethGate (Fall, 2015). Chapter Ten deals with the Nazareth house allegedly “from the time of Jesus” which was touted to global media back in December 2009—just a few days before Christmas. A couple of years ago I dedicated a Scandal Sheet to this bogus claim on my Nazarethmyth website. There, I pointed out that the claims in the popular press do not tally with the Israel Antiquity Authority’s own very terse report which makes no mention of first-century remains, much less of evidence from the turn of the era. But the media has a momentum of its own—so much so that the desires of Christians to authenticate their precious … Continue reading

Pt. 8: The chronology of a crime (final)

Reconstruction of Vardaman’s activity during the 1962 Caesarea excavation season [This is a July 2014 update of the original post which was uploaded in Sept. 2013. Included here is new information on Vardaman’s field notes published in BASOR 371 (May 2014) in an article authored by O. Storvick and M. Govaars. Older entries from Vardaman’s notebook can be found at Govaars 2009:185-86. Suspicious facts are in red.] Note: For much more extensive information on the Caesarea Inscription, see my 2015 book NazarethGate, Chapter 12, “The Forgery of the ‘Caresarea Inscription.’” (pp. 314-76). Select bibliography is at the bottom of this post.         On July 15, 1962, the excavation season began in Area A of Caesarea—an area north of the Crusader walls … Continue reading

Pt. 7: The perfect storm

The unscrupulous archaeologist Over the last several months, my understanding has grown regarding the context of the “Caesarea inscription,” and also regarding Professor Vardaman’s central role in its genesis. As a Baptist minister notably employed by several conservative southern institutions, the late Dr. Vardaman’s values aligned strongly with the evangelical strain of Christianity, including belief in the inerrancy of scripture and in the personal call to act in defense and advancement of the true Christian faith. Jerry Vardaman was an evangelical activist. Unfortunately, he was also unprincipled, as we learned here and here. More correctly, he was a ‘super-committed’ Christian who apparently thought nothing of breaking man’s law for the higher law of Jesus Christ. From the microletters to the … Continue reading

Pt. 6: Biblical archaeologist “Jerry” Vardaman – an unprincipled lawbreaker

It seems that every week brings a new development in this deepening intercontinental collaboration researching the “Caesarea inscription”—the ancient Hebrew inscription (which is not ancient at all) mentioning Nazareth which scholars routinely consider “proof” that the hometown of Jesus existed in Roman times. This series of posts on Mythicist Papers is now in its third month (the first post to this website regarding this inscription was back on June 10). Mr. Enrico Tuccinardi in Italy, an anonymous colleague in Israel, and myself in the U.S. have assiduously followed up numerous leads with the result that an entirely unsuspected background has come to light regarding the “Caesarea inscription” (in quotes because readers of this blog now know that the inscription never … Continue reading

Pt. 5: The case for forgery

In this series of posts, Enrico Tuccinardi and myself have shown that the “Caesarea inscription” never existed except in the imagination of wishful Christians and Jews. Three fragments which do not go together have been assembled into a mythical plaque. That plaque never existed. Furthermore, such a plaque could not have existed where the fragments were allegedly “found,” for M. Govaars has shown that no synagogue existed in the area. Hence, the traditionalist who considers the “Caesarea inscription” (hereafter in quotes) to be a bona fide artifact suffers under a double impossibility: the mutual incompatibility of fragments, and the missing synagogue where the plaque should/would have been housed. The above considerations inexorably lead us to conclude that: – the three … Continue reading

Pt. 4: Heavenly deception

Jerry Vardaman’s career Ephraim Jeremiah Vardaman (1927-2000) was a native of Dallas, Texas. His career spans much of the South. “Jerry” Vardaman received a Th.D in 1957 from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas. (His dissertation was entitled Hermeticism and the Fourth Gospel.) He then taught New Testament archaeology for fifteen years (1958-72) at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (hereafter SBTS) in Louisville, Kentucky. Vardaman was thus teaching at SBTS in Louisville when he participated in the Caesarea Maritima excavations of 1962, along with a number of his students. Vardaman subsequently taught at Mississippi State University (1973-81) where he founded the Cobb Institute of Archeology. He obtained a second doctorate in 1974 from Baylor University (Waco, Texas) … Continue reading

Pt. 3: The “Nazareth” fragment

The discovery of fragment A (continued) Readers who have been patiently following along with this series of posts on the “Caesarea inscription” are now privy to important information which is not otherwise public knowledge: (1) that all three fragments of the inscription belong to different plaques; (2) that no “synagogue” ever existed in Area A/Field O in Caesarea (where the marble plaque would have been placed); and (3) that all of the fragments actually came from outside the area. Fragment A—the one with the critical word “Nazareth”—was found in “area D,” which actually was a trench about 25m long and 6m wide (see illustration below). This trench was roughly 70m to the east of the main area A where excavation … Continue reading

Pt. 2: The discovery of fragment C

The step-by-step researches of Mr. Tuccinardi and myself this summer into the so-called “Ceasarea inscription” have already yielded considerable fruit: (1) we now can say that there was no single plaque which can go by that name—there were, in fact, three different and mutually distinguishable plaques, each possibly constituting a small part of the list of twenty-four priestly courses; (2) no synagogue existed in the vicinity of any of their findspots. This second point presents a triple mystery, for how could even a single plaque of the priestly courses occur in an area where a synagogue never existed, much less three different plaques? The answer is clear: all three fragments of the so-called “Caesarea inscription” came from outside the area. … Continue reading