Monday, July 08, 2013

Absence of Obvious Evidence

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).


Over the past year, particularly the past 3 months, I've been concentrating on competitive skyscraper stair-climbing. Between August & January I climbed 5 of the 8 tallest buildings on the prominent Los Angeles skyline. I'm proud to see that I'm currently ranked #73 out of 11,768 men, & #13 out of 1,325 men aged 50-59 in America (i.e., the top 1% of all participants). Proud because I know God has given me this special physical ability, which enables me to help raise funds for charitable organizations. Grateful because when I suffered a severe, permanently disfiguring injury to one of my feet many years ago, I never dreamed I'd be able to accomplish such a feat (homonymous pun intended)!

This injury occurred due to a terrible mistake I made; & each day when I look down, I'm reminded of it; & that's the way it'll be till the day I die. Yet it would've been a worse mistake to not continue using my feet. This is one example of the ecclesiastic observation that there's a time for everything, including a time to quit, & time to continue.

I'm glad I didn't preserve the brutal nature of my injury on video, but I have preserved a milder example recently. For background, I would first encourage everyone to view this 3-minute video, Ultimate Extreme Sport: Running a Vertical Mile (VM). Therein, climber Martin Sanders, who has ridden 24-hour bicycle races, describes 2-hour VMs as "unbelievably difficult." Other athletes called it "painful", "grueling", & as one lady phrased it, "worse than childbirth"!

As another example of when NOT to quit, here's a link to a video of me stubbing one of my toes after climbing 0.8 VMs wearing barefoot-style shoes. I kicked it so hard that you can hear it snap. Rather than quitting, I spent about 2 minutes changing shoes, then continued for 1.2 more VMs to achieve my goal of 2 VMs for the day over a span of about 5.3 hours. But before clicking the link, if the sound of a physical injury makes you uncomfortable, please be aware that it includes graphic, uncensored audio & images of my toe as it healed over subsequent days.

Would it have made sense to quit on this occasion? No, because mental tenacity/determination is a key component of skyscraper stair races. With each training climb, I not only exercise my physical muscles but my mental ones. When every pore of your skin begins emitting sweat, when your legs begin burning, when your arms hurt from grabbing hand-rails to pull your bodyweight upward a little faster, when your lungs cannot process enough air to supply oxygen to your bloodstream, & when you see other climbers passing you despite your most strenuous effort, that is NOT the time to quit, but rather the time to re-focus on the next step, & the next, & so on.

As it turns out, I did not do as well as I could have at the main event for which I've been training, the San Diego Towerthon. The goal was to climb as many 24-story laps as possible within a 2-hour regulated period. I made several mistakes that led to a depletion of energy by the 6th lap, but this was another example of when to NOT quit. Out of 166 competitors, I ended up finishing in 11th place officially (10th place unofficially due to an error on the part of the timing organization that awarded an undeserved excess lap to another climber); but had I quit after 5 laps, I would've been in 99th place. Had I not made any mistakes, I would've finished in 8th place. And though the difference between 10th & 8th place may not seem like a big deal, it was a huge deal to me because the person in 8th place was a woman who is several years older than me (albeit a professional fitness trainer), & I'm a chauvinistic swine!

Although I had the lofty goal of climbing the full height (above sea-level) of Mt. Everest (HOME) in a single day, the best I've done is just over half of that, 3 VMs in 8.25 hours. Due to the location of the elevators where I train, each VM includes 2 ordinary horizontal miles (HM). So on the day I set my personal record, I climbed 3 VMs (25,474 stair-steps) plus jogged/walked 6 HMs. If/when I find a bldg. with better logistics, I'm confident I'll be able to reach my goal, joining an elite club of about 200 people in the world who have accomplished that feat.

(Parenthetically, most people don't realize this, but climbers who have actually reached the real Mt. Everest summit don't traverse the whole height; they begin at base camps situated more than halfway up its distance from sea-level; so in that sense I have climbed more than the HOME in a day.)

So when should one quit?

The current issue of Antiguo Oriente, vol. 10 (2012) contains a 9-page article by David Ussishkin, "Lmlk Seal Impressions Once Again: A Second Rejoinder to Oded Lipschits", followed by a 1-page statement by Israel Finkelstein & Nadav Na'aman, "A Response to David Ussishkin". Due to its serious implications, David Vanderhooft posted "An Open Letter to Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na'aman" on a blog to which I'm intentionally not linking (because I think its owner has intellectual cooties; spread the word!).


Should Dr. Ussishkin have quit after his first rejoinder? He wrote this one primarily to make 4 points in response to Dr. Lipschits:

  1. Affirm that it's "impossible to decide" whether LMLKs were made before Hezekiah's reign or after the [Assyrian] destruction of Lachish.
  2. State that Babylonian/Persian-period stamps are "irrelevant" with respect to the dating of LMLKs & Rosettes.
  3. Counter the claim that x2U LMLKs post-date x4C & x4L types.
  4. Observe that the connection made by Lipschits between "private" & LMLK stamps was mostly redundant to that which was published earlier by Barkay, Vaughn, & himself.

He then emphasized that Dr. Lipschits did not address the arguments made in support of dating "all" LMLKs & Circles prior to the Assyrian destruction.

Here I will briefly check his point that unstratified handles found at Lachish "must predate the destruction" (by Assyrians). He relies upon an unsubstantiated assumption that "settlement there was renewed ... many decades later" in the subsequent layer. This is not necessarily a mistake, just a claim that cannot be verified, the same way he noted the impossibility of determining whether LMLKs were made before Hezekiah's reign.

In his final section titled "Epilogue", Dr. Ussishkin challenges the claim made by Dr. Lipschits of originality, a vital aspect of academic publication. He then presents the work of Drs. Ephraim Stern, Peter van der Veen, & yours truly (BSEE, no PhD). Allow me to briefly contrast the subtle differences between ideas published by all 5 of us.

Ussishkin: Based primarily on his firsthand excavation of Lachish, all LMLK seals were made before the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib (i.e., BS = "before Sennacherib").

Stern: All x4x LMLKs were BS, & some x2x LMLKs were AS (i.e., "after Sennacherib") during Hezekiah's reign. He did not distinguish between the 3 sub-categories of x2U, x2D, x2T, nor did he distinguish LMLK jar-handle seals & LMLK bullae seals (which he assigned to Josiah's reign following N. Avigad's suggestion). Note also that Dr. Stern describes Circles & Rosettes as being LMLKs, a clear misnomer on p. 174 of his 2001 book ("[M]ost scholars now agree that the two other symbols depicted on the lmlk jar handles, the rosette seal impressions and the concentric circles incised on them..."). I included his quotations on p. 318 of my 2004 Lv1 book, along with an editorial note lamenting the confusion!

Me: All x4x & x2U LMLKs were BS; x2D, x2T were AS. An important distinction is that my very-specific, but loosely held belief is based upon original photography of previously unpublished handles & drawings reconstructed therefrom of the original seal designs mostly during 2002-2003, several of which were ignored or blended in earlier typologies.

Van der Veen: Same as me, but that some of the AS seals were made during the reign of Manasseh. Note that this extends their usage to the middle of the 7th century, adding specificity where Stern remained ambiguous.

Lipschits, Sergi, Koch (LSK): Same as van der Veen, but that some of the BS seals might have been made during the reign of Ahaz, & that all the LMLKs were part of the Assyrian domination of Judah, noting Manasseh's subjugation (i.e., "Judah's integration into the Assyrian economic system", TA v37-1 p. 10).

While I'm at it, I'll also mention PhD-candidate Jeffrey Hudon's ongoing work as a 6th view that builds upon that of the late Anson Rainey, assigning the LMLK terminus a quo to Uzziah's reign (way before Ahaz & Hezekiah).

If my highly abridged distinctions misrepresent anyone's views, I hope they will correct me.

Back to Ussishkin's 2nd rejoinder, he makes the following pointed observations:

  • Lipschits didn't refer to Stern despite knowing what was in his highly publicized, widely read 2001 book.
  • Lipschits didn't refer to my BS/AS chronological division despite knowing that my 2004 book is listed in the Bibliography of the LMLK Research website (LRW), cited by LSK in their 2010 publication.
  • In a forthcoming article, van der Veen & Prof. F. Bron lament that LSK did not reference my work or van der Veen's.
  • LSK's drawings are "similar" to mine, & chronologically divided "identical[ly]" to mine.
  • LSK used the work of Stern, van der Veen, & yours truly "without proper acknowledgement and authorization."

I don't see any mistakes made therein by David Ussishkin, do you? I think it was appropriate that he didn't quit.


Next I will refer readers to my November 1, 2012 blog post, "Be My Guest". Therein, Israel Finkelstein states that LSK failed to cite my work due to "an honest oversight." That would've been an excellent time for him to quit, because on the surface it reflects the Judeo-Christian concept of confession (Leviticus 16:21; 1John 1:9). But right after Ussishkin's AO-10 bibliography, Finkelstein & Na'aman (FN) expressed their opinion on the matter with more detail, making a mistake in their first paragraph (citing a letter dated "20/5/2013" (s/b 2012)!

Their 1st serious mistake was when they attempted to disqualify Stern's contribution by limiting Hezekiah's reign to "only a few years" AS, whereas Stern's exact phrase was "some years" AS. Even if it were true that Stern did not understand the usage of stamped LMLK jar-handles subsequent to that time, LSK were still academically obligated to cite Stern & distinguish their views from his. Why would FN defend this blatant negligence as an "honest oversight"?

More importantly, how did they determine the oversight was honest? Did LSK each submit to a polygraph test? Note that FN have a reputation for being skeptical of Biblical historicity, accepting the absence of archeological evidence as evidence of absolute absence. On this occasion did they actually witness LSK performing their original research, or did FN base their assessment of LSK's collective honesty on an oral tradition that they now expect everybody else in the world to believe uncritically? If so, on what basis would they apply a different standard to their interpretation of the Bible?

Hello Rock! Let me introduce you to my good friend, Hard Place!

Their 2nd mistake was to claim that van der Veen's complaints have "no merit". Here I will emphasize to readers who don't know me, that unlike van der Veen, I am a bachelor who works as a Bachelor of Science, & have never earned any net income from LMLK research (not counting 2 years of labor, about $8,000 spent on printing, advertising, & overseas shipping of gratis copies; 8 copies sold over the course of 9 years, for which I received about $800 after splitting sales w/ Amazon; God supplies all my needs by enabling me to work as an engineer); so while I'm extremely flattered by all the international attention I'm receiving, I'd be just as happy if I had begun competitive stair-climbing for charities in 2002 rather than building the first major website devoted to LMLKs. Van der Veen, on the other hand, has a family to support, & proper citations of his work impact his reputation as a scholar, & his ability to earn income therefrom. It may not matter to FN, but it's a big deal to van der Veen, & rightly so.

Their 3rd mistake was to say that van der Veen "apparently withdrew from his accusation" regarding the evaluation of his thesis by Lipschits. In a touchy situation such as this, why didn't FN simply ask van der Veen, "Hey dude, have you withdrawn your accusation?" In a written response dated July 2, 2013, van der Veen reiterated & elaborated upon the merits of his accusation.

Their 4th mistake was to say "it seems that [Lipschits only had from van der Veen] a chapter that deals with pottery." Again, why didn't FN do a modicum of research to find out whether the chapter only dealt with pottery rather than primarily epigraphy (& its stratigraphic context for dating)? Why would seasoned, trained-in-factfinding academicians resort to lazy, ambiguous terms such as "apparently" & "seems"?

(For additional information on how this matter relates to van der Veen, & whether LSK were obligated to cite his unpublished research, please read my "Far-reaching Clarifications" blog posted November 19, 2012, wherein I listed examples of LSK citing other unpublished/forthcoming data.)

Their 5th & arguably most egregious mistake was to say that because I relinquished all rights to my Lv1 book, "anyone can ... copy whatever he/she likes." The issue is not whether anyone can copy material I originated (which I encourage), but whether they can commit academic fraud by claiming that they originated the ideas/data! Besides statements made in LSK's 2010 publication, I'll refer readers here to Ussishkin's quotations of Lipschits on p. 17 at the beginning of his Epilogue.

Their 6th mistake was to say it's "inconceivable" that LSK plagiarized my work. The basis FN give is that LSK knew I & scholars who had my book would find out about it. Pardon me, but don't bank robbers rob banks even though they know there are systems in place designed to catch them? Isn't it conceivable that LSK (collectively or individually) considered my work to be unscientific/unscholarly, thought they could make small changes to my work (e.g., connect the chronological division to Assyrian administration from Ahaz through Hezekiah to Manasseh, rather than strictly to an Israelite one by Hezekiah; & solidify dotted lines on my drawings), & then act as though it's entirely their own work?

I'm not accusing them of doing that right now; at this point I'm simply asking FN if it's conceivable, & if not, why? (Note that I just demonstrated it is conceivable by conceiving it!) Did FN deliberately transform negative data (i.e., an absence of evidence of past immoral conduct) into positive data (i.e., honesty) for a formal academic publication? If so, how would anyone ever convict LSK of an ethics violation if the fallaciously circular assumption is that they never have committed any?

"Your honor, it's inconceivable that my client, the defendant, committed the crime because I personally have never observed him committing a crime, & he even told me that he didn't commit the crime. In fact I asked a bunch of my buddies down at the pub, & none of them ever saw him committing a crime either."

I would also ask FN if either of them believe it is conceivable that the universe expanded from nothing, & that life came from non-life since both beliefs violate well-tested, fundamental laws of science. Or is their claim of misbehavior on the part of LSK being "inconceivable" just another instance of fallacious Special Pleading? Here I will simply remind readers that I'm posing these questions not to bellhops or chefs or janitors, but to university professors responsible for conveying knowledge to, & developing the minds of, others in a presumably rational manner (i.e., without committing fallacies).

Their 7th mistake was to use the "unscholarly nature" of my book as an excuse that "may have caused [LSK] not to take the volume seriously or not to read it thoroughly." Huh?!?!

First, the key issues under discussion, namely the chronological division & my drawings are both depicted on the back cover of my book (Fig. 1 on p. 23 of Ussishkin's article); LSK wouldn't need to take it seriously or read it thoroughly to know that it's PAINFULLY OBVIOUSLY RELEVANT to the subject of their 2010 article!

Second, if a scholar is planning to publish an original idea, & has access to a book that contains data with (in FN's own words) "close proximity to" that idea, is there any valid excuse for the scholar to ignore it, or to not read it thoroughly? Ain't archeologists experts at extracting treasures from trash?!?!

Third, whereas prior to this admission (by FN that LSK viewed my book as unscholarly) people other than me & Lipschits wouldn't know whether LSK knew about my book, now the entire world knows they did! Hello Gun! Let me introduce you to my good friend, Smoke!

(Parenthetically, I & Lipschits have known it all along because of our 2005 correspondence, wherein he thanked me for a serialized gratis copy of Lv1, & told me things that would demonstrate he was not only aware of its contents, but that he planned to make use of its contents; in fact he sent photos of 6 handles found during his first season of renewed excavations at Ramat Rahel, asking me not to publish them on the LRW, & I honored his request; if anyone doubts this, all you have to do is get Dr. Lipschits to make a public statement granting permission for me to publish our E-mails &/or the handle photos; & if anyone thinks I would alter the content of the E-mails, since they were sent by him using the domain, you hereby have my permission to go straight to TAU's server archives & read the originals.)

Their 8th mistake was to quote a sentence on p. 14 of my book to substantiate their claim of its "unscholarly nature", while not mentioning that pp. 9-10 contain a bullet list of contents written in technical terminology specifically for scholars. For those who don't own a copy of my book, a PDF that includes those 2 pages is online for your inspection (& has been for many years). I would merely ask that any academicians who read those 2 pages kindly send an E-mail to FN stating whether you believe the bullets on pp. 9-10 sound scholarly or unscholarly.

(Parenthetically, the out-of-context sentence they quoted misrepresents my beliefs: "[E]verybody knows that science and God ain’t supposed to mix." Immediately following that sentence in my book are the rhetorical question, "Right?" & the exclamatory statement, "Wrong!")

Their 9th mistake was to blame Ussishkin for not calling attention to my work prior to the publication of LSK's 2010 article. Why would objective, unbiased scholars such as FN make excuses for LSK not taking my work seriously or not reading it thoroughly, & hold Ussishkin to a 2nd standard? Ain't it conceivable that Ussishkin had merely seen the front cover of my book prior to 2010, & never noticed the seal drawings & chronological division depicted on the back cover? If not, I would like to hear FN explain why it would be conceivable for a retiring professor to HAVE TO read it, but inconceivable for a group of 3 scholars diligently researching the subject.

Irrespective of whether LSK plagiarized the work of others, do these 9 mistakes collectively indicate an unfair bias &/or improper editorial conduct on the part of FN, especially the Editor, F? I believe they do. Furthermore, it is my opinion that the TA journal would be better served by a new Editor, someone who will manage its content objectively by applying consistent standards. I do not work at TAU, so I do not have any suggestions for a replacement. I believe Drs. Finkelstein & Na'aman can continue to make valuable contributions to its content in the future from the sidelines like fellow academicians, but it would seem inappropriate for them to remain anywhere near its Editorial Board or Advisory Board after having demonstrated such irresponsible behavior.


When I met Dr. Vanderhooft at the 2007 SBL conference, I was impressed by a thoughtful remark he made while I was chatting with Dr. Lipschits (which I blogged in my December 15, 2007 post, "SBL 2007 (p. 10)"). Now I am extremely disappointed by his open letter to FN. He began by ignorantly thanking FN for their inappropriately subjective, mistake-laden response, & described Ussishkin's AO article as "a serious breach of academic ethics."

What basis would any scholar have for claiming that it breaches academic ethics to report, even publicize a suspected case of plagiarism or cheating? Apparently when the scholar sees his own credibility as being impugned by means of association. Of course that's simply a case of paranoia. I for one wrote to him & Lipschits after purchasing their book, "The Yehud Stamp Impressions", congratulating them on their accomplishment. As best I can tell, Vanderhooft played no role whatsoever in the work of LSK on LMLKs.

But since he openly accused Ussishkin of "a serious breach of academic ethics", I decided to visit the Academic Integrity page of Boston College's (BC) website (where he appears to be currently employed):

"Faculty members should provide students with a positive environment for learning and intellectual growth and, by their words and actions, promote conditions that foster academic integrity. Faculty should be concerned about the impact of their behavior on students. Students are sensitive to messages communicated in informal discussions and in casual faculty remarks about personal decisions and value judgments."

Vanderhooft defends the "careful and meticulous research" of Lipschits with regard to the Yehuds, apparently oblivious to the fact that Hitler acted carefully & meticulously towards fellow Nazis while ordering the full-scale destruction of Jews. I'm not aware of anyone claiming that Lipschits hasn't done careful & meticulous research with regard to Yehuds. This reminds me of the type of character witness one would present at a trial after someone has been convicted of murder, & the judge is deciding whether to order the death penalty or merely life imprisonment:

"Please, your honor, he helped little old ladies cross streets before he went on that murder spree!"

"Please, everyone, he did original research on Yehuds after he claimed originality to 5-year-old public-domain work on LMLKs!"

I see now that he doesn't know when to quit either. While there is merit to providing a character witness to support Lipschits, he then violates BC's Academic Integrity policy by describing my work as incompetent (i.e., my "work, in general, cannot seriously be considered a work of competent scholarship.")

Okay, so let's assume that my work in general, namely that of studying LMLK jar-handles in museum archives, observing evidence that indicates a chronological division, & the drawing of highly detailed seal designs in 2004 was incompetent. How then is it that these same activities published by LSK in 2010 are suddenly competent? Ain't Vanderhooft essentially impugning the work of LSK, describing it too as that which "cannot seriously be considered a work of competent scholarship"? Hello Mouth! Thank you for extending a big open greeting for my good friend, Foot!

Which is more indicative of competent scholarship, my drawings that show word-divider dots & slashes, which in some cases help identify partial impressions; or the drawings of Ido Koch where these details are absent?

Which is more indicative of competent scholarship, my drawings that show dotted lines to indicate speculative features not represented in any published stamp photos; or the drawings of Ido Koch where they're shown as solid lines just like all the well-established features?

Which is more indicative of competent scholarship, my suggestion that LMLKs (of which there are currently about 9-17% relative to unstamped specimens) began during Hezekiah's inaugural reforms to distinguish firstfruits & tithes; or LSK's suggestion that they began as the result of Assyrian domination, even though there is an absence of evidence of similar systems in any other territory conquered by the Assyrians?

Which is more indicative of competent scholarship, my suggestion that scarabs might have been the cherubs in the Temple artwork (a primary, but not the only destination for the jars), for which there are etymological & symbolic connections; or LSK's suggestion that the Assyrians established this administrative system, even though scarab icons are not present (or insignificant if any exist of which I'm unaware) in Assyrian iconography (glyptic art)?

After making a baseless, libelous description of my work (& unwittingly that of LSK), Vanderhooft recklessly says it's "beside the point." No, it's not beside the point; it's an important point. If my work is not competent, how is it possible to describe LSK's work as competent? Please respond. Operators are standing by to take your call!

As a witness to my competence on LMLK seals compared to that of the S in LSK, consider Omer Sergi's misorientation & subsequent misreading of a freshly excavated handle. Is it "beside the point" that he read "LMLK" as "MMST" & "SUKE" as "LMLK"?? (Thanks again, by the way, to Dr. Robert Cargill for having the keen foresight & ability to preserve that excavation vignette on public video; & thanks of course to the excavation director, Dr. Lipschits, for graciously allowing it to remain online as an example of how well his student had mastered LMLKology 2 years after co-authoring that ground-breaking 2010 TA article! Too bad comments are disabled so I can't link my stubbed-toe recording to it as a video response.)

I would encourage any academicians reading this, particularly BC alumni (maybe even Harvard where Dr. Vanderhooft was awarded his PhD), to write to the appropriate administrator(s) politely asking them to consider whether the content of Dr. Vanderhooft's "Open Letter" reflects their policies on:

  1. Encouraging alumni to report suspected violations rather than aid/abet them (i.e., use a Red Herring fallacy about other work the person has accomplished honestly in order to shroud an act of plagiarism).
  2. Not making public statements of a libelous nature without cause (i.e., describing someone's work as "not competent" even though it's "beside the point").

And note that he did not violate these policies as an independent onlooker, but rather attached his authoritative academic credentials to his signature, "Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Boston College".


So this brings me back full circle to LSK. I have already expressed my opinions of their LMLK research in my 2 articles published at (see also my November 18, 2012 blog post, "Far-reaching Implications"). Until reading Vanderhooft's letter, however, I had no interest in reading TAU's Code of Honor & Academic Integrity to see if it contains any information relevant to LSK. Let's see:

"[T]he school and university administration will not under any circumstance tolerate ... plagiarism, fabrication, aiding and abetting dishonesty ... or any other act which could compromise a student's academic integrity."

"Plagiarism: Submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely your work without attributing those same portions to their correct source."

"Fabrication: Presenting data in a piece of work that was not gathered in accordance with guidelines defining the appropriate methods of collecting or generating data and failing to include a substantially accurate account of the method by which the data was gathered or collected."

"Aiding and Abetting Dishonesty: Providing material or information to another person with knowledge that this material or information would be used improperly."

"Should a student violate the Code of Honor, the administration will review their case. This may lead to termination from the program, and expulsion from Tel Aviv University."

Obviously LSK viewed Lv1 as unscholarly, & made the monumentally ignorant mistake of believing they could claim some of its contents as their own.

According to TAU's own intolerant-under-every-circumstance standard, Ido Koch fabricated drawings of LMLK seals from mine that were published electronically since 2002 (formally on paper in 2004) sans copyright restrictions, & failed to include an accurate account of the method by which the designs of those seals were gathered/collected, & labeled them as being wholly his own work, thereby constituting plagiarism. Furthermore, he provided the drawings to his supervisor, Dr. Lipschits, with knowledge that the material would be used improperly (i.e., for publication in the TA journal & presented to the world as his own work). If TAU is serious about their policy, he should be expelled.

I have no way of knowing the extent to which Koch or Omer Sergi made any other contributions to their 2010 & 2011 TA journal articles, but Oded Lipschits is their doctoral supervisor, & obviously had final approval of the content of those papers. For reasons already outlined in Ussishkin's 2nd rejoinder showing that LSK claimed originality, Oded Lipschits submitted material that in part was not entirely his work, & did not attribute those same portions to their correct source(s), namely me, van der Veen, & Stern. According to TAU's own intolerant-under-every-circumstance standard, assuming that professors are not only NOT above the Code of Honor & Academic Integrity to which their students are held, but rather are held to an even more stringent standard due to their position of authority, Oded Lipschits should be terminated from TAU's faculty.

If Omer Sergi was the primary author of the content related to the chronological division of the seal sets as I suspect he was (based on references to forthcoming works where he is the only author of LMLK content), then even if Dr. Lipschits ordered his student, Sergi to plagiarize my work, if TAU is serious about their policy, Omer Sergi should still be expelled also because he was obligated to report his supervisor's misconduct. If TAU administrators investigate this case, they should be able to determine Sergi's specific contributions based on the assignments he received from Dr. Lipschits, & possibly E-mail correspondence between them.

If TAU's administrators do not stand by their policy in this case, it will send an unambiguous message to all their students that their Code of Honor is a House of Cards, a paper tiger that arbitrarily tolerates blatant violations in some circumstances, & that their use of the term "academic integrity" is mysterious gibberish rather than a solid-as-cement structure.


Towards the end of their response, FN referenced Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines for retracting articles. It describes the appropriateness of a mere Correction rather than an Expression of Concern or full Retraction based upon whether the issue represents "a small portion of an otherwise reliable publication ... (especially because of honest error)". "Small" & "honest" need qualification.

Back in section 3, I showed that FN were negligent in determining whether LSK's errors were honest or dishonest, & applied unfair subjective bias to LSK in comparison to their treatment of Dr. Ussishkin.

In the context of an intellectual publication, "small" obviously refers to significance rather than to verbosity presented in 2-dimensional paper-space. Let's see how Dr. Finkelstein himself described the work of LSK in his TA 39-2 article, "Comments on the Date of Late-Monarchic Judahite Seal Impressions":

"This debate has far-reaching implications for the history of Judah in particular and the region in general in the late Iron II, ca. 730–586 BCE."

As Dr. Ussishkin pointed out in his 2nd rejoinder, LSK made specific claims of grandeur to the originality of their papers, thereby prompting a multi-person, international scholastic debate on the subject. That is not the same as misspelling someone's name, or confusingly swapping book titles or page numbers in a bibliography, each of which would be considered "small" in terms of intellectual significance. Stern's 2001 erroneous labeling of Rosettes as a symbol "depicted on the lmlk jar handles" is an excellent example of a "small portion" of a chapter that simply needed clarification.

COPE recommends retracting an article if it bears any of the following characteristics (among others; we now know LSK's work meets not just 1, but all 3 of these criteria):

  • "[T]he findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error" (e.g., Koch erased important details from my drawings)
  • "[T]he findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper crossreferencing, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication)" (e.g., Stern's 2001 book & ideas should've been cited & distinguished)
  • "[I]t constitutes plagiarism" (e.g., my public-domain chronological division should've been cited & ridiculed for being in a book containing the word "ain't")

Why would FN cite COPE's recommendation for only issuing a correction rather than formally retracting the publication?

Yet these international guidelines are simply recommendations, & are for journal editors in general, & cannot supersede TAU's own Code of Honor. It is clear that Finkelstein & Na'aman are guilty of aiding & abetting dishonesty: In publishing their AO-10 response, they provided information with knowledge that this material would be used improperly.

Obviously they knew that by declaring LSK's mistake an honest error, & merely issuing a correction, Dr. Ussishkin (& Dr. van der Veen) would be vilified for having raised the aforementioned issues. And guess who has already published the first specific example proving my point?

"The insinuation of David [Ussishkin] ... and David's persistent efforts ... represent, in my judgment, a serious breach of academic ethics and common courtesy. ... This is contemptible... David Vanderhooft, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Boston College"

According to TAU's own intolerant-under-every-circumstance standard, both Drs. Finkelstein & Na'aman should be terminated from TAU's faculty.


That being said according to the letter of TAU's stringent law, I personally do not only NOT want to see any member of LSK or FN terminated or expelled; rather, as demonstrated by the recent publication of the TA 40-1 article Lipschits co-authored with Efrat Bocher, I believe they all can continue to make positive contributions under the auspices of TAU, & should remain as faculty & alumni. They have already been publicly exposed & permanently embarrassed by their own actions (similar to the permanent damage I was responsible for doing to my own foot decades ago), & have hopefully learned lessons from this experience.

I was thrilled & happy to see my book properly referenced by Dr. Lipschits in TA 40-1, as I related in my May 20, 2013 blog post, "Seeing Stars" & naturally would like to see it cited even more. Ideally, the LSK articles will be formally retracted, & after Dr. van der Veen's thesis is published, LSK can rewrite their articles for TA with proper scholarly citations to it, as well as to Dr. Stern's.

I believe the spirit of TAU's law should remain subservient to Judeo-Christian standards, especially that of repentance (Joel 2:12-13; Luke 17:3). I'm hoping that what I've written here will help them, even David Vanderhooft, get used to being in the family of God.

"Scholars are at an extreme disadvantage when they publish books & articles because they durst not allow God to exist or be involved in this wondrous creation. While not all subjects necessitate the recognition of God, it's frustrating to read the body of LMLK literature from the past century & see an absence of God from much of the discussion (especially recent material). Here I have a forum to at least give God equal time alongside theories that ass-ume God doesn't exist."--Lv1 p. 14.

Yes, God & science really do mix.

G.M. Grena