Pursues Another Wreck
, director of the
Terminator movies and Titanic,
tries to terminate the Christian
faith with a titanic fraud to be
aired on The Discovery Channel,
home of such epics as The Aliens
Who Built the Pyramids. --Glenn Layne.
Scholars, clergy slam Jesus documentary
By MARSHALL THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer
This appeared on
Feb. 26, 2007.
(AP) — Archaeologists
and clergymen in the Holy Land derided claims in a new
documentary produced by the Oscar-winning director
James Cameron that contradict major Christian tenets.
"The Lost Tombof Christ," which the Discovery Channel
will run on March 4, argues that 10 ancient ossuaries
— small caskets used to store bones — discovered in a
suburb of in 1980 may have contained the
bones of Jesus and his family, according to a press
release issued by the Discovery Channel.
One of the caskets even bears the title, "Judah, son
of Jesus," hinting that Jesus may have had a son. And
the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would
contradict the Christian belief that he was
resurrected and ascended to heaven.
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.
In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the
same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims.
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.
The claims have raised the ire of Christian leaders in
the Holy Land.
"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 . The
documentary, he said, "contradicts the religious
principles and the historic and spiritual principles
that we hold tightly to."
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
"I don't think that Christians are going to buy into
this," Pfann said. "But skeptics, in general, would
like to see something that pokes holes into the story
that so many people hold dear."
"How possible is it?" Pfann said. "On a scale of one
through 10 — 10 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's more likely
the name "Hanun."
Kloner also said the filmmakers' assertions are false.
"It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial
cave," Kloner said. "The names on the caskets are the
most common names found among Jews at the time."
Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that
the James Ossuary — the center of a famous antiquities
fraud in Israel — might have originated from
the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects
with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box.
"I don't think the James Ossuary came from the same
cave," said Dan Bahat, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan
University. "If it were found there, the man who made
the forgery would have taken something better. He
would have taken Jesus."
Although the documentary makers claim to have found
the tomb of Jesus, the British Broadcasting
Corporation beat them to the punch by 11 years.
Osnat Goaz, a spokeswoman for the Israeli government
agency responsible for archaeology, declined to
comment before the documentary was aired.
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