The first thing to note in this “discovery” is that it was made by a filmmaker and a Hollywood director. That should make you suspicious. Why archaeologists and other scholars didn’t have any inkling of this until it was revealed by movie-makers should smell more like Indiana Jones than serious scholarship. Of course, it is altogether possible that these amateurs did make the greatest discovery ever in biblical archaeology. If so, it will be recognized as authentic by those who are experts in the field. If not, the filmmakers can pour millions of dollars into creating a “documentary” that ignores the scholars and appeals directly to the (largely ignorant) public.
The previous work of these two filmmakers is not irrelevant to this story; this is not their first foray into biblical archaeology. Their recent “The Exodus Decoded” reveals their methodology: partial presentation of evidence combined with twisted interpretation and a complete lack of scholarly support. Add $3 million for amazing special effects and eye candy. Simply put, no one with any knowledge of the field (secular, religious, liberal, conservative) buys what they were selling. For a 14-part review, see Chris Heard’s blog.
The filmmakers don’t want to reveal specifics of their discovery of Jesus’ tomb, but they have leaked enough details to get excitement up for their Monday press conference. So detailed analysis will have to wait (and if anyone else is doing it, I’m going to save time and simply link to them), but for now, here’s some that you won’t hear at the press conference or in the multi-million-dollar made-for-TV movie, from the the Jerusalem Post.
But Bar-Ilan University Prof. Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem District archeologist who officially oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980 and has published detailed findings on its contents, on Saturday night dismissed the claims. “It makes a great story for a TV film,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But it’s impossible. It’s nonsense.”
Kloner, who said he was interviewed for the new film but has not seen it, said the names found on the ossuaries were common, and the fact that such apparently resonant names had been found together was of no significance. He added that “Jesus son of Joseph” inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries over the years.
“There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb,” Kloner said. “They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE.”
This scholar is not a Christian and is not motivated to protect religous beliefs of Christians. He is an expert on burials from the time of Christ.
In short, this “discovery” has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with financial gain. You can make a lot of money and gain a lot of notoriety by creating the most sensational of discoveries. It would all be so much better if journalists would call up a few experts, determine that the story is rubbish, and then publish nothing about it. Unfortunately, journalists are complicit in perpetuating the fraud, because sensational stories like this are good for their ratings.