Simcha Jacobovici asked me to post this response to Prof. Puech’s statement published earlier today on my blog in which Prof. Puech comments on the interview he recently did regarding the “Jonah” ossuary:
I just read Professor Emile Puech’s statement concerning my interview with him. The interview speaks for itself and anybody who wants can judge whether I’m tricking him in any way: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jesus-tomb-finds-dramatic-support/
Professor Puech admits that we met twice, not once. I interviewed him for the Dead Sea Scrolls and then several weeks later I came and interviewed him again on the Jonah ossuary. In his post, he says that I did not give my name prior to the second interview. Can anyone really believe that we met twice and I never presented him with my name or referenced our first interview? Furthermore, after my interview, since he hadn’t seen my two controversial films on the Talpiot tomb, but had heard of them, I went into detail discussing them with him. I then had the films delivered to him. He acknowledges this by writing at the outset of his statement that he has now watched both films. Where did he get them? From me. More than this, I warned him that the minute that I post his interview, the sleeper agents of Christian theology will come out and pressure him to recant. He said that he will stick to his interpretation because it’s what he believes. He also said that Jesus cannot be in any tomb because he rose bodily to heaven. On the latter point, I smiled and we agreed to disagree. Between the time that I interviewed him and the time that I posted the interview, several weeks elapsed. He had lots of time to ask me not to post the interview – he didn’t.
I understand Father Puech’s feelings, now that he’s been told that his testimony is being used to validate the Jesus Family tomb theory. I’m sorry, however, that he has decided to play the victim and say that he spent hours with me without knowing my name. I do respect him, however, for sticking by his reading. He continues to hold that the image on the ossuary is not a nefesh/pillar, as Professor Steven Fine has suggested; not unguentaria/perfume bottle, as Professor Joan Taylor has argued; and not an amphora first suggested, I think, by Professor Juan V. Fernandez de la Gala. Puech clearly still states that he sees a fish head with the name “Yonah” inscribed on it. He also links this to Jesus’ statement in the Gospels about the “Sign of Jonah”. Under pressure, he seems to have backed off the idea that the cross on the ossuary is Christian, that a stick man is being “vomited” out of the fish and that it’s clearly a “Judeo Christian” symbol. Acting like an enforcer, Professor Cargill has assured us that by next week Puech will recant everything. I guess nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Until Cargill gets to him, however, despite the tremendous pressure that is being exerted on him, Puech is standing his ground on the most essential elements of his reading. For those of us who don’t believe that Jesus’ tomb cannot be found because he physically ascended to heaven, Puech’s testimony as an epigrapher continues to be strong support for the Talpiot archaeological cluster that attests to the fact that the tomb of Jesus and many of his family has already been discovered.