Ron Wyatt, a super Indiana Jones?
I first heard of Ron Wyatt (photo), now deceased, about two years ago. A neighbor asked my wife and me if we would like to borrow a video he thought we would be interested in. We watched and were impressed, even moved. This video claimed that Ron Wyatt had discovered a number of important biblical sites, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, and had solved some troubling biblical problems, such as the route of the Exodus. It all sounded highly convincing. I did wonder how he, an amateur archeologist, had been able to find evidence of a sulfur and brimstone cataclysm when other, professional archeologists, had not. But I kept an open mind… and forgot about him.
In the past few months, I have become much more aware of this man, his claims, and his influence. Another friend lent me a book by a Swedish author who had followed up Ron's claims about the route of the Exodus, supposedly affirming its correctness. About the same time, I started getting writings by some of Ron's supporters from a Christian online newsletter. Most of them I put in the “look-at-later” folder. But one caught my attention; it was about the ark of the covenant and, since I recently wrote a book about biblical ceremony, I read it. Written by Jonathan Gray, it claimed that Ron had discovered the ark of the covenant in 1982 in a chamber under Jerusalem. I began to get skeptical upon reading his claim that he had found Jesus' blood on the ark, and that it had dripped through a crack in the rocks
under the cross. The same article talks about others who tried to follow Ron's trail but failed. One was making his way through the tunnels when he suddenly was struck by terrible back pain. Another was found with a bullet in the back of his head. Are we supposed to believe that God wanted Ron Wyatt to find it, and nobody else?
A Google search quickly yielded plenty of sites that claim to debunk Ron Wyatt as a total fake. Trying hard to distinguish mere assertions from fact, I nevertheless have become a Wyatt-skeptic. Though I haven't seen the tape alluded to, one writer points out that Ron, “boldly proclaimed (on tape) that he had found every archaeological site of interest to Christians. And on a Nashville television program, he even stated that he had held the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, and that they were fastened together with golden hinges!” Another writer claims that he had been told by Wyatt's own son that Ron had planted some Egyptian chariot wheels in the Red Sea that he then “discovered” while filming. I remember that scene on the video we borrowed. Above all, as one writer says, “those outside of the Wyatt camp have not been able to verify his data. Whenever trained archaeologists, scientists or other experts asked to examine the evidence, there were always reasons why he couldn't produce it.”
I want the ark of the covenant to be found. And Noah's ark. And, and… I suspect one day they will. But I don't think Ron Wyatt has already found them.