Archaeology Goes to Trial

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor
of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

Simcha Jacobovici, the filmmaker known as “The Naked Archaeologist,” is suing Joe Zias, a retired archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority for $1 million.

Zias has accused Jacobovici of using the Bible to deceive the public in order to make money with his films and documentaries. Jacobovici said that he has been wronged and that Zias’s claim is libel.

In an article published in The World, Daniel Estrin wrote: “Zias doesn’t just accuse Jacobovici of bad science. He has accused him of pimping off the Bible, trying to deceive the public, calculated deception, and propagating multi-million dollar schemes.”

Jacobovici defended himself against Zias’s charges: “‘I just think it’s a very simple thing. Democracy ends when libel begins,’ he says. ‘When you accuse people of criminal activity. Of planting evidence and things like that. You have crossed the line from legitimate debate to plain old classic libel.’”

As a result of Zias’s charge, the National Geographic Channel cancelled Jacobovici’s film on “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.”

Daniel Estrin has published an article in The World in which he provides some details about the controversy between Zias and Jacobovici. You can read the give and take about the lawsuit here.

NOTE: For other articles on archaeology, archaeological discoveries, and how they relate to the Bible, read my post Can Archaeology Prove the Bible?.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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This entry was posted in Archaeology, Simcha Jacobovici and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Archaeology Goes to Trial

  1. Joe Zias says:

    As far as their claim that because of me, NG canceled their contract, a doc submitted to the IL court from NG stated that ‘Joe Zias had nothing whatsoever to do with the cancellation’ which was the result of a panel that NG set up which voted not to buy the film. I was not on the panel and became aware of it, only after the cancellation.


    • Claude Mariottini says:


      I never believed that the show was cancelled because of you. Most organizations do not like controversies. There was so much controversy around the show that National Geographic believed it was better for their reputation to cancel the show.

      Thank you for your comment and your clarification. Readers will appreciate your words.

      Claude Mariottini


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