The Lost Tomb of Jesus
The Lost Tomb of Jesus is the name of a documentary currently planned to be broadcast in the United States on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007. It has been released in conjunction with a book about the same subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, issued in late February 2007 and co-authored by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino.
Director James Cameron presents an investigative documentary into a tomb dating from 1st century Jerusalem.
An ancient tomb around 2000 years old named the Talpiot Tomb is the primary focus of the documentary. The producers conclude that this is the site of the Jesus "Family Tomb", and that ossuary inscriptions name the members of the Holy Family from the Christian scriptures as its occupants.
The actual text of the inscriptions is difficult to read, open to interpretation and disputed. The makers of the documentary claim that the inscriptions on the ossuaries read:
* Jesus son of Joseph (Aramaic)
* Jose (a diminutive of Joseph)
* Maria (Hebrew)
* Judah (or Judas), son of Jesus (Aramaic)
* Matia (Hebrew, 'Matthew')
* Mariamene e Mara (Greek, 'Mary known as the master')
Francois Bovon, professor of the history of religion at Harvard University, told Discovery News, "Mariamene, or Mariamne, probably was the actual name given to Mary Magdalene"
David Mavorah, a curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem, points out that the names on the ossuaries were extremely common. "We know that Joseph, Jesus and Mariamene were all among the most common names of the period. To start with all these names being together in a single tomb and leap from there to say this is the tomb of Jesus is a little far-fetched, to put it politely."
Professor Kloner, in the same vein, told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the name Jesus had been found 71 times in burial caves at around that time.
However on February 25, 2007, a statistical study concluded that the odds are at least 600 to 1 for all those names to be found together. Some theologians have disputed this claim, with the Israel Museum's Mevorah calling it "a good trick" and Asbury Theological Seminary's Dr. Ben Witherington III saying it was "highly improbable." The methodology of this study is due to be published soon.
Lawrence E. Stager, the Dorot professor of archaeology of Israel at Harvard, referred to it as "exploiting the whole trend that caught on with The Da Vinci Code. One of the problems is there are so many biblically illiterate people around the world that they don’t know what is real judicious assessment and what is what some of us in the field call ‘fantastic archaeology.’ ”]
Amos Kloner, former Jerusalem district archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, examined the tomb in 1980 and said that the inscription on the ossuary is not clear enough to ascertain, and said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television. Quote: “The new evidence is not serious, and I do not accept that it is connected to the family of Jesus....They just want to get money for it."
Ben Witherington, a Bible scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, says, “Of course, we want to know more about Jesus, but please don’t insult our intelligence by giving us this sort of stuff."