Speculation: What if the Ark of the Covenant were discovered?

This idea occurred to me when reading the thread about Israel rebuilding the Temple. This is just a thought experiment. Let’s assume that the following happens:

#1) The Ark of the Covenenant is found. In this hypothetical, wherever and however it is discovered is not particularly politically controversial. IOW, its discovery doesn’t involve something like Israel razing the Dome of the Rock and searching for it. THAT could very well result in WWIII, and if it happened none of us might be around to debate it. :eek: I’m thinking here something like its discovery is similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were happened upon by accident by some young Bedouin shepherds in a cave. Or maybe some archaelogists happens to figure out where it is, etc.

#2) The Ark exhibits no apparent magical or divine properties at this point. From my understanding, based on holy texts which hold that it once did hold a presence of God, that presence may have left it long ago. Thus its lack of such properties wouldn’t necessarily invalidate any religious faith.

#3) Based on the totality of the evidence, it is quite convincing that the object discovered is indeed the Ark the Jews carried around long ago. This wouldn’t necessarily be hard to do. What the true Ark looked like is fairly well described in the ancient Hebrew texts. By various means, including science, the Ark that was found could be dated to the appropriate time period. And, there just isn’t any good reason to think anyone way back then was making bogus copies of the Ark. Particularly with gold being part of the construction. IOW, it isn’t like the situation where phony pieces of the “true cross Christ was crucified on” were sold to naive suckers by con men. And those pieces of the “true cross Christ was crucified on” amounted to enough wood to have been used in the crucifiction of hundreds of men. :wink:

When considering this hypothetical, note these points. It could be discovered in a place where Jews rule, Muslims rule, or Christians now rule. It is quite reasonable if the Ark still exists, wherever it is now could be in many possible places. I’m assuming here that the Ark did once actually exist. Ignore for a moment this issue of the alleged contents, or if those contents were something of a divine nature. It seems historically plausible to me that the Jews long ago carried around a box that was generally presumed to contain sacred items. And that long ago they hid it somewhere to avoid desecration. The Ark if found would be considered a sacred object by 3 different faiths, 2 of them quite prominent in the world today. That it currently was in possession by people of one of these faiths could be quite upsetting to some members of the other 2.


Well, I was going to answer, but #2 prevents me from saying that Nazis faces would melt off.

The obvious and sensible thing would be to put in a museum in Jerusalem. Really, unless the Jews are going to rebuild the Temple – which will not happen – what other use could anyone make of the Ark?

There just ain’t as many Nazi’s today as there used to be. :wink:

mmmmmm… melty Nazis.

How would anyone know if they found such a mystical item? It would have to have a certificate of authenticity in it.

It would certainly end up inside a newly created church.

I don’t see that it would have any big impact beyond being an “important religious artifact”. Per your conditions it doesn’t DO anything magical nor would the discovery settle any staggering debates or change our view of the world.

By this I don’t mean to take anything away from the obvious important symbolism to people of faith, it might be very affirming to many of them, but to me it’d “only” be a fascinating historical find, like the discovery of the tomb of a long-lost pharoah. Cool, neat, an amazing piece of history but not life-altering. I’d certainly stand in line to see it :slight_smile:

Well maybe not YOUR view of the world but if something as major as the ark was discovered there would be raging debates, hysterical conversions, people losing their faith (when it didn’t do anything magical), and roughly 1 million fundamentalists somehow tying the finding of the ark with the end times. Really I hope they don’t unearth anything that major in my lifetime.

Yeah, but they’re doing much the same thing tying Britney Spears’s career slide with the end times. Most folks don’t pay them much attention.

Another vote for “Most archeologists and historians who gave the matter any thought figured it probably existed at one time so finding it doesn’t go much beyond ‘way cool’ but some of the devout will try to make more of it than there is but if no nazi faces start melting ‘toot sweet’ it’ll slide off the front page by the second edition.”

Completely wild speculation: Fundamentalist Christians in the US believed that the Ark was in Iraq, so they conspired to cause the Iraqi invasion. Thus, the search for WMDs and Saddam Hussein was just a cover for the real target; the Ark itself.

One thing that would happen is that archaeologists would empty their bookshelves into the dumpster, because it’s been pretty well decided for a long time that the Israelites were indigenous to the Isreal area, and a mass exodus from Egypt never occurred. And they’d have a lot of explaining to do, of how they got the story so wrong.

Or an unidentified government warehouse.

Well maybe not YOUR view of the world but if something as major as the ark was discovered there would be raging debates, hysterical conversions, people losing their faith (when it didn’t do anything magical), and roughly 1 million fundamentalists somehow tying the finding of the ark with the end times.

Oh please.

Jesus raised the dead* in front of eyewitnesses who still refused to believe He was who He said He was. The discovery of a big wooden box with gold isn’t going to change anybody’s mind.

Let’s pretend for a minute that they do find the ark and it really is the ark. Ok, cool. Those that already believed will go “Great! More archaeological confirmation! Yay God!” Those who don’t believe (and are determined to never believe) will create some alternate theory to explain it away. The rest of the world will go about its business, not paying attention as usual.

*Plus a bunch of other stuff

I don’t see what the big deal would be, unless the ark exhibited some supernatural properties or something. The existence of an ark does not prove the existence of God. All it does is suggest that the story of the Ark in the bible was derived the existence of an object that the ancient people thought was holy. Perhaps the ark was an ancient Babylonian burial chamber that the Jews discovered and built the story around it.

I don’t see that it would have to have any more significance than discovering Tutankahman’s tomb, other than that I suppose some religious people might fight over it. But then, religious people who want to fight with each other always seem to find a reason.

For that matter, I don’t know how you could ever prove that it was THE ark. Maybe several copies were made. Maybe it was made to the specification of the story in the bible shortly after the original text was written. How could you tell?

Even with the conditions placed, we’d be looking at an extremely volatile and dangerous situation.

First of all, whether Israel wanted to or not, rumors would fly everywhere of an impending razing of the Temple Mount so that the Jews can build their Temple.

Second, the reaction amongst Jews might become very divisive in itself. Some would see this as a signal to begin rebuilding the Temple. Some would see this as a sign that the Messiah’s advent is nigh (but the Messiah will build or bring the Temple - no Temple may be constructed before his advent). Secular Jews would want nothing radically religious done - put it in a museum or something. Whether the Ark had magical properties or not would be irrelevant, really. After all, the belief is that G-d’s presence has left the Ark, no? Why else would G-d allow His Temple to be destroyed and plundered, with His Ark in hiding, if not for displeasure and withdrawal from the Community of Israel? The return of the Ark might signal G-d’s return to Israel. The Jews would look forward to some point in time, maybe the consecration of the new Temple, when the Shekhinah would return.

The Christian reaction would be interesting. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are usually on the side of the Palestinians when it comes to the Near East conflict. Protestant (specially Evangelical) Churches tend to support Israel. The theological impact of this would be minimal, really. After all, what value does an ancient artifact have when God Himself descended to earth and became human? Besides, the Ark represents the old covenant, including the law of the old covenant, which Jesus abrogated, as it were, with the proclamation of His new gospel and covenant. Political sides would determine who would support what action. The Catholics and Orthodox would oppose anything radical, including the rebuilding of the Temple. Evangelicals would support it. Some may even clamor for it.

WRS - Velirushalayim irekha barachamim tashuv, vetishkon betokhah kaasher dibarta, uvnei otah baqarov beyameinu binyan olam, vekhissei David avdekha meheirah letokhah takhin. Barukh atah H’, bonei yerushalayim. (Amein.) Retzei H’ elo(q)einu beamekha yisraeil velitfillatam she’ei, vehasheiv et haavoda lidivir beitekha. Ve’ishei yisraeil, utfillatam meheira baahava teqabeil beratzon, ut’hi leratzon tamid avodat yisraeil amekha. Vetechezena eineinu beshuvekha laratzon barachamin. Barukh atah H’, hammachazir shekhinato letziyon. (Amein.)

You’ve got me pegged. :rolleyes:

Just out of curiosity: what means, other than science, would be used to date the Ark? I can’t think of any, you see.

Well, if it were found in a cave in Michigan, and the evidence was it was there for quite a long time, THAT would raise some interesting questions. :wink:

And, going back to my original post, I did write “It could be discovered in a place where Jews rule, Muslims rule, or Christians now rule. It is quite reasonable if the Ark still exists, wherever it is now could be in many possible places.” A quick Google search indicates some believe it even ended up in Ethiopia. It would make sense that if devout Jews hid it so it wouldn’t be desecrated, they’d take it as far away as possible. Best place to hide something isn’t where people are likely to be looking for it. Given that, what if it were found in Iran or Saudi Arabia? Unlikely these countries would want to relocate it to Jerusalem, so long as Jerusalem was under the control of Israel. Of course, Israel wouldn’t be thrilled that this Jewish relic was in the hands of Muslims. Consider the implications…

I saw two men get into a fist fight when the Shroud of Turin was carbon dated to the wrong century. (One was of the opinion that Jesus’ soul screwed up the dating when it passed through the cloth the other was of the opinion it was all a Jewish conspiracy to discredit the shroud)

I’ve seen two churches sever contact with each other (one always rented the other’s halls for their big events and they stopped doing that and started writing hostile letters to the editor in our local paper) when one church said the inscription on some tomb was “Here lies John brother of Jesus” or some such was a fake that Jesus had no brothers of sisters.

Considering how passionate and hateful I’ve seen people get over very old arguments it disturbs me to the core to wonder how much upset could be caused over unearthing the Ark.

I wish! Unfortunately there are a lot more than a million fundamentalists, in the U.S. alone, and others have to pay attention to them because they won’t shut up.

Why? Even if you found something you could definitely prove was the Ark, how could you prove it was ever carried from Sinai to Canaan?

If you’re talking about the so-called “James Ossuary,” yes, it has been proven a fake: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/20030616/jesusfake.html, http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/james-bone-box.html. OTOH, the Gospels do name several brothers of Jesus. Some Christians get around this by saying either that the word translated as “brothers” could mean “cousins” or “kinsmen,” or that Mary was Joseph’s second wife and the “brothers” were from his first marriage. We’ve discussed all this in a couple of recent threads about St. Mary and Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy.

Finding Moses’ driver’s license inside would held.