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“The Lost Tomb of Christ”

by Dr. D ~

-Discovery Channel March4, 2007
-Produced by Oscar winning film maker: James Cameron
-Directed by: Simcha Jacobovici
-Narrator:Ron White
-Documentary (or maybe more of a Docu-Drama)

This was a very slick and well produced piece of film making. Good camera work and editing with built in suspense at the commercial breaks, and 2 hours of well written script sustained by great graphics and realistic dramatization. There was a lot of money put into this work and it really showed. Normally 2 hours would be a bit much for a documentary of this nature, but these film makers are among the best and interest is maintained to the very end.

Now for the bad news, and I do believe that this production was bad news. So far I haven’t found one archaeologist or early Christian scholar who believes that this might really be a tomb of the famous Jesus family. On camera they present experts which seem to support some of their contentions, but they have merely edited out most of their negative comments.
Cameron and Jacobovici present their case with incredible graphics and impressive dramatization and all the ‘evidence’ seems so compelling. However, they only present evidence which seems to support their theories; they never present any of the overwhelming evidence against them. Can this work really be called a ‘documentary’? Usually documentaries loosely follow some of the basic rules of investigative journalism, this work doesn’t. This is really more of a ‘docu-drama’.

This work is a one-sided affair which uses dramatization to support some supposed ‘facts’ while leaving out important information which would diminish the effect. For example: They present Mary Magdalene as an ‘Apostle’ and a ‘Master’ and show a short drama with her preaching and ministering. All the while they are citing the ‘Acts of Phillip’ as the primary source.

They do not tell their viewers that the ‘Acts of Phillip’ was a late Gnostic work of the late 3rd or even early 4th century that reflects the Gnostic movement of the 3rd century rather than on any historical facts or real characters of the 1st century. Nor do they relay to the audience that most scholars believe that the Mariamene in that work is probably referring to Phillips sister and not Mary Magdalene.

That is just one example of the many important facts that were left out. In addition, the docu-drama was full of outright speculations which have no real basis in historical fact. There was more drama and fantasy in this supposed documentary than actual archaeology.

For a detailed exploration of some of the problems and inaccuracies see: The three posts on Ben Witherington’s Blog.

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