Archive for Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Experts question documentary’s claims

February 27, 2007


Simcha Jacobovici, standing at left, an investigative journalist, director, producer and writer, points to an ossuary - a small casket to store bones - he and others say once may have held the remains of Mary Magdalene. The ossuary at right may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, Jacobovici said during a news conference Monday in New York. James Cameron, middle, produced a new documentary that says 10 ancient ossuaries discovered in 1980 in a suburb of Jerusalem may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family. Also pictured are Charles Pellegrino, second from right, and Andrey Feuerverger, far right.

Simcha Jacobovici, standing at left, an investigative journalist, director, producer and writer, points to an ossuary - a small casket to store bones - he and others say once may have held the remains of Mary Magdalene. The ossuary at right may have held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, Jacobovici said during a news conference Monday in New York. James Cameron, middle, produced a new documentary that says 10 ancient ossuaries discovered in 1980 in a suburb of Jerusalem may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family. Also pictured are Charles Pellegrino, second from right, and Andrey Feuerverger, far right.

— The Academy Award-winning director behind "Titanic" and "The Terminator" is attempting to challenge fundamental tenets of Christianity by suggesting that Jesus may have been a father whose body was buried far from the Jerusalem tomb where believers say he rose from the dead.

In a documentary set to air Sunday, Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron and his team contend they've produced new evidence that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered a son named Judah.

Biblical experts and archaeologists who are familiar with the central evidence instantly discounted the claim, which Discovery Channel has touted as possibly "the greatest archaeological find in history," as an ill-informed, recycled publicity grab.

The chances that the findings in "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" are real "are more than remote," Israel Museum curator David Mevorah said. "They are closer to fantasy."

If proved true, the findings would undercut Christian beliefs that Jesus never had children and that he rose from the dead. The documentary also contradicts long-held beliefs by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians that Jesus had lain in a tomb around which Christians built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem.

"It doesn't get bigger than this," Cameron said before the basic findings were presented Monday at a New York news conference. "We've done our homework; we've made the case, and now it's time for the debate to begin."

The Discovery Channel documentary and an accompanying book center on a 2,000-year-old limestone tomb that was discovered more than a quarter-century ago during a construction project in a residential Jerusalem neighborhood between the Old City and Bethlehem.

When the tomb was uncovered in 1980, specialists were called. The man who led the effort was Amos Kloner, an archaeologist from Bar Ilan University, who meticulously documented the findings.

The tomb contained 10 limestone burial boxes and scattered bones. Among the inscriptions found on the ancient caskets: Jesus, son of Joseph; Mary; and Judah, son of Jesus.

Five of the burial boxes, known as ossuaries, had names that could be linked to the Bible, including versions of Joseph and Matthew.

Then and now, Kloner took no note of the names, saying they were common among residents of the area at the time.

But Discovery hired a statistician who concluded that the chances that this was the tomb of Jesus and his family were 600 to 1.

Mevorah called the statistical analysis "a good trick." While the collection of names might seem compelling, Mevorah said the names were popular at the time and that another ossuary with the inscription "Jesus, son of Joseph" is on display in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as part of a traveling exhibition of early Christian artifacts.

"Statistics can bring empires down or build them up," he said. "But I wouldn't build a theory of the most important person of the first century on statistics."

The documentary used DNA testing on samples taken from the ossuary for Jesus and a second for Mary to show that the two sets of bones weren't related, evidence the television researchers said indicated that the two probably were married.

The documentary suggests that the ossuary labeled Judah, son of Jesus, may have carried the bones of their son, though the researchers make no mention of doing DNA testing on that box.

After watching a review copy of the documentary, Kloner criticized it as little more than a publicity stunt.

"The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any new idea. It is only an attempt to sell," Kloner said. "It's a waste of money."

No matter what the truth may be, the documentary is certain to fuel a surge in populist religious skepticism best exemplified by the wildly successful novel and film "The Da Vinci Code." The Dan Brown mystery centered on theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and that she was pregnant when he was crucified.


lounger 11 years, 1 month ago

finally someone (cameron) is trying to show a little bit of reality in the whole legend of christ. he also has some lost years where he was travelling with people in the region including a buddast. everytime i bring this up with a supposed christian they dont even want to hear it! i think it makes christ not only more interesting but it lends itself to the reasons he became who he was. dont just rely on words and blind faith. Open your minds and you might understand christianity a little better. there are very few TRUE CHISTIANS LEFT and thats too bad--its an interesting religion and he was the origional rebel.

Flap Doodle 11 years, 1 month ago

"All of Paul's little schemes are coming down around your ears..." What does McCartney have to do with this?

davisnin 11 years, 1 month ago

Jesus' relationship with Buddhism is never presented to be based on any evidence. None the less, this Cameron thing is all hype. Promoted with DNA evidence claims that only show that two of the people in the tomb were unrelated? It wouldn't matter to me if he was married, but this program is just a cash grab rehashing old bones. 600 to 1? How many tombs do you think there are? Thousands.

That said, if there is nothing else on I'll watch it.

Ponderous 11 years, 1 month ago

Always amusing to see the quick jump is from fact to speculation without asking real questions. Serious researchers know that facts lead to far more questions than answers. We have only one real fact.

FACT - a tomb with said inscriptions on said boxes has been found.

Who wrote the inscriptions? One question that keeps being asked is "could this be a forgery". Interestingly most of the experts statements seem to say no, but look closely at their answers, you will notice that they only address the claim of it being a "modern" forgery. Would it have been difficult for someone who lived at or near the time of Christ to have forged this? Not remotely difficult. All they needed were tools to write with. Would our modern techniques detect such a forger? Extremely Doubtful. So the unanswered questions remains....who wrote the inscriptions?

But more importantly, why?

Did Christ have enemies, or even influential enemies? Could his enemies have had motive in discrediting his claims, for instance as exemplified in requesting an imperial guard of the tomb after his burial? There is one motive. Did Christ have misguided followers? Could the tomb be actual, but the boxes have been tampered with and the bones not have been actual? Again, unknown.

I find probability statements very amusing. Odds of having the same names? If you decide that is what you will name your children and to bury them together, then you do. Odds mean nothing, and neither prove nor disprove. History is not written by odds, it written by actuals. And while odds could be as much as 1 in a million. If it is the 1, then what have you proved. Can you prove it isn't the 1? I truly hope that 70,000 years from now if the civilization of our day is rediscovered, that film makers don't make some statement like "The Axis probably won World War II, or the odds are between 1/600 and 1 in 1 million that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. Probability makes for very poor history and very poor facts.

Why did the tomb last so long? How likely would such a tomb last so long undisturbed - i.e. prior to our discovery? One would think it certainly would not have gone unnoticed early or along the way, by friend or enemy. Why are we revealing these insights now (when cultural / venture capital climate coincides), instead of closer to the 1980's when it was discovered? Consider modern motives as well. Consider the venue. A Movie? Is that a venue where people go for facts, or rather for "infotainment"? A simple review of U.S. Political movies in recent theatre, is alone enough to make one question the venue. Is truth and advancement of knowledge the real motive of this repeat film launcher, or would his previous releases suggest other motives?

Again, I have no problem with the facts. The problem is the facts we have are so few, and the bold jumps to conclusions are so many, yet fail to ask (let alone answer) any real questions.

Confrontation 11 years, 1 month ago

"Jesus' relationship with Buddhism is never presented to be based on any evidence."

As if any "evidence" of anything in this religion is reliable.

prioress 11 years, 1 month ago

Did Christ have enemies, or even influential enemies?

The evidence (not the bible, which is a political document) suggests the 'christ' AKA the TEACHER revered by the ESSENES did have enemies, otherwise known as the conservative religious establishment of circa 200 b.c.e. He was probably killed by those jealous of his power and the truth of his words. The rest, as they say, is invention, politics and history.

davisnin 11 years, 1 month ago

Confro, I was pointing out that it is modern postulation based only on 'they both say play nice' and doesn't even have an non-christian text to point to it.

familyof3hofmanns 11 years, 1 month ago

this is the simple truth. when jesus was younger he went on a religous walk. he went to different countries and studied different religions that were different then what he and others at that time were taught.
Fact: Jesus was living in Japan for a nubmer of years. it is documented where he lived and what he did. Fact: Jesus went to tibet and learned from monks there also. this documentary is not questioning anyones faith in the subject of christianity, but what is it questioning is the church in how Jesus lived. Jesus was a man, that lived in a time where people needed something to believe in.
if you really want to look into christianity and see how fruad it actually is, look into Paganism. they were the exsisting religion that was present before christianity. christianity took over every holiday they had. Jesus was not born on December 25. he was actually born more towards the summer.
this is a simple documentary of an expedition that took place in the 1980's and today, 2006/7. do they find good questions to ask religious people, yes. questions are not bad. Where did Jesus go when he was a teenager? alot of people dont want to ask, know, or tell where he went. Jesus is a man that we know little about. we have these testiments of other people on how they saw Jesus. but nothing written by him of how he lived. another fact is christianity is made by men. you were taught only the things they want you to know. this isnt a conspriacy at all. its just what an organization does. the church is an organization that makes money, and teachs what they want you to know. religion is still a free choice. it all comes down to what your beliefs are. plain and simple. sorry for the spelling.

PROFESSOREMERITUSPB 11 years, 1 month ago

Judeo/Christian views of property, bankruptcy and the Jubilee Year, were being trampled upon by conservative business men of the era, which bytheway was the real reason for Jesus' hasty execution-he was reexamining Moses idea of socializing the land and the people. Everything is always about the money. The execution of Jesus by Rome and the Chief Herodian Priests, was no exception, and was not about theology. Religious Arguments far exceeding those of Jesus were always brewing in Israel among the argumentive rabbi's.

Moses deeded to each Judean Peasant a few acres of land as "Social Security" on which to grow enough food for the family and allow some excess to be sold. He wanted them healthy for many reasons, one being he might need them for combat. Both Romans and some Herodian officials were Practicing Fascism, before the term was defined and coined in modern times. They were confiscating land breaking the bankruptcy laws initiated by Moses. They were also commercializing the land, in violation of his ancient concept and outsourcing labor to scabs and selling land to rich Greeks and Romans at prices out of the reach of peasant Jews. (Sound familiar?)

There was aside from the 7 years-bankruptcy forgiveness policy, I the 7th application of each 7 year's of forgiveness of bankruptcy-the 50th year, was the JUBILEE YEAR or as Jesus called it, THE YEAR OF THE LORD, in which all land confiscated or bought for debt had to be returned to the family from which it was taken. The Romans, my rather brutal ancestors, rarely if ever crucified mere minor leaders alone. When they captured Spartacus they crucified him and 6,000 of his officers-mass execution was their means of ideas-nullification through forced attrition.

Among Jesus' followers, none but he were executed. His speech on the portico after his attack on the profiteers there earlier in the day, sealed his fate. The turning point was his mention of the YEAR OF THE LORD disguise to mean THE JUBILEE YEAR in the New Testament. Apparently, some Herodian Priests were buying and commercializing land against Jewish Law, they hypocritically claimed they could own, but not work land. Therefore they had to get rid of Jesus before his next opportunity to speak, the next day or there might have been a riot turning the Zealots to assassination of Chief Herodian Priests instead of Romans. The Romans agreed with the idea of eliminating Jesus in a hurry because many lower level Roman officials were joined in the land commercialization scheme thus were "skimming' on the take to Caesar, a no-no for sure. Rome would only tolerate corruption at the top.

Mortifyd 11 years, 1 month ago

I'd feel sorry for you Christians - except that I look at all the things that have been done by "Christians" in the name of some poor dead Jew - and as a poor living Jew, I feel sad for you - but hopeful that the hate spewed in the name of "Jesus" will truly end - once it's proved he was nothing but a man to begin with.

All of Paul's little schemes are coming down around your ears...

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 1 month ago

true or untrue I will agree Camron is in it for the money.

familyof3hofmanns 11 years, 1 month ago

the points been missed here.
this is freedom of choice, speech. everyone can think what cameron is out there for but its what hes uncovering.
theres a true story what hes got.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 11 years, 1 month ago

Posted by Dambudzo (anonymous) on February 27, 2007 at 6:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I heard that President Bush's pad in Crawford uses 25% of the energy of an average pad in this country. For real.

I think it was on CBS or something.

I saw that. He heats his home using the most abundant natural resource found in Texas. Incidently, he uses the same material to run the white house.

Flap Doodle 11 years, 1 month ago

Does Celine Dion sing during this new movie? If so, I'll pass .

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

How did this turn into a discussion of Gore's and Bush's energy use patterns?

prioress 11 years, 1 month ago

Snap: I know you are joking here, but it's a critical issue. Decades after the Essene TEACHER'S death, Paul "created christianity" as a political tool to get the 'new' religion started. Never mind that much of it was 'stolen' from the Egyptians, but that's another story. Without the compassionate teachings of the man who came to be called 'christ' and the effective politics of Paul and his helpers, christianity would have faded into the background.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 1 month ago

I am no scholer but the plight of the jewish people, I do believe, started before christianity.

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