Jesus Junk

Professor scoffs at Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary

Bock points out that for Cameron's claims to be accurate, all the following have to be true: Jesus' crucifixion was a big surprise and his family had to buy a secret tomb. They had to steal his body from the Romans. Though they had a year to prepare the ossuary of the man they revered as divine, they wrote on his ossuary in graffiti-like script. They had to preach that the tomb was empty and die for their beliefs, all the while knowing his bones were in the ossuary.

"One of the objections from an Israeli curator," Bock says, "is that Jesus' family tomb would not have been in Jerusalem but Galilee. And to be able to use a secret family tomb, they would have had to have the money to do it. [The documentary] tried to go through all the objections, and they did answer some of them. But just because you answer the question doesn't mean the answer is persuasive."

The documentary has drawn fire from other Jewish scholars and archaeologists familiar with the 1980 discovery, who dismiss it as "fantasy."

"There are multiple people out of Israel who say there is no way this is true," Bock says. But he sees the discussion as healthy. Bock wrote a blog post about Cameron's documentary on Tuesday at www.bible.org, calling for frustrated Christians, who see the claims as an attack on their beliefs, to stop yelling and simply address the questions it raises.

The hoopla may help Bock's newest book, called Dethroning Jesus: A Look at Public Claims About the Christ, due in bookstores around Christmas 2007. He's heading to Israel for two weeks to lecture at Ben Gurion University on the so-called "Gospel of Judas," and Cameron's film is sure to get debated.

"Hopefully people in our society can tell the difference between hype coming out of Hollywood and what is coming out of Jerusalem," Bock says. "It just shows what money can do."

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