(RNS) The pieces of the religious puzzle that make up the USA Network’s biblical conspiracy action series “Dig” are beginning to fall into place, and the picture they are revealing is one of history — highlighted by a colorful streak of fiction.She has some information on the Crusades and the Knights Templar, then moves on to Josephus:
Here be spoilers! Read on only if you are up-to-date with the 10-part series, or want to ruin it for yourself and others.
Enter “Dig,” whose evil archaeologist, Ian Margove (Richard E. Grant), is after the “treasure” the Order of Moriah is supposed to have buried somewhere in Jerusalem.Josephus certainly had a flexible system of ethics, but he did manage to survive and leave us accounts of the history of Second Temple Judaism which are unique and irreplaceable, if often mendacious and self-serving. His "luck" in surviving the mass suicide of his friends to escape Roman capture has been analyzed mathematically as The Josephus Problem. If you find the maths confusing, the point is that if you know where to place yourself at the beginning of the count, you can survive to the end. Also, Josephus had a tradition that the twelve stones of the High Priest's breastplace (breastpiece) and the two sardonyx stones that held it together gave light sometimes as oracular revelations (Ant. 3.214-18). There is perhaps some relation to the tradition of the twelve shining stones in The Treatise of the Vessels XII, which figure in the storyline of Dig.
Archaeologist Margrove says that “according to Flavius Josephus,” the breastplate will pinpoint the location of the treasure.
Whatever the truth, the characters of “Dig” are right to turn to Josephus for information about early Jewish rituals and practices. His book “Antiquities of the Jews” describes first-century Jewish religious garments and ritual items, including a priest’s breastplate that is critical to the “Dig” plotline.
But using such a breastplate as a treasure map is fictional — not historical — at all.
Additional background on the series is here and links. A more detailed summary of episode 7 is here.