Friday, March 7, 2008

The Ark - In Zimbabwe?

I'm fairly skeptical about this, but I can't resist the "wow" factor.

Professor Says He Found Ark of the Covenant--Maybe
Brushing back a thick layer of dust, Tudor Parfitt revealed a distinctive interwoven pattern carved around the outside of the "terribly, terribly damaged" wooden artifact tucked away on the bottom shelf of a Zimbabwe warehouse...

According to the Book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant -- a gold-covered container carried on poles, topped with two golden cherubim facing each other -- was crafted on orders from God given to Moses at Mount Sinai.

Parfitt, however, thinks it is unlikely a group of ex-slaves wandering in the desert had the means to create an object so elaborate. That's why the piece he found, a carved wooden drum, seems more likely, he said.

"It's not like anything that we encounter in our daily lives," Parfitt said. "I think it was both a musical instrument that goes into battle and some kind of weapon using technology we don't quite understand."

Parfitt began to suspect that the Ark of the Covenant was a drum in the late 1980s while studying an African tribe called the Lemba.

At first, I wondered whether this was a publicity stunt for the new Indiana Jones movie. But after learning that the History Channel will be airing a documentary about this "discovery" in a couple weeks, now I'm more inclined to think this is a publicity stunt to sell Parfitt's new book: The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2,500 Year Old Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark.

Call me a "skeptic," but this all smacks a little too much of the pseudo-archaeology of Simcha Jacobovici promoted by the History Channel a couple years ago about the Exodus.

After the documentary airs, I'm sure there will be a flurry of responsible analysis. I'll keep you posted if anything interesting happens.

I don't personally think the ark exists anymore. Why? Because I don't think God would allow it to exist. It would be way too confusing from a salvation standpoint. People would want to worship it or go back to the ways of the Old Covenant and take their focus off Christ and his death and resurrection. That's what the entire book of Hebrews is all about. The ways of the Old Covenant are gone - forever. Even if by some miracle we did find the Ark or some "second generation" version of it, it would have no religious significance, only historical significance.

UPDATE (3/30/2008): I have now watched this documentary. To my surprise, I haven't seen very much in the news about it, other than this initial press release. It just kind of came and went. After watching it, I have to say that the guy's theory terribly far-fetched. Basically, it hangs on the premise, "Well, we all know that the Ark of the Covenant described in Exodus couldn't be real because the Israelites wouldn't have had the gold and wood resources to make such a box." We do? We "know" that? How do we "know" that? And then the program just proceeds from there. It looks at all of the usual candidates: Was the Ark stored under the Temple? Was it taken to Ethiopia by the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba? etc. The answer is, "No! It was taken to Zimbabwe by Jeremiah." Uh, ok. The researcher doesn't claim that the drum he's found is the actual, original Ark. It's a medieval copy. But it's a faithful replication of the original, nonetheless.

I would classify all of this as "fool's science." I haven't heard one responsible archaeologist corroborate this guy's claim. That's generally not a good sign.


Catherine said...

I saw just the end of this show, so I can't comment on the whole thing. I'm skeptical of his idea that he's found the Ark of the Covenant, but I'm intrigued by the fact that there do seem to be some descendants of the Jews in sub-Saharan Africa. I'd like to see the whole thing when I get a chance. I encourage you to see it, but I wouldn't take his conclusions too seriously.


Theology Mom said...

Testing the claim that there is a tribe in Africa related to the Jews is different than the Ark claim. Genetic testing was used to verify the former.