Simcha Jacobovici, an investigative journalist and filmmaker, recently did a documentary and companion book on The Lost Tomb of Jesus. That’s the name of the two hour documentary; the book is title The Family Tomb of Jesus. I have seen the documentary, but have not read the book as of yet. I hope to soon and when I finish it, I will do a follow up to this post.
The first point I want to make is that Simcha Jacobovici is neither an archaeologist nor a theologian. His job does not> require that he provide convincing, indisputable, irrefutable evidence to prove his point or hypothesis. As a filmmaker his product needs to be appealing to our emotions and senses. That’s what good filmmakers do. Think George Lucas.
As an investigative journalist his job is to get people thinking, to arouse interest, to encourage those more qualified on the subject matter to get them involved. In other words, what the documentary and the book, if they are to be successful, have to do is draw people into dialogs, and get qualified experts in archeology and theology involved in analyzing and interpreting the evidence. That he has accomplished and quite well, if you ask me.
The evidence as presented in the documentary does not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this tomb contains the mortal remains of the Biblical Jesus. But it does provide enough evidence to suggest such as a working hypothesis. Had this documentary been about a less controversial tomb, say the lost tomb of Genghiz Khan, there would be a stampede of experts to the tomb. But, because this is the tomb of the person around whom a whole religion is built, the evidence and the events surrounding the evidence raise numerous questions.
The first question I would like answered is how can closing this tommb twice be justified, given the potential value of what was found in the tomb? I can see, sort of, the current closing of the tomb, at least temporarily, in that it will play a significant role in a major felony trial in Israel. But why was the tomb closed back in 1980 when it was first discovered? So an apartment complex could be finished? I doubt it since I have heard of larger and more expensive building projects being delayed for months or even years for less explosive reasons. So why?
And why were the bones removed from the ossuaries and reburied after a few days? never be re-opened is that there is too much at stake for both institutionalized Christianity and for instutionalized Judaism. Think about it. What if this really is the tomb of Jesus and it is proven that he was never crucified or that he died at the ripe old age of seventy? That would shake the foundations of Christianity so hard it might crumbel a bit. What if it could be proven that Mary Magdalene is truly buried in the same tomb with Jesus and his son? What if DNA analysis shows Magdalene to be the mother? What if DNA analysis shows Joseph to be the biological father of Jesus? What would that do to the claim that Jesus is “the only begotten Son of God” and the Immaculate Conception? Boy, would there be some theological scrambling on that one!
On the other hand, what if the analysis of the evidence does much to confirm what the New Testament says about Jesus? That would cause the Jewish theologians all kinds of headaches. The repercussions might even cause Islamic theologians some consternation.
No, I suspect that organized Western religion does not want to know who really is buried in that tomb. It does not want scientists examining the evidence to see what we can learn about the ten people buried there. That might prove to be more shock than our religious system could stand.
Just think of how people might react if they learned that their religious beliefs are proven wrong? Bestt if the tomb was left closed. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Better that we accept the metaphors of our respective institutionalized religion as the truth. We are more comfortable when science does not turn on a light.
I hope you did not drown in all the sarcasm that dripped from that last paragraph. I truly want that tomb reopened and the bones exhumed. The documentary did not make it clear whether there would be any way to identify the bones so they can be matched to the ossuaries, but I sure hope so.
For me, no matter what the final conclusions of a true scientific analysis of the evidence would show, it would not destroy my faith in God nor my claim to being a follower of Jesus, even if many of the doctrines of Christian orthodoxy were shaken to their roots. That’s one of the joys of being a heretic. I have never really accepted the orthodox interpretations of who and what God is and who or what Jesus was. is and ever shall be. I tend to think for myself, rather than accepting the ideas of others.
I believe that, in the final analysis, we all need to read the Scriptures for ourselves and make our own decisions about what those words mean for us. After all, wasn’t that why Martin Luther was so adamant about translating the Bible from Latin to German or whatever vernacular was appropriate for the people? Scripture is not onlyGod’s word; more importantly, it is the most important book most of us will ever read, whether we are card-carrying Christians or not. The Bible, or any other religion’s scriptures for that matter, provides a road map for life. It shows us the way. As in the same way that there are many roads we can take to get from Chicago to San Francisco (I know because I’ve taken several of them), there are many roads from birth to death and beyond. They all get us to the same place. How we get there is our choice. After all, we do have free will and we are not doomed by some misguided doctrine of original sin.\
God wants us to live sinless lives. But, if we stumble along the way, God offers us repentance and forgiveness. We can get back to the Garden. That is what Jesus is all about. By following in his footsteps, by following his example, or the example of one of the other Great Teachers, the human race will one day again walk with God. The Second Coming is not the reincarnation into this world of any of the Great Teachers, but rather our incarnation as a species into the plane of existence where they are waiting for us. They have shown us the Way. We only need to follow.