James Cameron: Tomb Raider

James Cameron: Tomb Raider

It used to be that cynical folks in the entertainment biz knew they could cash in on religious sentiment by catering to church-going people with movies and TV shows hyping their beliefs during their holy seasons. But sometime in the past decade or so, a switch got flipped somewhere and now the execs in the entertainment-industrial complex think that the most profitable way of catering to the religious consumer is with material debunking his faith. Obviously, it works because the more outrageous the show or movie, the more people tune in to see the zaniness. Better ratings and better box office.

The latest attempt to cash in comes courtesy of James Cameron, who apparently has taken his belief that he is “King of the World”, so far that he’s trying to bump off the real King of the Universe. Cameron is behind a Discovery Channel show airing this week called “The Lost Tomb of Christ.” The premise is so flimsy that few people can believe it’s even going to air.

Phil Lawler is one among many astute observers who’s taken a whack at in the past few days and since this like shooting fish in a barrel, I’ll let him summarize the response to this tripe:

The Discovery Channel will encourage credulous viewers to believe that archeologists have discovered a tomb containing the physical remains of Jesus Christ and members of his family. If this claim is true—that Jesus did not rise from the dead—then Christianity is a false religion.

[...] In a burial vault in Jerusalem, archeologists discovered ossuaries containing the remains of several people who apparently lived at the time of Christ. The boxes were marked with names, including Mary, Judah, and Joseph. On one box the name was illegible, but it might have read: “Jesus.”

When this burial vault was discovered in 1980—that’s right, 27 years ago—the discovery drew no particular attention. There was no reason to believe that this tomb contained the remains of the Lord’s family. Indeed there were several excellent reasons to believe that it did not.

The names on the ossuaries were extremely common ones; the tomb might have belonged to any affluent family living in Jerusalem. But Jesus was born into a poor family from Nazareth, not an affluent family from Jerusalem.

A thin web of “facts”

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  • Yes, it is absurd.  Every year around Easter this seems to happen.

    Here is what is really disturbing: A woman called into a local talk radio show, trying to point out some of the absurdities of Cameron’s claim.  The host pressed her to answer what difference would it make to her faith if it WERE Christ’s bones?  He suggested that she could continue going to church, living out her values, etc.

    The woman seemed to know at gut level that the radio host was wrong, but she couldn’t really say why.

    I wondered how many people are in her shoes –  people who don’t know WHY the Resurrection matters because they have never been told why in explicit terms.  Their faith may be shallow not because they are themselves deficient, but their catechesis has been.

  • I remember reading, a few years back, one of those Easter-time pieces in Time Magazine about the “latest research” into the “historical Jesus” by the academically ambitious Jesus Seminar folks, or some such group. 

    One of the “scholars” surmised that, after the Crucifixion, Jesus’ body was “most likely” thrown to the dogs.

    I wonder if the “findings” of Mr. Cameron’s tomb diving have thrown that poor academic into a career crisis.

  • Yesterday in work a couple of the guys were talking about this. One of them is always trying to debunk Christianity and the other one is a non-interested agnostic as far as I can tell.

    They were citing statistics – a 1 in 600 chance this is the (Holy) family and it doesn’t matter if Jesus Resurrected physically or spiritually.

    I pointed out that the four eyewitnesses in the Bible (which can be viewed by non-Christians as a legit history book) described the physical Resurrection of Christ – and how do we doubt eye-witnesses to the event unless we doubt all of history? The debunker is hanging his hat on the fact that through various translations of the Bible and the change in language usage through the centuries, we cannot be certain that ‘Resurrection’ means bodily ascention.

    So basically, people will believe anything if it suits them regardless of the facts we have before us.

  • It’s amazing to me how someone with no knowledge of a subject like the textual history of the Bible can make such a pronouncement. You can tell your friend that I have a book on my shelf compiled and used by experts in the ancient Greek used by the authors of the Bible that shows how words were used and what their generally accepted meaning was in the time of Christ, based on how they were used in the thousands of other documents we have from the time period.

    You can also tell him that the Bible is not one book translated and re-copied and re-translated ad nauseum, but it’s really 5,000 manuscripts ranging in age from the first 100 or so years after Christ to hundreds of years and comprising everything from full copies to fragments of just a few verse and while there are differences among them—which can be accounted for through copying errors—all of them agree on the major points, including resurrection.

    You can also tell him that one of the Dead Sea Scrolls was a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah copied around the time of Christ which is exactly the same as the next oldest copy we had before this was discovered and the next oldest copy is hundreds of years young, proving that scriptural manuscripts did not change very much precisely because people knew they Scripture thus the Word of God thus necessary to copy true.

    I could go on and on and I’m not even a proper Biblical scholar. Sheesh.