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Bozell, Knight Call on Discovery Channel to Drop 'Documentary' on Jesus Tomb

The Discovery Channel “documentary” purporting to have discovered the “lost tomb of Jesus” lacks scientific merit and is so laced with deceptive “facts” that it should be pulled from the broadcast schedule Sunday night, according to L. Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center and Robert Knight, Director of MRC's Culture and Media Institute.


“It's time for the Discovery Channel to end this charade and pull the program,” said Bozell. “If they want to mount a full-blown attack on Christianity, they should be honest enough to say so. Instead, they coyly dredge up a long-discredited theory, cloak it in half-baked 'evidence' and pass it off as science. The public deserves better.”


Broadcast and cable news outlets extensively covered a Feb. 26 press conference featuring Titanic film director James Cameron, who produced the “documentary.”  Cameron and the Discovery Channel held the press conference at the New York Public Library, complete with stone ossuaries, or coffins, they said contained “residue” of the DNA of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdelene.  The film reportedly claims that Jesus and Mary Magdelene were married and produced a son, Judah.  Filmmakers said ossuaries containing Judah's remains as well as those of Mary, Jesus' mother, were also discovered.


NBC's Today Show was out of the box early on Feb. 26 touting the “documentary” as a “huge story” that could “rock Christianity to its core.”  However, by the time the evening broadcasts covered the story, the tone was much more skeptical. Nearly every news outlet produced experts who denounced the film as inaccurate if not outright fraudulent.


“Even many mainstream media outlets, which usually echo what has become an annual Easter hit parade attacking Jesus' divinity, have stepped away from this one,” said Robert Knight, director of MRC's Culture and Media Institute. “The Discovery Channel is out on a limb that they are sawing off themselves.”  


Additionally, several leading biblical and archeological scholars, including Dr. Amos Kloner, the Israeli archaeologist who, 27 years ago, became the first scholar to study the Talpiot tomb featured in Cameron's film, are so outraged by the documentary's leaps of logic they released a list of ten reasons why the film's claims are “bogus.”


    There is no DNA evidence that this is the historical Jesus of Nazareth. The statistical analysis is untrustworthy. The name “Jesus” was a popular name in the first century, appearing in 98 other tombs and on 21 other ossuaries (or stone tombs). There is no historical evidence that Jesus was ever married or had a child. The earliest followers of Jesus never called him “Jesus, son of Joseph.” It is highly unlikely that Joseph, who died earlier in Galilee, was buried in Jerusalem, since the historical record connects him only to Nazareth or Bethlehem. The Talpiot tomb and ossuaries are such that they would have belonged to a rich family, which does not match the historical record for Jesus. Fourth-century church historian Eusebius makes quite clear that the body of James, the brother of Jesus, was buried alone near the temple mount and that his tomb was visited in the early centuries, making very unlikely that the Talpiot tomb was Jesus' “family tomb.” The two Mary ossuaries do not mention anyone from Migdal, but simply has the name Mary, one of the most common of all ancient Jewish female names. By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty, making it highly unlikely that it was moved to another tomb, decayed for one year's time, and then the bones put in an ossuary.

Cameron suggests his "DNA evidence" proves that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, on the grounds that people found in a family tomb who were not related by blood probably were married.  In fact, it proves only that the person whose remains were found in the ossuary marked "Jesus, son of Joseph" was not related by blood to the person in the supposed "Mary Magdalene" ossuary.  DNA analysis of the remains in the other ossuaries has not been completed, so Cameron cannot prove that anybody in the tomb was related by blood to anybody else. "Mary Magdalene" could just as easily have been married to any of the other males in the tomb, and "Jesus son of Joseph" could have been married to the other Mary, or to nobody at all.  No DNA evidence has been produced that connects "Judah, son of Jesus" to any of the other remains.


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute (www.cultureandmediainstitute.org), a division of the Media Research Center.