Film Claims Disputed; Dig Shut Down: Vendyl Jones' Claims Challenged
by James Walker
The amateur archeologist and theologian Vendyl Jones is back in the news creating controversy with his unusual claims, bizarre brand of archeology, and unorthodox doctrines.
Vendyl continues to repeat unsubstantiated claims that he is the real Indiana Jones a fictional character popularized in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and two other highly successful action films produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielbeg (for a critique of Jones' claims see Watchman Expositor Vol. 8, no 7).
In a recent eight-page feature story, Texas Monthly writer, Mark Seal, repeated Vendyl Jones claim that Indiana Jones, "was inspired not by some chiseled archaeological legend but by [Vendyl Jones] a jug-eared, pot bellied amateur" (August 1992, p. 115).
Jones explained to Seal that when the first and last letter are removed from Vendyl, the result is endy which is like Indy, the nick-name of Indiana Jones.
Vendyl Jones, head of the Arlington, Texas based Institute of Judaic-Christian Research (IJCR) and leader of the B'nai Noach (Noahides or Sons of Noah) movement, has gained the attention of the national press (New York Times, National Geographic, Omni, and CNN) with stories of his numerous archeological digs in Israel searching for the biblical ashes of the red heifer (Numbers 19:2).
Jones, a former Baptist preacher, believes these missing ashes are the key to prophecy. He predicts that once he finds the ashes, "God will return to earth in a tongue of fire. The tented temple will be restored in a blaze of transcendent glory. Jews from all nations will return to Israel. And peace will come to the Middle East" (Ibid).
In the article, entitled, "Masquerader of the Lost Ark," Seal discovered that Jones' archeology is an outgrowth of his unusual theology.
Jones teaches a doctrine known as dual covenant. He believes that Jesus Christ is not the Savior of Jews but is only Savior of the gentiles. Jones even claims it is sinful to share Christ with a Jew.
Jones called traditional New Testament theology, "the greatest hoax of mankind" explaining that he was driven to archaeology by, "his belief that the New Testament was a fraud" (Texas Monthly p. 140). Jones often speaks to Christian groups and his digs may be financed in part from Christians who are not aware of his true goals.
He hopes his archeological discoveries will, "nullify the religions that replaced Judaism [Christianity] ¾ and would vindicate his own embattled philosophies." Jones is directly quoted as saying, "If I could find these things, the supremacy of Judaism would be proven" (Ibid p.141).
Texas Monthly also quoted recognized New Testament scholar and theologian, Bruce Metzger, who commented on Jones' theory. Metzger was "aghast" saying, "Any biblical scholar, even any Jewish scholar, would say that's a bunch of hogwash" (Ibid p. 140).
Jones often finds himself in opposition to recognized scholars.
In May, the Jerusalem Post reported that Jones' "unprofessional" dig in the Israeli desert at Qumran was banned by Jewish authorities saying:
"The Antiquities Authority last week banned a Texas Bible scholar and self-styled archeologist from pursuing a dig near the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls, arguing he lacks credentials.
"`This isn't something personal,' said Orna Hess, a spokeswoman for the authority. The main problem is we never give a license to someone who isn't an archeologist" (Jerusalem Post International Edition 30 May 1992, p. 24).
Other scholars are even less supportive of Jones' claims concerning the ashes of the red heifer.
Jacob Neusner, author of two books on the ashes of the red heifer called Jones' theories, "a wonderful, romantic idea and absolutely crackpot" (Texas Monthly p. 162).
Jones countered by describing scholars critical of his theories with an expletive: "those **** out there who don't know anything about anything" mockingly naming his many critics "Dr Smellfungus and Dr. Picklesheimer" (Ibid).
Debunkers of Jones' claims may include George Lucas and Steven Speilberg creators of the Indiana Jones series.
Texas Monthly reported that "Lucas and Spielberg say they've never heard of Vendyl Jones" adding that a representative from LucasFilms, Lynne Hale, stated that George Lucas wrote the original story in 1973, which predates Vendyl Jones' claims by four years (Ibid pp. 117, 143).
What was the real inspiration for the name Indiana Jones? Texas Monthly stated that Vendyl Jones still held to his version of the tale when shown a recent TV Guide story desputing his claims.
In the article Lucas explained that the character's name, Indiana Jones, came from Lucas's dog, Indiana, which was with him as he wrote the story (Ibid).