Sensationalistic Claims – The Hype is Ripe
Sensationalistic Claims – The Hype is Ripe
“The documentary includes dramatic recreations, based on the latest historical evidence, illustrating accurate images of Jesus of Nazareth, his family, his followers, his ministry, his crucifixion and his entombment.”[fn] The Discovery Channel, Has the tomb of Jesus Christ been found? (retrieved 3-3-07)
It is granted, given the lowly state of The Da Vinci Culture, that the most half-baked theory backed by the least amount of evidence is exalted beyond the incredible amount of evidence supporting the New Testament’s reliability-this is a substandard double standard. Thus, this documentary depicts, in living color, Jesus and His family, something which is, as we shall see below, simply unfounded. In this case, the latest historical evidence is the fanciful imaginations of the documentary’s storytellers. This is where a documentary goes from simply showing us what was found to weaving stories based on personal interpretation of evidence.
Simcha Jacobovici states,
“An incredible archaeological discovery in Israel changes history and shocks the world. Tombs with the names The Virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene and Judah, their son, are found and an investigation begins.”[fn] Simcha Jacobovici, The Lost Tomb of Jesus (retrieved 3-3-07)
The problem with this claim is that it is a good old fashioned overstatement. This is not surprising since the quote came from his website’s homepage. Apparently, it is supposed to peak your interest. However, accuracy is always important. Let us consider the claim, “changes history,” how so? “shocks the world,” shocks with accurate revelation or with shock at weak evidence and imaginative storytelling?
We are then told that the tombs are inscribed with the names “The Virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene and Judah, their son.” But the fact is: “No” on the first claim, “No” on the second, “No” on the third and “No” on the fourth.
“The Virgin Mary” was not found but rather, “Maria,” with no indication of who she was nor whether or not she was a virgin.
“Jesus of Nazareth” was not found but rather, “Yeshua bar Yosef” Jesus son of Joseph-it may be Jesus of Talpiot, Jesus of Jerusalem, Jesus of Fresno, etc.).
“Mary Magdalene” was not found but rather, “Mariamne”-“Magdalene” denotes her being from Magdala, but again, this could be Mary from elsewhere. One reason that Mariamne is interpreted to be Mary Magdalene is that “Mariamne e Mara” is said to mean “Mary the Master.”
At least it is said to mean that within the confined of the documentary. However, the original scholars who worked on the site, and who are sited as sources on DSC’s website, are of a different opinion.
In his “Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries,” L.Y. Rahmani translates “Mariamne e Mara” as “of Mariamne, who is (also called) Mara.” He also notes that “Mara” is “a contraction of the name Martha.” And that “e” is “used in cases of double names.”
Likewise, in his “A Tomb With Inscribed Ossuaries in East Talpiyot, Jerusalem,” Amos Kloner translates “Mariamne e Mara” as “of Mariamene, [also called] Mara.” And likewise states, “Mara, a contraction of the name Martha, is used here as a second name.”
Richard Bauckham makes the following statement,
“‘Mara’ in this context does not mean Master. It is an abbreviated form of Martha. probably the ossuary contained two women called Mary and Martha (Mariamne and Mara).”[fn] Ben Witherington, The Jesus Tomb? ‘Titanic’ Talpiot Tomb Theory Sunk from the Start (Monday, February 26, 2007)[/fn]
“Judah, their son” was not found but rather, “Yehuda bar Yeshua” or “Judah the son of Jesus”-there is absolutely no indication that it was the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, or even this Yehuda and this Mariamne; in this regard my essay “Their Own Whims and Lusts” Liberal Scholars and Jesus’ Marriage may be of interest.
The documentary’s narrator asks, “Why didn’t anyone take notice of these names?” Considering that they tomb was found two decades ago.
They did, and they found them to be generic and inconclusive. This is actually something that the documentary goes on to firmly establish by citing various scholars.
Also, what are we to make of “Matia,” (Matthew)? Who is he to the family? It is inferred that since there are Matthew-like names in the genealogy in the Gospel of Luke (which according to James Tabor, “people don’t notice it much,” see below). At this point, it may be advantageous to mention that it appears that the way in which the documentary explains various discrepancies in the evidence is by plugging them into their preconceive notions. In other words, instead of the evidence informing the theory it appears that the theory is manipulating the evidence. If we say, “Well, certainly there is a New Testament character, in fact the author of a Gospel, that is named Matthew. This must be him.” Please do keep in mind that as appealing or even as correct as this may be; we are simply inventing 2,000 year old history right off of the tops of our 21st century heads merely in order to force a piece of evidence to fit our preconceived theory.
Clearly, what Simcha Jacobovici presented us on his website is a perfect example of mixing the evidence with a personal interpretation which is then retold as if it was what the inscriptions actually stated.
A plea: I have to pay for server usage and have made all content on this website free and always will. I support my family on one income and do research, writing, videos, etc. as a hobby. If you can even spare $1.00 as a donation, please do so: it may not seem like much but if each person reading this would do so, even every now and then, it would add up and really, really help. Here is my donate/paypal page.