Skip to comments.Scorn poured on Director's 'Coffin of Christ' theory (James Cameron-Archeologists/Scholars Dispute)
Posted on 02/26/2007 2:03:46 PM PST by SirLinksalot
Scorn poured on James Cameron's 'coffin of Christ' theory
Archaeologists and biblical scholars have poured scorn on a Hollywood film director's sensational claim that he has discovered the coffin of Jesus Christ.
Oscar-winning 'Titanic' director James Cameron's assertion that the bones of Jesus and his family were hidden for centuries in a Jerusalem tomb caused an outcry in the Holy Land.
Even a British archeologist who worked with Cameron, Dr. Shimon Gibson, admitted he's "sceptical" about the claims that challenge some of the central tenets of Christianity.
The very fact that Jesus had a grave would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.
'The Lost Tomb of Christ', a documentary set to air on Channel Four next month, argues that ten ancient ossuaries, small caskets used to store bones, which were found when bulldozers flattened a Jerusalem suburb in 1980, may have contained the remains of Jesus and his wife and child.
One of the caskets even bears the title, 'Judah, son of Jesus,' which Cameron claims as evidence that Jesus may have had a son. Another coffin was said to hold the bones of Mary Magdalene, also known as 'Mariamne'.
Cameron unveiled two of the small limestone caskets at a press conference in New York, but the director could offer little proof to support his claims, other than the mathematical probability of a tomb containing a set of ossuaries with names linked to Jesus.
Of the ten ossuaries found, six were inscribed with the names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Mary Magdalene, as well as Judah, Son of Jesus, and a Matthew, of which there were many in Mary's family, according to Luke 3:23.
Critics said all the names were commonplace in Biblical times.
Apparently surprised at the hostility over his 'discovery', the director who famously claimed to be 'the king of the world' when he won an Oscar for Titanic, insisted it was not a publicity stunt and said his critics should wait and see the film.
"I'm not a theologist. I'm not an archaeologist. I'm a documentary filmmaker," he said.
Dr. Gibson, who was one of the first people to examine the caskets 27 years ago, now says: "Entering the tomb in 1980 I didn't imagine this would become such an international focus.
"These are typical stone caskets from the first century. There are a lot of aspects that need to be looked at. A lot of new research has to be done. I'm sceptical."
Even Cameron, pushed to support his claims, said statisticians found "in the range of a couple of million to one in favor of it being them."
Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. The burial site identified in Cameron's documentary is in a southern Jerusalem neighborhood nowhere near the church.
Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.
"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said. "It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave," he added. "The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time."
"The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection," said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem.
Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film's hypothesis holds little weight.
"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," he said. "But sceptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."
"How possible is it?" he added. "On a scale of one through ten, with ten being completely possible, it's probably a one, maybe a one and a half."
Pfann is even unsure that the name Jesus on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it is more likely the name Hanun. Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.
Cameron spent two years working with a team of experts to make the controversial film. Director Simcha Jacobovici told the press conference: "For millions of readers, the Da Vinci Code was a fantasy, a fiction. Here is a Judah, son of Jesus, next to a Jesus and a Mariamne."
See also here :
Scholars Criticize New Jesus Documentary
for later consumption
My name is John. I am in no way (that I know of) descended from the apostle or saint of the same name.
Oh really? Would they be a Christian if they did?
That doesn't look like the correct quote.
"I'm not a theologist. I'm not an archaeologist. I'm a
documentary filmmaker, BS artist" he said.
There now it looks right.
They keep trying, trying, trying and keep failing, failing, failing.
Let's see, we have Albore, Michael Moore-on...... yeah, the reputation of a "documentary filmmaker" for factual accuracy and dedicated scholarship is at an all-time high right now.
Known to who as Mariamne, first I've ever heard that claim.
See comments here :
Jesus Buried In Plain Sight?
Many people have discussed the supposed discovery of the family tomb of Jesus in a section of Jerusalem. The finding, which forms the basis of a Discovery Channel special next Sunday, purports to show that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a son named Judah, also buried at the tomb with his own ossuary:
New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world's foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.
The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah.
The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts originally excavated in 1980 open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.
Well, maybe. The DNA analysis, which has been trumpeted without much explanation, does not identify the Jesus of the ossuary as the same Jesus in the Bible. All it does is show that the bones in a tomb that the researchers speculate belonged to Mary Magdelene have no familial relation to the bones in the Jesus ossuary. That is how the archeologists assumed that the two in this crypt were married, and that the Judah ben-Jesus of the ossuary had to be their offspring.
This shows why pop science rarely delivers anything but entertainment. I enjoy Simcha Jacobovici in his incarnation as "The Naked Archeologist", but I don't pretend that the show is anything more than a superficial and oversimplified trek through history. The speculations made by the team working on the Talpiot tomb show how a series of assumptions can lead to a wild and likely incorrect conclusion.
Let's take a few things in the context of the times. Jesus was a well-known agitator whose crucifixion creates a cult following, in the eyes of the Romans and the leading Jews of the time. The basis of that cult formed around the notion that Jesus rose from the dead. If the Romans knew where his body was buried, why then did they not produce it as proof of his immutable death? In order to be placed in an ossuary, he would have to lie in the tomb for a year, decomposing to skeletal remains. During that time, the Romans could easily have produced the body -- or the cult followers could have stolen it and buried it elsewhere to prevent it.
The familial ties also seem rather odd. In the first generation of Jesus, no one mentions his marriage or family. Yet his familiy and followers -- ossuaries of Matthew and James are supposedly among the discoveries -- supposedly felt it of no moment to bury him with his wife and son, despite their refusal to acknowledge a marriage. By the time his son would have died, the Gospels would already have been written and prophesied in the region and further to Greece and Rome.
And all of this evidence would have been left in the open, in a tomb in the middle of the largest city in the region, where anyone could have discovered it.
I'm sorry, but this relies on faith at least as much as the Christian religion does, and contradicts common sense. It's nonsense. None of this makes any sense at all, but I'll bet it sells lots of advertising. (h/t: CQ reader Peyton R)
Here's another Catholic take on the issue :
How would you know, even if you were?
Cameron wouldn't be the first to fall victim to a long history antiquities hoaxes in the Holy Land:
How about a documentary about the life of Mohammed?
As before, my lawnboy is Jesus. His mother is Maria. She sells tamales. His dad is Jose.
I suppose when they die, James Cameron, Jr. will point to their graves and say, "Hey look, it's proof of my dad's theory. And this time, there are bones!"
An interesting rebuttal :
Who's Writing the Ficiton Here?
As I mentioned yesterday, the claims about the remains of Jesus immediately put me in mind of Dr. Paul L. Maier's work of fiction A Skeleton in God's Closet. That was the premise of the mystery. So Dr. Maier has thought about this idea and he's also an expert in ancient archaeology and follows these developments closely. Here is his response to the news so far:
Paul L. Maier, Ph.D., Litt.D
Department of History
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
February 25, 2007
Dear Friends and Readers,
Thanks for the profusion of e-mails Ive received over the last two days regarding the Talpiot tombs discovery in Jerusalem, a.k.a., the Jesus Family Tomb story. Some of you also suggested that life seemed to be following art so far as my A Skeleton in Gods Closet was concerned. Believe me, this is not the way I wanted my novel to hit the visual media!
Alas, this whole affair is just the latest in the long-running media attack on the historical Jesus, which we thought had culminated in that book of lies, The Da Vinci Code. But no: the caricatures of Christ continue.
Please, lose no sleep over the Talpiot discoveries for the following reasons, and here are the facts:.
1) Nothing is new here: scholars have known about the ossuaries ever since March of 1980. The general public learned when the BBC filmed a documentary on them in 1996. James Tabors book, The Jesus Dynasty, also made a big fuss over the Talpiot tombs more recently, and now James Cameron (The Titanic) and Simcha Jacobovici have climbed aboard the sensationalist bandwagon as well. He
2) All the names Yeshua, Joseph, Maria, Mariamene, Matia, Judah, and Jose -- are extremely frequent Jewish names for that time and place, and thus most schol-ars consider this merely coincidental, as they did from the start. One-quarter of Jewish women at that time, for example, were named Maria.
3) There is no reason whatever to equate Mary Magdalene with Mariamene,
as Jacobovici claims.
4) So what if her DNA is different from that of Yeshua ? That particular :Mariamme (as it is usually spelled today) could indeed have been the wife of that particular Yeshua.
5) What in the world is the Jesus Family doing, having a burial plot in Jerusalem, of all places, the very city that crucified Jesus? Galilee was their home. In Galilee they could have had such a family plot, not Judea. Besides all of which, church tradition and Eusebius are unanimous in reporting that Mary died in Ephesus, where the apostle John, faithful to his commission from Jesus on the cross, had accompanied Mary.
6) If this were Jesus family burial, what is Matthew doing there if indeed Ma-tia is thus to be translated?
7) How come there is no tradition whatever Christian, Jewish, or secular -- that any part of the Holy Family was buried at Jerusalem?
8) Please note the extreme bias of the director and narrator, Simcha Jacobovici. The man is an Indiana-Jones-wannabe, who oversensationalizes anything he touches. You may have caught him on his TV special regarding The Exodus, in which the man explained just everything that still needed proving or explaining in the Exodus account in the Old Testament! It finally became ludicrous, and now hes doing it again. As for James Cameron, how do you follow The Titanic? Well, with an even more titanic story. He should have known better.
There are more arguments, to be sure, but I want to get this off pronto.
With warm regards,
Paul L. Maier
You know how it is, some nut escapes the nut box every once in a while.
... there's no prophet in it...