Saturday, September 03, 2005

I'M HOME. Got in about 8:30 pm. I see Mark Goodacre has already fulsomely blogged the entire conference. You won't get as much or as soon from me, but I do have a few photos. I'll get to it as soon as I can, but I expect to be pretty busy this weekend. Meanwhile, here's an important e-mail I've only just opened. It's a firsthand account of the situation in New Orleans as of 31 August, forwarded by reader Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn of San Diego State University. It's from a colleague of hers who was and perhaps still is stranded in New Orleans. Sorry for not getting it to you sooner.
Thanks to all of you who have sent your notes of concern and your prayers. I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 p.m.. I wanted to update all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing limited internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.

Personally, my family and I are fine. My family is safe in Jackson, Miss., and I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.

Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today. Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast.

The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement. This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.

The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests have unusual diseases. ... There are (Infectious Disease) physicians in at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have commandeered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into a makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreen's on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All under police escort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint. After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.

In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French Quarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are imminent.

The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard? We hear jet fighters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.

In a sort of cliche way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care physician. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will take. And the horror of so many dead people .

PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THING MAY BE INTERESTED IN A DISPATCH from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH.

UPDATE (4 September): On reading more closely, I see that this is actually from Tuesday the 29th, so it's fairly ancient history now. But it's an illuminating insider report from the immediate aftermath of Katrina.

On another note, I'm having a great deal of difficulty with Blogger. For some reason the toolbar above the "create" a new post page now takes many minutes to appear with when I use dial-up access. I'm also having other troubles getting the photograph facility to work. So I'll probably wait until tomorrow to post on the conference, so I can use my office computer.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A MASONIC ARTIFACT from the Temple Mount rubble?

(Via Joseph I. Lauer on the ANE list.)

Now, about that nap ...
I'M HERE! Liverpool, that is. The conference is about half over and we've had two seminar meetings so far, with good discussions. I feel a nap coming on, so I'm not going to do any heavy-duty conference blogging right now, but I am taking photos to share with you later. Meanwhile, have a look at the Carnival of Bad History at the Dodecahedron blog, which has PaleoJudaica in the first entry (exposing bad history, I hasten to say, not producing it). And don't miss the update to the "More Lost Books" post below, which has some additional information from Ken Penner.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'M OFF in a few minutes to the British New Testament Conference in Liverpool, where I will be co-chairing and presenting a paper in the NT & Second Temple Judaism Seminar. Grant Macaskill, also from St. Andrews, is presenting a paper in the same seminar. Normally I post the oral text of my paper just before I leave for a conference, but this time there is an unusual situation: my paper, "Is the Testament of Abraham Really a Jewish Work?" is an extract from chapter 4 of my book, which I'm expecting to be out before long. I've already placed lots of material from the book online, so I'm not going to post this particular paper. Sorry. If you want to read it, make sure you've ordered my book for your library.

My home dial-up access has been glacial this morning, so I haven't looked at Google, and if there is anything really interesting in the news it will have to wait. As far as I know, there won't be any opportunities to blog during the conference, but if one arises, I'll try to seize it. Otherwise, I expect to be back Saturday evening, so look for me then or on Sunday. And, meanwhile, don't miss the latest History Carnival, which is to be posted later today on the ClioWeb blog.
MORE LOST BOOKS: As I promised a while ago, I am listing below some additional ancient lost Old Testament pseudepigrapha that I have run across in various places. Some are books that are completely lost apart from their title and perhaps a brief comment on their contents; others are books that are no longer extant, but fragments, quotations, or summaries of them do survive.

A number are listed in the Coptic Nag Hammadi treatise On the Origin of the World (NHC ii, 5 and XIII, 2; fourth century CE or earlier). Some small indication of contents is usually given. It is possible that these are just names made up for effect, but they may well have been real books.
  • The Archangelic (Book) of the Prophet Moses (NHC II, 102.8-9)
  • The First Book of Noraia (NHC, II 102.10, 24-25)
  • The First Account of Oraia (NHC, II 102. 24-25 -- same book as above?)
  • The Book of Solomon (NHC II 107.3)
  • The Configurations of the Fate of Heaven That Is Beneath the Twelve (NHC II 107.16-17)
  • The Seventh Universe of the Prophet Hieralias (NHC II, 112.23-24)

Hippolytus, in The Refutation of All Heresies (second-third centuries CE), mentions the following:
  • The Paraphrase of Seth (5.18.1) (Contains "Sethian doctrines," but evidently is not the same work as the Nag Hammadi Paraphrase of Shem.)
  • The Book of Baruch (5.20-22; 10.11) (Baruch is the angel of the tree of life, not Jeremiah's scribe in the Bible. This retelling of the biblical narrative by Justin the Gnostic starts with the cosmogony and moves through the Old Testament period up to Jesus. Summarized by Hippolytus.)

  • Quotation of a "scripture" or "prophetic word" with OT content in 1 Clement 23:3-4 and 2 Clement 11:2-4.
  • A very fragmentary Oxyrhynchus manuscript that seems to involve a vision of heaven and which mentions the Law and the Red Sea. Oxyrhynchus Papyri 17.6-8 (#2069).
  • A summary of a passage supposedly from a Hebrew noncanonical book pertaining to the prophet Zechariah and King Joash. Found in the fifth-century Historia Ecclesiastica (9.17) of Salaminius Hermias Sozomenus (PG 67.1269b).
  • "The Rich Man and the Precious Stone," a story told by Georgius Monachus Hamartolos (9th century) in Chron 4.11 (PG 121.228). The passage is supposedly quoted from a book called the Wisdom of Solomon. The quotation was made after 600, so it is perhaps too late for the MOTP Project (but not for its comprehesive list of OT pseudepigrapha).

These were located through the Accordance Software list of Greek Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

And more:
  • Cyprian (some manuscripts only) quotes an otherwise unknown passage "in Baruch" (presumably the scribe this time) in Testimonia 3.29 (third century CE).
  • An apocalyptic fragment attributed to "the prophet" by Clement of Alexandria (late second-early third century CE) in Protrepticus (Exhoration to the Heathen) 8, end.
  • A fragment about the Antichrist attributed to "another prophet" (besides Jeremiah) by Hippolytus in On Christ and Antichrist 15

Noted by M. R. James in The Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament, pp. 77-78, 90, and 92, respectively.

UPDATE (2 September): Ken Penner e-mails some additional information:
You might mention in your blog entry that Denis includes several of the texts you mentioned, in his Introduction, in his Fragmenta, and in his Concordance, e.g., the fragment from 1 Clement 23:3-4 and 2 Clement 11:2-4, the Zechariah fragment, the Fable of the Precious Stone, the fragment from Clement of Alexandria, and the fragment on the Antichrist.

P. Oxy. 2069 is now known to be from 1Enoch.

The Antichrist fragment is also in de Antichristo 54.

The Clement of Alexandria reference in Protrepticus is 10, 98, 1, not 8.

Georgius Cedrenus also has the Fable of the Precious Stone (after the story of Tobit, before king Hezekiah); see I. Bekker, Georgius Cedrenus Ioannis Scylitzae (2 vols.; Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae; Bonn: Weber), 1:193-194.
IRAQI JEWISH ARCHIVE UPDATE: Chuck Jones reports on the IraqCrisis list that the National Endowment for the Humanities has given $98,500 for its cataloguing and initial conservation steps.
Center for Jewish History
[Recovering Iraq’s Past (special initiative)] $98,536
Project Director: Robert Sink
Project Title: The Iraqi Jewish Archive
Description: The creation of an item-level collection assessment and inventory database of books and documents in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, and Arabic that provide evidence of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Iraq since 762 B.C.E. A sample of the variety of paper-based materials in the archives would be conserved as a testbed for a future phase of the project.
NEW ORLEANS is a beautiful, exciting city, and the tragedy that has happened to it is almost beyond belief. I had my first teaching job there (at Tulane University) and got married there. We still have friends there. New Orleanian readers, you and your city are in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

SAVING HOLY BOOKS: The latest Commentator (the Yeshiva University student newspaper) has a gripping account of the night in 1966 when YU students helped rescue books damaged in the Jewish Theological Seminary Library fire.
The Library Fire at JTS
By Hillel Goldberg
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In 1966, in college, it was hard to study, and I can't just blame the times. More than a civil rights revolution, a cultural revolution and the Vietnam War pulled me away from my studies. I.T., my best friend in college, and I, had our own self-created distractions.

We found charity or social work cases to take on. We worked for Soviet Jewry; we helped students struggling with gratuitous bureaucratic sufferings imposed on them by Yeshiva College. We also engaged in more than our share of philosophical discussions, engendered by what we regarded as, alternatively, brilliant or stupid remarks made by our religious studies instructors. We spent way too much time saving the world and far too little time studying.

One day, after a long stretch spending hours each day on all kinds of projects, we had a heart-to-heart. We just had to stop paying attention to the world and start paying attention to school. We reached a solemn agreement. No more cases. No more projects. No more discussions.

This was in the early afternoon. A couple of hours later, I.T. knocked on my door. He was only slightly sheepish, maybe not even that. Basically, it's as if we had never spoken that day and never reached an agreement. He says: A fire has burned down much of the library at the Jewish Theological Seminary. And what wasn't burned, is now about to be lost due to massive water damage. Books are water-logged.

What happened to our previous resolve, only a couple of hours old?

Did we even have that discussion?

We didn't even refer to it.

I.T. looked at me. I looked at him.

We had to save the water-logged, sacred tomes in the library. We had to do it.

THE PULSA DE-NURA CURSERS will not be charged with a crime:
No charges over Sharon death wish
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has decided not to press charges against a group of Jewish extremists who carried out an ancient curse ceremony meant to place a death wish on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, since the appeal was to God and not to mankind, the Justice Ministry said Tuesday.


Actually, it's not an "ancient" ritual; it's only a century old.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

JIM WEST is misrepresenting my published views once again, and I'm getting pretty tired of it. Having to put up this post is one of the most unpleasant experiences of my blogging career.

In Jim's post "Washed in the Blood of Peer-Review", in the context of the discussion of "open source" biblical studies, he writes:
A while back Jim Davila and I were discussing things historical concerning the so called "Solomonic Temple". I suggested that we needed hard evidence before we could speak confidently about the existence of said temple and Jim suggested that unless such a suggestion appeared in a "peer reviewed journal" he really didn't have time or interest in discussing it.

Jim's devotion to peer reviewed journals struck me as a bit narrow (for it implies, doesn't it, that unless an idea is found in a peer reviewed journal it is of no value and need not be considered).

The debate came down to whether any evidence apart from the archaeological -- narrowly construed as architectural, apparently excluding epigraphic -- could be admitted to show that there was a First Temple. I'll just refer you to what I subsequently wrote here. Jim's efforts to debunk the First Temple don't add up to much and he doesn't seem to take them very seriously himself.

But that's a side issue. More to the point, I said in the relevant post (after discussing Jim's ideas at some length):
As I said, I've not seen the position Jim is taking here in a specialist peer-reviewed publication, and I'm not inclined to put a lot of my time into debating positions that haven't passed that hurdle.

Jim posted a similarly distorted interpretation of this (followed by some sarcastic comments):
Hence, if a position isn't found in a "specialist peer reviewed publication" it has no merit and isn't worthy of the time it may involve to discuss it until it "passes that hurdle". Okie dokie, fair enough. The matter is thereby summarily concluded.

In response, I expanded on my comment in an update to the same post (emphasis now added):
This, of course, is not what I said and, given the amount of time I've spent this weekend discussing his position, is rather ungracious. Jim either thinks there was no Iron Age II Temple or else wishes to act as devil's advocate for that idea. Fine. But so far he's given me no indication that he is anything but a congregation of one. I have asked for publications on this idea and so far have received no answer. The only argument Jim has produced in favor of the idea is the lack of archaeological evidence, which I have addressed above. Somehow this is transformed into "no evidence" and "no proof." I have pointed out the matter of the Deuteronomistic History. It's certainly a mainstream position (I'm not saying a consensus) that Dtr was published either in the time of Josiah or not long afterward, and this seems to me to be the most persuasive view. Not everyone would agree, and that's fine. It's worth discussing. But Dtr is not "no evidence" and "no proof."

I'm willing to spend some time discussing speculative ideas, but there's a limit to how much, which is what I said above. I did not say that such an idea "has no merit and isn't worthy of the time it may involve to discuss it." It depends on the idea and the context of the discussion, doesn't it? Jim is putting words in my mouth that I did not say. He did this to Judith Weiss as well and it is not an appealing rhetorical tactic.

And it still isn't. Of course I discuss ideas on this blog that haven't appeared in peer-review journals. I never said I didn't. I discussed Jim's ideas about the Temple. But, as I did say, there's a limit to how much of my time I'm willing to spend on such things -- especially on a poorly thought-out position that no one has suggested in a serious publication and that no one, including Jim, seems actually to believe. Blogs can be good for discussing the merit of ideas in their early stages, and I do some of that here, but ultimately progress in the field comes from the peer-review system. It's far from perfect, but it's better than anything else anyone has come up with. To assert that "it exists simply for the preservation of power" (by "white boys," no less!) is silly.

To put it very simply: I never said that I "really didn't have time or interest in discussing" ideas not yet published in peer-review venues. I do discuss them sometimes on this blog. Nor did I say that such an idea "has no merit and isn't worthy of the time it may involve to discuss it" or that "it is of no value and need not be considered." What I said (again, after actually discussing one of these ideas) was that I am disinclined to spend a lot of time debating these positions and that how much in any given case depends on the position, how much merit I see in it, and the context of the discussion (e.g., I take time to refute Palestinian Jewish-Temple denial not because it has merit, but because the PA and others use it as a political tool).

Jim West persists in attributing views to me which I do not hold and, this time, which I have explicitly repudiated. Whatever excuse one might find for his misreading of my first, brief comment, there is no excuse for his neglecting my detailed clarification of it. He has ignored what I actually said and insists on saying in public that I hold silly, extreme views that I do not hold. In his latest post he does not even do me the courtesy of linking to my actual comments. If he had, it would have become clear to his readers that what he said was incorrect.

Jim West owes me a retraction and an apology.

I have no more time to waste on this and will not be replying to anything else he says about me. I advise my readers simply to ignore it.

UPDATE (31 August): Ed Cook comments on the issue of peer review.
ANOTHER DA VINCI CODE DEBUNKING, this one in the Scotsman by a doctoral student at the University of Glasgow.

UPDATE: Bad link fixed.
THE CHALDOASSYRIANS object to the language in the Iraqi draft-constitution:
Iraq's Draft Constitution and the ChaldoAssyrians
Posted GMT 8-29-2005 22:2:31 (AINA)

WASHINGTON -- In an unprecedented move, the U.S. administration is attempting to whitewash the division of Iraq's Christian ChaldoAssyrians along sectarian lines in the recently tabled Iraqi constitution. This effort, driven by Kurdish authorities, facilitated in part by the complacence of the Bush administration, only makes the U.S. guilty of aiding and abetting in the perpetuation of a Saddam era program of cultural genocide against this ethno-religious, indigenous group.

Saddam Hussein and previous Iraqi regimes worked to nurture artificial rifts in the indigenous ChaldoAssyrian people of Iraq in order to dilute their ability to assert their religious, political, economic and human rights in the country. The name ChaldoAssyrian is in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) and reflects a compromise among the representative leadership of this Christian community. In the few remaining hours before the constitutional deadline, behind closed doors, Kurdish officials altered the wording in Article 122 of the constitution from ChaldoAssyrian to "Chaldean, Assyrian" as two separate peoples. This undermines the best intentions of the U.S. in Iraq vis-à-vis the most vulnerable of minorities.

U.S. officials must intercede on this matter and reverse something that will entrench one of Saddam's most heinous human rights abuses, instead of abolishing it. ChaldoAssyrians are neither Arabs nor Kurds. They speak the language of Christ and have kept that language alive despite Saddam's best efforts. They are one ethnic group who are also Christians from an array of denominations. Their values are so aligned with those of Americans and other western societies that they have little trouble assimilating when forced to flee Iraq. They are the most ardent pro-democracy community in Iraq. ChaldoAssyrians are presently slated to be governed as a religious minority in accordance with Islam's principles.

The U.S. must intercede and have the language corrected to reflect the Christians' ethnic unity if it wants to avoid laying the foundations for the exodus of these indigenous people from their homeland.

Chaldeans are simply ChaldoAssyrians who happen to be Catholic. Through its silence, the U.S. is condoning religious-based principles of constitutionalism by identifying a people for being Catholic. This flies in the face of the very core principles the U.S. itself has been ostensibly trying to promote during the deliberations. In this framework, religion does have a place in governing people constitutionally.


Monday, August 29, 2005

MINUSCULE GREEK SCRIPT: Bryan Cox has an interesting post at Biblaridion. (Via ricoblog.)

UPDATE: Actually, there are lots of good blog posts on various biblioblogs and related blogs. My blogroll is out of date, but you can find much there. If you haven't already, do set up a list of RSS feeds in your personal toolbar and keep track of what the biblioblogs are saying. I try to point out good posts now and then, but I've given up on trying to highlight all the posts I find really interesting. There are just too many of them.

But here's an interesting post on recent publications pertaining to Hebrew manuscripts over at Hagahot, a blog to which I've linked now and again, but which I haven't yet had a chance to put on my blogroll. It's another good one to keep an eye on.

Oh, and by the way, if you had any trouble accessing that radio interview, have a look at the post again. I've added a new link that seems to work better.
ARMENIAN BIBLICAL MANUSCRIPTS are on display at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts:
Museum preserves history, culture of Armenia
By Mark Pratt / Associated Press
Monday, August 29, 2005

WATERTOWN -- Armenia has been conquered by the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Ottoman Turks and Russians.

Before gaining its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its people were oppressed, murdered and scattered across the globe.

"It is a rough and bloody history," said Gary Lind-Sinanian, curator of the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown.

The largest Armenian museum in the U.S. preserves and promotes the distinct and vibrant culture of the Armenian people, who have survived and thrived despite their sad history.

It houses a collection of 20,000 artifacts, and continually changing displays of ornate Bibles, Gospels and prayer books; colorful rugs, clothing and iles; antique musical instruments; ancient coins from the time before Christ and dazzling jewelry.


Through Oct. 30, it features an exhibit called "Monks, Merchants and Missionaries: The Bible in the Armenian Tradition." There are ornate and colorful hand-transcribed and decorated Gospels and prayer books, including one that dates to 1207 and was in the same family for 39 generations before being donated to the museum.

"The book was said to have healing properties," Lind-Sinanian said. "People with sick relatives would travel miles to rub bread on the cover, then bring the bread back for their sick relatives to eat."


There's also a library containing more than 22,000 books. I wonder if the museum has any manuscripts of Armenian biblical apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.
TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: The Palestinian Authority still wants Yasser Arafat to be buried on the Temple Mount.
PA wants Arafat tomb on Temple Mount

The Palestinian Authority will continue to work toward moving Yasser Arafat's tomb to the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department, announced Sunday.

Erekat, who was speaking during a meeting with PA security officers in Jericho, said the issue of transferring the late Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat's grave from Ramallah to Jerusalem was a "trust" deposited with the PA.

"From the Israeli perspective the issue is not on the agenda and neither do I expect it to be on the agenda," said Mark Regev, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman in response to a query by The Jerusalem Post last night.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

MY RADIO INTERVIEW with Bnai Brith International on the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project is now available online here. It's the segment on "The Translation of Ancient Jewish Texts." For some reason the Mac versions of the shows are are dead, so I haven't listened to it yet. But it seemed to go well in the event.

UPDATE (29 August): If you've had any trouble accessing the interview, try this page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says "B'nai Brith Radio Studio J." There are two buttons at the bottom: the lefthand one is for PCs and the right one for the Mac. Both seem to work fine.
I AM SORRY TO REPORT HARTMUT STEGEMANN'S SUDDEN DEATH on 22 August. The funeral was on Friday. Eileen Schuller, who is currently in Göttingen, e-mailed me with the news today.

Professor Stegemann was a well-known Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. His work included a reconstruction of the Cave One Hymn Scroll and studies pertaining to the origins of the Qumran sectarians. He also worked on the historical Jesus.
Requiescat in pace
Filmmaker Jacobovici offers biblical archeology with a twist

Staff Reporter (Canadian Jewish News)

When you think of Simcha Jacobovici’s finely wrought documentaries, words like earnest and serious immediately come to mind.

Over the past 15 years, Jacobovici, one of the founders of Associated Producers, has made films running the gamut from Deadly Currents, which dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict, to The Selling of Innocents, which revolved around child trafficking and prostitution.

But now, in a shift of gears, the award-winning Toronto filmmaker has turned his talents to biblical archeology. He has churned out a 26-part series, The Naked Archaeologist, the first episode of which will be aired on Vision TV on Sept. 5 at 9:30 p.m.


“I want to serve it up naked, stripped of the bullshit,” he said in a burst of Jacobovician rhetoric. “I bring a kind of simplicity, an outsider’s perspective, the skills of an investigative journalist, to it.”

He gravitated to the subject of archeology after making The Quest for the Lost Tribes in 1996, a film that explored an intriguing dimension of Jewish history.

But what really got him going was his perception that archeologists generally treat chunks of the Bible as fiction rather than fact.

“The received wisdom of academia on biblical archeology is that the earliest parts, from Exodus onward, are mythological stories and fairy tales.”

Archeologists who indulge in such practices are falsifying the truth, somewhat like Holocaust deniers who deny that six million Jews were murdered during World War II.

Someone should tell him that the current fad of dragging the Holocaust into every argument cheapens not only the argument, but also the Holocaust. And this particular comparison is ignorant, offensive (to both archaeologists and Holocaust victims), and just silly.
Jacobovici, who became an Orthodox Jew more than a decade ago, stands firmly in the camp of the believers.

“From a historical aspect, I take the Bible as history, unless someone demonstrates it’s not. I have no reason to believe the stories in the Bible didn’t happen.” He paused, asserting, “If you don’t think it’s true, prove it!”

Here he shows how utterly unqualified he is to be making a program on archaeology. First, you can't prove a negative. Second, archaeologists have been evaluating the biblical text for many decades in light of what they've been digging up and, in certain cases such as those of the patriarchal narratives and the Exodus, the two don't add up. There is a vast scholarly literature on these subjects, much of it readily available to nonspecialists and aimed at them. Have a look at it, Mr. Jacobovici. Then, if you have a problem with it, go learn the ancient languages and read the archaeological reports. But don't say "If you don’t think it’s true, prove it!" as though this contributes something to the discussion.
He argued that some biblical archeologists are motivated by crass politics and a dislike of Jews.

Modern archeology emerged with the rise of fascism, and some archeologists were plainly anti-Semitic, he said.

And in the case of Palestinians seeking to delegitimize Israel’s claim to the land, archeology is merely another tool in their arsenal, he added.

Fascism too? And anti-Semitism? It's all very well to impute vile motives to people with whom one disagrees, but their arguments remain to be considered after the mudslinging is over. Rather than addressing the evidence for archaeological arguments with which he disagrees, he resorts to these generalized and undemonstrated accusations.
Currently, Jacobovici is editing and polishing his next documentary, The Exodus Decoded, which will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel come November and privately screened around the same time.

There is not a single shred of archeological evidence to support the thesis that the events in Exodus occurred, he allowed.

But in his forthcoming 90-minute film, a mix of The Matrix and The Da Vinci Code, he excavates proof that Exodus is not a figment of the imagination.

This doesn't sound very promising either. Why is the Discovery Channel airing this kind of nonsense?

I see that Christopher Heard has already published similar observations over at Higgaion.

UPDATE: Tyler Williams also noted the program some time ago at Codex.
THE IRANIANS seem to be getting in on Jewish-Temple denial, although the source is Palestinian. This article ("Upon Growing Judaization of AI-Qods,
Palestine' Chief Judge Urges Islamic Nations to Defend the Holy City
,) from the Iranian Quran News Agency, reports, inter alia, on a Friday sermon by Mohammed Hussein in the Al Aqsa Mosque. The relevant bit is:
As Al-Aqsa mosque is more endangered than ever before, Al-Aqsa preacher headed the attention that the Jewish extremists and settlers do not stop incitement against Al-Aqsa mosque and their overt calls to harm it and destroy it to build the alleged temple mount on its ruins.

This is pretty incoherent, but it seems to be trying to say that the Jewish extremists want to rebuild the "alleged" Temple on the Temple Mount.

More of the usual from the Palestinian Authority. I see now that Al Jazeerah and the PA's International Press Centre are carrying what must be the same press release.