The press releases of the Discovery Channel boast that its parent company, Discovery Communications, is the "number one nonfiction media company." That identifier is now in shambles, and the paper it's printed on fit only to be crumpled and thrown away. The folks at Discovery have rendered themselves carnival barkers peddling sensationalistic garbage, trashy moneymaking gimmicks dressed up as real journalism.
The Discovery Channel is hyping to the heavens its new documentary on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of "Titanic," has joined filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in publicizing claims that a 2,000-year-old tomb containing 10 boxes of bones belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. It also echoes the dopey "DaVinci Code" novel by asserting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a son. They claim the son was named Judah and that all three were buried together.
So much for the Resurrection. So much for the Bible. So much for the divinity of Christ. So much for Christianity. It's all a fraud -- if one is to believe the nonfiction of the Discovery Channel.
Other than a syrupy boost -- an embarrassingly syrupy boost -- from an "exclusive" appearance on NBC's "Today" show, the national media for once aren't buying into this cheap publicity stunt and have found a load of skeptics to denounce the film, maybe because the list of experts, both scientific and religious, is endless.
Perhaps the most important debunker is professor Amos Kloner, who oversaw the original archaeological dig of this tomb in 1980. "It makes a great story for a TV film," Kloner told the Jerusalem Post. "But it's completely impossible. It's nonsense."
Joe Zias, who was the curator for anthropology and archeology at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997 and personally numbered the ossuaries at the center of the film, was even harsher: "Simcha has no credibility whatsoever. ... He's pimping off the Bible. ... Projects like these make a mockery of the archeological profession."
Hebrew University archeologist and epigraphist Leah DiSegni said that the names found in the tomb, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, were among the most common names of the day. It would be like finding a tomb with the name George on it in the future and asserting that it must have been the tomb of President George Bush, DiSegni told the Cybercast News Service. In addition, biblical scholar Stephen Pfann has questioned even the actual inscription on the tomb, claiming it's "scratchy" and hard to read. For all we know, it's Johnny, Mabel and Jerry.
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