Saturday, 31 January 2015

Bizarre and Disgracefully Arrogant Response over New Mark Fragment

Dr Danny Zacharias and Dr Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity College have just made a video in reply to the criticisms of mummy mask trashing. It is called 'Craig Evans Leads Scientists to New Discoveries at ADC', and  video features on the blog of Dr Zacharias under the title: "The Truth Behind What Dr. Craig Evans Has Been Doing at Acadia Divinity College". To describe the video as bizarre (as did Roberta Mazza) is an understatement. It has a tagline "brought to you by the scientists at ADC". I suggest Acadia Divinity College press officer might like to have a word with these two. 

At the beginning, tooth-baring Dr Danny Zacharias looking snazzy in his little woollen hat and smiling announces that he's "just got back" from a covert operation in Egypt where "I go there quietly, and basically I just, well, I, I raid tombs, I loot, ah pillage and find some good stuff there". Just under one and a half thousand people have seen this video. How many understand what its context is?  Acadia Divinity College Wolfville, Nova Scotia folks, remember the name. 

The film then shifts to Dr Craig Evans' office. Note on the right the framed papyri by the window in full daylight - next to the framed photo of a Pope.  Then the professor starts fooling around, takes the 'mummy mask' from Dr Z, makes a big show of  putting on the gloves [Remember Josh McDowell saying they do not wear them?] As he does so he chants "do the rule [sic] everything right, just the way you're supposed to do it" - in a mocking singsong voice. Then takes a batten of wood and repeatedly bashes the 'mask' ("you have to saften these things up") and then takes out a bit of paper which is he says is Secret Mark dated to the "forties" (the in joke is that Craig Evans is one of the main proponents of the  thesis that Secret Mark was a forgery). Then the two make fun of the archaeologists: "what do we do with that now? ... it's an antiquity, I could just shred it", "save the postage, run it through the shredder" the Professor suggests carelessly (note the slip "we can send it back to the museum"). How droll, eh? Canadian academic humour, a winner every time. 

This is just sheer arrogance. Instead of responding in a normal fashion to criticism of the apparent involvement in wanton destruction of Egyptian antiquities, these two have gone the other way, mocking the critics raising issues which worry them. What they are clearly doing is making out that they are fulfilling a strategy of provocation - in which case they then dismiss all and any criticism pretending that the critics have 'fallen into their trap' - because they meant all along to provoke. That is a childish tactic, and is exactly the modus operandi adopted by some of the metal detectorists (discreditable blogging duo Stout and Howland are the prime examples). In the case of the Mark papyrus criticisms far better would be to make a video explaining the origin of the papyrus and the actual extent of the involvement of Dr Evans in this growing scandal. And if he's signed some kind of non-disclosure agreement to protect the reputation (or whatever) of the papyrus's owner, I'd say it behoves him to keep silent and accept with humility the lesson learnt about the wisdom and consequences for science of such a dodgy deal.


Meanwhile, You Tube is a very public medium and Evans and Zacharias should consider that not everybody watching it will know what it is about - which means that the good name of Acadia Divinity College Wolfville, Nova Scotia is being dragged through the mud by two members of its staff. They represent the college as being involved in the looting and pillaging of Egyptian tombs and then laughing about blatant and damaging mistreatment of antiquities. This kind of ill-considered provocation can only create misconceptions, and earn a bad name for the Green Scholars Initiative - if indeed it is involved with the Mark Papyrus - and North American biblical scholarship as a whole.


Brian Curtiss said...

I'm speechless. I don't even know what they were thinking when they made that. Wtf? Is that supposed to be humorous? I seriously don't even get it. Were they trying to make some kind of point that by mistreating their prop mask in an over the top way? Trying to poke fun at the criticism they have taken? Bizarre.

Paul Barford said...

It is hard to believe that adults made this, still harder that it's academics. They are indeed poking fun at the concerns of their archaeological colleagues.

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