Monday, February 06, 2017

Nonsense on the Copper Scroll from the AP?

ANOTHER ARK OF THE COVENANT STORY: Lawton resident continues search for Copper Scroll (KALEY PATTERSON , AP). I am very surprised, and indeed have difficulty believing, that the Associated Press would publish this article.

The first paragraphs have a great many errors: the Copper Scroll dates to the first or second century CE, not the sixth century BCE; it's not clear that it is about the Temple treasures, but if it is, they are the treasures of Herod's Temple, not Solomon's; there are 64 locations mentioned in the Copper Scroll, not 57; no authors are mentioned in the Copper Scroll, certainly not Haggai or Jeremiah; there is no mention of the specified Temple/Tabernacle treasures in the last location of the Copper Scroll; any connection with the story in 2 Maccabees is wildly speculative; and, to be specific, there is no mention of the breastplate of the high priest, the altar, or the Ark of the Covenant in the Copper Scroll.

It rather sounds as though someone has been reading the legends in The Treatise of the Vessels and has confused some of its contents with the Copper Scroll.

The article also reports many claims about prominent named Israeli individuals. Notice, however, that it makes no claim that those individuals have verified the stories. At least one of them, Yuval Peleg, is no longer living. It gives us no reason to think that the author of the article has interviewed any of the living people to confirm the claims.

The story of Mr. Barfield's supposed discoveries sounds wildly fanciful to me. The author of the article has not interviewed any specialists in ancient Judaism or the archaeology of ancient Israel for evaluations of the claims. As usual with these things, I will believe exactly as much of it as is verified by Mr Barfield producing some actual ancient artifacts, such as vessels of silver and gold; gems; and, ideally, the high priest's ephod and breastplate, and, of course, the Ark of the Covenant. And once the produced objects are authenticated by real archaeologists and other specialists, preferably in peer-review publications.

This article is published in the Washington Times, apparently on the basis of another article published in The Lawton Constitution in Southwest Oklahoma. The latter article, if it is still there, is behind a subscription wall. I would have ignored the Washington Times article if it were not given an AP byline. Someone please tell me that the article is not really connected with the AP. If the attribution is correct, I shall have to rethink my assumption that AP articles can at least be relied on to do basic fact checking.

As I was finishing this blog post, I checked my own archive and was reminded of Robert Cargill's refutation of Mr. Barfield's claims back in 2009. You can read the details there.

The real story this time around is that the AP has endorsed the current very problematical article published in the Washington Times — if that is in fact what has happened.

For past PaleoJudaica posts on the Copper Scroll, start here (cf. here) and follow the many links.