According to the blog of Mark Goodacre, Associate Professor of New Testament at Duke University, he reports that opinions of archaeological experts, scientists and scholars that contradicted the view taken in the controversial Discovery Channel “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” was not reported by the media.
Goodacre reports, “Instead the media have presented the views of Simcha Jacobovici, who produced the controversial film and book “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” with Hollywood director James Cameron, and who claims that his identification has been vindicated by the conference papers.”
Regardless of what conclusions were drawn from the conference gathering, the opinions of a journalist, Simcha Jacobovici and Hollywood director, James Cameron, who both worked on the documentary, carry more weight.
Ben Witherington chimes in stating, “Let me be clear that no fresh evidence came to light from this conference.” For Simcha Jacobovici to act as though this conference vindicated him makes me wonder about his grasp of reality.
However, one piece of evidence did make an appearance. Read Witherington’s description: “the widow of Joseph Gat, Gat being one of the original archaeologists who dug the Talpiot Tomb, revealed that her husband thought back in the 80s that this might be the tomb of Jesus, but he kept these views to himself, because . . . being a Holocaust survivor he was fearful of an anti-Jewish reprisal had he made his views known. This is sadly understandable.”
Some felt this was the smoking gun of the conference. But Goodcare is not so quick to grab Gat’s widow’s testimony as giving us anything conclusive. To snuff out the curling smoke of the alleged gun, we learn, “Joseph Gat lacked the expertise to read the inscriptions. His supervisor and other members of the Israel Antiquities Authority believe that Gat could not have made such a statement in his lifetime since the inscriptions seem to have been deciphered only after he had passed away.” Yet even in the face of this poor evidence Jacobovici claims Mrs. Gat’s statement has supported his claims about the tomb.
In a written statement signed by the attendees of the noted Jerusalem conference, the following statement is made: “To conclude, we wish to protest the misrepresentation of the conference proceedings in the media, and make it clear that the majority of scholars in attendance – including all of the archaeologists and epigraphers who presented papers relating to the tomb - either reject the identification of the Talpiot tomb as belonging to Jesus’ family or find this claim highly speculative.”
After this statement we are given a list of thirteen academics who attended the conference and signed this final conclusion.
The finality of this group of scholars is not enough for Jacobovici. Under the guise of objectivity, this Canadiam journalist is out to prove Jesus’ body once occupied one of the ossuaries found in the Talpiot tomb, first unearthed in the 1980.
Due to the reappearance of this controversy, I feel an imperative to let people know about the booklet I wrote last Spring, right after “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” documentary was shown on the Discovery Channel. This booklet is a guide to the Jesus Family Tomb controversy and makes a great tool to give to others who may have been confused by the Discovery Channel program.
To order my booklet Burying the Jesus Family Tomb Controversy for $6.95 click here.