HOLY BONES OR HOLLYWOOD HOAX?
By Marsha West
May 12, 2007
Last February the public was swamped with tales of "The greatest archeological find in history." All the hoopla was over Academy Award winning director James Cameron and Emmy Award winning investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici documentary film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which aired March 4, 2007 on the Discovery Channel (DC). According to the producer's experts, the tomb held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, his wife Mary and their son Judah, plus other family members. Now the experts are saying that the tomb doesn't contain the bones of Jesus after all.
Of course the public never saw this headline: WHAT WAS TOUTED "THE GREATEST ARCHEOLOGICAL FIND IN HISTORY" IS THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED!
Discovering that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't the man in the tomb as alleged by Cameron and Jacobovici's experts is newsworthy. Yet the secular media ignored it. Far be it from lie-berals to admit they got it wrong. So in spite of all the hype (and secularist's hopes) that our Lord's remains were in the tomb, "The greatest archeological find in history" turns out to be a flimsy fabrication!
In April the Jerusalem Post reported, "Several prominent scholars who were interviewed in a bitterly contested documentary that suggests that Jesus and his family members were buried in a nondescript ancient Jerusalem burial cave have now revised their conclusions, including the statistician who claimed that the odds were 600:1 in favor of the tomb being the family burial cave of Jesus of Nazareth, a new study on the fallout from the popular documentary shows." Oops.
Actually, this is nothing new. The Jerusalem Post had reported on the controversy earlier. Even before the truth-challenged DC aired the documentary some of the scholars had made public comments about the misuse of their statements by Cameron and Jacobovici.
Two months after the film was aired on DC amidst a flood of controversy The Lost Tomb of Jesus is losing its scholarly support. "But now, even some of the scholars who were interviewed for and appeared in the film are questioning some of its basic claims."
Now DC has changed its tune – and its website. DC announced that their best-rated show of the last year was firmly refuted. They had no plans to re-air it and had no further comments about it. On the website the promo previously read, "a statistical study commissioned by the broadcasters...concludes that the probability factor is 600 to 1 in favor of this being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family." The statement has been amended to, "a statistical study commissioned by the broadcasters... concludes that the probability factor is in the order of 600 to 1 that an equally 'surprising' cluster of names would arise purely by chance under given assumptions." What's surprising is that DC ran the film in the first place!
Shimon Gibson was part of the team that excavated the tomb in 1980. In the new report Gibson is quoted as saying that he doubted the site was the tomb of Jesus and his family. He said, "Personally, I'm skeptical that this is the tomb of Jesus and I made this point very clear to the filmmakers."
The documentary was billed as "never before reported information," but it wasn't true. Listen to Prof. Amos Kloner, who oversaw the excavation of the site in the 1980s and authored the original excavation report for the predecessor of the Israel Antiquities Authority: "I published all the details in the Antiqot journal in 1996, and I didn't say it was the tomb of Jesus' family." Kloner told CNS News: "It is not scholarly and not scientific. It's very amateur."
Next we have the DNA scientist, Dr. Carney Matheson. Dr. Matheson appeared in the film and made statements that led the viewers to believe that the DNA testing proved Jesus and Mary Magdalene were husband and wife. He maintains that, "The only conclusions we made were that these two sets were not maternally related. To me, it sounds like absolutely nothing." Now he tells us.
Cross of Harvard University's Professor Emeritus Frank Moore, who is shown in the documentary translating one of the names on the ossuaries, also doubts the film's findings. Moore made this statement: "It has been reckoned that 25 percent of feminine names in this period were Maria/Miriam, etc., that is, variants of 'Mary.' So the cited statistics are unpersuasive. You know the saying: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Was Mary in the ossuary? Professor Francois Bovon, a specialist in ancient apocryphal text, is quoted in the film as saying the ossuary inscription "Mariamne" is the same woman known as Mary Magdalene, issued a statement stating that he did not believe that "Mariamne" stood for Mary of Magdalene at all.
During an interview with Cameron and Jacobovici, Today show host Matt Lauer made this prophetic statement: "A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core." Gasp! "More research needs to be done," he admitted, "but if this turns out to be true this changes everything." Co-host Meredith Vieira, who conducted the interview that could rock Christiaity to its core, declared, "if true, the consequences are impossible to measure." Well Matt and Meredith, it's not true; in fact it's a pack of lies. You know the saying: "Lies, damned lies and… ratings."
Since all the hype has turned out to be untrue, Today show's viewers should insist that Lauer and Vieira correct the lies Cameron and Jacobovici fed to the public, and if they refuse, viewers, especially Christians, should stop watching the show. Drop Today an email: email@example.com
Ditto for the Discovery Channel. The producers have quietly distanced themselves from the film to save face, so viewers should insist that the truth be aired—promptly!
If the producers continue to take the cowardly way out, viewers should consider distancing themselves from DC. Drop DC an email: [Read]
Woe to director James "It doesn't get bigger than this" Cameron who told the New York Times, "I think this is the biggest archeological story of the century." God will deal with Mr. Cameron.
Ditto for Simcha Jacobovici.
You ask, "But what about all those Christians whose faith was rocked (pardon the pun) by Cameron's and Jacobovici's flimsily researched film and best-selling book? Dr. Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, says the claim that Jesus' grave has been found presented a number of problems. "In the end," says Habermas, "the time-honored, multi-faceted evidence for the Gospel data of the Deity, death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus are more convincing than ever. Even the early opponents of the Christian message acknowledged that Jesus' tomb was empty. And the evidence for Jesus' bodily resurrection appearances has never been refuted." Habermas says both conservative and non-conservative scholars are responding negatively to the Jesus tomb hypothesis. Of the film he says this: "There is no way this should challenge a Christian's faith."
tomb film scholars backtrack By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
Archeological Identity Theft : The
Lost Tomb of Jesus Fails to Make the Grade By Chris Rosenbladt
© 2007 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On
Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's
books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville
Discovering that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't the man in the tomb as alleged by Cameron and Jacobovici's experts is newsworthy. Yet the secular media ignored it.