Former U.S. ambassador tries to block book on Paul's shipwreck

Bob Cornuke of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute isn't a typical biblical archaeologist. A former police officer and SWAT team member who very consciously models himself on Indiana Jones, he claims to have discovered the "real Mt. Sinai," the "real Mt. Ararat," and has gone searching for the Ark of the Covenant and Pharoah's chariots in the Red Sea.

But it's Conuke's search for the apostle Paul's shipwreck that landed him in court.

According to a lawsuit, Cornuke found a Maltese fisherman with ancient lead anchors that the explorer/archaeologist believed were from the apostle's ship. But the fisherman wouldn't talk; confessing to owning the anchors could land him in prison under Malta's antiquities laws.

That's when Cornuke turned to Kathryn Proffitt, the former U.S. ambassador to the country. She arranged for the Maltese government to pardon the fisherman, but there were strings attached. Cornuke couldn't reveal the pardon arrangement, and he would have to allow Proffitt and the Maltese government to edit the book. He would also be required to encourage tourists to visit ancient temples.

Proffitt says when Cornuke reneged on all aspects of the deal, she sued to stop distribution of the book, The Lost Shipwreck of Paul.

"I felt duty bound to make sure these promises were kept," she testified, according to Reuters. Cornuke denied that he handed over editorial control of the book.

Yesterday, however, a federal judge ruled against Proffitt, noting that the book is already on shelves and that her agreement with Coruke was only an oral contract.

What the Maltese government is apparently upset about, however, isn't that Coruke's book was published without its permission, but that it claims that the shipwreck never happened in the traditional site on the northeastern tip of the island, now known as St. Paul's Bay. The bay is a popular and lucrative tourist attraction. Coruke says the anchors were found on the opposite end of the island.

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