• by Gordon Franz

    In his latest book, Temple: Amazing New Discoveries that Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple (2014), Robert Cornuke advocates that the Temples of King Solomon and Herod the Great were not located on the Temple Mount as vast majority of scholars believe, but were situated over the Gihon Spring in the City of David. Mr. Cornuke identifies the traditional Temple Mount with the Antonia’s Fortress, home to 10,000 troops and support personnel of the Tenth Roman Legion. Cornuke’s theory is simply a restatement of an old theory by Dr. Ernest L. Martin, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot (2006).

    Here I offer eight reasons why the Temples of King Solomon and Herod the Great could NOT have been located over the Gihon Spring in the City of David.

    (1) The Temple Mount platform built during the First Temple period and supported the Temple of King Solomon will not fit in the City of David. Josephus, the First-century AD Jewish historian, and the Mishnah gives the dimension of the platform supporting Solomon’s Temple was built on as 500 x 500 cubits (861 feet x 861 feet, almost three football fields long!), a size much too large for the narrow hillock comprising the City of David. The square platform would have extended over the Kidron Valley and up the slopes of the Mount of Olives and would have covered known buildings and tombs that have been excavated by archaeologists (click here for diagram). This understanding reveals that the maps and drawings in the book are inaccurate. Bottom Line: Cornuke’s Square Temple Platform is way too small for the ancient literary sources and the 500 x 500 Square Platform is way too big for the City of David.

    (2) The Lord Jesus did not prophesy the destruction of the Temple platform. When the Lord Jesus prophesied that “not one stone would be left upon another” of the buildings of the Temple (Matt. 24: 1-2; Mark 13: 1-2; Luke 21: 5-6), He was referring to the Temple of Herod, the surrounding buildings, and the Royal Stoa; but not the lower retaining walls that supported the Temple platform. These retaining walls were not buildings!

    (3) The normal locations of threshing floors are always outside the city, and generally on top of hills. This fact contradicts Cornuke’s proposal to locate the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite downslope near the Gihon Spring inside the City of David. A threshing floor near the Gihon Spring would not catch the gentle evening breeze for winnowing the wheat and chaff. The ideal location for a threshing floor in Jerusalem is the area of the Temple Mount, the place where the ancient sources have always placed it.

    (4) The book misrepresents what the Pilgrim of Bordeaux wrote in his travel-log. By ignoring the fact that the Pilgrim had already described his visit to the Temple Mount, Cornuke incorrectly identifies it as the Pilgrim’s location of the Praetorium.

    (5) Eleazar Ben-Yair, the commander of Masada during the First Jewish Revolt and a non-eyewitness to the fall of Jerusalem, was misunderstood in the book. Conuke’s theory wrongly attributes Eleazar Ben-Yair’s description of the Citadel near today’s Jaffa Gate with an alleged Praetorium on the Temple Mount. Only by confusing these buildings does Cornuke find support for his proposal.

    (6) Cornuke’s 600-feet bridge between the Antonia’s Fortress and the Temple Mount is a misreading of Josephus. A careful reading of the passage shows that Josephus is describing porticoes around the entire Temple Mount and the stairs leading down from the Antonia’s Fortress to the Outer Courts of the Temple. Josephus never wrote of a bridge between the Temple and Antonia Fortress.

    (7) The alleged evidence of a coin dated to AD 20, recently found under the Western Wall does not prove that Herod the Great did not build the Temple on the Temple Mount. To the contrary, it disproves Cornuke’s theory that the whole Temple Mount was the Antonia’s Fortress. This is because Herod built and finished the Antonia’s Fortress in his lifetime, but the coin only indicates that the enclosure of the Temple Mount was not completed during his lifetime.

    (8) The book misunderstands the early Muslim history of the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock was built by the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik (AD 685-705). Its octagonal shape indicated that it was a commemorative building, and not a mosque. ‘Abd al-Malik constructed the Dome of the Rock as a commemorative building over the site of the Solomon’s Temple that had been identified for him by the Jewish people who came to Jerusalem with ‘Abd al-Milik. Bottom Line: The Muslims built the Dome of the Rock because it was the place of the former Temple of Solomon.

    FURTHER READING: For a highly researched and meticulously documented critique of Cornuke’s Temple theory, based on my first-hand experience of living, studying, teaching, and working in Jerusalem, I invite you to read my 46-page essay: “Cornuke’s Temple Book: ‘The Greatest Archaeological Blunder of All Time.’”. For critiques of other alleged “discoveries” by Mr. Cornuke, see “How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims”.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on “Noah’s Ark is (still) in Turkey” by Dan Eden

    by Gordon Franz

    An article by Dan Eden has been circulating on Facebook and the Internet entitled: “Noah’s Ark is (still) in Turkey” since the middle of December 2013. It advocates the Durupinar site discovered by Ron Wyatt on, or near, Agri Dagh, the (late) traditional Mount Ararat. This story has been passed it on as Gospel Truth! The simple answer to the question raised at the beginning of this article: “Why is this not a BIG story?” is because the story is BOGUS and there is NO TRUTH to the article.

    Ron Wyatt’s side-kick on his Durupinar expedition was David Fasold. Toward the end of Fasold’s life he co-authored an article with Lorence Collins that was published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication called the “Journal of Geoscience Education” (1996, vol. 44, pages 439-444). The article was entitled: “Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure.” The article can be obtained from JSTOR and perhaps can be found elsewhere on the Internet. The article is excellent and the title summarizes the issue very well. The discovery is BOGUS, a geological formation, and NOT Noah’s Ark.

    The geologist on Wyatt’s team, a Christian and a young earth creationist, also came to the same conclusion. His information was written up and passed on to the Turkish Department of Antiquities and is summarized in an article by Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis. The link to his excellent article is here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v14/n4/special-report-amazing-ark-expose

    Ron Wyatt was a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). When SDA people read something like this or see one of Wyatt’s videos on the subject, they ask the archaeologists at the Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum at Andrews University, a SDA institution with a very reputable archaeology program, about Wyatt’s “discoveries.” The museum has a “Ron Wyatt packet” that includes various article debunking Wyatt’s so-called discoveries. The packet is sent to those who make inquiries about Wyatt and his “discoveries.” Their address is: Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum, Institute of Archaeology, Andrews University, 9047 US 31, Berrien Springs, MI 49104-0990. The museum’s email is: [email protected]

    Two SDA brothers, Russell and Colin Standish, wrote an excellent expose of Ron Wyatt from an SDA perspective entitled: Holy Relics or Revelation. Recent Astounding Archaeological Claims Evaluated. It can be obtained from Hartland Publications, Box 1, Rapidan, VA 22733. The publisher’s phone number is: 1-800-774-3566. I highly recommend this expose of Wyatt. They did their homework and spoke the truth in love.

    Christians need to STOP passing along BOGUS reports concerning Noah’s Ark. This does not help the cause of Christ. This story, like a cracked pot, holds no water, especially the water from Noah’s Flood.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on Where is Mount Sinai in Arabia (Galatians 4:25)?

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul identifies Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. He writes: “For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar – for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children –“ (4:24-25 NKJV, emphasis GWF). The questions to be asked regarding this passage are:

    • “Where was Arabia in the 1st century AD, and what area did it cover, when the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians?”
    • “Where would a Jewish person, living in Jerusalem in the 1st century AD, understand Arabia to be?”
    • “What was the Apostle Paul’s geographical understanding of the term Arabia?”

    The short answer is that in the days of the Apostle Paul the term “Arabia” included the Sinai Peninsula and did not correspond just to modern-day Saudi Arabia’s boundaries as some today mistakenly assert. The area of Saudi Arabia was one part of First Century Arabia, but not the whole of Arabia. Thus the Biblical Mount Sinai, located in the Sinai Peninsula, which in my opinion should be located at Jebel Sin-Bishar (Franz 2000: 112; Faiman 2000; Har-el 1983; Rasmussen 1989: 89-91), was in “Arabia.” The traditional Mount Sinai at Jebel Musa was also located in the Sinai in ancient “Arabia.” So Mount Sinai (either site) was in both the Sinai and in “Arabia,” which overlapped, and there is no disconnect with the Bible, ancient geography, or modern scholarship.

    Based on this verse in Galatians, some have insisted that the Apostle Paul is referring to Mount Sinai being in Saudi Arabia, and not in the Sinai. For example, Robert Cornuke, the president of the BASE Institute states:

    “It’s [Galatians 4:25] one of several Bible references plainly describing the location of Mount Sinai. It’s in Arabia. Not in Egypt. Not in the Sinai Peninsula. And how does the Bible define Arabia? In both the Old and New Testaments, Arabia has always been located south and east of Palestine, the area of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Sinai Peninsula, on the other hand, lies south and west of Palestine. The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, informs us that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. Not Egypt!” (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000: 170-171; emphasis GWF).

    His associate, Larry Williams, basically says the same thing (1990: 70-71), as did Ron Wyatt, who also placed Mount Sinai at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia (Wyatt 1994; Standish and Standish 1999: 195-200).

    A word of caution though, as we have already read, all the Bible actually says is that Mount Sinai is in Arabia, not Saudi Arabia. It is not wise to read into the text that which is not stated, or to simplistically interpret 21st century political boundaries as applicable to a 1st century Biblical text without any substantiation.

    Where was Arabia According to the Ancient Sources?
    Unfortunately no actual maps of Roman Arabia exist from the First Century AD, so we are limited to the accounts of the geographers, historians, and contemporary travelers. As one examines these accounts, it will be seen that the vast territory of Arabia goes from the Nile Delta in eastern Egypt and the Arabian Gulf (Red Sea – Gulf of Suez) on the west, all the way over to the Persian Gulf on the east. It goes from Damascus in the north, to the tip of Yemen in the south. Today, the territory of First Century Arabia, would cover the areas of eastern Egypt, including the Sinai Peninsula, southern Israel, Jordan, and parts of Syria and Iraq, all of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Gulf States on the Persian Gulf. It is not limited to Saudi Arabia or the northwest quadrant of Saudi Arabia as Cornuke has stated.

    Moses
    Moses never uses the word “Arab” or “Arabia” at the time he wrote the Pentateuch. The Book of Exodus thus cannot be used to located “Arabia” which did not exist yet as a geographic term and so, of course, “Arabia” does not appear in that book of the Bible. The words “Arab” and “Arabia” appear later in the Bible (1 Kings 10:15; 2 Chron. 9:14; 17:11; 21:16; 22:1; 26:7; Neh. 2:19; 4:7; 6:1; Isa. 13:20; 21:13; Jer. 3:2; 25:24; Ezek. 27:21). So the Apostle Paul does not have a Mosaic use of the word “Arabia” in mind when he uses the word in Galatians 4:25 because “Arabia” did not exist in Moses’ day.

    Shalmaneser III
    The word “Arab” first appears in an extra-Biblical inscription from a monolith found at Kurkh from the time of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (853 BC). It describes the coalition of armies led by the rulers of Damascus, Hamath, Israel, and “Gindibu’ the Arab and his 1,000 camels” that battled against Shalmaneser III at Qarqar (Eph’al 1982:21). Throughout the Assyrian period, various Assyrian kings describe the activities of the Arabs, or desert nomads, in their inscriptions (Eph’al 1982:21-59).

    Herodotus
    The first time the word “Arabia” is used as a term for a designated geographical area is in the mid-fifth century BC by the famous Greek historian and traveler, Herodotus (ca. 450 BC). He traveled to Egypt and wrote about his trip in his book, The Persian Wars.

    In his monumental work on ancient Arabs, Dr. Israel Eph’al of Tel Aviv University, points out that:

    “Herodotus, an important source for the demography of the mid-5th century B.C. Egypt and Sinai peninsula, calls the entire region east of the Nile and the Pelusian Branch, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, ‘Arabia’, and its population ‘Arabs’ ([Herodotus, Persian Wars] 2:8, 15, 19, 30, 75, 124, 158 [LCL 1: 283, 291, 297, 309, 361-363, 425, 471]).

    The Gulf of Suez is called “the Arabian Sea” and the mountainous region [in Egypt] east of Heliopolis “the Arabian mountains” (2:8, 124 [LCL 1: 283, 425]). [In Egypt] Daphnae (Biblical Tahpanhes, present-day Defeneh) is described as a border town with a garrison “against the Arabs and the Syrians” (2: 30 [LCL 1: 309]), and the town of Patumus (biblical Pithom) near Bubastis at the approach to Wadi Thumilat as “city of Arabia” (2:158 [LCL 1: 471]).”

    (Eph’al 1982: 193-194, emphasis added; the Loeb Classical Library, LCL, bracketed references […] were added by GWF).

    Herodotus’ description would therefore include all of the Sinai Peninsula in Arabia of his day.

    In the mid-third century BC, when Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (known as the Septuagint, abbreviated LXX) and followed the contemporary use of the word “Arabia” they referred to Goshen as “Goshen in Arabia” (Gen. 45:10; 46:34; LXX English translation). The Children of Israel resided in Goshen during their 400 years sojourn in Egypt, which is located on the eastern most branch of the Nile Delta connected through to the Wadi Thumilat canal. Though Goshen is part of Egypt (Gen. 37:6, 27; Ex. 9:26), the translators of the Septuagint obviously considered it and the Sinai Peninsula in between the Egyptian Goshen-in-Arabia and what is now modern Saudi Arabia as all part of ancient “Arabia,” of course. The Eastern Nile Delta land of Goshen was Arabia, the Sinai was Arabia, and (Saudi) Arabia was Arabia.

    Alexander the Great and the Arabs in Arabia
    Alexander the Great went to fight the Arabians in the area of the Anti Lebanon Mountains, also known as Mount Hermon (Dar 1988: 26-27). This is situated in modern day Lebanon and Syria. Alexander the Great fought the Arabs in Arabia, but he was never in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

    Flavius Arrianus, better known as Arrian wrote a book about AD 150 about the life of Alexander the Great. He gave great details about Alexander’s campaign against the Persians. After the Greeks had taken Sidon, Alexander was preparing to move on Tyre. Because of harassment by the Arabs: “Alexander marched some of the cavalry squadrons, the hypaspists, the Agrianians and the archers in the direction of Arabia to the mountain called Antilebanon. Here he stormed and destroyed some places and brought others to terms; in ten days he was back at Sidon” (Anabasis of Alexander 2.20.4; LCL 1:195).

    Plutarch (ca. AD 45-120), in his Parallel Lives of Alexander the Great (about AD 120), recounts the same incident by saying: “While the siege of the city [Tyre] was in progress, he made an expedition against the Arabians who dwelt in the neighborhood of Mount Antilibanus” (Alexander 24.6; LCL 7:293).

    Quintus Curtius (First Century AD) wrote a history of Alexander the Great and also recounts this same incident in these words: “On Mount Libanus also the peasants of the Arabians attacked the Macedonians when they were in disorder, killed about thirty, and took a smaller number of prisoners. This state of affairs compelled Alexander to divide his forces, and lest he should seem slow in besieging on city, he left Perdiccas and Craterus in charge of that work and himself went to Arabia with a light-armed band” (History of Alexander 4.2.24 – 4.3.2; LCL 1:185). After this short campaign Curtius informs us: “And Alexander, on returning from Arabia, found hardly any traces of so great a causeway” (History of Alexander 4.3.7; LCL 1:187).

    For these historians, the part of “Arabia” that Alexander the Great was fighting Arabs in, was in what is today Lebanon and Syria, not Saudi Arabia.

    Josephus
    Josephus, the First Century AD Jewish historian, lived in Jerusalem for a number of years before its destruction by the Romans in AD 70. He was well familiar with the topography of the city as well as its walls, towers, and monumental buildings. In fact, he was a contemporary of the Apostle Paul who would understand the term “Arabia” the same way Josephus understood it.

    In his Jewish Wars, written sometime between AD 75 and 79, Josephus describes the line of the third wall enclosing the northern part of Jerusalem. He mentions that there are ninety towers on this wall and the most important was the Psephinus Tower:

    “… which rose at its north-west angle and opposite to which Titus camped. For, being seventy cubits high [thirty-five meters], it affords from sunrise a prospect embracing both Arabia and the utmost limits of Hebrew territory as far as the [Mediterranean] sea, it was of octagonal form” (Josephus, Jewish Wars 5.159-160 [LCL 3: 247-249]; see also Wars 5.147 [LCL 3: 243], emphasis added, brackets material added by GWF).

    When Josephus uses the word “Arabia” in this passage, he is not referring to the area of Saudi Arabia, but to the Trans-Jordanian Plateau. If he stood on top of the Psephinus Tower, he would observe first-hand Arabia to the east, as well as the Mediterranean Sea through a saddle in the hills by present-day Abu Gosh to the northwest.

    When I was doing graduate work in archaeology and geography of the Bible at the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem in the late 1970’s, I was able to climb onto the roof of a bank building, (with permission of the guard), to have a similar view. This bank was approximately 35 meters high and close to where the Psephinus Tower had been located. I observed the mountains of Transjordan to the east (ancient Arabia), but could not see the Mediterranean Sea because of the haze. I have archaeologist friends, however, who have seen the Mediterranean Sea from the top of this building on several occasions. One can also calculate the visibility with the aid of a good topographical map. Josephus wrote this passage from first-hand experience. For him, Arabia included what is today the Kingdom of Jordan.

    In the first century AD, the Nabatean kingdom, with its capital in Petra (today in southern Jordan), occupied part of what was known as “Arabia.” Josephus noted on several occasions that Petra was in Arabia (Wars 1.125, 159, 267; 4.454 [LCL 2:59, 75, 125; 3:135]). He also describes the extent of the Nabatean kingdom as from the Euphrates River to the Red Sea (Antiquities 1.220-221 [LCL 4:109]).

    Josephus gives a description of Lake Asphalatis, known today as “the Dead Sea,” in which he mentions that the “length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, measured in a line reaching to Zoara in Arabia” (Wars 4.482 [LCL 2:143], emphasis added). Zoara is the Biblical Zoar and is located in the southeastern portion of the Dead Sea (Gen. 13:10; 14:2, 8; 19:22, 23, 39; Deut. 43:3).

    Herod the Great fortified several sites on the border of his kingdom to keep an eye on the Nabateans in Arabia. One fortress was Machaerus (Voros 2012). It is situated on the east side of the Dead Sea because Herod understood how strategic the site was in “its proximity to Arabia, conveniently situated, as it was, with regards to that country, which it faces” (Josephus, Wars 7.172 [LCL 3:555], emphasis added). The territory of Arabia was fourteen kilometers to the south of Machaerus on the south side of the Arnon River.

    Another site that Herod the Great fortified was the Herodium, the only building project named after him. The fortress is located a few kilometers to the southeast of Bethlehem in the Judean Desert “on the Arabian frontier” (Josephus, Wars 1:419 [LCL 2:199], emphasis added). From the top of the Herodium, one today can get a splendid view of the territory of Arabia to the east of the Dead Sea, but one can not see Saudi Arabia from the top of the Herodium.

    Josephus describes the territory and borders of Perea to the east of the Jordan River. He states that:

    “Perea extends in length from Machaerus to Pella, in breath from Philadelphia to the Jordan [River]. The northern frontier is Pella, which we have just mentioned, the western frontier is the Jordan [River]; on the south it is bounded by the land of Moab, on the east by Arabia, Heshbonitis, Philadelphia, and Gerasa” (Josephus, Jewish Wars 3.46-47; [LCL 2:589]; brackets and emphasis added by GWF).

    Ancient Philadelphia is located under Ammon, the capital of the modern kingdom of Jordan.

    Josephus also mentions the southern border of Judea and states “it is marked by a village on the Arabian frontier, which the local Jews call Iardan” (Wars 3.51 [LCL 2:591], emphasis added). The village of Iardan has been tentatively identified with Arad in the Eastern Negev Basin [LCL 2:590, footnote d]. Arabia would include areas south of Judah, including the Beersheva Basin and the different wildernesses to the south of Beersheva, basically the southern part of Israel today.

    This brief survey of Jewish Wars by Josephus demonstrates the First Century understanding of the term Arabia. It included more than just the area of northwest Saudi Arabia. His understanding of the term included territory in modern-day Jordan and southern Israel, as well as the Sinai Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and part of Iraq. The Apostle Paul would have understood the term in the same way.

    Strabo
    Strabo, a Greek geographer from Pontus on the Black Sea (64 BC to ca. AD 25), describes the territory of Arabia in his books on the geography and nature of the ancient world. In his Geography, he states:

    “The whole of Arabia Felix (… is bounded by the whole extent of the Arabian Gulf [Red Sea] and by the Persian Gulf). And all the country occupied by the Tent-dwellers and by the Sheikh-governed tribes (which reaches to the Euphrates [River] and Syria)” (Geography 2.5.32 [LCL 1:499]; emphasis added, bracketed material added by GWF).

    Elsewhere in his writings, Strabo delineates the eastern border of Arabia as the Persian Gulf (Geography 16.4.2 [LCL 7:307]).

    Strabo, who visited Egypt during his lifetime, understood the geography of that area quite well and wrote about it in detail. For him, the western border of Arabia began at the east side of Egypt’s Nile River and the Arabian Gulf (today the Gulf of Suez) and went eastward, thus placing the Sinai Peninsula in first century Arabia (Geography 16:4:2; 17:1:21, 24-26, 30,31 [LCL 7: 309; 8: 71-79 85-87]).

    The Apostle Paul would have been familiar with the writings of Strabo and would concur with him that “Arabia” went from eastern Egypt, across the Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula, all the way to the Persian Gulf. This would clearly put the Sinai Peninsula within Arabia of Strabo’s day as well as the Apostle Paul’s day.

    Egeria
    Egeria, one of the early church mothers, travelled to the East between AD 381 and 384 and wrote a book about her pilgrimage. She visited Jebel Musa which she mistakenly, in my opinion, thought was Mount Sinai. She also visited the Land of Goshen (Wilkinson 1981: 91-103). She stayed at Clysma, the modern-day Suez City in eastern Egypt at the northern end of the Gulf of Suez, and from there went to visit the “city of Arabia” in Goshen in Egypt (Wilkinson 1981: 100). She wrote, “It gets its name from the region, which is called ‘the land of Arabia, the land of Goshen’, a region which, while it is a part of Egypt, is a great deal better than any of the rest” (Wilkinson 1981: 100-101, emphasis added). Egeria followed the Septuagint reading of Gen. 46:34 in her description of Goshen being in the Land of Arabia.

    The Conclusion of the Matter
    The ancient sources, both the contemporary and near-contemporary to the Apostle Paul, speak for themselves. When the Apostle Paul wrote that Mount Sinai was in Arabia, he was drawing on the contemporary understanding of the geographical location of “Arabia.” Ancient Arabia would include the territory from the Eastern Nile Delta and the Arabian Gulf (Red Sea – Gulf of Suez) across the Sinai Peninsula to the Persian Gulf. It would not be limited to just the northwest quadrant of Saudi Arabia as the proponents of Jebel al-Lawz would contend.

    Based on the above, the ancient historians and geographers differ with Mr. Cornuke’s recent statement that “Arabia has never been in the Sinai Peninsula when Paul wrote this [Gal. 4:25]” (August 8, 2012, AM session, Camp-of-the-Woods, Speculator, NY). Biblical and secular first century geography did include the Sinai Peninsula in “Arabia.” In summary, it seems that the Apostle Paul would have disagreed with Mr. Cornuke’s assertions about Mount Sinai never being in the Sinai Peninsula.

    Further Discussion
    For a more detailed, scholarly, discussion of the ancient sources and related issues, see: Bowerstock 1971; 1983; 1990; Donner 1986; MacAdam 1989; Montgomery 1934; Murphy-O’Connor 1993.

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Bibliography

    Bowerstock, G. W.

    1971 A Report on Arabia Provincia. Journal of Roman Studies 61: 219-242.

    1983 Roman Arabia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

    1990 The Three Arabias in Ptolemy’s Geography. Pp. 47-53 in Geographie Historique au Proche-Orient. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

    Cornuke, Robert; and Halbrook, David

    2000 In Search of the Mountain of God. The Discovery of the Real Mt. Sinai. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

    Donner, Fred

    1986 Xenophon’s Arabia. Iraq 48: 1-14.

    Eph’al, Israel

    1982 The Ancient Arabs. Nomads on the Borders of the Fertile Cresent 9th-5th Centuries B.C. Jerusalem: Magnes; Leiden: E. J. Brill.

    Faiman, David

    2000 Digging Mount Sinai from the Bible. Bible and Spade 13/4: 115-118.

    Franz, Gordon
    2000 Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Bible and Spade 13/4: 101-113.

    Har-el, Menashe

    1983 The Sinai Journeys. The Route of the Exodus. San Diego, CA: Ridgefield.

    Herodotus

    1999 The Persian Wars. Books 1-2. Vol. 1. Trans. by A. D. Godley. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 117.

    Josephus

    1976 Jewish Wars. Books 1-3. Vol. 2. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 203.

    1979 Jewish Wars. Books 4-7. Vol. 3. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 210.

    1978 Antiquities of the Jews. Books 1-4. Vol. 4. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 242.

    MacAdam, Henry

    1989 Strabo, Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy of Alexandria: Three Views of Ancient Arabia and Its Peoples. Pp. 289-220 in L’Arabie Preislamique et son Enviornnement Historique et Culturel. Edited by T. Fahd. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

    Montgomery, James

    1934 Arabia and the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania.

    Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome

    1993 Paul in Arabia. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55/4: 732-737.

    Rasmussen, Carl

    1989 Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Standish, Russell; and Standish, Colin

    1999 Holy Relics or Revelation. Recent Astonishing Archaeological Claims Evaluated. Rapidan, VA: Hartland.

    Strabo

    1989 Geography. Books 1 and 2. Vol. 1. Trans. by H. Jones. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 49.

    1982 Geography. Book 17. Vol. 8. Trans. by H. Jones. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 267.

    Voros, Gyozo

    2012 Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded. Biblical Archaeology Review 38/5: 30-41, 68.

    Wilkinson, John

    1981 Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land. Revised edition. Jerusalem: Ariel; Warminster: Aris & Phillips.

    Williams, Larry

    1990 The Mountain of Moses. New York, NY: Wynwood.

    Wyatt, Mary Nell

    1994 Mt. Sinai. Privately published paper.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on MOUNT SULEIMAN, KING SOLOMON, AND NOAH’S ARK

    by Gordon Franz

    How many Mount Suleiman’s are their in the Middle East and are they named after King Solomon?

    Introduction
    Arch Bonnema, an “Ark in Iran” advocate and part of the team Bob Cornuke took to Iran to climb Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, in June of 2006 opined where he thought Noah’s Ark landed. He commented in an interview: “And that mountain is Mt. Suleiman (Solomon), the only mountain in the entire Middle East with a Hebrew name” (Church 2010:6). This was information that he apparently got from Cornuke but did not bother checking out Cornuke’s facts.

    The Wrong Mount Suleiman
    In an article entitled “Noah’s Ark Discovered in Iran?” by Kate Ravilious on National Geographic News for July 5, 2006, it was reported that the BASE researchers used the Book of Genesis and other literary sources, when they journeyed to Iran in July 2005 in order to climb Mount Suliman for the first time. Ravilious explains: “They chose Mount Suleiman after reading the notes of the 19th-century British Explorer A. H. McMahan [sic]. In 1894, after climbing Mount Suleiman [sic], McMahan [sic] wrote in his journal [sic], ‘According to some, Noah’s ark alighted here after the deluge.’ McMahan [sic] also spoke of wood fragments from a shrine at the top of the mountain where unknown people had made pilgrimages to the site. ‘We found a shrine and wood fragments at 15,000 feet [4,570 meters] elevation, as described by McMahan [sic],’ Cornuke said.”
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060705-noahs-ark_2.html

    Apparently the BASE researchers had the 1894 “journal” accounts by British explorer McMahon a year before their second trip to Mount Suleiman in the beginning of June, 2006 on which Arch Bonnema was a participate. Did they carefully read the “journal” account and was it a reliable guide for their trip?

    The BASE website claimed that a “British explorer in 1894 … confirm[s] local Iranians believe the Ark landed on Takht-i-Suleiman (east of Lake Urmiah); the British explorer claimed to see a wooden shrine.” [The section about Captain McMahon has since been removed from the BASE website].

    The British explorer was identified on the website and the National Geographic article as “A. H. McMahan [sic].” In fact, the individual being referred to is Captain A. H. McMahon, British Joint Commissioner of the Afghan-Baluchistan Boundary Commission [not McMahan, note the misspelling of his name and omission of his military rank and official government position]. The website goes on to state that Captain McMahon “noted in his journal in 1894 that he was the first European who had successfully climbed Takht-i-Suleiman.” In fact, Captain McMahon did not note this in his “journal” or diary, but rather, reported it in a published letter to The Geographical Journal, vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov. 1894), pp. 465-466. The article was entitled “Ascent of the Takht-i-Suliman.” [Note again the misspelling of this particular Mt. Suliman, the BASE website spelled it Suleiman and the Geographical Journal article spelled it Suliman]. The McMahon article was apparently posted on a Pakistani website in 2005 but has since been removed.

    Captain McMahon climbed Takht-i-Suliman in Baluchistan (modern Pakistan), not Iran, between June 28 – 30, 1891, with Major MacIvor and local guides (1894: 465). Takht-i-Suliman means “Solomon’s throne,” after a tradition that King Solomon married a woman from Hindustan named Balkia and upon their return to Israel on their flying throne, they stopped on this mountain so Balkia could get one last look at her native land. There is another mountain in Iran with the same name and a similar tradition, but a different wife.

    Upon closer investigation, there are some very clear discrepancies between Captain McMahon’s actual report and what the BASE Institute claimed on their website.

    First of all, the locations are different. Captain McMahon gives a detailed account of his ascent of Takht-i-Suliman as well as where he was when he corresponded with The Geographical Journal. [Note again, the website says “geographical journal”- small letters, not capital letters at the beginning of each word, and no italics to indicate it is a publication]. Captain McMahon wrote the letter to The Geographical Journal from his expedition camp and sent it via Fort Sandeman in Zhob, Baluchistan on August 8, 1894. Zhob, Baluchistan, is in present day Pakistan, nowhere near north-central Iran and BASE’s Mt Suleiman.

    In describing his ascent, McMahon states that Takht-i-Suliman has a sister peak called Kaisaghar (elevation 11,300 feet above sea level) and it is located in “the Suliman range of the north-west frontier of India” in the territory of Sheranis (1894: 465). The identification of this location should have raised red flags for any ark researcher: Baluchistan is not in, or near, Iran.

    Contrary to Bonnema’s assertion, there are at least four Mt. Suliman’s (spelled various ways) in the Middle East. There are three in Iran, one specifically called Takht-i-Suliman located about 80 miles southeast of Lake Urmiah, but not climbed by the BASE team. Another, called Mt. Suleiman (36 24’N 50 59’E) located about 300 miles east of Lake Urmiah, situated in the Elborz range, 55 miles northwest of Tehran, which the BASE team climbed and allegedly found Noah’s Ark. The third is located southwest of Hamadan in the region of Luristan. The fourth, the one that Captain McMahon climbed and described, is in present day Pakistan, about 40 miles east of Quetta (Pakistan), and about 1,360 miles / 2,200 kilometers eastward from Lake Urmiah.

    Second, the elevations are different. The top of Takht-i-Suliman in Baluchistan, now Pakistan, is about 11,100 feet above sea level and the shrine was lower down the slope. The BASE Institute reports that they spotted the Ark at 13,120 feet above sea level (although Ark Fever states the object of interest is at 12,500 feet, page 238, 244) and he found the shrine and wood fragments at the 15,000 feet elevation. There is about a 4,000 feet discrepancy between the shrines that needs to be explained! How is it possible to have spotted the ark and shrine both at altitudes several thousand feet higher than the mountain itself?

    It is safe to conclude from these discrepancies that the BASE team did not climb the same mountain as Captain McMahon, nor see the shrine the captain and major viewed. Captain McMahon’s article was not a reliable guide for the BASE trip because the reference to the landing site for Noah’s Ark was on a different Mount Suliman in an entirely different country (Pakistan), not the one climbed by the BASE team in Iran.

    Concluding Questions for Mr. Cornuke
    After the tentative announcement of the “discovery” of the “ark” in June 2006, I found the Geographical Journal article on the Internet and then Xeroxed a hard copy at the Columbia University library and sent it to Mr. Cornuke on June 23, 2006. Unbeknownst to me, the BASE researchers already had this article and used it more than a year before in order to determine Mount Suliman, northwest of Tehran, in Iran as their target. Perhaps Mr. Cornuke could explain to Ark researchers why the name of Captain McMahon was consistently misspelled. He had the proper spelling available in the copy of McMahon’s article. Why is Captain McMahon identified as an “explorer” and not a Captain in the British Army who was the official British Joint Commissioner of the Afghan-Baluchistan Boundary Commission? Why does Cornuke call it “notes” “in his journal” instead of a published letter in The Geographical Journal by Captain McMahon? I had given Mr. Cornuke the proper citation in my cover letter. Why did he not follow it?

    Bibliography

    Church, J. R., editor
    2010 Has Noah’s Ark Been Found at Last? The Evidence is Overwhelming! Prophecy in the News 30/6 (June): 3-7, 38.

    McMahon, Captain A. H.
    1894 “Ascent of the Takht-i-Suliman.” The Geographical Journal 4/5: 465-466.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology, Paul's Shipwreck on Malta Comments Off on CORNUKE’S FAULTY COMPUTER MODEL OF PAUL’S SHIPWRECK ON MALTA: An Exercise in Digital Guesswork
    CORNUKE’S FAULTY COMPUTER MODEL
    OF PAUL’S SHIPWRECK ON MALTA: An Exercise in Digital Guesswork
    Gordon Franz
    This article is dedicated to my Maltese and American
    friends searching for the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on Malta.
    St. Paul’s Day – February 10, 2013
    Introduction
    Have you ever watched a news broadcast where the meteorologist says that the next day there would be clear blue skies and it would be sunny all day? The presenter shows the radar screen, the forecast, and boasts how accurate their equipment is, so you plan a picnic at your favorite park for that day. Halfway through the picnic, however, the weather turns nasty with thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour! Forecasting weather is very unpredictable, more an art than science, even with sophisticated equipment.
    Robert Cornuke presents a weather-related computer model of Paul’s shipwreck on Malta in his book, The Lost Shipwreck of Paul (2003: 184-193). I offer this objective critique of this model because of the serious nature of the issues involved.
    During a Parliamentary debate on Malta in 2005, the Honorable Gavin Gulia asked the Prime Minister of Malta a Public Question (PQ 14720) about an affidavit that was sent to the United States Federal District Court in the state of Colorado for a trial between the former US Ambassador to Malta, Kathryn Proffitt, and Robert Cornuke. The reply to the Public Question states that:
    “[The] Honourable Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that he is informed that the affidavit was sent to safe-guard the reputation of the Armed Forces of Malta and of its officers because these had been misquoted in Bob Cornuke’s publication.“ (emphasis and highlight mine).
    Since the issue has required the involvement of the government of Malta, let me add some additional analysis to the discussion that I hope will be helpful to interested parties.
    The Computer Model on Malta
    On Robert Cornuke’s third trip to Malta he gained access to “a very expensive and sophisticated computer program” at the Rescue Coordination Center of the Armed Forces of Malta on May 29, 2002. It was his hope that the data from this specialized computer model would “objectively speak to us across the millennia and trace the, until now, uncertain path of the biblical event of Paul’s journey from Crete to Malta” (2003: 184, plates 14-15; cf. Acts 27:8-28:1).
    After the computer model was run on the hypothetical Alexandrian grain ship that carried the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke, the course was shown approaching Malta more from the southeast, rather than directly from the east, the normal approach from Crete. The ship’s path line on the computer screen then intersected the East side of Malta, supposedly at the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay preferred by Cornuke, not the traditional site for Paul’s shipwreck on the North side of the main Malta island, in the St. Paul’s Bay area. The model, it seemed, had overthrown tradition.
    But Cornuke claimed the computer supported the Bible because Major Manuel Mallia, the Maltese officer in charge of the model, had agreed “that only St. Thomas Bay possessed all the physical, nautical, and geographical conditions that aligned perfectly with the Bible’s description [of Paul’s shipwreck]” (Cornuke 2003: 192-193; bracketed material and emphasis mine). Was this one of the misquotations by Cornuke in his book that required the involvement of the Maltese government? If this computer model is correct, however, it would help confirm Cornuke’s idea that the traditional location of Paul’s shipwreck was wrong.
    Biblical Conflict with Cornuke’s Ideas
    But there is a problem and it is a bigger one than tradition, it is a Biblical conflict: The East side of Malta, with the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay, was familiar to Alexandrian ship captains as the side of the island they always saw on approach to Malta coming from the east. If sea captains could not make it back to Rome before the sea-lanes closed for the winter, the Alexandrian grain ships would dock in the Marsa Port on Malta (within the Grand Harbor of Valletta), off-load the grain and store it in granaries for the winter (Gambin 2005: 122-132; cf. Acts 28:11).
    In Paul’s case they shipwrecked on a part of the island the crew did “not recognize” in fact so unfamiliar they did not even know they were on Malta until a native told them so (Acts 27:39; 28:1-2a, NKJV, emphasis added). So they had to have landed on some other part of Malta, not the familiar and recognizable East side. The traditional location on the unfamiliar North side of Malta makes sense in light of the puzzlement of the sailors on Paul’s wrecked ship. Computer or not, shipwrecking on the familiar East side makes no sense. This has always been a fundamental Biblical and logical stumbling block for Cornuke’s theory of Paul’s shipwreck because the seamen would have recognized the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas Bay, contrary to the Biblical text which states they did not recognize the island (Acts 27:39)! A computer model cannot overcome this fatal defect without simply throwing the whole Biblical account overboard in the process.
    Two Principles of Computer Modeling
    Even if we set aside the contradiction to the Biblical account for the moment, there are still major problems with the computer model and Cornuke’s use of it.
    Two principles are important here:
    1. The computer model’s output will only be as good as the data inputted. There is a widely known axiom in the computer world, “Garbage In = Garbage Out,” which simply means that the computer results that come out are only as good as the data put in. If bad or mistaken data are put in, then the results will be bad or mistaken.
    2. Using a computer model beyond its design limitations and for purposes not intended will not produce trustworthy results. This could result in totally spurious results or results that can be easily manipulated to say almost anything, even unintentionally.
    A computer model designed to assist search and rescue missions in the recent past hours or days of a modern-day storm causing a ship to go astray in AD 2002 (the year the model was run for Cornuke) obviously is not designed to reconstruct historical events from some 2,000 years ago – when there were no meteorological data from satellites and scientific instruments to plot shifting winds and currents. Even the ocean bottom can, and has, changed in two thousand years due to earthquakes and deposited silt.
    The first step in understanding the design limitations of a computer model is to find out what model it is and what instructions it has for inputting data. Even better would be to have the developers’ design statement. Unfortunately, Cornuke did not even identify what computer model was used by the United States Coast Guard and the Maltese military!
    Was the program purposely designed to recreate an actual past historical event and if so, what weather data were used for input? Cornuke does not provide the specific weather data inputs nor does he inform us where the input data came from. It would be impossible to know, for example, exactly what time the ship left Fair Haven on Crete, or precisely when and where the ship got caught in the Euroclydon (Northeaster storm) on its way to Phoenix on Crete (Acts 27:14) because the Bible does not state this information. Did the storm strike as soon as they left Fair Haven, or several hours later, right before they were to dock at Phoenix? Or, was it somewhere in between the two places? Each of these unknown variables would affect the geographic location of where the ship ended up in the output of the computer model.
    Data Input for the Computer Model
    According to Cornuke, the modelers used five types of input data for the model (Cornuke 2003: 187-188). These included:
    (1) The “general parameters of a grain freighter”
    One nautical archaeologist has pointed out, however, that “the precise appearance of great grain ships like those mentioned in the Book of Acts and the writings of Lucian” are unknown (Fitzgerald 1990: 31) because nautical archaeologists have never recovered an actual first century AD Alexandrian grain ship in an underwater archaeological excavation. Was the grain ship a two-mast or a three-mast ship? What was its draft? How much did it actually weigh? Cornuke said they put in “the approximate size of the ship” (2003: 187, emphasis mine), yet a variation in size and weight would affect the outcome of the calculations for the computer model.
    (2) Wooden hull was a factor entered into the software
    But was only wood exposed on the hull of Paul’s ship or was there lead sheathing on the hull? Ancient lead sheathing has been found on the seabed of Malta. If there was lead sheathing on the grain ship that would affect the outcome of the calculations.
    Also, the ship was undergirded, probably with heavy rope or cable (Hirschfeld 1990: 26-27), to secure it during the storm (Acts 27:17). What affect would the rope or cable have on the drag of the ship and thus on the computer calculations?
    (3) The “veering characteristics of a northeaster”
    Cornuke suggested the drag of the windsock affected the speed and direction of the ship (Cornuke 2003: 190). What ancient sources describe – or archaeological remains show – that a windsock sail was part of a rigging for an Alexandrian grain ship and used as a sea anchor in an emergency? I am not aware of any. Perhaps Cornuke can enlighten us with this information.
    (4) The “leeway of time”
    What margin of error or maximum variation (leeway) in the “time” is meant – and is it maximum variation in the time of day or the time of year? It is unclear. How was the possible variation of time factored in? Did they run the computer with every possible choice of time? What were the results?
    Cornuke had the rescue software run on May 29, 2002. The question is then: Did they run the software model with the current date of May 29, or did they think to change the date to the Fall season? (Shipwreck occurred at least 14 days after Yom Kippur and before winter, thus most probably October-November: cp. Acts 27:9, 27, 33; 28:11.) In fact, does the computer model even differentiate a year as well as the day of the year, and if so, was the year AD 2002 run or a year around ca. AD 60 when Paul’s ship wrecked?
    The ocean currents in the Fall were programmed into the computer model (see item 5 below) but it is unclear whether a Fall date was also entered for wind speeds and directions. If they did change the computer model date to the Fall, what date in the Fall did they choose? There is no explanation given to clarify any of this.
    (5) The currents during the Fall season for that part of the Mediterranean Sea
    Although Cornuke listed five types of data inputted into the computer model including ocean currents, he strangely failed to list winds even though powerful storm winds are far more important than ocean currents. Wind directions and speeds are the critical factors in a storm of this apparent magnitude. The exact wind speeds and directions are unknown and any increase or decrease in speed, or change of wind direction, from hour to hour and day to day, would affect the outcome of the computer model over the 14 days the grain ship was adrift.
    Unfortunately, the specific information that was put into the computer was not given in the book, perhaps because it is a popular-level book. But the specific input data were not provided on Cornuke’s websites or in any peer-reviewed scholarly article either (none have been published). Researchers who would like to follow up or try to duplicate this computer exercise would need the specific information inputted into the computer software, such as the wind speeds and directions and ocean currents hour by hour, what alternative dates, times, winds and currents were used and with what results, etc.
    The Computer Model’s “Line of Drift”
    Plates 14 and 15 of The Lost Shipwreck of Paul display photographs of the computer experiment at the Rescue Coordination Center of the Armed Forces of Malta. On the bottom of Plate 14, the line of drift for Paul’s Alexandrian grain ship is drawn. I enlarged the photograph on a photocopy machine to 200% and examined the “line of drift.” It appears to be drawn by human hand with a felt tip pen or magic marker, not by computer. The thickness of the line seems to vary slightly and at one point the line seems to be redrawn over a short segment where it is a bit thicker. At another point the line does not have an even, smooth flow to it. This seems to suggest that the line is hand-drawn and not computer generated.
    I also observed that the line of drift was not drawn through the last datum point but rather above it. Why was this? This last datum point also seems to fall far short of reaching the Malta area so it would be interesting to know, if the computer had generated one more datum point, just where that last point would have been located. When I redrew the line (see chart below) through the last datum point that is shown, and not above it as represented in the book, the line of drift misses Malta entirely, by about 5 miles to the south of the island! Thus it does not hit the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay as Cornuke claims.
    [Insert map]
    Technical, Peer-Reviewed Article is Needed
    For Cornuke’s research to be evaluated by scholars, it must be published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication, perhaps a meteorological journal, identifying the software program that was used and the specific input information used to simulate the storm. An explanation is also in order as to why the “line of drift” did not go through the last datum point and if there was one more computer-generated datum point.
    If independent researchers could replicate his research using the same or similar software then Cornuke’s research would have added credibility and congratulations would be in order. Or, perhaps with slight variations in the different variables, the computer model might have the grain ship run aground in the traditional St. Paul’s Bay area or completely miss the island, as presently appears to be the case!
    It would also be helpful if Cornuke could have Major (now Colonel) Manuel Mallia of the Rescue Coordination Center, who ran the model for Cornuke, provide a letter indicating the model’s appropriateness for the task, some of the key data input, and stating whether he agreed or disagreed with the conclusions Cornuke drew from the output.
    The Conclusion of the Matter
    A word of caution is in order. Computer models are great tools for predicting the outcome of various data sets entered into the model. But while they are excellent modeling tools, they are simply that – tools to generate possible outcomes. They are seldom the final word on what will certainly happen in the future, and for sure, not the final word on what did happen in the unknown past.
    The weather prediction by the meteorologist is based on a large volume of recently obtained weather data from instruments put into a computer model. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains the procedure on its official website:
    The [computer weather-prediction] models, using many millions of numbers that represent weather [observation] parameters such as temperature, pressure, wind, etc., attempt to represent current weather conditions and then make a prediction of the future state of the atmosphere….
    Data Assimilation is the process whereby weather observations are incorporated into a computer model that predicts the weather. After billions of calculations, the supercomputers that are now used to run weather models, project how the current weather conditions are expected to change.
    http://www.research.noaa.gov/weather/t_modeling.html
    But for Paul’s shipwreck, we have zero weather instrument data, there were no weather instruments in that era and only fragmentary records of human events and occasional weather events such as major once-a-century type storms.  Any “data” is invented by extrapolating current conditions and data back in time 2,000 years and assuming that past weather was exactly the same as today.  Needless to say this is highly speculative at best and non-verifiable.
    Consider how many computer weather models have predicted hurricanes that never materialized or missed significant weather events that actually took place. How often have you noticed that your local weather forecast has been right?! (Or wrong, and it ruined your picnic!). Today’s weather forecasts attempt to project a few hours or days into the future. In this scenario, a meteorologist’s forecast has everything in its favor, yet sometimes it is still incorrect. By contrast, a computer model of the possible location of Paul’s shipwreck attempts to project conditions back nearly 2,000 years into the past. It is far from definitive given so many unknown variables and factors. Thus, we should not put too much stock in such fantastic extrapolations!
    Also, depending on the input, the same model could have easily produced a completely different location for the shipwreck, including even the traditional location of the St. Paul’s Bay area. Perhaps the most difficult data to input for this, or any model, is the sovereign Hand of God controlling the speed and direction of the wind and thus, the precise, final destination of the Alexandrian grain ship!
    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2012/06/how-accurate-are-bob-cornuke%e2%80%99s-claims-2/
    Bibliography
    Cornuke, Robert
    2003 The Lost Shipwreck of Paul.  Bend, OR: Global Publishing Services.
    Fitzgerald, Michael
    1990 The Ship of Saint Paul.  Comparative Archaeology.  Biblical Archaeologist 53/1: 31-39.
    Gambin, Timothy
    2005 The Maritime Landscapes of Malta from the Roman Period to the Middle Ages. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation University of Bristol [England].
    Hirschfeld, Nicolle
    1990 The Ship of Saint Paul. Historical Background. Biblical Archaeologist 53/1: 25-30.
    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical geography and archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. He has also visited Malta on a number of occasions since January 1997 doing research on the history, geography, and archaeology of the island, as well as the location of Paul’s shipwreck. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

    by Gordon Franz

    This article is dedicated to my Maltese and American friends searching for the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on Malta.

    St. Paul’s Day – February 10, 2013

    Introduction
    Have you ever watched a news broadcast where the meteorologist says that the next day there would be clear blue skies and it would be sunny all day? The presenter shows the radar screen, the forecast, and boasts how accurate their equipment is, so you plan a picnic at your favorite park for that day. Halfway through the picnic, however, the weather turns nasty with thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour! Forecasting weather is very unpredictable, more an art than science, even with sophisticated equipment.

    Robert Cornuke presents a weather-related computer model of Paul’s shipwreck on Malta in his book, The Lost Shipwreck of Paul (2003: 184-193). I offer this objective critique of this model because of the serious nature of the issues involved.

    During a Parliamentary debate on Malta in 2005, the Honorable Gavin Gulia asked the Prime Minister of Malta a Public Question (PQ 14720) about an affidavit that was sent to the United States Federal District Court in the state of Colorado for a trial between the former US Ambassador to Malta, Kathryn Proffitt, and Robert Cornuke. The reply to the Public Question states that:

    “[The] Honourable Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that he is informed that the affidavit was sent to safe-guard the reputation of the Armed Forces of Malta and of its officers because these had been misquoted in Bob Cornuke’s publication.“ (emphasis and highlight mine).

    Since the issue has required the involvement of the government of Malta, let me add some additional analysis to the discussion that I hope will be helpful to interested parties.

    The Computer Model on Malta
    On Robert Cornuke’s third trip to Malta he gained access to “a very expensive and sophisticated computer program” at the Rescue Coordination Center of the Armed Forces of Malta on May 29, 2002. It was his hope that the data from this specialized computer model would “objectively speak to us across the millennia and trace the, until now, uncertain path of the biblical event of Paul’s journey from Crete to Malta” (2003: 184, plates 14-15; cf. Acts 27:8-28:1).

    After the computer model was run on the hypothetical Alexandrian grain ship that carried the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke, the course was shown approaching Malta more from the southeast, rather than directly from the east, the normal approach from Crete. The ship’s path line on the computer screen then intersected the East side of Malta, supposedly at the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay preferred by Cornuke, not the traditional site for Paul’s shipwreck on the North side of the main Malta island, in the St. Paul’s Bay area. The model, it seemed, had overthrown tradition.

    But Cornuke claimed the computer supported the Bible because Major Manuel Mallia, the Maltese officer in charge of the model, had agreed “that only St. Thomas Bay possessed all the physical, nautical, and geographical conditions that aligned perfectly with the Bible’s description [of Paul’s shipwreck]” (Cornuke 2003: 192-193; bracketed material and emphasis mine). Was this one of the misquotations by Cornuke in his book that required the involvement of the Maltese government? If this computer model is correct, however, it would help confirm Cornuke’s idea that the traditional location of Paul’s shipwreck was wrong.

    Biblical Conflict with Cornuke’s Ideas
    But there is a problem and it is a bigger one than tradition, it is a Biblical conflict: The East side of Malta, with the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay, was familiar to Alexandrian ship captains as the side of the island they always saw on approach to Malta coming from the east. If sea captains could not make it back to Rome before the sea-lanes closed for the winter, the Alexandrian grain ships would dock in the Marsa Port on Malta (within the Grand Harbor of Valletta), off-load the grain and store it in granaries for the winter (Gambin 2005: 122-132; cf. Acts 28:11).

    In Paul’s case they shipwrecked on a part of the island the crew did “not recognize” in fact so unfamiliar they did not even know they were on Malta until a native told them so (Acts 27:39; 28:1-2a, NKJV, emphasis added). So they had to have landed on some other part of Malta, not the familiar and recognizable East side. The traditional location on the unfamiliar North side of Malta makes sense in light of the puzzlement of the sailors on Paul’s wrecked ship. Computer or not, shipwrecking on the familiar East side makes no sense. This has always been a fundamental Biblical and logical stumbling block for Cornuke’s theory of Paul’s shipwreck because the seamen would have recognized the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas Bay, contrary to the Biblical text which states they did not recognize the island (Acts 27:39)! A computer model cannot overcome this fatal defect without simply throwing the whole Biblical account overboard in the process.

    Two Principles of Computer Modeling
    Even if we set aside the contradiction to the Biblical account for the moment, there are still major problems with the computer model and Cornuke’s use of it.

    Two principles are important here:

    1. The computer model’s output will only be as good as the data inputted. There is a widely known axiom in the computer world, “Garbage In = Garbage Out,” which simply means that the computer results that come out are only as good as the data put in. If bad or mistaken data are put in, then the results will be bad or mistaken.
    2. Using a computer model beyond its design limitations and for purposes not intended will not produce trustworthy results. This could result in totally spurious results or results that can be easily manipulated to say almost anything, even unintentionally.

    A computer model designed to assist search and rescue missions in the recent past hours or days of a modern-day storm causing a ship to go astray in AD 2002 (the year the model was run for Cornuke) obviously is not designed to reconstruct historical events from some 2,000 years ago – when there were no meteorological data from satellites and scientific instruments to plot shifting winds and currents. Even the ocean bottom can, and has, changed in two thousand years due to earthquakes and deposited silt.

    The first step in understanding the design limitations of a computer model is to find out what model it is and what instructions it has for inputting data. Even better would be to have the developers’ design statement. Unfortunately, Cornuke did not even identify what computer model was used by the United States Coast Guard and the Maltese military!

    Was the program purposely designed to recreate an actual past historical event and if so, what weather data were used for input? Cornuke does not provide the specific weather data inputs nor does he inform us where the input data came from. It would be impossible to know, for example, exactly what time the ship left Fair Haven on Crete, or precisely when and where the ship got caught in the Euroclydon (Northeaster storm) on its way to Phoenix on Crete (Acts 27:14) because the Bible does not state this information. Did the storm strike as soon as they left Fair Haven, or several hours later, right before they were to dock at Phoenix? Or, was it somewhere in between the two places? Each of these unknown variables would affect the geographic location of where the ship ended up in the output of the computer model.


    Data Input for the Computer Model
    According to Cornuke, the modelers used five types of input data for the model (Cornuke 2003: 187-188). These included:

    1. The “general parameters of a grain freighter”

    One nautical archaeologist has pointed out, however, that “the precise appearance of great grain ships like those mentioned in the Book of Acts and the writings of Lucian” are unknown (Fitzgerald 1990: 31) because nautical archaeologists have never recovered an actual first century AD Alexandrian grain ship in an underwater archaeological excavation. Was the grain ship a two-mast or a three-mast ship? What was its draft? How much did it actually weigh? Cornuke said they put in “the approximate size of the ship” (2003: 187, emphasis mine), yet a variation in size and weight would affect the outcome of the calculations for the computer model.

    2.  Wooden hull was a factor entered into the software

    But was only wood exposed on the hull of Paul’s ship or was there lead sheathing on the hull? Ancient lead sheathing has been found on the seabed of Malta. If there was lead sheathing on the grain ship that would affect the outcome of the calculations.

    Also, the ship was undergirded, probably with heavy rope or cable (Hirschfeld 1990: 26-27), to secure it during the storm (Acts 27:17). What effect would the rope or cable have on the drag of the ship and thus on the computer calculations?

    3.   The “veering characteristics of a northeaster”

    Cornuke suggested the drag of the windsock affected the speed and direction of the ship (Cornuke 2003: 190). What ancient sources describe – or archaeological remains show – that a windsock sail was part of a rigging for an Alexandrian grain ship and used as a sea anchor in an emergency? I am not aware of any. Perhaps Cornuke can enlighten us with this information.

    4.  The “leeway of time”

    What margin of error or maximum variation (leeway) in the “time” is meant – and is it maximum variation in the time of day or the time of year? It is unclear. How was the possible variation of time factored in? Did they run the computer with every possible choice of time? What were the results?

    Cornuke had the rescue software run on May 29, 2002. The question is then: Did they run the software model with the current date of May 29, or did they think to change the date to the Fall season? (Shipwreck occurred at least 14 days after Yom Kippur and before winter, thus most probably October-November: cp. Acts 27:9, 27, 33; 28:11.) In fact, does the computer model even differentiate a year as well as the day of the year, and if so, was the year AD 2002 run or a year around ca. AD 60 when Paul’s ship wrecked?

    The ocean currents in the Fall were programmed into the computer model (see item 5 below) but it is unclear whether a Fall date was also entered for wind speeds and directions. If they did change the computer model date to the Fall, what date in the Fall did they choose? There is no explanation given to clarify any of this.

    5.  The currents during the Fall season for that part of the Mediterranean Sea

    Although Cornuke listed five types of data inputted into the computer model including ocean currents, he strangely failed to list winds even though powerful storm winds are far more important than ocean currents. Wind directions and speeds are the critical factors in a storm of this apparent magnitude. The exact wind speeds and directions are unknown and any increase or decrease in speed, or change of wind direction, from hour to hour and day to day, would affect the outcome of the computer model over the 14 days the grain ship was adrift.

    Unfortunately, the specific information that was put into the computer was not given in the book, perhaps because it is a popular-level book. But the specific input data were not provided on Cornuke’s websites or in any peer-reviewed scholarly article either (none have been published). Researchers who would like to follow up or try to duplicate this computer exercise would need the specific information inputted into the computer software, such as the wind speeds and directions and ocean currents hour by hour, what alternative dates, times, winds and currents were used and with what results, etc.

    The Computer Model’s “Line of Drift”
    Plates 14 and 15 of The Lost Shipwreck of Paul display photographs of the computer experiment at the Rescue Coordination Center of the Armed Forces of Malta. On the bottom of Plate 14, the line of drift for Paul’s Alexandrian grain ship is drawn. I enlarged the photograph on a photocopy machine to 200% and examined the “line of drift.” It appears to be drawn by human hand with a felt tip pen or magic marker, not by computer. The thickness of the line seems to vary slightly and at one point the line seems to be redrawn over a short segment where it is a bit thicker. At another point the line does not have an even, smooth flow to it. This seems to suggest that the line is hand-drawn and not computer generated.

    I also observed that the line of drift was not drawn through the last datum point but rather above it. Why was this? This last datum point also seems to fall far short of reaching the Malta area so it would be interesting to know, if the computer had generated one more datum point, just where that last point would have been located. When I redrew the line (see chart below) through the last datum point that is shown, and not above it as represented in the book, the line of drift misses Malta entirely, by about 5 miles to the south of the island! Thus it does not hit the Munxar Reef and St. Thomas’ Bay as Cornuke claims.

    CORNUKE 2003 Paul's Shipwreck-Computer Maps COMPARED-2

    Technical, Peer-Reviewed Article is Needed
    For Cornuke’s research to be evaluated by scholars, it must be published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication, perhaps a meteorological journal, identifying the software program that was used and the specific input information used to simulate the storm. An explanation is also in order as to why the “line of drift” did not go through the last datum point and if there was one more computer-generated datum point. If there was another datum point, where was it?

    If independent researchers could replicate his research using the same or similar software then Cornuke’s research would have added credibility and congratulations would be in order. Or, perhaps with slight variations in the different variables, the computer model might have the grain ship run aground in the traditional St. Paul’s Bay area or completely miss the island, as presently appears to be the case!

    It would also be helpful if Cornuke could have Major (now Colonel) Manuel Mallia of the Rescue Coordination Center, who ran the model for Cornuke, provide a letter indicating the model’s appropriateness for the task, some of the key data input, and stating whether he agreed or disagreed with the conclusions Cornuke drew from the output.

    The Conclusion of the Matter
    A word of caution is in order. Computer models are great tools for predicting the outcome of various data sets entered into the model. But while they are excellent modeling tools, they are simply that – tools to generate possible outcomes. They are seldom the final word on what will certainly happen in the future, and for sure, not the final word on what did happen in the unknown past.

    The weather prediction by the meteorologist is based on a large volume of recently obtained weather data from instruments put into a computer model. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains the procedure on its official website:

    The [computer weather-prediction] models, using many millions of numbers that represent weather [observation] parameters such as temperature, pressure, wind, etc., attempt to represent current weather conditions and then make a prediction of the future state of the atmosphere….

    Data Assimilation is the process whereby weather observations are incorporated into a computer model that predicts the weather. After billions of calculations, the supercomputers that are now used to run weather models, project how the current weather conditions are expected to change.

    http://www.research.noaa.gov/weather/t_modeling.html

    But for Paul’s shipwreck, we have zero weather instrument data, there were no weather instruments in that era and only fragmentary records of human events and occasional weather events such as major once-a-century type storms.  Any “data” is invented by extrapolating current conditions and data back in time 2,000 years and assuming that past weather was exactly the same as today.  Needless to say this is highly speculative at best and non-verifiable.

    Consider how many computer weather models have predicted hurricanes that never materialized or missed significant weather events that actually took place. How often have you noticed that your local weather forecast has been right?! (Or wrong, and it ruined your picnic!). Today’s weather forecasts attempt to project a few hours or days into the future. In this scenario, a meteorologist’s forecast has everything in its favor, yet sometimes it is still incorrect. By contrast, a computer model of the possible location of Paul’s shipwreck attempts to project conditions back nearly 2,000 years into the past. It is far from definitive given so many unknown variables and factors. Thus, we should not put too much stock in such fantastic extrapolations!

    Also, depending on the input, the same model could have easily produced a completely different location for the shipwreck, including even the traditional location of the St. Paul’s Bay area. Perhaps the most difficult data to input for this, or any model, is the sovereign Hand of God controlling the speed and direction of the wind and thus, the precise, final destination of the Alexandrian grain ship!

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    How Accurate Are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Bibliography

    Cornuke, Robert

    2003 The Lost Shipwreck of Paul.  Bend, OR: Global Publishing Services.

    Fitzgerald, Michael

    1990 The Ship of Saint Paul.  Comparative Archaeology.  Biblical Archaeologist 53/1: 31-39.

    Gambin, Timothy

    2005 The Maritime Landscapes of Malta from the Roman Period to the Middle Ages. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation University of Bristol [England].

    Hirschfeld, Nicolle

    1990 The Ship of Saint Paul. Historical Background. Biblical Archaeologist 53/1: 25-30.

    About the author

    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical geography and archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. He has also visited Malta on a number of occasions since January 1997 doing research on the history, geography, and archaeology of the island, as well as the location of Paul’s shipwreck. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

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  • Cracked Pot Archaeology, Noah’s Ark Comments Off on Book Review: The Unsolved Mystery of Noah’s Ark
    The Unsolved Mystery of Noah’s Ark. By Mary Irwin.  Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012, xv+117pp., $11.95 paper.
    Reviewed by Gordon Franz and Bill Crouse
    Mary Irwin, the wife of the late moon-walking astronaut, Jim Irwin, has written a book about their adventures on Mount Ararat and the search for Noah’s Ark. This book was prompted by a deceptive National Geographic special on Noah’s Ark in May 2009.
    In the Foreward, Bob Cornuke, another Ark hunter, laments that he has been searching for Noah’s Ark for 25 years and has never seen the old boat, and then asks: but has anyone ever seen the remains of Noah’s Ark? (page xi). We are pleased to report that over the millennia, literally thousands, upon thousands of people, including an Assyrian king, have made pilgrimages to Noah’s Ark and seen it, brought back wood from it as souvenirs or as objects of worship. We were surprised that Mary Irwin did not cite our definitive and compelling article on the true location for the landing of Noah’s Ark on Cudi Dagh in southeastern Turkey. It was published in Bible and Spade (Fall 2006; Vol. 10, no. 4, pages 99-113) and is available here.
    Early in the book Irwin writes about her first trip to the famed mountain, known by the Turks as Agri Dagh, with her husband in the early 80’s, an account that will bring back many memories to the various teams of climbers that had high hopes of finding Noah’s Ark. She then begins what is the best part of the book where she debunks several of the more notorious claims about the whereabouts of the Ark. Here she demonstrates evidence of pretty good detective work as far as she goes. Those making the remarkable claims which she exposes  are: Ferdinand Navarra, George Green, George Hagopian, and Ron Wyatt. We commend her for her efforts to set the record straight.
    In the Part two, she sets about to examine the off-probed story of the late Ed Davis from Albuquerque, NM. This is the story of a WWII soldier stationed in Hamadan, Iran, who claimed he had a close encounter, both with Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden. We wish that she had applied her skill evidenced earlier in the book to this sensational claim.  
    We agree with Mary Irwin’s assessment in the first half of the book (pages 1-49) that there are no credible sightings of Noah’s Ark on Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat. However, her case in the second half of the book for Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, based on the Ed Davis testimony strains credulity. This idea was first espoused by Robert Cornuke, and is weak and unconvincing. First of all, the biblically designated mountains of Ararat do not extend anywhere near this mountain in Eastern Iran. It has no tradition whatsoever, and one must have quite the imagination to even consider that the claimed rock formation was once the mighty ship of Noah (here are the co-ordinates: 36 degrees, 24’14.18N; 50 degrees, 58’27.43E). Thorough refutations of Bob Cornuke’s ideas and articles are up on these sites here and here. Mr. Cornuke has never responded to these articles and Mary Irwin apparently did not interact with the material in our critiques, so repeated the errors pointed out in the articles.
    In the book, Irwin contends that Ed Davis passed several lie detector tests (page 53) and one was “grueling” (page 54). The facts are not exactly as stated. Ed Davis, in one lie detector test of which we are aware, done on May 1,1988 for Bob Cornuke and High Flight Foundation (Jim Irwin’s organization), by P. G. P. Polygraph,  was asked six softball questions, and on the final question was answered by Davis in the negative, but showed stress on the polygraph test. Apparently, he had talked with others, or read books, about the ark. The author should have been aware of the results of this polygraph test because her husband was still in charge of the High Flight Foundation and the letter should have been in her “Ararat” file. If other tests were administered, it sure would strengthen her case if these results would have been documented in the book.
    Two old maps are presented in the book in an attempt to bolster the case for the landing site of the ark in Iran (pages 95 and 99). However, neither map supports the case for Mount Suleiman being the landing site of the ark.
    The first map is found on page 95. It is labeled Ancient Map of the Middle East, by Jewish Historian Petras Plantius. This map is primitive, and in some cases highly inaccurate. A careful examination of the map will show that the mountains labeled Ararat mons are the Gordyan Mountains in southeastern Turkey and not Iran. Just below the Ararat mons are the cities of Nineve, Mosul, and Arbela, all cities in northern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), and not Iran. The range of mountains to the right of Ararat mons, running in a north-south direction, is the Zagros Mountains, even though they are mislabeled Caspy (?) montes (Caspian Mountains). One can tell they are the Zagros Mountains by the location of Elam and Susa at the southern end of the mountain range. These locations are to the southeast of the Zagros Mountains. On this map, the Ararat Mons is in Turkey, not Iran. This map would be better used for the case of Cudi Dagh, as the true landing site of Noah’s Ark!
    The second map is found on page 99. It is identified in the book as a Terrestrial Paradise, circa 1722 showing Noah’s Ark below the Caspian Sea on the Summit of Mont Ararat. This map is Pierre Daniel Huet’s conception from Calmet’s Dictionnaire historique de la Bible (1722). With this map she is trying to demonstrate that the landing site for Noah’s Ark is below (or near) the Caspian Sea, just as Mount Suleiman, near Tehran, is near the Caspian Sea. This is very misleading. The map is not to scale and is an idealized map. Fortunately, one can locate where this mountain is by a careful examination of the map. Just below the mountain is a city named Ecbatana. The ancient city of Ecbatana is buried underneath the modern Iranian city of Hamadan.
    Ecbatana is mentioned once in the Bible in Ezra 6:2 (see the margin of any good study Bible) as the capital of the province of Media. It is also possible that it was one of the “cities of the Medes to which Israelite captives were exiled to by the Assyrians after the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6). Interestingly, the mapmaker places Mount Ararat in the Land of Media and not in Armenia. This should have raised red flags because this is contrary to our Biblical compass. The ancient Biblical and historical sources clearly show that Mt. Suleiman, north of Tehran, was deep inside the land of Media and far outside the land of Ararat / Urartu where the Ark landed.
    The mapmaker was trying to convey that the Ark landed on a mountain near Ecbatana, but not, on Mount Suleiman some 250 km to the northeast of Hamadan. There are Luristan traditions that Noah’s Ark landed in the area of Hamadan. Major Rawlinson, a British Army officer, visited the area in 1836 and mentions the tradition of the landing on a very lofty range, (co-ordinates: 34 degrees, 02’02.39N; 47 degrees, 37’01.85E)  called Sar Kasti on page 100 in his article in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9 (1839) 26-116. It was to this mountain that Cornuke made his first solo trip and the first of three claims that the Ark came to rest inside Iran. See: Cornuke and Halbrook, The Lost Mountains of Noah: The Discovery of the Real Mtns of Ararat, (2001) pages 88-95.
    We were both a little amused that she advocated the Karola Kautz’s theory that the Mount of Salvation (Mount Nisir) was the landing place of the Babylonian ark! Kautz is advocating the Babylonian account of Mount Nisir which is what Irwin was upset about when she watched the National Geographic program on Noah’s Ark (pages 1 and 2)!!!!!
    In Chapter Ten Irwin borrows another argument from Cornuke she believes indicates that the ark landed in Eastern Iran. Genesis 11:1-2 says: And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there (KJV). The argument goes like this: If you translate the Hebrew miqqedem mdqm as: from the east, as the KJV does, it would clearly seem to indicate that the Ark must have landed somewhere to the east of historic Shinar (Mesopotamia), in modern-day Iran since it is that country that is directly east of Shinar. However, if you translate the miqqedem as eastward, as the NIV does, then you have the migration coming from the west toward Shinar. Elsewhere the miqqedem is translated in the east (NEB), that is: men moved in the east, then, the directional point is much more indefinite.
    Given that this migration occurred several hundred years after the disembarking from the Ark from the previous context of chapter 10, it seems best not to push this passage too much. If you believe the Ark landed in northern Iran, or northeast Turkey, it would have certainly been more accurate for the writer to say they migrated from the north. Neither the Elburz Mountains, nor Mount Ararat is directly east of Shinar. The Biblical mountains of Ararat (Urartu) are directly north of the plain of Shinar.
    The apparent conflict between Genesis 8:4 and 11:2 is more easily resolved with a more indefinite interpretation in our opinion. It should also be pointed out that that there is least a 100-300 year period between the landing of the Ark after the Flood (Gen. 8), and the Tower of Babel event (Gen. 11). The peoples could have easily moved from where the Ark landed to other locations east or west of Shinar [Babylonia] before the Tower of Babel story took place.
    Finally we would caution the author about advocating the Mount Sulieman discovery based on unpublished reports of petrified wood with marine fossils; etc (pages 105-109). Your line: Until someone comes home from an expedition, with authentic photographs or a large chunk of the ark’s remains verified by authentic scientists who have looked at the samples through an electron microscope and have carbon dated the piece, I shall continue to be suspect of anymore ‘eye-witness’ accounts …  Cornuke’s team, who originally made these claims in 2006 has never produced any of the above for peer review. It’s been more than six years! If the answer is negative, that should be published also, so people do not go around writing books and giving lectures that they found Noah’s Ark on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran!
    Errata:
    Page 43. 1st line. Wyatt was not a psychiatric nurse, but rather a nurse anesthetist.
    Page 43. 2nd to the last line. The tunnel was in the Garden Tomb area, not the Garden of Gethsemane
    Page 69. 3rd line. Josephus is the 2nd half of the 1st century AD, not the beginning of the 4th century AD.
    Page 74. The quote attributed to Ashur-nasipal was not made by him and not cited as a quote by Olmstead.
    Page 78. The Harmonics footnote does not appear in the bibliography.
    Page 113. The date for the Olmstead article is 1918, not 1998. The information cited is on page 231.

    The Unsolved Mystery of Noah’s Ark. By Mary Irwin.  Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012, xv+117pp., $11.95 paper.

    Reviewed by Gordon Franz and Bill Crouse

    Mary Irwin, the wife of the late moon-walking astronaut, Jim Irwin, has written a book about their adventures on Mount Ararat and the search for Noah’s Ark. This book was prompted by a deceptive National Geographic special on Noah’s Ark in May 2009.

    In the Foreward, Bob Cornuke, another Ark hunter, laments that he has been searching for Noah’s Ark for 25 years and has never seen the old boat, and then asks: but has anyone ever seen the remains of Noah’s Ark? (page xi). We are pleased to report that over the millennia, literally thousands, upon thousands of people, including an Assyrian king, have made pilgrimages to Noah’s Ark and seen it, brought back wood from it as souvenirs or as objects of worship. We were surprised that Mary Irwin did not cite our definitive and compelling article on the true location for the landing of Noah’s Ark on Cudi Dagh in southeastern Turkey. It was published in Bible and Spade (Fall 2006; Vol. 10, no. 4, pages 99-113) and is available here.

    Early in the book Irwin writes about her first trip to the famed mountain, known by the Turks as Agri Dagh, with her husband in the early 80’s, an account that will bring back many memories to the various teams of climbers that had high hopes of finding Noah’s Ark. She then begins what is the best part of the book where she debunks several of the more notorious claims about the whereabouts of the Ark. Here she demonstrates evidence of pretty good detective work as far as she goes. Those making the remarkable claims which she exposes  are: Ferdinand Navarra, George Green, George Hagopian, and Ron Wyatt. We commend her for her efforts to set the record straight.

    In the Part two, she sets about to examine the off-probed story of the late Ed Davis from Albuquerque, NM. This is the story of a WWII soldier stationed in Hamadan, Iran, who claimed he had a close encounter, both with Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden. We wish that she had applied her skill evidenced earlier in the book to this sensational claim.  

    We agree with Mary Irwin’s assessment in the first half of the book (pages 1-49) that there are no credible sightings of Noah’s Ark on Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat. However, her case in the second half of the book for Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, based on the Ed Davis testimony strains credulity. This idea was first espoused by Robert Cornuke, and is weak and unconvincing. First of all, the biblically designated mountains of Ararat do not extend anywhere near this mountain in Eastern Iran. It has no tradition whatsoever, and one must have quite the imagination to even consider that the claimed rock formation was once the mighty ship of Noah (here are the co-ordinates: 36 degrees, 24’14.18N; 50 degrees, 58’27.43E). Thorough refutations of Bob Cornuke’s ideas and articles are up on these sites here and here. Mr. Cornuke has never responded to these articles and Mary Irwin apparently did not interact with the material in our critiques, so repeated the errors pointed out in the articles.

    In the book, Irwin contends that Ed Davis passed several lie detector tests (page 53) and one was “grueling” (page 54). The facts are not exactly as stated. Ed Davis, in one lie detector test of which we are aware, done on May 1,1988 for Bob Cornuke and High Flight Foundation (Jim Irwin’s organization), by P. G. P. Polygraph,  was asked six softball questions, and on the final question was answered by Davis in the negative, but showed stress on the polygraph test. Apparently, he had talked with others, or read books, about the ark. The author should have been aware of the results of this polygraph test because her husband was still in charge of the High Flight Foundation and the letter should have been in her “Ararat” file. If other tests were administered, it sure would strengthen her case if these results would have been documented in the book.

    Two old maps are presented in the book in an attempt to bolster the case for the landing site of the ark in Iran (pages 95 and 99). However, neither map supports the case for Mount Suleiman being the landing site of the ark.

    The first map is found on page 95. It is labeled Ancient Map of the Middle East, by Jewish Historian Petras Plantius. This map is primitive, and in some cases highly inaccurate. A careful examination of the map will show that the mountains labeled Ararat mons are the Gordyan Mountains in southeastern Turkey and not Iran. Just below the Ararat mons are the cities of Nineve, Mosul, and Arbela, all cities in northern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), and not Iran. The range of mountains to the right of Ararat mons, running in a north-south direction, is the Zagros Mountains, even though they are mislabeled Caspy (?) montes (Caspian Mountains). One can tell they are the Zagros Mountains by the location of Elam and Susa at the southern end of the mountain range. These locations are to the southeast of the Zagros Mountains. On this map, the Ararat Mons is in Turkey, not Iran. This map would be better used for the case of Cudi Dagh, as the true landing site of Noah’s Ark!

    The second map is found on page 99. It is identified in the book as a Terrestrial Paradise, circa 1722 showing Noah’s Ark below the Caspian Sea on the Summit of Mont Ararat. This map is Pierre Daniel Huet’s conception from Calmet’s Dictionnaire historique de la Bible (1722). With this map she is trying to demonstrate that the landing site for Noah’s Ark is below (or near) the Caspian Sea, just as Mount Suleiman, near Tehran, is near the Caspian Sea. This is very misleading. The map is not to scale and is an idealized map. Fortunately, one can locate where this mountain is by a careful examination of the map. Just below the mountain is a city named Ecbatana. The ancient city of Ecbatana is buried underneath the modern Iranian city of Hamadan.

    Ecbatana is mentioned once in the Bible in Ezra 6:2 (see the margin of any good study Bible) as the capital of the province of Media. It is also possible that it was one of the “cities of the Medes to which Israelite captives were exiled to by the Assyrians after the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6). Interestingly, the mapmaker places Mount Ararat in the Land of Media and not in Armenia. This should have raised red flags because this is contrary to our Biblical compass. The ancient Biblical and historical sources clearly show that Mt. Suleiman, north of Tehran, was deep inside the land of Media and far outside the land of Ararat / Urartu where the Ark landed.

    The mapmaker was trying to convey that the Ark landed on a mountain near Ecbatana, but not, on Mount Suleiman some 250 km to the northeast of Hamadan. There are Luristan traditions that Noah’s Ark landed in the area of Hamadan. Major Rawlinson, a British Army officer, visited the area in 1836 and mentions the tradition of the landing on a very lofty range, (co-ordinates: 34 degrees, 02’02.39N; 47 degrees, 37’01.85E)  called Sar Kasti on page 100 in his article in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9 (1839) 26-116. It was to this mountain that Cornuke made his first solo trip and the first of three claims that the Ark came to rest inside Iran. See: Cornuke and Halbrook, The Lost Mountains of Noah: The Discovery of the Real Mtns of Ararat, (2001) pages 88-95.

    We were both a little amused that she advocated the Karola Kautz’s theory that the Mount of Salvation (Mount Nisir) was the landing place of the Babylonian ark! Kautz is advocating the Babylonian account of Mount Nisir which is what Irwin was upset about when she watched the National Geographic program on Noah’s Ark (pages 1 and 2)!!!!!

    In Chapter Ten Irwin borrows another argument from Cornuke she believes indicates that the ark landed in Eastern Iran. Genesis 11:1-2 says: And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there (KJV). The argument goes like this: If you translate the Hebrew miqqedem mdqm as: from the east, as the KJV does, it would clearly seem to indicate that the Ark must have landed somewhere to the east of historic Shinar (Mesopotamia), in modern-day Iran since it is that country that is directly east of Shinar. However, if you translate the miqqedem as eastward, as the NIV does, then you have the migration coming from the west toward Shinar. Elsewhere the miqqedem is translated in the east (NEB), that is: men moved in the east, then, the directional point is much more indefinite.

    Given that this migration occurred several hundred years after the disembarking from the Ark from the previous context of chapter 10, it seems best not to push this passage too much. If you believe the Ark landed in northern Iran, or northeast Turkey, it would have certainly been more accurate for the writer to say they migrated from the north. Neither the Elburz Mountains, nor Mount Ararat is directly east of Shinar. The Biblical mountains of Ararat (Urartu) are directly north of the plain of Shinar.

    The apparent conflict between Genesis 8:4 and 11:2 is more easily resolved with a more indefinite interpretation in our opinion. It should also be pointed out that that there is least a 100-300 year period between the landing of the Ark after the Flood (Gen. 8), and the Tower of Babel event (Gen. 11). The peoples could have easily moved from where the Ark landed to other locations east or west of Shinar [Babylonia] before the Tower of Babel story took place.

    Finally we would caution the author about advocating the Mount Sulieman discovery based on unpublished reports of petrified wood with marine fossils; etc (pages 105-109). Mary Irwin stated: Until someone comes home from an expedition, with authentic photographs or a large chunk of the ark’s remains verified by authentic scientists who have looked at the samples through an electron microscope and have carbon dated the piece, I shall continue to be suspect of anymore ‘eye-witness’ accounts …  Cornuke’s team, who originally made these claims in 2006 has never produced any of the above for peer review. It’s been more than six years! If the answer is negative, that should be published also, so people do not go around writing books and giving lectures that they found Noah’s Ark on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran!

    Errata:

    Page 43. 1st line. Wyatt was not a psychiatric nurse, but rather a nurse anesthetist.

    Page 43. 2nd to the last line. The tunnel was in the Garden Tomb area, not the Garden of Gethsemane

    Page 69. 3rd line. Josephus is the 2nd half of the 1st century AD, not the beginning of the 4th century AD.

    Page 74. The quote attributed to Ashur-nasipal was not made by him and not cited as a quote by Olmstead.

    Page 78. The Harmonics footnote does not appear in the bibliography.

    Page 113. The date for the Olmstead article is 1918, not 1998. The information cited is on page 231.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on WHERE ARE BOB CORNUKE’S PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS?

    by Gordon Franz

    Robert Cornuke has Made Five Sensational Discoveries, but where are the Scientific Peer-Reviewed Publications of These Discoveries?

    Bob Cornuke claims to have found the real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia, the real mountains of Ararat in Iran and what he thinks might be the remains of Noah’s Ark, the anchor stocks from Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, and the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. He promotes an inscribed object that he claims has the name of the Lord, “Yahweh,” on it from Jebel al-Lawz where he locates Mount Sinai. Yet he has not followed the standard protocols of the scientific community in order to gain credibility and respect for any of his discoveries by publishing the results of his explorations in scientific, or archaeological, peer-reviewed publications. He seems to be following in the footsteps of the late Ron Wyatt, another adventurer making claims of sensational Biblical discoveries.

    The “Yahweh” Inscription
    In 2007 Cornuke presented the claims of an inscribed stone, allegedly found at “Mount Sinai,” with the name “Yahweh,” the name of the Israelite God, on it at the summer Promise Keepers events. When my critique of this inscribed stone appeared on the Internet (October 2009), Dr. Miles Jones came forward and identified himself as the one who translated the inscription. Jones asked Dr. Bryant Wood, the director of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), for permission to write a rebuttal to my article and post it on the ABR website. Dr. Wood advised him that what was needed was a scholarly publication of the inscription that included the provenance, proof of authenticity, translation, and proof of date (Phone conversation between Wood and Jones, October 23, 2009). Jones said he would do this. In 2010 a self-published book written for a popular audience appeared on the market entitled The Writing of God, but it was not a scholarly, peer-reviewed publication. In it, however, he attempted, but failed, to refute my critique of Cornuke’s claims. As of October 2012, almost three years later, no scholarly, peer-reviewed article has been published.

    For my original critique of the forgery on this inscribed stone, see:
    Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!

    For a follow-up article on the forgery, see:

    Was an Archaeological Forgery Mistakenly Portrayed as Authentic?

    Where are the Tests Results from “Noah’s Ark”?
    In June 2006 Cornuke led a team to Iran in order to locate the remains of Noah’s Ark on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran. The team came back with “petrified wood” and geological samples that allegedly contained animal hairs of various kinds, bird follicles, savannah grass, seeds, insects, and even “animal waste that contains butterfly wings, hair from tigers who lived in India, lions who lived in Africa, and DNA from several animals that live all over the world” (Church 2010:3).

    In an interview on the “Prophecy in the News” broadcast (edited in Church 2010:3-7, 38), one of the team members, Arch Bonnema, recounts the conference phone call that the 14 explorers of Mount Suleiman had with the scientists from the five labs that tested the rock samples they brought back from the mountain. According to Bonnema, this conference call lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. At the end, he asked the lab scientists what they thought the team found on Mount Suleiman. According to Bonnema, they said: “Mr. Bonnema, we’ve been talking about this for months and we don’t see how it can be anything but Noah’s Ark, but don’t use our names.” (2010:38).

    Bonnema said they spent a lot of money on these tests (Church 2010:7). Normal lab procedure is to give a written report to the client submitting samples for analysis. Cornuke and his team should have at least gotten a written report from each of the labs. As far as I am aware, none of the test results from any of the five labs have ever been published. Nor do we know what labs actually did the testing.

    It is Cornuke’s responsibility, as the expedition leader, to see to it that these results are published in a timely fashion in a peer-reviewed scientific publication. In the scientific reports, the scientists do not have to draw any conclusions as to whether the samples came from Noah’s Ark or not. All they have to report is the raw data with pictures and analysis. Cornuke can then add his interpretation of their data at the end of the report. But he is responsible to see to it that the material from the tests results are published so the scholarly community can see the results and draw their own conclusions. Six years after the expedition was conducted in June 2006, no analysis of this material has been published in any reputable scholarly publication.

    Following in the Footsteps of Ron Wyatt?
    The late Ron Wyatt claimed to have found ninety-two (92) Biblical objects or places, yet, like Cornuke, he never published a single object or discovery in a peer-reviewed scientific publication (Standish and Standish 1999). The only “discovery” of Wyatt that was ever published in a peer-reviewed journal was by his exploration partner, David Fasold, in an article entitled “Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure” (Collins and Fasold 1996: 439-444). The word “bogus” best summarizes Wyatt’s claim to have discovered Noah’s Ark.

    A Negative Answer is Still an Answer
    Wyatt also claimed to have discovered the Ark of the Covenant at the Garden Tomb, north of Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem. In fact, he also claimed that Jesus was crucified above the cave where he found the Ark and at the death of Jesus, the earthquake split the rock and blood flowed down through the cracks and covered the mercy seat. Wyatt allegedly took some blood samples from the mercy seat and sent them to a DNA lab for analysis. The alleged report came back with the information that the blood had only 24 chromosomes. Normally human beings have 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. Wyatt concluded that this was proof of the virgin birth of Jesus. There were 23 chromosomes from the virgin Mary and one presumably from the Holy Spirit! Of course, no lab report has ever been produced with pictures of the 24 chromosome.

    After Wyatt’s death, some of his followers wanted to confirm Wyatt’s statements about the Ark of the Covenant and rediscover the Ark for all to see. They conducted four seasons of excavations under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in 2005 (Permit no. A-4549*), 2006 (Permit no. A-4673*), and 2007 (Permit no. A-5222). The Israeli archaeologist in charge was Yehiel Zelinger. The reports of these excavations were posted on the IAA website.

    IAA Report HA-ESI 118 (2006) Report of 2005 season

    IAA Report HA-ESI 120 (2008) Report of 2006 season

    IAA Report HA-ESI 122 (2010) Report of 2007 season

    IAA Report HA-ESI 124 (2012) Report of September 2011 season

    For further analysis on this issue, see:

    http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/ron-wyattcovenant/

    Wyatt never had a permit from the IAA to excavate at the Garden Tomb, nor did he have an archaeologist on-site when he did excavate, and he never filed a report with the IAA when his excavation was complete (Levine 2003). Now that the area where Wyatt excavated has been exposed in a controlled archaeological excavation by professional archaeologists, it can be conclusively stated that Wyatt never found the Ark of the Covenant in the Garden Tomb area of Jerusalem. A negative answer is still an answer.

    The Conclusion of the Matter
    It is critical and imperative to publish the findings from any archaeological discovery in a timely fashion in a scientific, peer-reviewed publication. This allows scholars to review the report and critique the methodology, data, and conclusions. That is the nature of scholarship. If the proper procedures are followed and the results hold up to close scrutiny, than congratulations are in order.

    I hope that Cornuke will not follow in the footsteps of the late Ron Wyatt and that he will publish all the material from his “discoveries” in peer-reviewed scientific publications. This will go a long way to establishing credibility for his discoveries which is lacking now. Or, the discoveries can be positively ruled out as not being what Cornuke claims they are. Scholarly integrity demands nothing less.

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    https://www.lifeandland.org/2012/06/how-accurate-are-bob-cornuke%e2%80%99s-claims-2/

    Bibliography

    Church, J. R., editor
    2010 Has Noah’s Ark Been Found at Last? The Evidence is Overwhelming! Prophecy in the News 30/6 (June): 3-7, 38.

    Collins, Lorence; and Fasold, David
    1996 Bogus ‘Noah’s Ark’ from Turkey Exposed as a Common Geologic Structure. Journal of Geoscience Education 44: 439-444.

    Levine, Hanineh
    2003 On the Trail of Jeremiah and the Smuggled Holy Ark. Jerusalem Report (September 8).

    Standish, Russel, and Standish, Colin
    1999 Holy Relics or Revelation. Rapidan, VA: Hartland.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on WAS AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL FORGERY MISTAKENLY PORTRAYED AS AUTHENTIC?

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    During the summer of 2007, Bob Cornuke was a keynote speaker at Promise Keepers events. In his presentation he announced the discovery of a stone object that had an inscription that he claimed was translated “Yahweh,” the name of the God of the Israelites. According to Cornuke, the inscribed stone was found at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, the site he favors as Mount Sinai, and was given to the governor of Mecca. According to another source, the inscribed stone was found in Tabuk by Bedouin tribesmen and given to the governor of Mecca (Jones 2010:17, 109, 146-148). Tabuk is 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south-east of Jebel al-Lawz. The discrepancy concerning the provenance of the object has not been resolved between these two accounts.
    Further, a leading Semitic inscriptions scholar, Dr. Michael Macdonald of Oxford, declared, “I am almost certain that the sculpture is a fake.” He has observed that a forger copied the alleged “Yahweh” artifact inscription from the Ancient South Arabian alphabet, mistaking the wrong “h” in “Yahweh” (wrongly using h-dot) so that there is no way the letters could be read as the name “Yahweh.” Macdonald said it was typical of the “very crude carvings … appearing on the market nowadays” that “bear no relation to the types of ancient Arabian sculptures found in scientific archaeological excavations.”
    After consulting another Semitic language expert as well as an archaeologist working for the Saudi government about this inscription, I agree with these and other experts, that Cornuke’s “Moses Stone” is a modern-day forgery made in southern Saudi Arabia or Yemen. For scholarly details, see:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/10/yahweh-inscription-discovered-at-mount-sinai/
    Or
    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/10/11/Yahweh-Inscription-Discovered-at-Mount-Sinai!.aspx
    Further Developments
    After the above article was posted online, I was informed by Dr. Michael Macdonald [October 24, 2009], that he had corresponded with several associates of Mr. Cornuke about this inscription. The dates for the exchange of their correspondence are very important because they were about five months before the Promise Keepers events. Dr. Macdonald was sent pictures of this stone object with the inscription, labeled as CIMG 1942 and CIMG 1943, at the beginning of February 2007.
    In an email to those involved on February 3, 2007, Dr. Macdonald stated that “I am rather dubious of the authenticity of this object, though I am not an expert” and questioned “if the object is genuine.” In most cases, these statements would have alerted those involved to the possibility that the object might be a forgery and to dissuade them from publically discussing it until it had been authenticated by a professional archaeologist.
    For authentication, the object could have been sent to a professional archaeologist or epigrapher, such as Dr. Michael Macdonald at Oxford, Dr. Frank Moore Cross at Harvard University, or Dr. Raymond Tindel and Dr. Robert Biggs, the archaeologists at the University of Chicago with whom they had conversations at the end of January 2007. One or all of these scholars would have been able to examine this object first-hand in order to ascertain, before public exposure, if it was indeed authentic or a modern-day forgery. However, reputable scholars were never consulted and the object is still being promoted as the “Moses Stone.” In addition, Cornuke continues to claim that the word “YHWH” can be found on the artifact (Camp-of-the-Woods, Speculator, NY; August 8, 2012, AM Session).
    The Involvement of Dr. Miles Jones
    After my article was posted online, Dr. Miles Jones came forward to take responsibility for translating the name “Yahweh” on the tablet. Jones has a Ph.D. in (modern) foreign language education from the University of Texas at Austin. In Dr. Jones’ biographical information there is no mention of any background or training in Hebrew or any other Semitic languages, especially South Semitic, or Thamudic, the language of the inscribed stone. This language needs to be mastered before one can properly translate this text.
    Dr. Jones self-published a non-peer reviewed book entitled The Writing of God. In the book Jones attempted to interact with my above-mentioned article. He tried to dismiss the possibility that this inscription was a forgery because: “In Saudi Arabia there is no antiquities market selling artifacts to tourists. There are no tourists in Saudi Arabia” (2010:147). The statement is incorrect on two counts. First, Dr. Macdonald, writing from personal experience, informs me that: “His [Jones’] statement that there are no fakes or forgeries in Saudi Arabia merely displays a complete ignorance of the situation in the Middle East, and he is very naïve if he really believes that because something is against the law in any country (even with draconian punishments) some people will not take the risk of law-breaking for profit” (personal correspondence, October 24, 2009, emphasis added).
    Second, contrary to Jones’ statement, there are many foreign tourists visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia every year. The statistics from 1996 to the last recorded Hajj (2011) state that there were well over one million foreigners each year that made the pilgrimage to Mecca for the Hajj. Interestingly, the owner of the object in question was given the inscribed artifact by the Saudi prince who was the governor of Mecca (2010:147), the same city where the Hajj takes place.
    Jones further attempts to convince the reader that Macdonald’s and Younger’s identification of the letters and translation of the word YHWH are incorrect. Yet, an understanding of the ancient language in question leads one to the conclusion that the artifact is not genuine. For example, the diacritical marks underneath the letters “w??y” are in the text of the article. But the Semitic letter H with a line under it (?) and the Semitic letter H with a dot under it (?) are two different Semitic letters rather than the plain Semitic letter H, like in the word YHWH. So the letters that made up the word on the inscribed object do not spell “YHWH,” whichever direction it is read. Jones also said that “the ‘dot’ under the H is a pit in the stone” (2010:148). However, the diacritical marks underneath the letter “H” are scholarly convention for familiar modern Latin letters to represent Semitic letters and do not appear in the ancient lettering! Further, it has nothing to do with the pit in the stone.
    Jones also attempts to dismiss the suggestion by Dr. Kahn that the object with the inscription was “recently scultured” [sic] by saying “the patina within the grooves of the engraving is the same color as the rest of the stone, a sign of its age. It is not a newly made gash in the stone” (2010:148). Yet, it is common knowledge among antiquities collectors that a modern forgery can be buried in the ground for a year or more after it is made in order to give it the appearance of age and patina.
    The Need for Scholarly Assessment
    The issues raised point to the need for scholarly assessment to settle the questions regarding the authenticity of this object. When my critique of the inscribed stone was put up on the Internet, Dr. Miles Jones asked Dr. Bryant Wood for permission to write a rebuttal and post it on the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) website. Dr. Wood, the director of research for ABR, advised him that what was needed was a scholarly publication of the inscription that included the provenance, proof of authenticity, translation, and proof of date (Phone conversation between Wood and Jones, October 23, 2009). Jones said he would do this. As of September 2012, almost three years later, no scholarly, peer-reviewed article has been published in a reputable scientific or scholarly journal about the stone and its inscription.
    Further, in 2007 Mr. Cornuke promised on his website that he would write something about this inscription and post it on his website under Investigations / Inscriptions / “The Handwriting of God.” But five years later (September 2012) he is still lecturing about the purported “Moses Stone” and “YHWH” inscription as authentic, without ever securing scientific validation, and has never published anything on the inscription.
    The Conclusion of the Matter
    Dr. Macdonald sums it up best when he commented: “I am almost certain that the sculpture is a fake. Quite a lot of these very crude carvings are appearing on the market nowadays but they bear no relation to the types of ancient Arabian sculptures found in scientific archaeological excavations.” Because of significant doubts about the authenticity of this object by reputable scholars, the owner of the artifact should send the item out for proper evaluation by professional archaeologists and epigraphers and issue a report to the general public. Scholarly integrity demands this.
    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2012/06/how-accurate-are-bob-cornuke%e2%80%99s-claims-2/
    Bibliography
    Jones, Miles
    2010 The Writing of God. Secret of the Real Mount Sinai. Dallas, TX: Johnson.
    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.by Gordon Franz

    Introduction
    During the summer of 2007, Bob Cornuke was a keynote speaker at Promise Keepers events. In his presentation he announced the discovery of a stone object that had an inscription that he claimed was translated “Yahweh,” the name of the God of the Israelites. According to Cornuke, the inscribed stone was found at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, the site he favors as Mount Sinai, and was given to the governor of Mecca. According to another source, the inscribed stone was found in Tabuk by Bedouin tribesmen and given to the governor of Mecca (Jones 2010:17, 109, 146-148). Tabuk is 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south-east of Jebel al-Lawz. The discrepancy concerning the provenance of the object has not been resolved between these two accounts.

    Further, a leading Semitic inscriptions scholar, Dr. Michael Macdonald of Oxford, declared, “I am almost certain that the sculpture is a fake.” He has observed that a forger copied the alleged “Yahweh” artifact inscription from the Ancient South Arabian alphabet, mistaking the wrong “h” in “Yahweh” (wrongly using h-dot) so that there is no way the letters could be read as the name “Yahweh.” Macdonald said it was typical of the “very crude carvings … appearing on the market nowadays” that “bear no relation to the types of ancient Arabian sculptures found in scientific archaeological excavations.”

    After consulting another Semitic language expert as well as an archaeologist working for the Saudi government about this inscription, I agree with these and other experts, that Cornuke’s “Moses Stone” is a modern-day forgery made in southern Saudi Arabia or Yemen. For scholarly details, see:

    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/10/yahweh-inscription-discovered-at-mount-sinai/

    Or

    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/10/11/Yahweh-Inscription-Discovered-at-Mount-Sinai!.aspx

    Further Developments
    After the above article was posted online, I was informed by Dr. Michael Macdonald [October 24, 2009], that he had corresponded with several associates of Mr. Cornuke about this inscription. The dates for the exchange of their correspondence are very important because they were about five months before the Promise Keepers events. Dr. Macdonald was sent pictures of this stone object with the inscription, labeled as CIMG 1942 and CIMG 1943, at the beginning of February 2007.

    In an email to those involved on February 3, 2007, Dr. Macdonald stated that “I am rather dubious of the authenticity of this object, though I am not an expert” and questioned “if the object is genuine.” In most cases, these statements would have alerted those involved to the possibility that the object might be a forgery and to dissuade them from publically discussing it until it had been authenticated by a professional archaeologist.

    For authentication, the object could have been sent to a professional archaeologist or epigrapher, such as Dr. Michael Macdonald at Oxford, Dr. Frank Moore Cross at Harvard University, or Dr. Raymond Tindel and Dr. Robert Biggs, the archaeologists at the University of Chicago with whom they had conversations at the end of January 2007. One or all of these scholars would have been able to examine this object first-hand in order to ascertain, before public exposure, if it was indeed authentic or a modern-day forgery. However, reputable scholars were never consulted and the object is still being promoted as the “Moses Stone.” In addition, Cornuke continues to claim that the word “YHWH” can be found on the artifact (Camp-of-the-Woods, Speculator, NY; August 8, 2012, AM Session).

    The Involvement of Dr. Miles Jones
    After my article was posted online, Dr. Miles Jones came forward to take responsibility for translating the name “Yahweh” on the tablet. Jones has a Ph.D. in (modern) foreign language education from the University of Texas at Austin. In Dr. Jones’ biographical information there is no mention of any background or training in Hebrew or any other Semitic languages, especially South Semitic, or Thamudic, the language of the inscribed stone. This language needs to be mastered before one can properly translate this text.

    Dr. Jones self-published a non-peer reviewed book entitled The Writing of God. In the book Jones attempted to interact with my above-mentioned article. He tried to dismiss the possibility that this inscription was a forgery because: “In Saudi Arabia there is no antiquities market selling artifacts to tourists. There are no tourists in Saudi Arabia” (2010:147). The statement is incorrect on two counts. First, Dr. Macdonald, writing from personal experience, informs me that: “His [Jones’] statement that there are no fakes or forgeries in Saudi Arabia merely displays a complete ignorance of the situation in the Middle East, and he is very naïve if he really believes that because something is against the law in any country (even with draconian punishments) some people will not take the risk of law-breaking for profit” (personal correspondence, October 24, 2009, emphasis added).

    Second, contrary to Jones’ statement, there are many foreign tourists visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia every year. The statistics from 1996 to the last recorded Hajj (2011) state that there were well over one million foreigners each year that made the pilgrimage to Mecca for the Hajj. Interestingly, the owner of the object in question was given the inscribed artifact by the Saudi prince who was the governor of Mecca (2010:147), the same city where the Hajj takes place.

    Jones further attempts to convince the reader that Macdonald’s and Younger’s identification of the letters and translation of the word YHWH are incorrect. Yet, an understanding of the ancient language in question leads one to the conclusion that the artifact is not genuine. For example, the diacritical marks underneath the letters “w??y” are in the text of the article. But the Semitic letter H with a line under it (?) and the Semitic letter H with a dot under it (?) are two different Semitic letters rather than the plain Semitic letter H, like in the word YHWH. So the letters that made up the word on the inscribed object do not spell “YHWH,” whichever direction it is read. Jones also said that “the ‘dot’ under the H is a pit in the stone” (2010:148). However, the diacritical marks underneath the letter “H” are scholarly convention for familiar modern Latin letters to represent Semitic letters and do not appear in the ancient lettering! Further, it has nothing to do with the pit in the stone.

    Jones also attempts to dismiss the suggestion by Dr. Kahn that the object with the inscription was “recently sculptured” [sic] by saying “the patina within the grooves of the engraving is the same color as the rest of the stone, a sign of its age. It is not a newly made gash in the stone” (2010:148). Yet, it is common knowledge among antiquities collectors that a modern forgery can be buried in the ground for a year or more after it is made in order to give it the appearance of age and patina.

    The Need for Scholarly Assessment
    The issues raised point to the need for scholarly assessment to settle the questions regarding the authenticity of this object. When my critique of the inscribed stone was put up on the Internet, Dr. Miles Jones asked Dr. Bryant Wood for permission to write a rebuttal and post it on the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) website. Dr. Wood, the director of research for ABR, advised him that what was needed was a scholarly publication of the inscription that included the provenance, proof of authenticity, translation, and proof of date (Phone conversation between Wood and Jones, October 23, 2009). Jones said he would do this. As of September 2012, almost three years later, no scholarly, peer-reviewed article has been published in a reputable scientific or scholarly journal about the stone and its inscription.

    Further, in 2007 Mr. Cornuke promised on his website that he would write something about this inscription and post it on his website under Investigations / Inscriptions / “The Handwriting of God.” But five years later (September 2012) he is still lecturing about the purported “Moses Stone” and “YHWH” inscription as authentic, without ever securing scientific validation, and has never published anything on the inscription.

    The Conclusion of the Matter

    Dr. Macdonald sums it up best when he commented: “I am almost certain that the sculpture is a fake. Quite a lot of these very crude carvings are appearing on the market nowadays but they bear no relation to the types of ancient Arabian sculptures found in scientific archaeological excavations.” Because of significant doubts about the authenticity of this object by reputable scholars, the owner of the artifact should send the item out for proper evaluation by professional archaeologists and epigraphers and issue a report to the general public. Scholarly integrity demands this.

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Bibliography

    Jones, Miles

    2010 The Writing of God. Secret of the Real Mount Sinai. Dallas, TX: Johnson.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in Biblical archaeology and has participated in a number of excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on Unposted Response to the Creationrevolution Website
    Unposted Response to the Creationrevolution Website
    Gordon Franz
    Introduction
    On August 16, 2012, the Creationrevolution website posted an article concerning the shipwreck of Paul on Malta that I had written for which I am very grateful. There was a response to that article by a blogger who identified himself as “Paul 427.” I tried to post a response correcting some, but not all, of the statements made by Paul427. For some unknown reason the Creationrevolution webmaster did not clear my blog and post it to the site.
    There is one statement that needs to be addressed before it is repeated further on the Internet. I have decided to post my response to Paul427 on my website, followed by the unedited blog of Paul427 that appeared on the Creationrevolution website. If the Creationrevolution webmaster would be so kind as to post my response to Paul427 on their website, I would be most appreciative.
    My unposted response to Paul427:
    To Paul 427
    It is a pleasure to take this opportunity to respond to your comments on my article regarding the shipwreck of Paul on Malta. These issues raise great passion, and I appreciate your search for the truth. Let me take just a moment to clarify a few issues if I may.
    First off, I am not a Universalist. That statement was given by Mr. Robert Cornuke on the Frank Pastore Show on KKLA on Dec. 13, 2011. I wrote to the host, Frank Pastore, correcting this point, and I appreciate the opportunity to once again make my view plain in this regard. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
    Concerning my background, I have been doing field archaeology in Israel and Malta for over 30 years, and have taught classes for accredited colleges and graduate schools; but enough about me.
    My purpose in dealing with these questionable claims is based upon the pain and suffering I see caused by people such as Ron Wyatt and Mr. Cornuke. When innocent believers hear the unsupported and sensationalist claims made by these people, and then later see that the claims are not supported by the proper interpretation of the evidence, it can dash their faith altogether. Such a tragedy breaks my heart, and many of my colleagues have expressed similar pain. As a result, we feel a deep, and I would hope, God given responsibility to educate, and even protect, our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is especially true when there is so much good evidence supporting the Bible. In fact, I would invite you to join us in this work of exposing false theories and showing the true, please. For the risen and only Savior, Jesus Christ, we can do no less.
    I believe I have sufficiently responded to all of Paul427’s other objections on my website, so I invite the reader to visit the site and read the articles there for more information about the Malta claims and the accuracy of Cornuke’s other claims:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2012/06/how-accurate-are-bob-cornuke%e2%80%99s-claims-2/
    Again, thank you for the opportunity to dialogue on this issue.                 – Best regards, Gordon Franz
    Paul427’s blog posted to www.creationrevolution.com:
    The only problem is that four first century anchors were found at the correct bathymetry and in close proximity to the actual “place where two seas meet.” In addition there is a reef which seems to be a convenient coincidence for why another first century Alexandrian freighter might just meet its demise. I know, I know it just happens to be another first century Alexandrian freighter that had four anchors cut loose at the right depth and then was wrecked on Malta on a sandy beach just close enough to the place where two seas meet!!! What a coinkydink!!! The odds of that must be astronomical! It’s funny how the Maltese use of the coast guard navigational program designed to track ships in distress based upon known current information (that they apparently got from the United States Coast Guard) also put the ship’s “final projected destination” to about 100 feet geographic distance from where the anchors were ultimately found. What’s next Franz, that wasn’t the real computer program outcome either???
    Gordon Franz has had it out for Cornuke going back to the discovery of the artifacts at Jabal Al Lawz, a very likely candidate for the real Mount Sinai. (and in case you’re reading Franz, it’s not the traditional Mount Sinai!) He seems to be an armchair archaeologist only and cannot suffer a single claim by Cornuke, though he apparently doesn’t field check any of his own ideas and doesn’t possess a PhD (which Cornuke has by the way). If Cornuke went to visit his own brother, I wouldn’t be surprised if Franz would write another piece claiming it wasn’t really his brother. I especially loved it when I heard that this supposed Christian brother (of whom I heard a rumor by the way, is a “universalist” – If it is true, how’s that for believing the Bible?!!!) GOT AT LEAST THREE KNOWN SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS cancelled for Cornuke by calling up places where he was to speak and doing an anti-Cornuke diatribe. I love Christian brotherhood!!! SO WHERE’S THE LOVE FRANZ?
    I don’t want to see any more trash on Cornuke via Franz published on this website until Franz is checked out solidly on his own Biblical foundation and until he gets his doctorate. Enough is enough! This article wasn’t worth the space.
    About the Author
    Gordon Franz is an archaeologist on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research in Pennsylvania and has worked on numerous archaeological excavations in Israel since 1979, including Ketef Hinnom and the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel, Lachish, Jezreel, Kh Nisya (Ai), Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has also visited Malta on a number of occasions doing research on the history, geography, and archaeology of the island, as well as the location of Paul’s shipwreck. He holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary in SC.

    by Gordon Franz

    Introduction

    On August 16, 2012, the Creationrevolution website posted an article concerning the shipwreck of Paul on Malta that I had written for which I am very grateful. There was a response to that article by a blogger who identified himself as “Paul 427.” I tried to post a response correcting some, but not all, of the statements made by Paul427. For some unknown reason the Creationrevolution webmaster did not clear my blog and post it to the site.

    There is one statement that needs to be addressed before it is repeated further on the Internet. I have decided to post my response to Paul427 on my website, followed by the unedited blog of Paul427 that appeared on the Creationrevolution website. If the Creationrevolution webmaster would be so kind as to post my response to Paul427 on their website, I would be most appreciative.

    My unposted response to Paul427:

    To Paul 427

    It is a pleasure to take this opportunity to respond to your comments on my article regarding the shipwreck of Paul on Malta. These issues raise great passion, and I appreciate your search for the truth. Let me take just a moment to clarify a few issues if I may.

    First off, I am not a Universalist. That statement was given by Mr. Robert Cornuke on the Frank Pastore Show on KKLA on Dec. 13, 2011. I wrote to the host, Frank Pastore, correcting this point, and I appreciate the opportunity to once again make my view plain in this regard. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

    Concerning my background, I have been doing field archaeology in Israel and Malta for over 30 years, and have taught classes for accredited colleges and graduate schools; but enough about me.

    My purpose in dealing with these questionable claims is based upon the pain and suffering I see caused by people such as Ron Wyatt and Mr. Cornuke. When innocent believers hear the unsupported and sensationalist claims made by these people, and then later see that the claims are not supported by the proper interpretation of the evidence, it can dash their faith altogether. Such a tragedy breaks my heart, and many of my colleagues have expressed similar pain. As a result, we feel a deep, and I would hope, God given responsibility to educate, and even protect, our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is especially true when there is so much good evidence supporting the Bible. In fact, I would invite you to join us in this work of exposing false theories and showing the true, please. For the risen and only Savior, Jesus Christ, we can do no less.

    I believe I have sufficiently responded to all of Paul427’s other objections on my website, so I invite the reader to visit the site and read the articles there for more information about the Malta claims and the accuracy of Cornuke’s other claims:

    How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Again, thank you for the opportunity to dialogue on this issue.                
    – Best regards, Gordon Franz

    Paul427’s blog posted to www.creationrevolution.com:

    The only problem is that four first century anchors were found at the correct bathymetry and in close proximity to the actual “place where two seas meet.” In addition there is a reef which seems to be a convenient coincidence for why another first century Alexandrian freighter might just meet its demise. I know, I know it just happens to be another first century Alexandrian freighter that had four anchors cut loose at the right depth and then was wrecked on Malta on a sandy beach just close enough to the place where two seas meet!!! What a coinkydink!!! The odds of that must be astronomical! It’s funny how the Maltese use of the coast guard navigational program designed to track ships in distress based upon known current information (that they apparently got from the United States Coast Guard) also put the ship’s “final projected destination” to about 100 feet geographic distance from where the anchors were ultimately found. What’s next Franz, that wasn’t the real computer program outcome either???

    Gordon Franz has had it out for Cornuke going back to the discovery of the artifacts at Jabal Al Lawz, a very likely candidate for the real Mount Sinai. (and in case you’re reading Franz, it’s not the traditional Mount Sinai!) He seems to be an armchair archaeologist only and cannot suffer a single claim by Cornuke, though he apparently doesn’t field check any of his own ideas and doesn’t possess a PhD (which Cornuke has by the way). If Cornuke went to visit his own brother, I wouldn’t be surprised if Franz would write another piece claiming it wasn’t really his brother. I especially loved it when I heard that this supposed Christian brother (of whom I heard a rumor by the way, is a “universalist” – If it is true, how’s that for believing the Bible?!!!) GOT AT LEAST THREE KNOWN SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS cancelled for Cornuke by calling up places where he was to speak and doing an anti-Cornuke diatribe. I love Christian brotherhood!!! SO WHERE’S THE LOVE FRANZ?

    I don’t want to see any more trash on Cornuke via Franz published on this website until Franz is checked out solidly on his own Biblical foundation and until he gets his doctorate. Enough is enough! This article wasn’t worth the space.

    About the Author

    Gordon Franz is an archaeologist on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research in Pennsylvania and has worked on numerous archaeological excavations in Israel since 1979, including Ketef Hinnom and the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel, Lachish, Jezreel, Kh Nisya (Ai), Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has also visited Malta on a number of occasions doing research on the history, geography, and archaeology of the island, as well as the location of Paul’s shipwreck. He holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary in SC.

  • Cracked Pot Archaeology Comments Off on QUESTIONS ABOUT CORNUKE’S PH.D.
    QUESTIONS ABOUT CORNUKE’S PH.D.
    Gordon Franz
    Is Robert Cornuke’s Ph.D. at an Unaccredited School Based on an Unoriginal Dissertation Partly Written By Others?
    Introduction
    Robert Cornuke has gained a wide following as a Biblical archaeologist and a “Christian Indiana Jones.” His claims include finding the real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia, the real mountains of Ararat in Iran with what he believes might be Noah’s Ark, the real anchor stocks from Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, and the real Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. He also promotes an object he claims bears the name of the Lord, “Yahweh,” which he claims comes from Jebel al-Lawz (Saudi Arabia) where he locates Mount Sinai.  (The object later turned out to be a modern-day forgery; see link below.)  One expects solid credentials to back these bigger-than-life claims, and Cornuke indeed claims academic credentials but they are not what they seem to be.
    Cornuke claims to have an earned Ph.D. degree. But investigation shows his doctorate comes from an unaccredited school, Louisiana Baptist University, and is based on a doctoral dissertation so unoriginal that it is partly or wholly written by someone else and copied verbatim from already published work.  In reputable scholarship, dissertations are supposed to be original and not previously published. His dissertation asserts some of his claimed archaeological “discoveries” but does not satisfy minimal standards for academic research, even according to the unaccredited school’s own rules.
    People have questioned why there seems to be no record that Cornuke has an undergraduate degree. The degrees attributed to him are a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Ph.D. in Bible and Theology, both from Louisiana Baptist University in Baton Rouge. Normally one needs an undergraduate degree to enter graduate school. Larry Williams, his co-adventurer on his Saudi Arabian expeditions, said Cornuke was a “stocky former college football star” but does not identify which college he attended and whether he graduated from it or not (Williams 1990: 138).
    While a degree from an unaccredited institution may be questionable, there is an even more basic issue, and the main point of this article:  That is whether Cornuke’s Ph.D. dissertation was legitimate, scholarly, and fulfilled the requirements of Louisiana Baptist University dissertation guide.
    Is the Cornuke Dissertation Proper Scholarship?
    According to academic norms, a Ph.D. dissertation is an “original contribution to the field or major modification of known work.” The dissertation by Robert Cornuke is neither, because his thesis on locating Mount Sinai at Jebel al-Lawz was originally asserted by Ron Wyatt (Franz 2000) and the location of the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia was a thesis originally espoused by Graham Hancock in a bestselling book (1992). Nor does the dissertation meet minimum levels of scholarly competency for several additional reasons as will be demonstrated below.
    Ordinarily a requirement of doctoral programs in North America is to publish the dissertation through UMI Dissertation Publishing so that the research is available to other scholars. The first clue that this dissertation does not pass scholarly muster is that it is not available to scholars. The Louisiana Baptist University Library refused to send me, and other libraries, a copy of the dissertation it when we requested it via inter-library loan. I also requested a copy of the dissertation directly from Cornuke in December 2005, and he did not respond to that request.
    Despite these obstacles, I have obtained a copy of Cornuke’s dissertation. It is entitled “Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and Mount Sinai in History and Tradition” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana Baptist University, May 2005, 399 pages).
    As I will document below, the Cornuke dissertation is essentially a word-for-word “cut and paste” of the three popular adventure books he co-authored with David Halbrook, and published with Broadman-Holman, except for one book that was “cut and pasted” in part (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000, 2001, 2002). There is very little scholarship in these superficial adventure books.
    Unfortunately, where Cornuke does interact with scholarly material he does not understand the issues, is selective in what he reports, and ignores material that refutes his claims. Adventure books are not scholarship. I invite the reader to read the articles at the links below that critique Cornuke’s shallow scholarship and lack of research skills. In none of his books that make up his dissertation has he produced any credible historical, geographical, geological, archaeological, or Biblical evidence to support any of his claims.
    When the respected evangelical Egyptologist Professor James Hoffmeier critiqued Cornuke’s “Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia” theory, he stated that Cornuke was an “amateur” and “dilettante” whose work “lacks academic credibility.” Hoffmeier’s criticism was published in his Oxford Press book Ancient Israel in Sinai (2005: 132-136), and has not been refuted by Cornuke. Dr. Hoffmeier then proceeded to itemize the “monumental blunders” that “Cornuke and his colleagues” have made that “trained archaeologists and biblical scholars would not make.” After cataloging the criticism of Cornuke theories, Dr. Hoffmeier concluded:
    “I concur with Gordon Franz’s devastating critique of Cornuke’s theory and his conclusions that ‘Mt. Sinai should be located in the Sinai Peninsula right where the Bible places it, not in Saudi Arabia.’ ”
    Is the Cornuke Dissertation Legitimately Original?
    As an ethical matter, it is very unlikely that the faculty at any accredited graduate school would view Cornuke’s dissertation as original research given that the authorship was shared by David Halbrook. Candidates for a Ph.D. cannot hire someone else to do their work for them, take tests for them, or write material for them, even if they are acknowledged by name and thanked.
    In fact, Halbrook’s co-authorship is nowhere mentioned in the text of the dissertation. In the acknowledgements of his dissertation, Cornuke states:
    “Two individuals deserve special acknowledgement for their contribution in research and inpute [sic] in the compilation of this dissertation. I would like to offer these men the enormous credit they are both entitled and would also wish to extend my deepest appreciation for their kind and valued work. Thank you David Halbrook and Kenneth Durham as I would not have been able to accomplish this dissertation as completed without you” (2005: 3, emphasis added).
    Although Mr. Cornuke credits these two for their “research” contributions, nevertheless he does not state that David Halbrook was in effect the co-author of this dissertation.
    The dissertation is taken directly from Cornuke’s three adventure books, co-authored with Halbrook. Proof of this cut-and-paste method is embarrassingly apparent in some of the dissertation’s endnotes or footnotes that come from chapters of one book not included in the dissertation so they don’t actually “footnote” anything in the dissertation! These footnotes (endnotes) are orphaned.
    In the section on Noah’s Ark, several chapters have been omitted from the previously published Cornuke-Halbrook book, In Search of the Lost Mountains of Noah. No reason is given for this omission and it leaves those orphan endnotes. Missing from the dissertation are the Cornuke-Halbrook book’s acknowledgment (Cornuke and Halbrook 2001: ix), prelude (2001: 5-12), and chapters seven (2001: 58-63), eight (2001: 64-69), and thirteen (2001: 102-107).
    In the Noah’s Ark book Acknowledgment, which was left out of the dissertation, Mr. Cornuke profusely thanked his co-author Halbrook:
    “An extra special word of acknowledgment and appreciation goes to … David Halbrook, whose monumental effort, skilled literary abilities, and cherished friendship have made the writing of this book both an extreme pleasure and a blessing, which could never be adequately conveyed with mere words” (2001: ix).
    The phrases “monumental effort” and “literary abilities” suggest that Halbrook did the major portion of the writing – of work that was later copied by Cornuke into Cornuke’s dissertation as if it was Cornuke’s own work.
    Honorary vs. Earned Doctorates
    Completed dissertations often find their way into published follow-up books by the scholars. But dissertation requirements do not allow for the reverse to take place – for the author’s already published books, especially books that are co-authored, to make their way, verbatim, into the author’s dissertation.
    Previously published work, even if written by the same author, is not “original.” And here, it is not even clear what was written by Cornuke and what was written by Halbrook, and what possibly may have been written by still other individuals (for example, Durham). Previously published work may merit honorary degrees such as honorary doctorates (D. Litt. – Doctor of Literature, often honorary), but not earned doctorates. If the Louisiana Baptist University doctorate had been merely honorary then we would not have the major problem that we have, but in fact it is assertedly an earned doctorate so it must adhere to the standards for earned versus honorary degrees.
    Does Cornuke Fulfill the Requirements of the Dissertation Guide?
    I invite the reader to decide, based on the evidence cited previously and in the linked articles (below), if Robert Cornuke’s dissertation fulfills the requirements of the Louisiana Baptist University “Doctoral Dissertation Requirements.” In my opinion and that of other scholars, this dissertation does not “exhibit originality and thoroughness of research”, and it was not “an exhaustive treatment of the subject chosen”; therefore it does not the meet the standards of “high quality of research and knowledge expected of doctoral projects” (quotes from the LBU Doctoral Dissertation Requirement guide, emphasis added).
    For links to my critiques of the scholarship, or lack thereof, in Cornuke’s books that were copied directly into the Mount Sinai and Noah’s Ark sections of his dissertation, see:
    Mount Sinai is not at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia
    Part 1
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/04/mt-sinai-is-not-at-jebel-el-lawz-in-saudi-arabia/
    Part 2
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/04/mt-sinai-is-not-at-jebel-el-lawz-in-saudi-arabia-part-2/
    Part 3
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/04/mt-sinai-is-not-at-jebel-el-lawz-in-saudi-arabia-part-3/
    Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/10/yahweh-inscription-discovered-at-mount-sinai/
    Did the BASE Institute Discover Noah’s Ark in Iran?
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2009/04/did-the-base-institute-discover-noah%e2%80%99s-ark-in-iran/
    The Conclusion of the Matter
    Cornuke is promoted as having an earned Ph.D. degree to back his extravagant claims of archaeological “discoveries.” Despite his claims, an investigation into his Ph.D. dissertation reveals that he does not have the respectable academic credentials one would expect and there appear to be ethical problems in submitting a dissertation that is not solely his own work. To award a “Ph.D.” for an unscholarly, academically questionable dissertation of dubious authorship cheapens the high standards of legitimate scholarly Ph.D.’s. These are earned by putting years into university research and library work, learning ancient and modern languages, writing and re-writing countless pages of original, scholarly research to hone a work into one of academic excellence.
    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:
    https://www.lifeandland.org/2012/06/how-accurate-are-bob-cornuke%e2%80%99s-claims-2/
    Bibliography
    Cornuke, Robert
    2005 “Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and Mount Sinai in History and Tradition” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana Baptist University, May 2005).
    Cornuke, Robert; and Halbrook, David
    2000 In Search of the Mountain of God. The Discovery of the Real Mt. Sinai. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
    2001 In Search of the Lost Mountains of Noah.  The Discovery of the Real Mts. Of Ararat.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
    2002 In Search of the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
    Franz, Gordon
    2000 Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Bible and Spade 13/4: 101-113.
    Hancock, Graham
    1992 The Sign and the Seal.  The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  New York: Crown.
    Hoffmeier, James
    2005 Ancient Israel in Sinai.  New York and London: Oxford University
    Press.
    Williams, Larry
    1990 The Mountain of Moses. The Discovery of Mount Sinai. New York: Wynwood.
    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in archaeology and participated in excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

    by Gordon Franz

    Is Robert Cornuke’s Ph.D. at an Unaccredited School Based on an Unoriginal Dissertation Partly Written By Others?

    Introduction
    Robert Cornuke has gained a wide following as a Biblical archaeologist and a “Christian Indiana Jones.” His claims include finding the real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia, the real mountains of Ararat in Iran with what he believes might be Noah’s Ark, the real anchor stocks from Paul’s shipwreck on Malta, and the real Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia. He also promotes an object he claims bears the name of the Lord, “Yahweh,” which he claims comes from Jebel al-Lawz (Saudi Arabia) where he locates Mount Sinai.  (The object later turned out to be a modern-day forgery; see link below.)  One expects solid credentials to back these bigger-than-life claims, and Cornuke indeed claims academic credentials but they are not what they seem to be.

    Cornuke claims to have an earned Ph.D. degree. But investigation shows his doctorate comes from an unaccredited school, Louisiana Baptist University, and is based on a doctoral dissertation so unoriginal that it is partly or wholly written by someone else and copied verbatim from already published work.  In reputable scholarship, dissertations are supposed to be original and not previously published. His dissertation asserts some of his claimed archaeological “discoveries” but does not satisfy minimal standards for academic research, even according to the unaccredited school’s own rules.

    People have questioned why there seems to be no record that Cornuke has an undergraduate degree. The degrees attributed to him are a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Ph.D. in Bible and Theology, both from Louisiana Baptist University in Shreveport. Normally one needs an undergraduate degree to enter graduate school. Larry Williams, his co-adventurer on his Saudi Arabian expeditions, said Cornuke was a “stocky former college football star” but does not identify which college he attended and whether he graduated from it or not (Williams 1990: 138).

    While a degree from an unaccredited institution may be questionable, there is an even more basic issue, and the main point of this article:  That is whether Cornuke’s Ph.D. dissertation was legitimate, scholarly, and fulfilled the requirements of Louisiana Baptist University dissertation guide.

    Is the Cornuke Dissertation Proper Scholarship?
    According to academic norms, a Ph.D. dissertation is an “original contribution to the field or major modification of known work.” The dissertation by Robert Cornuke is neither, because his thesis on locating Mount Sinai at Jebel al-Lawz was originally asserted by Ron Wyatt (Franz 2000) and the location of the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia was a thesis originally espoused by Graham Hancock in a bestselling book (1992). Nor does the dissertation meet minimum levels of scholarly competency for several additional reasons as will be demonstrated below.

    Ordinarily a requirement of doctoral programs in North America is to publish the dissertation through UMI Dissertation Publishing so that the research is available to other scholars. The first clue that this dissertation does not pass scholarly muster is that it is not available to scholars. The Louisiana Baptist University Library refused to send me, and other libraries, a copy of the dissertation when we requested it via inter-library loan. I also requested a copy of the dissertation directly from Cornuke in December 2005, and he did not respond to that request.

    Despite these obstacles, I have obtained a copy of Cornuke’s dissertation. It is entitled “Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and Mount Sinai in History and Tradition” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana Baptist University, May 2005, 399 pages).

    As I will document below, the Cornuke dissertation is essentially a word-for-word “cut and paste” of the three popular adventure books he co-authored with David Halbrook, and published with Broadman-Holman, except for one book that was “cut and pasted” in part (Cornuke and Halbrook 2000, 2001, 2002). There is very little scholarship in these superficial adventure books.

    Unfortunately, where Cornuke does interact with scholarly material he does not understand the issues, is selective in what he reports, and ignores material that refutes his claims. Adventure books are not scholarship. I invite the reader to read the articles at the links below that critique Cornuke’s shallow scholarship and lack of research skills. In none of his books that make up his dissertation has he produced any credible historical, geographical, geological, archaeological, or Biblical evidence to support any of his claims.

    When the respected evangelical Egyptologist Professor James Hoffmeier critiqued Cornuke’s “Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia” theory, he stated that Cornuke was an “amateur” and “dilettante” whose work “lacks academic credibility.” Hoffmeier’s criticism was published in his Oxford Press book Ancient Israel in Sinai (2005: 132-136), and has not been refuted by Cornuke. Dr. Hoffmeier then proceeded to itemize the “monumental blunders” that “Cornuke and his colleagues” have made that “trained archaeologists and biblical scholars would not make.” After cataloging the criticism of Cornuke theories, Dr. Hoffmeier concluded:

    “I concur with Gordon Franz’s devastating critique of Cornuke’s theory and his conclusions that ‘Mt. Sinai should be located in the Sinai Peninsula right where the Bible places it, not in Saudi Arabia.’ ”

    Is the Cornuke Dissertation Legitimately Original?

    As an ethical matter, it is very unlikely that the faculty at any accredited graduate school would view Cornuke’s dissertation as original research given that the authorship was shared by David Halbrook. Candidates for a Ph.D. cannot hire someone else to do their work for them, take tests for them, or write material for them, even if they are acknowledged by name and thanked.

    In fact, Halbrook’s co-authorship is nowhere mentioned in the text of the dissertation. In the acknowledgements of his dissertation, Cornuke states:

    “Two individuals deserve special acknowledgement for their contribution in research and inpute [sic] in the compilation of this dissertation. I would like to offer these men the enormous credit they are both entitled and would also wish to extend my deepest appreciation for their kind and valued work. Thank you David Halbrook and Kenneth Durham as I would not have been able to accomplish this dissertation as completed without you” (2005: 3, emphasis added).

    Although Mr. Cornuke credits these two for their “research” contributions, nevertheless he does not state that David Halbrook was in effect the co-author of this dissertation.

    The dissertation is taken directly from Cornuke’s three adventure books, co-authored with Halbrook. Proof of this cut-and-paste method is embarrassingly apparent in some of the dissertation’s endnotes or footnotes that come from chapters of one book not included in the dissertation so they don’t actually “footnote” anything in the dissertation! These footnotes (endnotes) are orphaned.

    In the section on Noah’s Ark, several chapters have been omitted from the previously published Cornuke-Halbrook book, In Search of the Lost Mountains of Noah. No reason is given for this omission and it leaves those orphan endnotes. Missing from the dissertation are the Cornuke-Halbrook book’s acknowledgment (Cornuke and Halbrook 2001: ix), prelude (2001: 5-12), and chapters seven (2001: 58-63), eight (2001: 64-69), and thirteen (2001: 102-107).

    In the Noah’s Ark book Acknowledgment, which was left out of the dissertation, Mr. Cornuke profusely thanked his co-author Halbrook:

    “An extra special word of acknowledgment and appreciation goes to … David Halbrook, whose monumental effort, skilled literary abilities, and cherished friendship have made the writing of this book both an extreme pleasure and a blessing, which could never be adequately conveyed with mere words” (2001: ix).

    The phrases “monumental effort” and “literary abilities” suggest that Halbrook did the major portion of the writing – of work that was later copied by Cornuke into Cornuke’s dissertation as if it was Cornuke’s own work.

    Honorary vs. Earned Doctorates

    Completed dissertations often find their way into published follow-up books by the scholars. But dissertation requirements do not allow for the reverse to take place – for the author’s already published books, especially books that are co-authored, to make their way, verbatim, into the author’s dissertation.

    Previously published work, even if written by the same author, is not “original.” And here, it is not even clear what was written by Cornuke and what was written by Halbrook, and what possibly may have been written by still other individuals (for example, Durham). Previously published work may merit honorary degrees such as honorary doctorates (D. Litt. – Doctor of Literature, often honorary), but not earned doctorates. If the Louisiana Baptist University doctorate had been merely honorary then we would not have the major problem that we have, but in fact it is assertedly an earned doctorate so it must adhere to the standards for earned versus honorary degrees.

    Does Cornuke Fulfill the Requirements of the Dissertation Guide?

    I invite the reader to decide, based on the evidence cited previously and in the linked articles (below), if Robert Cornuke’s dissertation fulfills the requirements of the Louisiana Baptist University “Doctoral Dissertation Requirements.” In my opinion and that of other scholars, this dissertation does not “exhibit originality and thoroughness of research”, and it was not “an exhaustive treatment of the subject chosen”; therefore it does not the meet the standards of “high quality of research and knowledge expected of doctoral projects” (quotes from the LBU Doctoral Dissertation Requirement guide, emphasis added).

    For links to my critiques of the scholarship, or lack thereof, in Cornuke’s books that were copied directly into the Mount Sinai and Noah’s Ark sections of his dissertation, see:

    Mount Sinai is not at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia Part 1

    Mount Sinai is not at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia Part 2

    Mount Sinai is not at Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia Part 3

    Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!

    Did the BASE Institute Discover Noah’s Ark in Iran?

    The Conclusion of the Matter
    Cornuke is promoted as having an earned Ph.D. degree to back his extravagant claims of archaeological “discoveries.” Despite his claims, an investigation into his Ph.D. dissertation reveals that he does not have the respectable academic credentials one would expect and there appear to be ethical problems in submitting a dissertation that is not solely his own work. To award a “Ph.D.” for an unscholarly, academically questionable dissertation of dubious authorship cheapens the high standards of legitimate scholarly Ph.D.’s. These are earned by putting years into university research and library work, learning ancient and modern languages, writing and re-writing countless pages of original, scholarly research to hone a work into one of academic excellence.

    For links to other critiques of Cornuke’s ideas, see:

    How Accurate Are Bob Cornuke’s Claims?

    Bibliography

    Cornuke, Robert
    2005 “Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and Mount Sinai in History and Tradition” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana Baptist University,            May 2005).

    Cornuke, Robert; and Halbrook, David
    2000 In Search of the Mountain of God. The Discovery of the Real Mt. Sinai. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

    2001 In Search of the Lost Mountains of Noah.  The Discovery of the Real Mts. Of Ararat.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

    2002 In Search of the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

    Franz, Gordon
    2000 Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? Bible and Spade 13/4: 101-113.

    Hancock, Graham
    1992 The Sign and the Seal.  The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  New York: Crown.

    Hoffmeier, James
    2005 Ancient Israel in Sinai.  New York and London: Oxford University Press.

    Williams, Larry
    1990 The Mountain of Moses. The Discovery of Mount Sinai. New York: Wynwood.

    About the author
    Gordon Franz is a Bible teacher who holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Biblical Seminary, SC. Since 1978, he has engaged in extensive research in archaeology and participated in excavations in and around Jerusalem, including Ketef Hinnom and Ramat Rachel; as well as the excavations at Lachish, Jezreel, Hazor, and Tel Zayit. He has taught the geography of the Bible and led field trips in Israel for the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, the Institute of Holy Land Studies, and the IBEX program of The Master’s College. He also co-teaches the Talbot School of Theology’s Bible Lands Program. Gordon is on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research.

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Recent Comments

  • Nicely done Gordon! At last, a place to send people who are...
  • It's incredible how Mr Cornuke keeps finding things in the w...
  • Obviously Mr.Cornuke hasn't studied Torah or the Bible very ...
  • Thanks for this cogent and concise summary, Gordon. The body...
  • Gordon, You did an excellent work to support the traditiona...