Vendyl Jones – 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.
Diagnosed with cancer of the throat seven months ago, in pain and unable to swallow, Jones was tended by his wife Anita during this period. Money for medical bills was scarce, as most of the money he made during his career went towards furthering his archaeological and religious pursuits in Israel.
In the 1950s, while serving as pastor in a Baptist church, he began to seek out the Jewish sources and references of the Christian gospels, realizing that many apparently anti-Jewish statements therein were "omitted in more ancient manuscripts." He began to study with rabbis and even in a Talmud Torah (an elementary school for Jewish children), until he ultimately “resolved to learn, to know and to understand the Bible objectively, without any prejudices; to know what Jesus actually said in the language he spoke and what it literally meant to the people who heard him” .
He eventually became a Noahide, believing in the Judaic teaching that non-Jews must follow the seven specific Noahide laws [such as belief in one G-d and no murdering or stealing], while Jews must abide by the laws of the Torah. He established the Judaic-Christian Research Foundation, from which developed the Institute of Judaic-Christian Research (IJCR), which is now the Vendyl Jones Research Institute.
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. In April 1967, he moved his family to Israel, continuing his studies in the Department of Judaica at Hebrew University and becoming involved in archaeology. He aided the Israeli army during the Six Day War, when his color-blindness helped him detect camouflaged enemy tanks.
He worked on many digs at Qumran and other Judean Desert sites, though he did not receive government support or funding. His most famous find was that of the Ketoret – 900 pounds of reddish powder with a uniquely strong fragrance that he said was the Ketoret, the 11-ingredient incense used in the Holy Temple. Though critics disputed his findings, they were supported by tests conducted at Weizmann Institute and Bar-Ilan University.
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. Among his children are converts to Judaism living in Samaria and elsewhere in Israel. His funeral will take place in Grandview, Texas.