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Monday, February 26th 2007

James Cameron The Showman

Well, James Cameron’s next “project” turns out not to be Avatar (and yes, I found my copy of scriptment, and yes I think it is actually real…and no, I haven’t finished reading all of it yet). No Cameron is a producer and regular P.T. Barnum for a documentary claiming that the tomb of Jesus Christ and his family has been found. (H/T The Middle East Blog)

The story starts in 1980 in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighborhood, with the discovery of a 2,000 year old cave containing ten coffins. Six of the ten coffins were carved with inscriptions reading the names: Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus’ brother), Judah son of Jesua (Jesus’ son – the filmmakers claim).

The findings in the cave, including the decipherment of the inscriptions, were first revealed about ten years ago by internationally renowned Israeli archeologist Professor Amos Kloner.

Since their discovery, the caskets were kept in the Israeli Antiquities Authority archive in Beit Shemesh, but now two have been sent to New York for their first public exhibition.

I’m a practicing Christian, but even if I wasn’t call me skeptical. Get this bizarre claim,

According to the filmmakers, the film’s claim is based on close work with world-famous scientists, archeologists, statisticians, DNA specialists and antiquities experts.

What? They proved with DNA that the bodies were all related to each other? A shocker, but DNA specialists have nothing to add to the validity of a claim that you’ve found Jesus of Nazareth’s tomb. I’m pretty sure none of Jesus Christ’s DNA is lying around for comparison.

Maybe They Swabed The Shroud of Turin

I’m simply not sure you’d ever be able to say that this was Christ’s burial tomb. Antiquities experts? I mean seriously. Even the man who famously translated the inscriptions – Amos Kloner – thinks the filmmakers are full of it,

“It makes a great story for a TV film,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But it’s impossible. It’s nonsense.”

[Kloner] said the names found on the ossuaries were common, and the fact that such apparently resonant names had been found together was of no significance. He added that “Jesus son of Joseph” inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries over the years.

“There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb,” Kloner said. “They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE.”

The archaeologist who is most intimate with the contents of the tomb, who has spent the most time with the ossuaries says that the film’s claim is “nonsense.” Sounds pretty definitive to me.