Monday, February 26, 2007

New "Documentary" Questions the Resurrection

Academy Award winning director James “Titanic” Cameron’s latest work, “The Lost Tomb of Christ,” will be airing March 4th, 2007, on the Discovery Channel. In it the director and creator of the FOX series “Dark Angel” and the "Terminator" movies, claims that 10 ancient ossuaries, or small caskets used to store bones, discovered in Jerusalem approximately 25 years ago may have contained, among others, the bones Jesus of Nazareth.

I read about this “documentary,” for the first time only this morning (February 26, 2007) in a brief article by Marshall Thompson of the Associated Press entitled, “Scholars, Clergy Slam Jesus Documentary.

According to this article, Mr. Cameron even goes so far as to suggest that one of the other ossuaries found with the one which allegedly contained the bones of Jesus, was inscribed with the words “Judah, son of Jesus,” thus “proving” that Jesus even had a son.

Apparently, the Cameron piece is not the first work to cover these particular ossuaries. Ten years ago the BBC ran a similar documentary making the same claims. Mr. Thompson writes in his article that Amos Kloner, the first archeologist to examine the burial site where these ossuaries where found is saying the same now regarding the Cameron work that he when the BBC produced their piece.

“They just want to get money for it,” states Mr. Kloner, adding that the idea does not hold up to archeological standards.

So far, there appears to be little to no scholarly support, from any arena, for the ideas and theories of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” as they were put forward in the press release issued by the Discovery Channel.

This is nothing new. It seems like we Christians are taking these types of hits from such high-profile sources about every 3-6 months these days. Fortunately, this new “documentary” sounds like a lightweight hit piece; I’ll be looking forward to finding out more about it as the broadcast date approaches.

I only have two real comments at this time, the first about the documentary, and the second regarding the one pastor’s response to the show as he is quoted by the AP writer, Mr. Thompson:

First, even if the ossuary bears the name “Jesus” (transliterated, of course), it does not prove anything. The name “Jesus” was one of the more common names of that time among the Jews; it was, after all, the contemporary equivalent of the more ancient form of “Joshua,” arguably the most revered Jewish leader of the Nation of Israel next to King David. This “Jesus” is just one among hundreds or thousands of other individuals of the same name that lived in early first century Israel.

Frankly, if James Cameron is trying to make the case that this ossuary is that of Jesus of Nazareth, he is either very ignorant, has a great deal of prejudice against Christianity, or has some other evidence that this article fails to mention. I will withhold judgment on which it is until after the documentary is broadcast.

Second, Attallah Hana, orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem made the following statement as reported by AP writer Marshall Thompson:“The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection…[this documentary] contradicts the religious principles and the historic and spiritual principles that we hold tightly to.”

The article demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of the point that (hopefully) most Christians will make about this documentary in his selection of this one statement from Mr. Hana. This statement is simply explicatory; describing the nature of the claim Mr. Cameron is promoting, rather than addressing the substance of the claim. Christians (I hope) shouldn’t care whether the documentary “contradicts the religious principles…[that Christians] hold tightly to;” I hope we would care whether the claims are true or not. If they are true then I for one want to know, as I would rather not waste my time following a false religion. If they are not true (and I would bet a great deal of money that all such claims Mr. Cameron will make in the documentary are not only false but rather silly and ridiculous as well) then we should let everyone know exactly why the documentary is wrong and then go about our business, as the documentary will be forgotten in less than two months time (although, rabid anti-Christians will continue to tout the documentary as proof of the bankruptcy Christianity for months, and possibly years to come).

Let’s not get worked up about this, if it’s stupid (as it probably will be) then we Christians can pretty much ignore it. If it has some substance, then we can do what we did with the “Da Vinci Code” and methodically take it apart with good scholarship. Either way, it should be interesting coming from a skilled filmmaker like James Cameron. I’ll keep you updated as I find out more.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Divine Judgment from a Four-Year-Old

I know I haven’t put up a post in a great while, I hope to change that in the future.

Right now I have another story about my oldest son, Daniel.

I was returning home from an errand with Daniel, and watching the rain come down on Monday afternoon.

“Dad?” asks my son, “why won’t God send another flood?”

“You mean like Noah’s flood?”


“Well,” I responded, “Because God promised us that he would never flood the world again.”

Looking for the right words Daniel sputtered, “But Dad…North Korea!”

All I could reply through the laughter, “You make a good point, Dan!”