Thursday 1 March 2007
The Discovery Channel is about to release The Lost Tomb of Jesus, and WCG/AC alumnus James Tabor is apparently one of those lined up behind the venture. There are hoots of derision from fundamentalists, keen to discredit the idea that Jesus' unresurrected remains linger here below. Typical are these comments by Paul McCain, a prominent Missouri Synod pastor with a gift for sneering disdain of anything or anyone that might challenge his confessional views.
So, you've heard that James Cameron, the movie maker, has announced that he has discovered the smoking gun evidence that once and for all debunks Christianity. Wow. Imagine that. Cameron, whose better movie making days are now a memory, announces, just in time for Easter, that he has discovered proof positive that "sinks" Christianity. And when I use the term "better movie making days" I am of course using that phrase very loosely. Titanic would have been better titled A Celebration of Fornication on the High Seas. The whole ship sinking and people freezing and drowning was simply a way to keep those with higher levels of testosterone on the hook while they suffered through the tedium of not even a very well done sob-story. The movie was nothing but exploitive trash, just like this story. (Source)
In contrast, Tabor pleads:
I do indeed think that this tomb with its six inscribed ossuaries might arguably be connected to the Jesus of Nazareth, despite all the hype and heat and at the risk of being derided by some. In my view we should give the evidence a fair hearing... What has surprised me the past two days is the willingness of many in our fields (archaeology, biblical studies, history) to comment to the press in a negative and dismissive way before viewing the film or reading the book.
I admire Dr Tabor, even though I'm completely unconvinced by his 2006 book The Jesus Dynasty. Despite that, I'm looking forward to his forthcoming book on Paul very much. I trust him a great deal more than the assorted apologists from Dallas Theological Seminary and their deluded kinfolk who, like McCain, can't seem to prise their minds open a single centimetre to consider new ideas.
Passing judgement before seeing the program would be churlish (or McCainish), and unlike most readers of this blog, it'll be a while before I get a chance as the Australian version of Discovery Channel hasn't bothered to schedule it yet. I suspect though that I'll be reluctantly siding with McCain, even if for different reasons. There's probably more chance of discovering Sherlock Holmes' violin under a London bedsit than the scrapings from Jesus' body in a stone box.
A generation ago there were academics and lunatics in equal measure running around and making amazing claims for the shroud of Turin. Some of them - if you bothered to follow their arguments - sounded reasonably convincing. Will the Talpiot tomb be the "shroud issue" of this decade? Maybe. As L. Michael White of the University of Texas sagely observes: "This is not archeologically sound, this is fanfare."
A good place to get a positive view of the upcoming movie is James Tabor's blog. The PR hype is elsewhere. Meantime I'll stand quietly over here with my new pal "Pastor" McCain and try not to pick up something contagious.