An “historically-illiterate, Jesus-haunted” sucker is born every minute

An “historically-illiterate, Jesus-haunted” sucker is born every minute

While snake-oil salesmen with anti-Christian agendas continue to hawk their wares every Easter, real scholars pull out their hair in frustration that the viewing public is being led ever further astray by all this nonsense.

In the Wall Street Journal, Ben Witherington, debunks the latest ear-tickling nonsense in the form of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” and theorizes that the reason they get so much play is because “We are a Jesus-haunted culture that is so historically illiterate that anything can now pass for knowledge of Jesus.”

Year after year in spring, a new crop of religious dandelions pop up in our post-Christian culture. Like the real ones growing in my yard, they make a colorful splash that briefly captures our attention, until we realize that they are only shallow-rooted weeds, not beautiful flowers planted long ago in the deep rich soil of the past, such as Easter lilies.

Last year, it was the Gnostic nonsense of the “Da Vinci Code.” We’ve had the “Gospel of Judas Iscariot,” written centuries after the eyewitnesses were dead. This year it’s a variation on the “Da Vinci” theme. We are not only being told that there was a Mrs. Jesus (aka Mary Magdalene). We are also informed that her tomb and that of Jesus have been found in Jerusalem; that DNA testing has proved that they are not related and so must have been married (how exactly does it prove that?) and that an ossuary or small casket of at least one of their offspring has been found as well. News at 11! Or, in this case, on the Discovery Channel’s documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” scheduled for Sunday night.

Witherington’s conclusion? Of course he says it’s “simply not true.” If the documentary’s producer, James Cameron of “Titanic” fame, had submitted this as a paper in a college class, he’d fail because he makes conclusions based on scanty or wholly absent evidence. If he were a cop trying to make a case, the DA would laugh him out of his office.

There are plenty of resources you can mine for arguments to debunk this myth whenever ignoramuses try to throw it in your face. Witherington’s is one. I posted one the other day. The Extreme Theology blog posts a very comprehensive rebuttal. Really, this should be like shooting fish in a barrel, except as Worthington says most people are so ignorant of their putative faith that they fall for this mumbo jumbo, or are at least thrown into doubt about it.

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