no, simcha, you didn’t find the ‘nails of the cross’ of christ (a week before easter)

Simcha holds a nail.

Simcha holds a nail. That must prove it.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.

Everyone’s least favorite fake tv archaeologist “veteran investigator” presenter of ridiculous, sensationalistic trash σκύβαλα, Simcha Jacobovici, is releasing a documentary entitled, “The Nails Of The Cross,” which “investigates” whether the nails from the crucifixion of Jesus have been discovered. And completely coincidentally, Simcha’s press release machine is revving up a week before Easter. Shockerrrrr! (said with a high pitched voice and dripping with sarcasm.)

The South African Independent Online reports Mr. Jacobovici’s claims in a Reuters story by Ari Rabinovitch:

“What we are bringing to the world is the best archaeological argument ever made that two of the nails from the crucifixion of Jesus have been found,” he said in an interview, wearing his trademark traditional knitted cap.

(I love that they mentioned his “trademark knitted cap!)

Jim West broke this story this morning. And the unwitting press is already sopping it up like vinegar in a sponge. The UK’s Telegraph is even running video. (Thank goodness Dan Bahat is there to talk some sense into folks.)

So let me ask: Why is it that Mr. Jacobovici continues to prey on an oft unwitting public so near to the Christian holy days? Is his greed for cash so great that he’s willing to jump to any conclusion just to get on TV? Has he been so far ostracized from anything resembling legitimacy within professional archaeological circles that he feels he has nothing to lose by using his own production company to create ridiculous documentaries about unsubstantiated claims?

The Israel Antiquities Authority knows Mr. Jacobovici is making this up. It said in a statement:

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which oversaw the Jerusalem excavation, said in reaction to the film’s release that it had never been proven beyond doubt that the tomb was the burial place of Caiaphas. It also said that nails are commonly found in tombs.

“There is no doubt that the talented director Simcha Jacobovici created an interesting film with a real archaeological find at its centre, but the interpretation presented in it has no basis in archaeological findings or research,” it said.

Crucifixion nail through the ankle bone

Replica of crucifixion nail through the ankle bone of Yehohanan ben Hagkol. It is the only evidence of a nail used in crucifixion in Jerusalem ever discovered.

So once again, we have Simcha Jacobovici making unsubstantiated, fantastic claims a week before Easter with the sole purpose of getting people to watch his nonsensical documentary. Keep in mind, anyone who has dug in a Roman period site in Israel has most likely found nails. I have. But to claim that they are the nails of the Crucifixion is wholly irresponsible, even if you did find your nails in a tomb. There has only been evidence of one nail used in crucifixion in Jerusalem, a replica of which is in the Israel Museum. It was discovered by my friend and former excavation director Dr. Vassilios Tzaferis of the IAA, and the nail was in an ankle bone in an ossuary clearly inscribed in Hebrew with the name “Yehohanan ben Hagkol.”

So let’s explore Mr. Jacobovici’s actual claim a bit further. According to Reuters:

The film begins by revisiting the burial place hailed by many at the time as the burial place of Caiaphas, who in the New Testament presides over the trial of Jesus.

The grave, along with a number of ossuaries – or bone boxes – was uncovered during construction work on a hillside a few kilometres south of the Old City.

Caiaphas is a major figure in the Gospels, having sent Jesus to the Romans and on to his death, and one of Jacobovici’s assertions is that the high priest did not deserve such a bad reputation.

Two iron nails were found in the tomb [of Caiaphas!] – one on the ground and one actually inside an ossuary – and, according to the film, disappeared shortly after. [emphasis mine]

Jacobovici says that because Caiaphas is so closely linked to the crucifixion, he believes the nails found in his tomb will be shown to belong to Jesus.

‘What we are bringing to the world is the best archaeological argument ever made that two of the nails from the crucifixion of Jesus have been found,’ he said.

‘If you look at the whole story, historical, textual, archaeological, they all seem to point at these two nails being involved in a crucifixion,’ he said.’ And since Caiaphas is only associated with Jesus’s crucifixion, you put two and two together and they seem to imply that these are the nails.’

(all bold, red, and italics mine)

“Two and two together”??? Let me get this straight:

  • Simcha claims to have found the tomb of the High Priest Caiaphas, a claim which is uncertain because archaeologists aren’t even sure that the tomb is Caiaphas’ tomb.
  • The excavation found two nails in the tomb, one in an ossuary, and one on the ground.
  • The nails disappeared (i.e., someone took or misplaced them).
  • The nails “magically reappear” in a lab in Tel Aviv 20 years later.
  • Because Caiaphas is mentioned in the story of Jesus, and the nails “disappeared” for a time, they must be the nails of Jesus’ crucifixion?????

How in the name of anything that makes sense does that make any sense? Why weren’t the nails discovered in the Tomb of Jesus that Simcha claimed to have discovered in 2007 as part of a press campaign touting his last laughable documentary, The Jesus Family Tomb, just before Easter of 2007 (which was so heavily criticized by scholars for its inaccuracies and sensational jumps to conclusions that Discovery pulled its subsequent airings)? Or, did Mr. Jacobovici think that the world would forget his last unsubstantiated claim?

Perhaps the words of the principal from the Adam Sandler cult classic, Billy Madison, would serve as an appropriate response:

“Mr. Madison Jacobovici, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

The fact that the Mail Online provides lots of pretty pictures, and Mr. Jacobovici makes a speculative documentary, doesn’t mean the above lack of logic makes any sense.

Finding a nail in an archaeological dig in Jerusalem does not mean you’ve discovered the nails of Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s irresponsible, and Simcha should know better by now. This is nothing more than a press campaign designed to stir up controversy to get people to watch a bad documentary.  And Mr. Jacobovici’s latest TV offering is nothing more than a train wreck of reality television. Simcha should probably just break down and get his own fake reality show. (Oh wait, he already does.)

a christmas tree so tacky, glenn beck would be proud

Boss Creations Glowing Cross "Put the Cross back in Christmas" Trees

Boss Creations Glowing Cross "Put the Cross back in Christmas" Trees. Now in "Natural" and "American Flag"

I simply don’t know what to say about this line of merchandise. A company, Boss Creations, has tried to put the ‘cross’ back in Christmas by selling Christmas trees with actual glowing crosses in them!!

And just when you thought Santa’s special troop of fundamentalist tacky elves couldn’t get any worse, Boss Creations has gone and Glenn Beck-ified Christmas by creating a red, white, and blue American flag Christmas tree, complete with glowing cross. Boss Creation’s new ‘Christian Nation’ Christmas tree (I kid you not, I’m not making this up) means they’ve gotten back to the true meaning of Christmas and put the ‘America’ back into Christmas.

(John 11:35)

Boss Creations "Christian Nation" Flier/Letter to President Obama


The existence of this product has forced me to create a new blog category entitled HOLY CRAP, because that is literally what garbage like this is: HOLY CRAP! Or, like Steven Colbert said, “It’s like George Washington and Jesus teamed up and declared independence from taste.”

They even took the time to write President Obama a letter. (I wonder if they’re Republicans?)

HT: Steven Colbert and Steven Colbert.

no, it’s not a nail from the cross of christ

A nail. That’s it. A nail.

as my mother used to say to me, ‘i just got through warning you, and you did it anyway.’

the telegraph is the latest in the long line of irresponsible, ridiculous, and purely sensationalistic media outlets to prey on the hopes of some gullible christians around the world and make a claim (or ask a silly question) with absolutely no archaeological or factual basis. their latest offering asks if a nail found in an archaeological excavation could have been a nail used in the cross of christ. the headline reads:

Nail from Christ’s crucifixion found?

the subheading reads:

A nail dating from the time of Christ’s crucifixion has been found at a remote fort believed to have once been a stronghold of the Knights Templar.

antonio lombatti has already addressed this issue.

listen up: there is absolutely no evidence to support any claim that this was a nail from the cross of christ, as the headline asks.

btw, this is not ‘minimalism;’ it is just the facts of archaeology. allow me to explain.

the archaeologist says that the nail

dates from the first to second centuries

and that it appeared to have been

handed with extreme care, as if it was a relic.

but that’s all we know. someone ages ago may have thought it was a relic from the time of christ. all the archaeology shows us is that the nail dates to within a couple of hundred years of the time of jesus.

and what is the context of the find? the answer is a small fort on a tiny island just off the coast of the port of funchal, a city on another small island, madeira, off the southwest coast of portugal. according to its website, the location:

Fort of São José is the headquarters of the Principality of the Pontinha, a self-proclaimed country by Prince D. Renato Barros. The Fort of São José is located off the coast of the port of Funchal, capital of the Madeira Islands, an autonomous region of Portugal.

so the context of the nail is a fort claimed by some prince, who formally announced his island’s secession from portugal. you read that correctly, a nail that some claim might be from the cross was found in a fort off the coast of portugal. riiiiight.

the most one can say is that an archaeologist (bryn walters in this case) thinks that a nail discovered along with three skeletons and three swords in a fort on a small island off the coast of portugal, might possibly have been revered by the three deceased men, who could possibly may have been knights templar (since there is some old legend tying this city to the knights templar), who in turn may have believed that the nail they may have been toting along with them could possibly have been a relic that someone said was once a nail from the cross of christ.

and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you sell newspapers: you find something, and interpret it as possibly something that perhaps someone believed to be something ages ago because someone else revered it.

of course, some representative (christopher macklin in this case) from some modern knights templar club (the knights templar of britannia) is going to say that the discovery was ‘momentous,’ but who cares. that is no more proof or credible support than some nutjob from some alien abduction organization saying that some purported sighting of a ufo is ‘monumental’ or ‘evidence of extra-terrestrial existence.’

and just so you know, i’ve found lots of nails excavating in roman era archaeological sites much closer to jerusalem than this nail. but i’d never make this claim, because it’s not only irresponsible and reckless, but is not supported by the evidence.

finding a nail in portugal is no more evidence of the cross of christ than finding wood on a mountain in turkey is evidence of noah’s ark.

now, please note, that the archaeologist never claimed it to be a nail from the cross of christ. all he said it was that it was a nail that appeared to have been revered or at least delicately handled, possibly by the three men buried nearby. those men, in turn, could have been knights templar. and those knights possibly could have been told that this was a nail from the cross of christ. an assumption of an assumption of an assumption. thus, this is not really the archaeologist’s fault, for he stated the truth. it is the unnamed author of the article that is responsible for the hype and misleading headline. and that, of course, falls at the feet of the telegraph.

because in the end, all you really have is a nail.

march 3 update: see the los angeles examiner article by chris cunnyngham.

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