This past Sunday morning during our Worship Service, the Chairman of the Board of Deacons, Mr. Tom Deet, read the following prepared rebuttal regarding the documentary by James Cameron, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. I felt that it was so good that it would benefit our audience at large.
About two weeks ago there were numerous articles on the internet saying that James Cameron, the producer of the movie Titanic, had discovered the tomb and sarcophagus of Jesus and His family and that he was planning to air a documentary on the Discovery channel detailing his discovery. He subsequently appeared on the Today show to hype his documentary, where they said his discovery would rock Christianity. What his discovery is, is no more than another example of Christian bashing. Because Christians are largely silent, Christianity is the only religion that people think that they can attack with complete impunity. Now, because I am an engineer and infinitely more logical that James Cameron will ever be, I’m going to give you the facts, not the Hollywood hype. Cameron bases his entire theory on the names on the sarcophagi or coffins found in the family tomb, and the fact that the DNA of some of the remains in the coffins matched, while some others did not. He claims that Jesus was buried with His wife, Mary Magdalene his son Judas and His mother and father. Sound familiar? It’s the same anti-Christian concept promoted by the DaVinci Code. Cameron is simply trying to gain additional promotion from association with Dan Brown’s successful novel.
Now for the facts: First, Cameron did not discover the tomb or the coffins. They were discovered by Israeli archaeologists in 1980. Their existence was common knowledge among archaeologists since that date. At the time of their discovery, Professor Amos Kloner, one of Israel’s most prominent archaeologists, did not associate the crypt with Jesus, because Jesus was a humble carpenter, who could not afford a luxury crypt and expensive coffins for His family. He also stated that the names on the crypt were common Jewish names. He also noted that Joseph had probably died earlier in Galilee and in Jewish tradition would have been buried on the day of his death in Galilee, not in Jerusalem. There is no historical or Biblical record of Joseph being alive during the public ministry of Jesus.
There is no tradition, Jewish or Christian, that any part of the Holy Family was buried in Jerusalem. And, a totally independent non-Christian source, the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, reported that Mary, the mother of Jesus died in Ephesus, not in Jerusalem, and was buried there.
Another verification that Cameron’s claims are false is the fact that no one from the Israeli Antiquities Authority has been willing to corroborate his claims and no Israeli archaeologists have given their support to the claim. Another expert, Paul L. Maier, a professor of ancient history, specializing in ancient Greece and Rome as well as Christianity, said the documentary’s claims are ridiculous.
Unbelievers, skeptics and enemies of Christianity have been trying since the time of Christ to disprove or at least cast doubt on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. They first said that the Biblical record was not a historical record, but a fairy tale, just a nice story. However, to date, all archaeological evidence has continued to prove the accuracy of the Bible, and in the last few decades, archaeologists have begun to use the Bible as a map to locate historical sites. Others have said that the Bible has been modified over the centuries in repeated copying and translation, but, all comparisons to ancient texts, like the Dead Sea scrolls, have verified the accuracy of the Bible. In addition, the writings of ancient non-Christians, like the historian, Flavius Josephus, who lived just after the death of Jesus and who interviewed those who saw and spoke with Jesus, corroborate the Biblical record.
Assuming then that the Biblical record was correct, we know that Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb, not a family tomb, that He was laid on a stone, not placed in a casket, and that on the third day He arose, leaving an empty tomb. After His resurrection, hundreds saw Him and spoke with Him, and some witnessed His ascension into Heaven.
And my final logical argument is, that if those who were left behind (like Peter, the coward who denied Christ three times, skeptics like Thomas, persecutors of Christians like Paul, and hundreds of others who followed Jesus) knew that He was just a man and that He was buried with His family in Jerusalem, they would not have suffered and endured torture and painful deaths, since they merely had to renounce the man, Jesus, to save their lives. Instead, they went to their deaths loudly proclaiming that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was alive.
As Christians, we are to be peacemakers…to turn the other cheek, but I, for one, am past my limit with the insults to our faith and our Savior, and I wanted you to be armed with the truth, so that when someone brings up the Cameron “so called” documentary, you can tell them …Jesus wasn’t buried with His family in Jerusalem. He wasn’t buried anywhere…He is alive today, as He was two thousand years ago. And that’s the truth!