Secrets of the Jesus Tomb
Eighteen months ago James Cameron’s documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus was grabbing headlines with its controversial claims about the life and death of Jesus. With the news being released so close to the programme’s broadcast there was little time for most experts to get their heads 'round the data before it aired, let alone come to a consensus.
So Tuesday's Channel Five documentary, Secrets of the Jesus Tomb, was in some ways a welcome response to last year big religion story. After a year and a half of weighing the evidence what had the scholars decided?
Like most good documentaries Secrets of the Jesus Tomb did its best to present both sides of the different arguments. Given that it had to sift a wealth of evidence in just 45 minutes for a broad audience it did a reasonably good job.
The original documentary was driven by some statistical analysis on the names written on the tomb's bone boxes (ossuaries). It suggested that such a combination was so unusual that the tomb was likely to be that of Jesus and his family. But the new documentary laid out the basis of this argument, before looking at the possibility that Jesus and Mary may have been married, before questioning various aspects of the original documentary's claims.
The objections varied from a statistician's calculation that there was only a 10-20% chance of this being Jesus’s tomb, to theologians pointing out that there were numerous reasons why a Jewish man in Jesus’ day may not have married. A number of experts disputed the translations on the ossuaries and a DNA analyst pointed out that there were several ways to interpret that evidence. Perhaps most damning were the arguments of the two archaeologists who made the original discovery – Shimon Gibson and Amos Kloner. "Had there been the remains of a crucified man in the tomb… the anthropologists would have recognised the signs" Gibson argues. "There was no crucified man in the tomb". Kloner objected for different reasons; if this had been Jesus’ tomb then his box would have been laid first. After all his family lived in Galilee not Jerusalem. But the box with the "Yeshua" inscription had been laid perhaps 20-30 years after the oldest box in the tomb.
So ultimately Secrets of the Jesus Tomb is more of a rebuttal to Cameron's film than anything else. Having resurrected the "Jesus Tomb" story it then nibbles away at its major claims. Whilst Channel Five could be accused of wanting to have its historically controversial cake and eat it, for once it was nice to see a programme willing to go with the experts and challenge a religious conspiracy theories rather than just use it to boost their ratings.
Secrets of the Jesus Tomb is available to view for free on Five on Demand.
Posted by: Matt Page on Friday Sep 5th, 2008
Logged-in members can post comments on openheaven.org news articles.