Revelation with a ‘pre-Christian’ core?

The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelat...

The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelation. 13th century manuscript. British Library, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Tabor writes -

In the references below I have put these interpolative elements bold italicized brackets. This exercise strongly suggests that these are later additions to an original Jewish text inserted to “Christianize” a book that in its origins had nothing to do with Jesus. This is a rather astounding phenomenon and once one sees it it seems clear that the underlying original text remains intact and makes complete sense without these references:

via Can A Pre-Christian Version of the Book of Revelation Be Recovered? | TaborBlog.

His exercise is remarkably mundane and based on the same subjective movements employed in the Q camp. We simply have no hard evidence of a ‘pre-Christian’ apocalypse in Revelation.

And yet…

Tabor’s argument has merit and I would have no disagreement with those who can see such things. My only real disagreement is drawing too fine a line between Judaism and Christianity at the stage when this was written and implying early Jewish believers in Jesus ‘Christianized’ pre-existing documents. Like the Didache, Revelation would be leftovers. Well, a basic core of it anyway.

Sidenote – several scholars see in the Didache a pre-existing document likely used by later believers in their worship. Not to draw too close to anachronistic imagery here, but Wesley used the 39 Articles of Religion from the Anglican Church to draw up his 25 Articles of Religion for Methodists groups. Wesley was not yet independent, but remained Anglican. He simply used what he had and what was familiar. 

As I have previously stated, my position on Revelation is that it is built on Psalm 2. I further believe ancient liturgical practices are incorporated inside of Revelation. Fitting, I believe, since Psalm 2 and liturgy would most likely go together. Jewish believers in Jesus, like they do with other works, would see a natural enough structure to give them something to use to build their new community. After all, they aren’t really separated from Judaism of the time. It is possible the Jewish author, one who believed in Jesus, took a pre-existing liturgical document and made use of it for his community. It was familiar, safe, and served his theological purpose. The pre-existing document, a pre-midrash of Psalm 2, fitted nicely with Jesus becoming enthroned as the Lamb. And remember, any such pre-existing document would not necessarily not belong to the new group, especially if they saw themselves in continuity with Moses and the Prophets.

It wasn’t ‘Christanized;’ it was reworked to include the new order of things.

In other words, we shouldn’t really call works ‘Christian’ until we get to certain times in the 2nd century nor should we assume there was an agenda to ‘Christianize’ Jewish documents. This is anachronistic.

So, while we may have a pre-existing core, we cannot really say it is Jewish and the added material is Christian. Such a dichotomy likely did not exist at the time. Rather, we have a pre-existing liturgical framework Jewish believers in Jesus used to plug in their theological statements. I do not, however, believe we can easily remove the core, if there is really a core, from the overlaying layers.

As far as the author, I am not as convinced as some the name ‘John’ is not the author’s real name. I mean, Mark is but a surname.

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What can you buy with enough money?


Title$, position$… and the revi$ion of hi$tory.

First, note this post… Hilarious.

If you’ve followed the Simcha/Tabor fiasco, you’ll note the need to call into question certain items, especially related to Simcha’s interview with Father Puech. This has caused some to reconsider some of the long standing issues from the beginning, such as the number of replicas in the possession of Simcha, et al.

Dr. Mark Goodacre has revealed that there are two replicas.

simcha is paranoid 1

Simcha swears that his opponents are something like 33rd degree Masons

Dr. Tabor has since responded, suggesting that their is a pre-existent narrative (we are unable to prove) and,

They are indeed somewhat different since two different labs produced them using the photos we had taken. I think the second might be a bit more accurate overall, especially in the proportional size of the “fish” and a more careful representation of the “little fish” along the border, plus a few other details, such as the “zig zigs” on the left end that should have been added.

As Tom Verenna has pointed out, Tabor has been shown to have changed certain items and representations based on criticism, without citing either his changes or his motivations for such changes.

Notice who Tabor says made the second replica –

The second was done in Israel by Associated Producers, for the launch of The Jesus Discovery film

Associated Producers is Simcha’s company. Further, there is considerable time between the creation of the two replicas. What transpired in this time? The criticism leveled from actual scholars.

There are issues here as well, but more on that as it develops.

For instance, see Tom’s post on what makes a replica a replica.



It has been shared in numerous venues, but Father Puech, a research giant in the Dead Sea Scrolls and latest victim of the Simcha propaganda machine, is now retracting much of his previously aired statements in support of the so-called Jonah fish. Fr. Puech has gone so far as to say he was abused by Simcha. If you have seen the video, and there is no reason to post it once again, then you will have noticed the reproduction was not what the actual pictures showed. Thus, the Professor was lulled into a common trap — the presenter gives only the evidence followed by subtle suggestions so that the respondent is left with but one simple choice.

I would wager heavily that had Puech dismissed Simcha’s claims, we would not have seen the video at all. But, that is in the past now.

Fr. Puech was visited by someone he thought was Noam, but then introduced to Simcha.1 Of course, he was called for an interview on his area of expertise, and then surprised with this.

I am ashamed to have been abused by the Simcha Jacobici film and by the exploitation of the interview they did. Simcha never presented himself by his name before the inerview; I was called by Noam for an interview first on the Dead sea Scrolls, with that addition in two different occasions.

For now, the professor maintains with a guarded edge a reading of Jonah, but I suspect when he sees the evidence, he will retract.

And this follows neatly the revelations by Daniel McClellan and Tom Verenna about certain word games and uncited changes. This hasn’t stopped Simcha from still posing as a legitimate (co-)director of an archeological dig. Remember, you can buy this position but it is more like an ex officio position than anything requiring work.


Dr. Mark Goodacre as asked for Simcha to apologize.

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  1. Note, this site links to James Tabor’s blog, Simcha’s partner as it were. I must give high praise to Dr. Tabor who posted the letter on his blog.

Tabor, Jacobovici, and deception? Feudal Academia

Cannes Film Festival

this is the image of the real Cannes Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daniel concludes, in part…

It should be needless to say, but the title of Tabor’s blog post is entirely deceptive. Whether that deception was calculated or the product of naivety and lack of forethought is not clear (the latter may be possible in light of the author’s misspelling of Émile Puech’s name, by the way).

via Tabor, Jacobovici, and THE Cannes Film Festival | Daniel O. McClellan.

You’ll have to note that the New York film festival is akin to the ‘a film festival located in Cannes to rip off the name of the town’ — you essentially buy your award…

Much like Simcha purchased his ‘co-directorship’ for the archaeological dig…

No word yet on how he got his no-cla$$es-assigned adjunct position at Huntington… I don’t want to speculate…

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Jim still isn’t convinced Simcha and Tabor are correct

And should he be. As much as some like Tabor, many people he is following a conman, er, conperson in Simcha (I’m not using the dollar sign because Simcha said it was an attack against his Jewish ethnicity. I don’t want to be accused of that, because that’s not my goal. I just think Simcha is out to make money, regardless of truth).

Anyway, read something of Jim’s thoughts here.

Is Tabor right? Did Paul know/invent the Virgin Birth?

These legendary stories from Greco-Roman culture may well have contributed to accounts of Jesus’ miraculous birth in Matthew and Luke but I would suggest an alternative. I am convinced that the idea of Jesus’ birth from a virgin–without a human father–implicitly goes back to the apostle Paul. Paul’s letters date several decades before our New Testament gospels and it is Paul’s understanding of Jesus as the pre-existent, divine, Son of God, that lays the conceptual groundwork for our Christmas stories.

via James D. Tabor: Did Paul Invent the Virgin Birth?.

I’m not completely convinced Paul believed in a pre-existent son in the Platonic sense, although I think he would have in the ideal sense — the Jewish sense as expressed in the Psalms of Solomon.

There is not much I over all disagree with, don’t get me wrong, with the article, except for Paul’s pre-existent son and his invention of the virgin birth. It is possible that such a tradition existed early on, although we find nothing of it in the Gospel of Mark, nor do we find it in Mark’s literary sequel, John.

Anyway, read the article. Good stuff.

How Bayem’s Theorem and the Talpiot Tomb merged

I just thought with the pseudos popping up, this was funny:

We analyze the Talpiot tomb, which has been alleged to be the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Using Bayes’ Theorem, we derive a simple function that estimates the probability that the tomb houses the remains of Jesus and his family. Unfortunately, this function cannot be evaluated exactly, because several of the key parameters are unknown. By using random variables with reasonable probability distributions, we examine the mean behavior and range of the function under a variety of conditions. We conclude that the probability is low (on the order of 2% or less) that the Talpiot tomb is the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. (pdf)

Wonder where Carrier got his idea of Bayem’s theorem at?

Could it be that Simcha is wrong? Could it be?

I’d say yes.

Maybe it’s me, but I’m funny about words.

In terms of your work, April, on Early Christology you state: “Once the link had been forged between Jesus’ exaltation and the investiture of the Divine Name, there was no turing back” (How We Talk About Christology Matters page 6). In this tomb, there is an inscription asking “Jehova” to “rise up”, i.e. an “exaltation”. No Jew, then or now, would write the Tetragrammaton on a box full of bones i.e. “Tuma”, or impurity. So whoever wrote this name may not have meant it in the usual way. Given that this inscription appears 60 meters from a “Jesus, son of Joseph” and inches from an ossuary that breaks the commandment concerning graven images, can it be that the Tetragrammaton here is referring to Jesus? Can it be that the combination of the inscription and the Jonah image demonstrates that, from the very beginning, Jesus’ followers parted company from normative Judaism?

Jehovah? Really? Beyond that, this series of questions have already been answered,

“Regarding the reading of line two, I wish to emphasize that I do not consider the reading “Yahweh” (i.e., the Greek form of it) to be convincing at all. Simply put, this reading is wrong. To be sure, the tetragrammaton is attested in ancient Greek (with various spellings) and Iaio can be considered a viable Greek spelling of the tetragrammaton.

Also, see here. I think* Simcha may be wrong about the whole ossuary thing. See here as well. And here. And here. And really, here.

My kids have better random squiggles than the Jonah Ossuary

Skeptics are calling the new claim “Rorschach test archaeology.” Steve Caruso, a professional translator who analyzes inscriptions on ancient artifacts for antiquity dealers, said Charlesworth’s interpretation of the inscription is “more of an exercise in reading tea leaves.”

Robert Cargill, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa, concurs. “One must do some rather strenuous mental gymnastics to arrive at the letters for the name of Jonah in this image, including ignoring lines that are clearly present but do not fit the desired inscription, joining together lines that are clearly not conjoined, reshaping letters, and eliminating any semblance of linear alignment,” Cargill says on his blog.

If all those adjustments are permissible when interpreting ancient text, the lines in the inscription can be made to spell out anything from “Jesus” to “Yo Yo Ma,” the scholars note.

via ‘Earliest Christian Artifact’ Just Random Squiggles, Scholars Argue | Jonah Ossuary |

This is a rebuttal of a previous piece written today and posted on

Poor thing… Simcha forgot that this was the internet age.

Who makes the Resurrection all about Jesus? Simcha does

I dvr’d the Nightline News program and watched it first thing this morning. (Reactions here, here, here, here, here and here.)

One of the things that stood out to me was Simcha and Tabor’s insistence that anything during the time period which has in anyway a connection to the belief of a/the Resurrection must be “Christian.”

Resurrection entered Jewish belief long before Christ and was, for several sects, a central part.

We see this in the Maccabees and even, somewhat, in Tobit. It’s in the Wisdom of Solomon and at Qumran.

While the fish is a vase, and other lies persist, the must striking  thing to me is the glaring and self-serving theological lunacy which allows these authors to think that just because they read something on an ossuary (a frakin ossuary… a bone box which looked to a resurrection) regarding an upward direction that suddenly there is proof of Christianity… and what’s more, that they have a right to sell this trash to the public.

But whom I really have disgust in are those people who just believe it.

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