There has been a big uproar over the last few days about an upcoming documentary
by filmmaker James Cameron which airs on the Discovery Channel this Sunday night and chronicles the discovery of the supposed tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.
Cameron is famous for directing the highest-grossing film of all time, Titanic, which told the story of a big boat that sunk after a collision with an iceberg tore a gaping hole in it.
His new film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, is somewhat similar, but this time, it’s Cameron’s unfounded theory that’s filled with holes.
Self-billed as the “Archaeological Discovery of the Millennium,” the documentary focuses on the 1980 discovery of a tomb in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. This tomb contained ten ossuaries, which are basically limestone boxes that contain skeletal remains. Six of the ten ossuaries are inscribed with significant New Testament names, and according to the documentary, this supposedly proves it to be the family tomb of the Jesus of the New Testament.
I’m not really interested in going into great detail debunking the Cameron crew’s ridiculous claims in The Lost Tomb;
that has already been done by people
who are much more knowledgeable than I am, and there will be even more debunking after the documentary appears on TV.
I do, however, want to make a few quick observations that I’ve had about the Talpiot Tomb issue:
1. The “evidence” supporting Cameron’s claim is laughable.
Once again, I don’t want to go into great detail on this, but here is an example of the type of scientific reasoning used to back this theory:
One of the ossuaries has the name “Matthew” on it. The problem with this is that we don’t know of any person related to Jesus named Matthew. Rather than come to the explanation that a Matthew has no place in the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, and maybe this tomb belongs to some other Jesus, the Cameron bunch instead use this as evidence that the tomb must be authentic, because after all, Jesus of Nazareth did know a guy named Matthew! That must prove it!
Similarly, one of the boxes has a variation of the name “Mary” on it. DNA evidence has shown that this person was not related to the person in the “Jesus” ossuary. So what conclusion does the documentary make? This “Mary” must be Mary Magdalene, who we now plainly see must have been Jesus’ wife! Nevermind the fact that, outside of fictional novels, there is no evidence that Jesus was ever married!
According to the circular logic of the Lost Tomb theorists, the presence of an unrelated Mary in the tomb proves that she is the wife of Jesus, and the fact that the now-proven wife of Jesus is found in the tomb proves that it really is the authentic tomb.
Don’t worry; it’s not just you. It really doesn’t make any sense.
2. This is too big to just ignore.
The implications of the “discovery” are massive: if the skeletal remains of the Jesus of the New Testament were to be found, it would show the Resurrection to be a sham. And as the Apostle Paul pointed out, if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith (and, consequently, Christianity) is worthless.
I’ve heard some people say that this isn’t really an issue, because people who really believe aren’t going to be shaken by such pseudo-science and will reject the claims, while people who don’t believe are just going to use it as another reason for why they don’t.
I agree, but what about people who haven’t made up their minds yet? There are undoubtedly some people who won’t give Christianity an honest hearing because they have been turned off by “scientific proof.” I mean, just look at the repercussions of The DaVinci Code—and it even claimed to be a work of fiction!
As Christians, we can’t just completely ignore this. Just because we recognize it as foolishness, doesn’t mean that other well-meaning people won’t be deceived by it.
3. James Cameron’s ability to annoy me has reached new heights.
I accounted for about $7.50 of the $600,000,000+ that Titanic roped in, and honestly, I didn’t regret it at the time. Sure, the first half of the movie was painful, dominated by a cheesy love story, and yes, I did cheer when the Leonardo DiCaprio character finally froze to death, but the whole sinking ship part was pretty cool.
Of course, then the movie received a bazillion awards, James Cameron was all over TV being full of himself, Earth’s female population under the age of 16 became Leonardo-obsessed, and I got really tired of the movie.
But none of that compares to my annoyance with the man now.
See, if James Cameron was actually seeking truth, or even if he hated Christianity and really wanted to disprove it somehow, I could accept him making the documentary. I still wouldn’t like it, but I could accept his motives.
But I don’t think he’s doing it for either of those reasons; it’s all about recognition and money. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t be releasing a Resurrection-denying documentary in the middle of Lent, a month before Easter.
And we would be hearing more about the actual archaeologists who worked on the project rather than just the man who made the movie about them.
Making a documentary that denies the Resurrection and unleashing Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On on an unsuspecting world. Yep, this guy is going to have a lot to answer for.