Front page: Tomb-project members visit SBL, meet in Toronto
By Dixon Cartwright
TORONTO, Ont., Canada--Members of a loosely organized study project headed by Ken Westby of Federal Way, Wash., met in late November in Toronto to talk about ways to spread interest in their theory of an alternate location in Jerusalem of the tomb of King David and Herod's temple.
Mr. Westby, however, because of a last-minute illness, was not able to make the trip.
Several people interested in the study, who were there specifically because of the project or for other reasons, did meet in Toronto.
The other reasons for being in Toronto Nov. 23-26 included the annual Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) book fair and seminars and the Bible Archaeology Society's annual seminars. The SBL is based in Atlanta, Ga. The Bible Archaeology Society, based in Washington, D.C., publishes the magazine Bible Archaeology Review.
One reason the tomb-and-temple-project members wanted to meet in Toronto at this time was that several people they hope to interest in the project would be there either for the SBL fair or the Bible-archaeology seminars.
One was Hershel Shanks, publisher of Bible Archaeology Review, who also was instrumental in bringing a famous ossuary, or bone box, from Israel to Canada in November to coincide with his seminars and the SBL events. Mr. Shanks also brought the owner of the bone box, which some experts think is likely that of Jesus' brother James, to Toronto.
The box, owned by Oded Golan of Tel Aviv, was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum during the meetings. Mr. Oded spoke to a private audience in the Metropolitan Hotel of attendees of the archaeology seminars sponsored by Mr. Shanks' organization. The tomb-project people did briefly meet with Mr. Shanks and with other parties they had hoped to see.
Reason to believe
Mr. Westby, founder of the Association for Christian Development (www.godward.org), says the tomb-project participants have reason to believe they know where King David is buried and, further, that the presently recognized site of Herod's temple (as well as the two precedent temples) is farther south by a third of a mile than is generally supposed.
Mr. Westby says if the theory is accurate (he bases his conjecture on studies and a book by the late Ernest Martin, a former Worldwide Church of God member and scholar), it could have far-reaching implications for not only archaeologists but even for world peace.
"If the temple, and therefore even the Wailing Wall, is not where the Jews think it is," said Mr. Westby, "then the Jews might not have the same dispute with the Muslims about a site they both hold as one of the holiest in their respective religions."
In other words, if the Jews' holy site is really a few hundred yards south of where the Israelis think it is, the conflict of Israelis and other Jews over the present supposed temple mount with the world of Islam might not be as contentious as it presently is.
The Muslims would still have their Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock on the present site, but the Jews would instead focus their attention on a site farther south, thus possibly relieving tensions that can affect war and peace in the world.
Friends of Mr. Westby and the project who visited Toronto include Clyde Brown of Phelan, Calif.; George Wesley Buchanan of Kensington, Md.; David Sielaff of San Diego, Calif.; James Spiropolous of Santa Monica, Calif.; James Tabor of Wilmington, N.C.; and this writer.
Unable to attend, besides Mr. Westby, was Gary Arvidson of Kings Mountain, N.C.
Mr. Sielaff had been in Big Sandy, Texas, earlier in the month to conduct a seminar about the project at the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy.
On Nov. 2 Mr. Sielaff, who, with Dr. Martin's widow, Ramona, operates the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, Portland, Ore. (www.askelm.com), said that "major scholars are starting to come on board about this thing, finally."
"This thing" is the theory of the alternate location for the tomb and temple. "Finally Dr. Martin's work is getting .Â .Â . the recognition it deserves," he said.
Indeed, Dr. Martin's book The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot, which he originally published in 1994, is soon to be republished, with new editing by David Noel Freedman of San Diego, editor in chief of Anchor Bible Commentary and one of the presenters at the archaeology seminars in Toronto.
"He [Professor Freedman] is 80 years old and wants to go out causing a fuss," said Mr. Sielaff, "and this will do it."
In a nutshell, Dr. Martin's theory is based on the need for water. The vast amounts of water needed for the temple sacrifices were not available at the recognized temple site. Rather, the abundant water of the Gihon Spring was--and is--available a third of a mile farther south.
Two of the project-team members who visited Toronto do not have WCG backgrounds: Dr. Buchanan and Mr. Spiropolous.
Dr. Buchanan is a writer of many books and a retired professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Spiropolous is an official of the Getty Museum, based in Los Angeles.
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