Contributed by Eric Cline.
Mea culpa. For more than a week now, I have remained silent, simply rolling my eyes amid news reports that Randall Price is going in search of Noah’s Ark this coming summer (www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,486684,00.html; dated 2 Feb 2009). Eighteen months ago, in Sept 2007, I published an op-ed in the Boston Globe which, in part, chastised my fellow archaeologists for not deigning to comment on such stories, or the outlandish claims that usually come from such expeditions upon their return (www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/09/30/raiders_of_the_faux_ark/; dated 30 September 2007). And yet here I have been for eight days, sitting on my hands with my mouth clamped firmly shut, doing nothing.
But I’m not alone. In fact, only one archaeologist has spoken out so far (though to be fair, the non-archaeologist “˜biblioblogger” Jim West did draw attention to the story on February 1st [jwest.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/oh-and-price-is-also-looking-for-noahs-ark/]). Robert Cargill, of UCLA, posted comments on his Facebook page a few days ago: “’tis the season for pseudoscientific fundamentalists to venture out into the world and attempt to prove things that are sure to yield no results, lots of press, and raise lots of dollars in the process.” Amen, Brother Cargill. I couldn’t have phrased it better myself.
Price is the newly-appointed executive director of the Center for Judaic Studies, which opened in Fall 2008 at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. He has a Master of Theology degree in Old Testament and Semitic Languages from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founder and President of the World of the Bible Ministries, whose stated goal is “to provide service to the Christian community by clarifying biblical truth through an increased understanding of the original context of the Bible which is Israel and the Middle East” (www.worldofthebible.com, last accessed on 10 February 2009). Their website also states: “We believe in the total verbal, plenary, unlimited, and inerrant inspiration of Scripture (Old and [sic: missing word; probably New] Testaments), and in it’s [sic] complete sufficiency and authority for faith and practice” (www.worldofthebible.com/message.htm, last accessed on 10 February 2009). (By the way, is it just me or does anyone else inherently mistrust a website with grammatical mistakes and missing words? Can’t they afford a proofreader?) (more…)