Tonight’s the night for Cameron’s Jesus movie. To mark the event, here’s part of a review for Bloomberg for anyone interested.
James Cameron Says He’s Found Jesus (in a Jerusalem Tomb)
Review by Dave Shiflett
March 1 (Bloomberg) — Roll over, Anna Nicole. There’s
another burial drama in the headlines.
The Discovery Channel’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,'’ which
airs March 4 at 9 p.m. New York time, contends that an excavated
Jerusalem tomb may have contained the remains of Jesus of
Nazareth, Mary Magdalene, a son named Judah and other family
If true, the Greatest Story Ever Told will need a serious
Enormous pre-airtime publicity, fueled by a New York press
conference and strong reaction from archaeologists, historians
and clerics, should give the program a ratings boost. The
spotlight, of course, is nothing new for producer James Cameron
(“The Terminator,'’ “Titanic'’) and director Simcha Jacobovici
(TV’s “Naked Archaeologist.'’)
The show revisits a 1980 find known as the Talpiot tomb,
whose contents have been in the news before, including a 1996 BBC
documentary that also created something of a stir.
This presentation offers a few new wrinkles, including
statistical analysis the show says all but proves the tomb
contained members of Christianity’s first family.
Also new is DNA evidence taken from residue within the bone-
bearing ossuaries (the actual remains were reburied soon after
discovery) that, according to the show, strongly suggests Jesus
and Mary were not only married but had a son named Judah.
This is hardly convincing stuff because it indicates only
that the occupants of the ossuaries weren’t related by blood and
may have been a couple. A direct DNA link to Jesus would require
an authenticated sample for comparison, and unless Cameron comes
up with a piece of the True Cross or the Holy Grail such a link
Cameron’s conclusion echoes the gospel according to Dan
Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code.'’ As it happens, a
companion book co-authored by Jacobovici (forward by Cameron) has
just been published.
The argument, presented in a fairly straightforward fashion,
is augmented by re-enactments and interviews with corroborating
Jacobovici seems to experience a series of Road to Damascus
moments, perhaps as a result of longstanding interest in the
story. He directed a 2003 documentary on an ossuary said to
belong to James, believed by some to be the brother of Jesus.
That particular ossuary has had a checkered past. It turned
up in the antiquities market and was eventually dismissed by many
experts as a fake. A fraud trial is ongoing in Jerusalem.
According to this program, the James ossuary was originally
in the Jesus tomb and its presence helps seal the case.
Although skeptics such as professor Amos Kloner are included
in the show, they’re not given much time or credence. So the
viewer is left to wonder why, for instance, the Bible never
mentions any union between Jesus and Mary, let alone a child. Or
why so many respected scholars have dismissed the idea that this
ossuary was Jesus’ final resting place.
Kloner, who participated in the original Talpiot excavation,
calls the Jesus tomb theory “completely impossible'’ and
suggests that Cameron and company may be more interested in
cashing in on the controversy than solving a historical riddle.
Cameron’s reply: “We’ve done our homework, we’ve made the
case, and now it’s time for the debate to begin.'’
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