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March 19, 2012

Snapshots Got it Right on Schirrmacher's Speech


Last week, Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher (pictured above) from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), challenged the accuracy of a quote attributed to him in a previous post on Snapshots about his presentation at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem on March 5, 2012.

In this post, Snapshots reported that Schirrmacher explained why he was not wearing a jacket while speaking to the audience. The reason, he said, was that he was at an archeological dig and did not have the time to retrieve his jacket before coming to the conference. The entry continues:

Shirrmacher was a bit chagrined about his appearance, but he was clearly animated by the amateur archeological dig he was able to participate in. Schirrmacher was right to be animated, because in other instances, the Waqf has simply discarded the dirt from the Temple Mount, making a systematic investigation of the area’s archeology impossible

So what did he find? Evidence of a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount? That’s not how he described it, but apparently so.

As he and his Muslim hosts dug through the dirt near the Al Aqsa Mosque, they found artifacts “from the beginning of monotheism,? Schirrmacher reported.

They also found a number other artifacts including objects dating back to the Roman empire.

“After that we found an Israeli bullet,? he said, which he was allowed to keep.

It’s a small thing, but Schirrmacher’s reference to artifacts “from the beginning of monotheism? was a bit odd.

Exactly what did Schirrmacher mean by this imprecise phrase? Was he talking about the cult of Aten founded by Akhenaten in ancient Egypt?

In response to the entry, Dr. Schirrmacher stated that he was either misunderstood or misquoted. In a comment left below the post he wrote:

I listened to the recording of my speech, as I think that you either heard me wrong or misrepresent me. But I am right: I did not use the phrase "beginning of monotheism", I clearly used the term "temple mount", and when I listed what we found, started with the iron age and ended with a modern bullet, but also mentioned Salomos wall. By the way: I did the research into the findings from the temple mount together with Gabriel Barkay, a Jewish archaeologists known for his criticism of [destruction] on the temple mount, and the press was present!

In particular, Dr. Schirrmacher said he did not use the phrase from the beginnings of monotheism and that he did use the phrase “Temple Mount? which in the context, would seem to undermine the entire point of the post -- that Dr. Schirrmacher did not acknowledge the Jewish history of the Temple Mount, which in the face of "Temple Denial" by Palestinian religious and political leaders, is a pretty big deal.

This is a pretty direct challenge to the blog entry and Snapshots moved quickly to address the factual issues raised. We asked Porter Speakman, Jr., Media Director Christ at the Checkpoint to provide the video for Dr. Schirrmacher’s speech. We also asked Dr. Schirrmacher to provide a copy of the audio he listened to.

Porter Speakman, Jr. provided a copy of Dr. Schirrmacher’s speech to CAMERA, who in turn, provided a copy of the video to Dr. Schirrmacher. (Dr. Schirrmacher asked for a copy of the video once CAMERA informed him via email that it had obtained a copy from Speakman and would examine the video today (Monday, March 19, 2012).

Over the weekend, Dr. Schirrmacher sent the following message to CAMERA:

Dear Mr Van Zile, you are right! I missed the "jewish" before "monotheism". So I will need to publish my original manuscript. In this I also will add a footnote, that the excavations we did, came from the building of the mosque on Temple Mount, but are under the control of Jewish archaeologists now after a decision of the Supreme Court of Israel.

Yours, Thomas Schirrmacher

PS: You may publish my line as a commentary in your blog.

After receiving this gracious note, CAMERA watched the video and transcribed the portion relating to Dr. Schirrmacher's visit to the archeological dig. The transcription reads as follows:

First of all I have to apologize that I don’t have a jacket and have to tell you … well, I have one in my hotel so I have to tell you why I don’t’ have one. On the invitation of the Mufti together with my wife, whose I can’t [indecipherable], she’s standing there. She’s a professor of Islamic studies in Germany where I come from we visited the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque and you know that they built a new mosque besides on the left side and a lot of stuff was taken out there and put outside and we had the chance today to dig through the leftovers to the stones and I still have a lot of dirt on my shoes and trowsers because I came directly here and didn’t have time to go to the hotel and get my jacket. [Note the original blog entry inaccurately reported that Dr. Schirrmacher said he had dirt on his “shirt and trowsers? not his shoes. Snapshots regrets the error.]

Going through all those stones and we found metals and bones and all kinds of stuff I really was amazed at what has happened in this small part of the world. I mean we found things really from the Stone Age, through the very old ages of the beginning of monotheism.

I mean we found stuff from the Roman times, from the New Testament times, we found stuff from the Persians, from the Ottoman Empire, times after that. I even found an Israeli bullet that at some time was shot there and I took it home.

I was allowed to take it home.

That was the archeology…

The remainder of Dr. Schirrmacher’s speech dealt with a number of theological and interfaith issues that are worthy of analysis at another time, but they are not relevant to the questions at hand:

1. Did Dr. Schirrmacher acknowledge the Jewish history of the Temple Mount during his talk at Christ at the Checkpoint Conference?

No, he did not. About the closest he came was to state “the very old ages of the beginning of monotheism."

2. Did Snapshots mishear or mischaracterize Dr. Schirrmacher’s presentation in a manner significant to the question at hand?

No. In his comment on the previous blog post, Dr. Schirrmacher stated that after hearing a recording of his talk that he did not say the phrase “beginnings of monotheism.? In fact, he said the phrase “beginning of monotheism? – (without the s). This is an insignificant difference.

He also stated that he used the phrase “Temple Mount? during his talk.

He did not.

In light of these facts, Snapshots stands by its previous entry. We wrote about what we saw and heard, not what was in Dr. Schirrmacher's prepared text.

Snapshots would like to thank Dr. Schirrmacher for his gracious acknowledgement that we got it right.

Posted by dvz at March 19, 2012 01:52 PM


I wonder how archeologists determine the nationality of a bullet? Anyone could have put it there or it could have been fired by British or Palestinians anytime over the last half century.
Please, Dr. Schirrmacher, let us know how you did it? Post some photos.

[DVZ: Dr. Schirrmacher explained this in a comment on the previous post: "I asked a specialist from the Israeli army who followed the number on the bullet and assured me, that it is from 1967 when Israel rescued the temple mount."]

Posted by: Ronaldo at March 19, 2012 03:45 PM

Bullets have numbers? Maybe shell casings, but how do you fire a shell casing?

Posted by: George Smathers at March 21, 2012 01:18 AM

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