“The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” More Critiques

If you haven’t read my other posts on “The Jesus-Tomb Deception, Parts 1 and 2” and “Reaction to ‘The Lost Tomb of Jesus,'” I recommend you look in the right margin and click on the category: Jesus-Tomb. Read all four articles (counting this one).

As I lay in bed this morning, I had further thoughts on the Discovery Channel Documentary. Let’s call my three thoughts (1) THE BIG SHAME, (2) THE FUNDAMENTAL FLAW, AND (3) THE BIGGEST STRETCH.

Simon Jacobovici had two hours of propagandistic, highly dramatized documentary to argue for his hypothesis. Then, as a last-minute idea, the Discovery Channel had Ted Koppel bring on a panel of archaeologists and theologians to share their critiques of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” The big shame is that Ted Koppel could not get Simon Jacobovici under control. I wanted to hear more, especially of what William Dever and Jonathan Reed had to say. Neither of these experts is a conservative Christian defending doctrine, yet both thought Jacobovici was all wet. Jonathan Reed was awesome, calling this documentary “archeo-porn”! Unfortunately, Jacobovici (and James Tabor) talked over everyone else and the experts got very little time to speak. After having two hours to make his point, Jacobovici could not let the audience hear other viewpoints. It was a big shame. Ted Koppel, if by some astronomical coincidence you read this blog, I am calling on you to have another program without Jacobovici. Let’s hear from the experts and not from the filmmaker.

It’s hard to pick the one fundamental flaw in “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” I liked Jonathan Reed’s way of putting it:

The thing I really oppose is the approach. The documentary gives a chain of evidence, but there are so many ifs in the chain, it is very unlikely.

I think I would pick another point as my fundamental flaw, however: A rather ordinary middle class family tomb with ordinary Jewish names is presented as a statistical anomaly explainable only as the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Jacobovici doesn’t tell you some information that would be harmful to his hypothesis. How about, for example, THE FACT THAT “JESUS SON OF JOSEPH” HAS BEEN FOUND ON THREE OR FOUR OSSUARIES!! Check here to see confirmation of this fact. As I have said before, a tomb was found with some rather common names, most of which could be related to Jesus’ family, but they could also be ordinary Bills, Toms, Joes, and Marys from Judea.

Finally, I want to comment on what is the biggest stretch of reason in the documentary, the biggest piece of junk history they hope the undiscerning viewer will swallow. Care to guess? It is the whole Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and has secret descendants living in Europe protected by a secret cadre of monks theory. Right, and there is a UFO hiding on the backside of the moon. And those black helicopters are U.N. personnel waiting to take over. And those contrails behind jets are a government plan to spray down U.S. Citizens with an apathy drug!

Let me ask you a question. What do you think there is more evidence for: (a) the physical resurrection of Jesus or (b) the Mary Magdalene-DaVinci Code hypothesis? We are asked to believe this Talpiot tomb is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth largely on the assumption that Mariamnou Marah is Mary Magdalene, wife of Jesus. ALL THE WHILE, THERE IS ANOTHER THEORY WITH FAR MORE EVIDENCE WHICH WE ARE ASKED TO IGNORE.

I shared in my “Reaction to ‘The Lost Tomb of Jesus'” that there is a great place to see scholarly evidence for the resurrection of Jesus (N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God). I don’t expect a lot of lay-people to read it. It is difficult stuff. Somebody should write a popular level version of N.T. Wright’s great volume. But my point is this: there is amazing historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised. Jacobovici and James Tabor (who I have zero respect for) completely ignore all of that in favor of a loony conspiracy theory based on fourth century gnostic texts and medieval legends.

The biggest stretch in “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” is the presentation of the Mary Magdalene-conspiracy theory hypothesis while ignoring the evidence for the greatest event in history — Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

In future posts this week, I will present in short form some of that evidence.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Jesus-Tomb, Messianic Jewish, Theology, Yeshua. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” More Critiques

  1. Robert Efurd says:

    Last time around in The Exodus Decoded Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici claimed a volcanic eruption caused the 10 plagues that G-d sent upon Egypt as punishment for enslaving the Jewish Nation. At least that “documentary” was somewhat entertaining in its fanciful notions complete with a tsunami causing the Red Sea to part.

    I guess the biggest problem I had with the hypothesis is why Yeshua ‘s “bones” were preserved? He was completely against the second burial during His time. Are we supposed to believe his disciples would deliberately disregard his teachings? The Passover plot has been used over the ages to show that Jesus’ body was stolen and his disciples disposed of it. If that was the case why on earth would they label the remains and then go out to preach the Good News? The notion is absolutely absurd.

    It is amazing to see the transformation of the scientific community from Jesus did not exist to attempting to minimize his life and miracles.

    I dread to see the next Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici movie. Who will they attack next?

  2. Matt Gwinn says:

    Off the subject tonight, but would love to see your comments on is the man who claims to be Jesus Christ. They are airing a secial about him on PrimeTime tonight, I think on ABC at 9:00 pm.
    Pray that you watch the show!

  3. Charles Gadda says:

    One thing that should be clear, after all the hubbub of the past week, is that the “Lost Tomb of Jesus” film is a hoax.

    To begin with — and this is something that has not been pointed out enough, although it lies at the core of the fraud — the name “Jesus” is not legible on the so-called “Jesus son of Joseph” ossuary, as any serious semitics scholar will immediately tell you if you show him the tracing. The original transcriber himself (see the Israeli Catalogue of Ossuaries) put a question-mark after his reading, and two dots over the “Jesus” part of the name, thus indicating in standard fashion that he was making a conjecture (in this case one that is obviously remote). Jacobovici, however, has carefully omitted this fundamental point from his statements to the press, instead asserting that the reading had been “conclusively confirmed” by unnamed experts. For details, see http://jesus-illegible.blogspot.com/

    As for James Tabor, he is the same character at the center of the recently debunked claim that an “Essene latrine” has been found near the site of Khirbet Qumran. This site, readers will recall, is the place where so-called traditional Qumranologists (including, it would appear, Tabor himself) continue to insist, in the face of mounting contrary evidence, that a sect of Essenes lived.

    Tabor also appears to be involved in the current biased and misleading exhibits of the Dead Sea Scrolls traveling around the country.
    For details, see http://jesus-crypt-fraud.blogspot.com/ and the other postings published by the authors of that blog.

    For Tabor’s “Essene latrine” efforts (also based in part on a misleading use of DNA evidence), see K. Galor and J. Zangenberg at http://www.forward.com/articles/led-…d-sea-latrine/, or the most recent article by N. Golb on the Oriental Institute website, http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/projects/scr/).

    Professor Jim Davila’s blog (March 6, 2007) http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/ quotes Tabor as asserting to him in an email: “I have never excavated even one tomb, and I am not even an archaeologist and have never claimed to be such.”

    Yet Tabor himself, in an article published in the Charlotte Observer, excerpted on the same paleojudaica blog a year ago (February 13, 2006), wrote: “As an archaeologist, I have long observed and experienced the thrill that ancient discoveries cause in all of us. The look on the faces of my students as we uncover ancient ruins from the time of Jesus, or explore one of the caves where the scrolls were found, is unmistakable.”

    Tabor’s Ph.D. was awarded to him by the University of Chicago’s Department of New Testament and Christian Literature (which is housed in that institution’s Divinity School building). The title of his dissertation was “Things Unutterable: Paul’s Ascent to Paradise”. He clearly has no training as an archaeologist, historian, or semitics scholar, and we will no doubt be left to wonder at the motivations that led him to become involved in these phony scams.

  4. Charles:

    Thank you for posting. You and I would probably have a great time talking archeology. I am a fan of archeology and love to read my Biblical Archeology Review each month.

    I share a negative opinion of James Tabor. He seems to market himself, making many controversial claims and trying to make a name for himself. I think he should be an embarrassment to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. But then there are many religion scholars out there who have nothing real to say but get more attention than they deserve.

    I am not completely sold on the idea that Qumran was anything other than an Essene community. I have skimmed Hirschfeld’s Qumran in Context and I find it plausible. I just need more time and reading on the subject. Is Hirschfeld’s hypothesis one you would agree with? For other readers’ sake, let me say that Hirschfeld proposes that Qumran was an agricultural estate and that the scrolls were hidden there from a Jerusalem library. Qumran was never an Essene community. The early scholars who decided it was were bringing their Catholic orientation toward monastic life into the picture and saw Qumran as a monastery.


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