The Fruit of Thy Tomb Discovery Channel's phony Jesus show.
March 2, 2007 6:15 AM By John J. Miller NR National Political Reporter Source: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWM4ZWI5N2M2ODc3OGRkNTlhZjUxNWJmNmI0NTNiMjg=
Apparently moviemaker James Cameron wishes he had obtained the film rights to The Da Vinci Code.
What else could explain his association with The Lost Tomb of Jesus? This much-hyped show makes a series of provocative claims about the Christian messiah and his kin: Jesus was betrothed to Mary Magdalene, they had a son named Judah, DNA testing of their remains proves it, and so on.
Yawn. Haven't we read this novel?
As the mastermind behind Hollywood blockbusters such as The Terminator and Titanic, Cameron knows a catchy story when he sees one. For The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which debuts on the Discovery Channel this Sunday at 9:00 P.M., he's credited as an executive producer.
"I think it's the biggest archaeological story of the century,' Cameron has said of this current project. "It's absolutely not a publicity stunt."
No, of course not. That's why its wild assertions are scheduled for unveiling on a breathless television program rather than in a scholarly journal. We all know that genuine publicity hounds would risk eternal hellfire for the chance to submit an academic paper to a low-circulation quarterly that's peer reviewed by professional archaeologists and scientists. Television is for losers, right?
Cameron and his director, Simcha Jacobovici, describe The Lost Tomb of Jesus as a documentary. But it's not. It's a "documentary" just as Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is a "documentary" on the Bush administration. They both actually fall into the genre of conspiratorial advocacy.
At the crux of the program is the assertion that a tomb discovered in Jerusalem in 1980 and reopened only recently contained a group of intriguing ossuaries, i.e., limestone coffins that were popular burial devices two millennia ago. Their chiseled exteriors bear names such as Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. In an inadvertently hilarious segment, the show hauls out a Canadian statistics professor who scribbles numbers on a chalkboard and proclaims that the odds are precisely 600 to 1 that this confluence of names in a single tomb means that Team Cameron has unearthed the final resting place of the holy family.
Yet the filmmakers' methods are highly questionable. Harvard's Frank Moore Cross, for instance, makes several on-screen appearances, mostly to read the inscriptions on the ossuaries. The presence of Cross, a distinguished scholar at a top-notch university, is meant to provide intellectual heft to the program. Yet Jacobovici merely has him read the words on the ossuaries. As it happens, nobody denies that they carry these names. But are they actually the ossuaries of the son of God and his earthly parents? Jacobovici doesnâ €™t get around to asking Cross, this eminent professor, for an opinion.
So I did. Here's how Cross replied in an e-mail:
I am skeptical about Jacobovici's claims, not because of a faulty reading of the ossuary which reads yeshua bar yosep [Jesus son of Joseph] I believe, but because the onomasticon [list of proper names] in his period in Jerusalem is exceedingly narrow. Patriarchal names and biblical names repeat ad nauseam. It has been reckoned that 25% of feminine names in this period were Maria/Miryam, etc., that is variants of Mary. So the cited statistics are unpersuasive. You know the saying: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
For some reason, Cross doesn't have a chance to say this on camera. The Lost Tomb of Jesus runs perilously close to Erich von Daniken territory â €” no prehistoric astronauts, but definitely a flight of fancy. It runs for 90 minutes (with commercials stretching it to two hours). Views that dissent from its relentlessly uncritical presentation of a madly speculative theory -- which is to say, the opinions of Cross and virtually every mainstream Biblical scholar who has examined the film's central contentions â€” receive almost no air time.
The show tries to dress up its half-cocked conjectures with clips of archaeologists using Q-tips and paint brushes to flick debris from ancient ossuaries. These scenes, which are supposed to convey a sense of authenticity, were almost certainly faked. There's also a heavyhanded appeal to modern feminism: a reference to how the "male-dominated church" has suppressed the true story of Jesus and his lady love, Mary Magdalene.
Say what you will about Dan Brown, who certainly volunteered a few thoughts about woman-hating Catholics in The Da Vinci Code. At least bookstores continue to stock his novel on their fiction shelves.
Yet The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Tomb of Jesus approach the traditional Christian narrative in essentially the same way: They expose it to a severe, Torquemada-like scrutiny and then propose to replace Western civilization's foundational story with a newfangled alternative that's based on a flamboyantly credulous reading of a few cherry-picked Gnostic texts.
It doesn't take a religious skeptic to understand what this requires: A gigantic leap of faith.
My advice to James Cameron is to quit documentaries and go back to what he does best, which is to make hugely entertaining movies such as True Lies. It turns out that most lies, even when they're presented as the gospel truth, are in fact false.
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CRM's Closing Thoughts:
The claims by the film makers is that Jesus Christ did not ascend bodily into Heaven. Consider what Jacobovici said in an interview:
"...If people believe in a spiritual ascension, there is no issue. People believe in a physical ascension then that's something Christian theologians will have to discuss. But what we have done, we have just come back and reported a set of facts. There is a tomb. There are inscriptions in it. They match the gospel story. They match the noncanonical text: The text that didn't make it into the Christian bible."
Notice these are their facts:
1) "A Tomb" - PLENTY OF THEM IN ISRAEL 2) "Inscriptions In It" - WOW! THAT IS SO UNIQUE? 3) "They match the Gospel story" - Uh, NOT! The Gospel story says that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven and was seen on earth by over 500 witnesses after His PHYSICAL resurrection:
The Lord Jesus said in Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
4) "They match the noncanonical text"- Well, that we can believe. The reasons why those texts have been rejected for 2000 years is because they are spurious and are not consistent with the true Gospel account. They are not even consistent with one another-- yet alone consistent with the Gospel record. The 4 Gospels in our Canon are there because they LINE UP with what the Old Testament prophesied of Messiah AND ARE CONSISTENT WITH WHAT THE OLD TESTAMENT PREDICTED THAT MESSIAH WOULD DO.
The foundation of the Christian faith is a risen Savior-- the One who died for the sins of mankind and who was buried and who rose again on the third day bodily and ascended into Heaven bodily. To deny this is to deny the Christian faith!
Luke 24:3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke 24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: Luke 24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? Luke 24:6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Luke 24:7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. Luke 24:8 And they remembered his words
Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Notice that one must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to be saved!