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Truth wins out

Television | Scientists attack documentary's claim about Jesus' tomb

Issue: "Why Grey matters," March 17, 2007

One of the myths in this age is that science and Christianity contradict each other. But ultimately there can be no contradiction between the truths of nature and of Scripture. God's behind both of them.

Concerning a much-ballyhooed documentary shown early this month that trumpets the discovery of Jesus' supposed tomb and bones, science and church are united. Both communities are scoffing at the claim of movie director James Cameron (Titanic) that he found an archeologist's holy grail, ossuaries with the names of Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and Mariamene e Mara (purported to be Mary Magdalene).

Using cheesy reenactments and a cadre of experts assembled to back up his position, Cameron told viewers of the Discovery Channel's documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, that Christ was buried in Jerusalem with his mother, father, wife (Mary Magdalene), and son, Judah. That, of course, would shatter one of the basic tenets of the Christian faith: that Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

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News stories indicated that many Christians were marking off Cameron's revelation as just one more publicity stunt-but what surprised some is that scientific experts roasted Cameron's film. William Dever, considered by many the leading U.S. scholar on biblical archeology, told The Washington Post, "I'm not a Christian. I'm not a believer. I don't have a dog in this fight. I've known about these ossuaries for many years and so have many other archaeologists, and none of us thought it was much of a story, because these are rather common Jewish names from that period."

Others noted that the ossuary was the resting place for a middle-class Jewish family-a description that everyone agrees does not fit that of Jesus' family. Still others dispute whether the names at the grave are even fully readable. Practically every archeologist outside of the ones Cameron interviewed dismissed the film as shoddy science at best and willful manipulation with a profit motive at worst.

Some Christian commentators quickly filed away Cameron's documentary into the category of the science world trying to undermine Christianity. But that wasn't the case this time. This time, scientists have Jesus' back.

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