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

Pt. 1: Three plaques, no synagogue

The 1962 forgery of the Caesarea inscription 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 end of this series of posts. Synopsis of this series: (1) The so-called “Caesarea Inscription” is three stone fragments that do not match in orthography or line-spacing. They patently come from three different hands and from three different inscriptions, at least one of which was forged. (2) The discoverer of the Caesarea Inscription, in 1962, was Dr. Jerry Vardaman, the notorious forger of microletter infamy who was arrested at least twice in the Levant in relation to archaeological digs. (3) In fact, Vardaman … Continue reading

A Linear Comparison of Fragments A, B, and C of the Caesarea Inscription

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated and edited by René Salm Note: This post includes information obtained from new photographs of the Ceasarea inscription fragments taken in June 2013 in the Ralli Museum, Caesarea. Having analyzed the ‘external’ circumstances which shed suspicion on the authenticity of fragment A of the Caesarea inscription (in posts 1-6 of my article, Nazareth, the Caesarea inscription, and the hand of God), it may be useful to consider relevant ‘internal’ factors which support the argument for inauthenticity. It behooves the investigator to determine if the three fragments even form part of the same plaque—a conclusion which scholars have never seriously questioned. In regards to fragments A and B found at Caesarea in 1962, Avi-Yonah wrote:         Although at … Continue reading

Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God—Pt. 6

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated from the French and edited by René Salm   Vardaman and the microletters         Jerry Vardaman, who passed away in November 2000, was a respected archaeologist for many years. However, his reputation today is indelibly sullied by a most remarkable affair which has nothing to do with Nazareth but, rather, which concerns the date of Jesus’ birth.         Apparent errors and contradictions in the canonical birth stories have produced more than one enigma relating to the birth of Jesus. Scholars have long been aware that the Gospel of Luke (2:2) places the birth subsequent to a census by Quirinus, a census which historians tell us took place in 6 CE. On the other hand, the Gospel of Matthew … Continue reading

Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God—Pt. 5

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated from the French and edited by René Salm Enter Jerry Vardaman         The discovery and interpretation of the Caesarea inscription are attributed to professor of archaeology [at the Hebrew University] and excavation director Dr. M. Avi-Yonah, a name generally considered a guarantor of seriousness and objective neutrality in archaeological matters.[Ed. note 2]         But is this in fact how events took place?         The first surprise the researcher encounters is that Avi-Yonah’s complete article regarding the Caesarea inscription, in the English language, did not appear in an international journal specializing in archeology but in an obscure memorial edition, The Teacher’s Yoke, edited in 1964 by Professor E. Jerry Vardaman for the press of Baylor University, a private Christian school … Continue reading

Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God—Pt. 4

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated from the French and edited by René Salm 4. Manuscripts recovered from the Cairo geniza         Among the numerous Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts discovered in the nineteenth century in a Cairo geniza, some liturgical poems were also found, piyyoutim containing references to priestly families, with explanatory marginal notes in Hebrew. Here is a translation of the pertinent verses from the eleventh century concerning the four priestly classes which we also encounter in the Caesarea inscription:   Klein’s conclusions and the Caesarea inscription           In 1939 Samuel Klein published a book in Hebrew entitled Sefer ha-Yishouv. On the basis of the various texts noted above, he attempted the theoretical reconstruction of the ancient synagogal inscriptions with their priestly … Continue reading

Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God—Pt. 3

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated from the French and edited by René Salm Samuel Klein         Based on Rapoport’s study of the piyyoutim, the Jewish scholar Samuel Klein (d. 1940) developed an interesting theory regarding the sense and origin of the liturgical poems, including the Lamentation for the 9th of Ab by Eleazar ha-Kalir. According to Klein, the lists of priestly families with their villages of residence could have been formulated only after the destruction of the second temple, and more likely following the final defeat of Bar Kochba (135 CE), since the Jews continued to live in Judea after the year 70 CE.         At the end of the persecution (towards 140 CE) the Jews reorganized in the Galilee and the survivors … Continue reading

Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God—Pt. 2

by Enrico Tuccinardi Translated from the French and edited by René Salm Eleazar ha-Kalir         To understand the significance of Avi-Yonah’s reconstruction, we must briefly consider the oldest previous mention of Nazareth in the literature. This was the Lamentation for the 9th of Ab by the poet Eleazar ha-Kalir. Kalir is one of the most ancient and celebrated Jewish liturgical poets. He lived in Israel at an undetermined date in Byzantine times (VIII-IX CE) and authored over two hundred hymns serving as ritual synagogal prayers. The piyyoutim,6 especially those of Kalir, frequently refer to numerous midrashim and were often written in an allusive and even cryptic style.         In the mid-19th century, Rabbi Y. S. Rapoport (1790-1867), a learned Jew, made a … Continue reading