(this first appeared in our church newsletter from March 2007)
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, we have found their bones. So say the producers of the Discovery Channel special, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Biblical scholar Jonathan Reed has gone so far as to call this documentary archaeo-porn — it's the kind of TV people can't help but watch, even if, deep down, they know it's wrong. And this thesis is terribly wrong.
The docudrama follows filmmaker Simcha Jacobivici as he finds the family tomb of Jesus or, more precisely, follows him as he tries to prove that a tomb discovered in 1980 was actually Jesus' tomb—even though no scholar or archaeologist had recognized it as such.
Even if we tried to remain dispassionately detached from this claim (not an easy task for those of us with a vibrant Christian faith), the case is simply not compelling. In fact, many scholars quoted in the piece are now stepping forward and claiming they were quoted out of context.
The Lost Tomb of Jesus is not science or archaeology, not historical inquiry or serious journalism, though it tries really hard to sound like each of these. And maybe archaeo-porn is too harsh-it's not that exploitive. However, without question The Lost Tomb of Jesus should be dismissed as infotainment at best, and not taken as Gospel.
Grace and peace,