Artist Spotlight | Timothy Mahoney
How did you begin your career in investigative filmmaking?
My interest in investigating history most likely began in high school when I accidently caught myself reading ahead in the history book. I thought, “Wait a minute, what am I doing reading ahead of the assignment?” I began to realize that history was a story about how we got to the present time, and there was so much more that I needed to investigate about the past.
My first involvement on an investigative film was called Secrets of the Bible Code, where rabbis were finding hidden words in the biblical Hebrew text that told of events in the future. My second film was Jesus: Divine or DaVinci, which led me to search for the historical credibility of Christ.
In 2002, I began working on the Exodus investigation, which eventually became the Patterns of Evidence film series where I would go to biblical locations searching for historical and archaeological evidence of the Bible.
What has been one of the greatest challenges in your career?
My greatest challenge was the long and disciplined process of “self-growth,” teaching myself through experiences, reading books about the subjects, taking risks and experiencing failures and successes to become the person I believed God was calling me to be.
Early on I had a dream of becoming a filmmaker. I didn’t know how to make films nor did I have any possibilities to work with anyone in filmmaking. After college, for the next nine years, I continued to work in a body shop, painting cars until I was almost 30 years old. During that time, I didn’t stop trying to achieve this dream, because I was afraid if I stopped trying, it would fade away. I convinced my wife we should use all our savings to produce my first documentary called Silver Mountain Memories. It was on archery, and it was that film that opened the door for me to get into an advertising agency.
For the next decade, I learned how to make commercials, write scripts and develop videos. However, this still wasn’t filmmaking. I knew I could get stuck in advertising if I didn’t take the next step to grow. That was when I began to pursue larger projects that would move me closer to becoming a filmmaker. I had no mentor for many of the things I needed to learn. I had to learn by reading, observing others and just trying to figure out on my own how to make a film as well as all of the other disciplines around raising money and distributing.
What do you enjoy most about filmmaking?
I love to head out to some foreign country to begin making a film, to meet the scholars and to discuss what they have learned. I find great satisfaction in that first part of the process. The second aspect I enjoy is to see the film in its final and finished stage with an audience in the theater and to see the beauty and significance the film has uncovered.
What is your favorite film of all time and why?
It might surprise you, but we just made a film called The Journey Home. It was made by a friend of mine, Rick Altizer, who has produced numerous documentaries, including Show Me the Father with the Kendrick Brothers. I asked Rick if he would help me tell the backstory of the Patterns of Evidence films. In my mind, The Journey Home was not meant to expose my own personal life, but I am thankful that Rick saw a story that was buried. It is a story of redemption and forgiveness, and it is a love story between me and my wife, Jill, who has been so supportive in all these risk-taking adventures as I have sought to investigate the events of the Bible. I didn’t want this story to be lost. My youngest daughter, Molly, who didn’t really understand what Jill and I were doing at times, wept as she saw it. She said, “If you only made this film for me, it was worth it all.”
My second-place favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
How did you develop the Patterns of Evidence approach to investigating?
The scientific approach for Patterns of Evidence came about from Dr. Lennart Moller. He was a Swedish DNA research scientist from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Lennart was the one who taught me about a scientific approach to searching for evidence of the Bible.
Later, as we were trying to name the first film about the Exodus, it was Pete Windahl, one of our producers, who along with the rest of us had a long list of potential names. When I saw the name Patterns of Evidence, I knew that was the most descriptive name of what we were doing. I also knew that we were declaring that our films would predominately allow the pattern of evidence to speak. This was the scientific approach, and from there we just identified details written in the biblical text and searched for those details in each investigation.
Who are the “Exodus Explorers”?
I coined the name “Exodus Explorers” to identify people, many of whom were not trained archaeologists or scholars but amateurs, who felt a compelling drive to search for biblical events in the deserts of the Sinai and Arabia. These people wanted to document the areas that were off limits for archaeologists to work. They were concerned that the evidence for the Bible would be lost. Their motivation was to document the evidence and potentially attract the attention of mainstream scholars to look more deeply into the locations.
What inspired you to make Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part II?
In 2003, I entered Saudi Arabia legally with a small tour group. We were allowed to go to the region of Jabal al Lawz, in NW Saudi. I should mention that this was a great surprise because many previous “Exodus Explorers” had been arrested and detained for entering the area.
What our tour group was interested in seeing was the possible location for Mount Sinai. When we arrived in the area and set up camp, within less than 24 hours, the local authorities told our guides we had to immediately leave the area. The challenge was that the Saudi government had told us exactly when and where we should be for the next two weeks of the tour. This created a difficult tour for the next two weeks. As I left the country, I was forced to give up all my footage.
So, for the last 20 years, I have been gathering evidence for the location of Mount Sinai. And now the approach is to look at six different proposed mountain locations. This large and thorough investigation has caused me to make a two-part film series. Yet each film stands on its own without the need to see the other. Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part II will be in over 700 theaters May 15 and May 17 as a Fathom Event. At the end of the film, I will be joined by a choir of voices that have been freed from the bondage of addiction by the power of the Gospel.
The films that we make have several themes in them. It was clear in this film that one of those themes was “Worship!” The Israelites were called to Mount Sinai to worship God. We too will worship at the end of this inspiring investigation.
What is Mount Sinai known for in the Bible?
Moses encountered God at Mount Sinai in the form of a burning bush. God told Moses to bring the Israelites back to the mountain to worship Him. So, Moses, with God’s help, delivered the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt and journeyed to Mount Sinai, where the sons of Jacob, now the twelve tribes of Israel, made a covenant with God. They would be His people and He would be their God. This was fulfilling the promise that God made to Abraham 400 years earlier, that His descendants would become a great nation and would return to the land promised to Abraham.
Why is knowing the real location of Mount Sinai important for modern Christians?
Today there is great skepticism against the historical credibility of the Bible. Scholars have looked at locations like the traditional Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula and state there is no evidence for the Israelites there. Therefore, they assume that there is no evidence for the Bible and the events didn’t happen at all. What Patterns of Evidence films are doing is challenging this skepticism by revisiting the investigation and the presumptions that have been made concerning locations, traditions and chronology.
What is presented in Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part II is a thorough approach that takes a serious look at the biblical account and lays out multiple possibilities. In the end, this investigation will point to a location that has the strongest pattern of evidence.
Where are some of the filming locations in Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part II?
The first mountain we travel to is Har Karkom, located in the Negev Desert in Israel. We also will be investigating two mountains in Saudi Arabia, Jabal al Lawz and Mt Bedr. Both of these mountains lie on the western side of the country just east of the Gulf of Aqaba which is an extension of the Red Sea.
Where do you believe the real location of Mount Sinai to be?
You will have to see the film to find the answer to that question.
What was your favorite scene in the film to shoot?
In this film, I would say it is the on-camera segments where I am tying all the scenes of the investigation together. The film has reached a stage where it is about to be birthed, and I can hardly wait to see the final result.
How long has it taken you to complete the journey to Mount Sinai?
The filming began on May 1, 2003, on my trip to Saudi Arabia. And now, 20 years later, it will be shown in over 700 theaters nationwide on May 15 and 17, 2023.
How can audiences be a part of this journey?
To see a trailer or purchase tickets for Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part II, you can go to FATHOM EVENTS or click here.
If you would like to learn more about biblical evidence, become a weekly Thinker at www.patternsofevidence.com