With a very polished press conference this week (complete with media alerts the day before) TV writer and producer Simcha Jacobovici announced a stunning revelation: Jesus’ Family Tomb has been found! He claims that in it are stone caskets inscribed with the names: Jesus son of Joseph, and his wife, Mariamne as well as their son Judah.
The facts about this archaelogical discovery are:
Twenty-seven years ago a family tomb was discovered near Jerusalem by a construction company; one of hundreds discovered at that time. It contained 10 ossuaries (stone coffins). The names were cataloged and the ossuaries were stored.
These findings were published in A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, by L.Y. Rahmani in 1994 and included 20 other ossuaries with the name Jesus.
Amos Kloner wrote an article about the find in the Israeli archaeological journal, Atiqot in 1996.
Jacobovici is the Emmy winning creator and host of “The Naked Archaelogist” (on Vision TV).
He is neither naked (thankfully), nor an Archaelogist. He has a honours B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from McGill and an M.A. in International Relations from U of T.
If this seems familiar it should. Mass media conspiracy theories are BIG business. The “James brother of Jesus” ossaury was revealed a few years ago amid great fanfare (as it was being shopped around). Its current owner is being charged with fraud. The Judas Gospel was bought quietly by National Geographic in 2003 for hundreds of thousands of dollars and then released as the subject of a splashy multimillion dollar documentary last year (DVD and book available directly from National Geographic for $48.95).
What is a Christian to do with this? I think it is very important that we respond to our friends and neighbours in the language of the day. We are living in a Post-Modern World where the medium is the message, and image is everything.
Don’t bother me with the facts, a picture is truth; a video clip is gospel, and the only thing our culture cannot tolerate is intolerance.
It is very important that Christians be open and balanced in their response to this new ‘discovery’. Condemning it or refusing to know about it is viewed as proof of it’s legitimacy. In a Post-Modern world, image is the 21st Century language. The best response, the only one we can make is the way we respond!
A blustering TV evangelist (or worse, an evangelist with a blog 🙂 spouting intolerance is the response our culture will receive. It won’t even matter what is said. How it is said is all that will be heard. In an age where you can find a 30 sec. video clip of anything you want, image really is everything!
I encourage everyone to be as well informed about this as possible. While I cannot create a million dollar website complete with video clips, what I can do is present the image of myself, with legitimate questions about the information:
Why wait nearly 30 years for this amazing discovery?
Wasn’t Jesus a common name back then?
Why would Jesus’ followers label his coffin?
How does DNA prove people are married?
Being salt and light today is about presenting the image of yourself as a well reasoned skeptic, open but informed, to the people around you. What a great blessing to be given such a remarkable conversation starter! Lets get out our lights and shine!
To read a scholarly response to the TV program see a press bulletin on Christian News Wire: http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/457272336.html
To read a really great analysis of this ‘discovery’ go to a website written by Dr. Chris Heard, Associate Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University: http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/