“Ark Hunter” Vendyl Jones has Died

From Arutz Sheva:

Noahide archaeologist who discovered an immense stock of incense used in the Second Temple as well as the aromatic anointing oil – has passed away at the age of 80. He was most famous for his search for the Ark of the Covenant.

…His life goals began to take root when he learned, in 1964, that the Copper Scroll had been found in a cave at Qumran, Israel, and that it listed – in coded form – the hiding places of sacred articles such as the Ark of the Covenant.

Of course, this is nonsense: the Copper Scroll dates from the Second Temple Period, long after the Ark had been destroyed. Jones’ entire pseudo-archaeological “career” was a tragic misdirection of his undoubted energies, which were wasted on crank notions derived from an approach which regards religion as an exciting – but ultimately chimerical – treasure hunt.

He was, though, an effective self-publicist; as I blogged here, he regularly garnered journalistic interest by announcing he was “on the verge” of finding the Ark of the Covenant; in 2005 he announced that an “unnamed Kabbalist” had promised that he would find it that summer. He also rejected his Christian background (Baptist) to become a “Noahide” – a new religious movement made up primarily of ex-Christian fundamentalists, which can be summed up as “Gentiles for Judaism”. In relation to this, he became connected to a theocratic Israeli organisation calling itself the “Sanhendrin“.

The reality around Jones is still rather foggy:

Dr. Jones was often said to be the inspiration behind the “Indiana Jones” films starring Harrison Ford, though he himself has denied it, as have the film-makers.

Indiana Jones was in fact named after George Lucas’ dog, but rather than denying the story, Vendyl in fact promoted the rumour:

“I agreed to help him write the movie,” Jones said, “as long as – number one – he wouldn’t set it here (In Israel). Some people believe the ark is in Ethiopia or Egypt, some believe its in Constantinople or Rome. I just didn’t want it to be portrayed as being here. The second thing was, ‘Don’t use my name.’ So he didn’t. My name is Vendyl – V-E-N-D-Y-L. So he just dropped the first and last letters and it ended up Endy Jones.”

If Jones ever backtracked from this, it must have been because he’d been caught out.

Jones’ death – following several months of debilitating ill-health – was first announced on Facebook, via a certain Yocheved Golani. Golani is an Israeli author and coach, specialising in coping with serious illness. She writes:

I’m sad to report the death of a friend, a man I admire: archaeologist and head of the Noahide Movement Vendyl Jones. For those of you in the USA, here are the funeral details…


…Vendyl was a featured character in my 2nd novel. what a sport to agree to it. I’m so curious as to the Heavenly reason why Vendyl’s life goal was not fulfilled. The answer is probably connected to why I never had the 3rd part of the trilogy published.

The novel is entitled Legacy 2006: Integrity, published in 2003; according to the blurb:

A taut, Clancy-esque novel, LEGACY 2006: INTEGRITY addresses real military concerns, a little-known group of adherents to NOACHIDE LAW, BIBLE CODES, archaeology and unfolding history. With profound and prophetic insight regarding the Middle East, the tale includes a jaw-dropping ending.

The predecessor, simply called Legacy, was published in 2001 and, we are told, “comes highly praised by critic and author Michael Medved”.

However, the baton has perhaps been passed; a while ago, Jim Barfield wrote on his website that

Possibly the most controversial of all the men searching for the Treasures of the Copper Scroll has been the most informative for Jim Barfield’s research to determine the history of the copper document.  He and Jim Barfield differ greatly when it comes to the locations of the treasures listed on the scroll and its translation, but agree very much about its history.

Jim had met Vendyl Jones through a common friend by the name of Miriam Ben Yaakov, a Jewish lady that Jim had met online through Israel National Radio.

…Vendyl has many that oppose his views on the Copper Scroll and even his religious beliefs but Vendyl and his wife Anita have been wonderful to Jim Barfield and his family so he only has good things to say about the hard working and dedicated couple.

I blogged on Barfield here.

(Hat tip: Paleojudaica)

7 Responses

  1. James Tabor, of the “Jesus tomb” controversy, elegises Jones here:

  2. […] a colourful character, Vendyl Jones claimed to have been the inspiration for the fictitious Indiana Jones of the film […]

  3. Dear Sirs,
    I personally knew Vendyl Jones and took my tour group to dig on his site for a day in Israel.It also happened to be the day that all the major networks were there to interview him for finding incense from the altar of Incense. He personally told me that he was not looking for the Ark, but the Ashes of the Red Heffer.He said that if he stumbled on the Ark he would give it to the religous authorities to determine what to do with it.
    He also told me that the Copper scroll was located in Amman Jordan and he went to see it and to try to get a grasp on it. He told me the story about how they came to make a movie and he had no involvement in it. He said that it came from an interview he had with a local newspaper reporter and the movie people got a hold of it and made a mostly fictious thing out of it. They took the V and the L out of Vendyl and made it Endy which became Indiiana. The seven noahide laws are prescribed by
    Judaism, not Vendyl. Your article is made up of some non-truths,
    Thank you,

  4. […] emissary and “ark-eologist” Vendyl Jones (left, pictured with the Lubavitcher Rebbe) passed away in December […]

  5. […] for Gentiles given in the Bible; it mostly attracts ex-Christians, and its most famous member was the late pseudo-archaeologist Vendyl Jones. Jones was also a member of the “Sanhedrin”, which was proclaimed in 2005 and praised […]

  6. […] Israel, Barfield made links with the late Vendyl Jones and the self-styled “Sanhedrin“; however, interest waned when he failed to deliver the […]

  7. My father, Vendyl Jones, was a man who “walked tall” for truth and justice long before he picked up a shovel. All things resided in the shadows when it came to G-d, Torah and Israel. It was never his intent to become a movie star but rather resided in the Light of the Jewish nation as a small luminary to the world and was truly a dedicated servant of Hashem. He raised his children to always pursue truth, no matter the consequences.

    One could not ask for a better role model, when it came to believing in the Creator of all things. His hand was always open to the needy. His oil burned all through the night, throughout his life, as he delved into Torah as his first job.

    There is a big empty space in this life without the man who taught me it was always good to laugh, even in the worst of times.

    Until we meet again, Dad.

    His eldest daughter,
    Sarah Chaya Richardson

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