BIO OF JIM BARFIELD
Director, The Copper Scroll Project
Full name: Jimmy Don Barfield I
Born: 27 April 1955 in Anadarko Oklahoma
Parents: Adam Abraham Barfield and Helen Jeanette Castro
Jim is a retired criminal investigator with multiple career positions leading up to his retirement from the Lawton, Oklahoma Fire Department in August of 2005.
Born to a construction worker and housewife from Lawton Oklahoma’s south side; Jim flourished in a predominantly black neighborhood.
The 1960’s civil rights events, the Vietnam War and the news of those turbulent years greatly influenced his childhood social interactions since the children in his life were directly connected to the military and/or were from diverse multi-racial families. Jim even suffered the affects of the great racial tension of that decade since his dad was white and mom was a dark skinned Mexican American. Accepted by his black neighbors, Jim had to deal with racial segregation from his own family, rejection and abuses in public buses, swimming establishments, restaurants and even churches…those hard hitting and traumatic events became a blessing in disguise forming an attitude of determination that served him well in his adult years.
As a dishwasher, bus boy and assistant chef in his mid-teens, Jim’s financial situation made him realize that college was far beyond his family’s means. The military was his only hope for a future. July the 19th 1973 Jim left his home in Lawton to join the Army. After ten and a half years and learning how to be an infantryman, a dental assistant, an artillery cannoneer, a helicopter crew chief and a test pilot he traded in his Army career to keep his family near his oldest son Jimmy.
His other children Shawn, Michael and Heather would spend the rest of their lives, at least close to Jimmy while Jim and his wife Laurie made new lives transitioning to the civilian world with the Lawton Fire Department.
The fire department was a good fit for Jim. The paramilitary organization suited him well except for the fact that Jim had to toss out a lot of his rigid military nature and adjust to the more relaxed and loosely structured chain of command that worked well for the firefighters. The camaraderie was excellent and long lasting due to the close geographic placement of the fire stations. A good friend would never be stationed more than a few miles from the home base, Central Fire Station. For twenty-three years that environment would not change other than different fire stations and promotions. Jim spent his last years as an Assistant Fire Marshal taking on the of role fire investigator as his personal favorite position of the several that came with the title.
During his years as a firefighter, Jim had evenings and weekends to dig deep into his favorite pass time, hobby and personal interest, Bible study. That passion eventually led him to the Dead Sea Scrolls where he came across the least interesting and least understandable scroll of all…the Copper Scroll. Least interesting because it was a list of treasures and a waste of energy because the text had no real point of reference. So he thought. After a year as a Federal Police Officer at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma Jim retired completely to focus on his Biblical studies.
Involvement with the Copper Scroll
Retirement was fantastic and more time was available to meet other students of the same interests. One chance meeting was with a maverick self-taught and self-proclaimed archeologist. It had been fourteen years of intense biblical and historic study before Jim came across a gentleman named Vendyl Jones. That gentleman would completely change Jim’s view of the Copper Scroll.
Vendyl was a real character. Loud, overbearing and very intelligent, the Texan was a great host and his wife Anita, was an angel. We had been invited for a weekend with him through a mutual friend, Miriam Ben Yaakov. The goal for that meeting was to pick Vendyl’s brain about the Dead Sea sect that wrote the scrolls and learn about the leadership of Qumran. Instead, Jim got a little of that and a load about the Copper Scroll, including a new respect for the incredible metal document.
Six months after that meeting Jim sat at his computer early one icy cold December morning and began analyzing an English translation of the Copper Scroll. Within a few minutes Jim knew how to understand the scroll and after 20 minutes he had figured out the first five locations, completely different from Vendyl’s research. Knowing he had no credentials, no real education and no contacts in Israel, how would he ever get anyone to listen to him? Proving his work through a complete investigative report of the entire scroll would be his only hope. Jim had earned the tile of Investigator of the Year for Oklahoma and eventually the International title but would those skills work in this far-reaching task centered in the most tumultuous region of the world? In that hour, Jim knew that he would be heading for Israel and…for a task that would change his life forever.