If you want to capture the hearts and minds of the people, you won’t do it through blogs but through TV specials. Whether or not the movie producers really want to convince people to “believe” or just buy the DVD and book is not clear to me, but the The Resurrection Tomb Mystery (aka The Jesus Discovery) puts forth claims that very few scholars have found convincing.
Some of the latest discussion is reviewed by James McGrath, and Mark Goodacre provides a simple summary of the claim.
The claim at the heart of the new documentary is that this tomb belonged to some of Jesus’ disciples, his earliest followers, probably Joseph of Arimathea himself, the man who buried Jesus. The basis for the claim is twofold: (1) One of the ossuaries is said to feature a picture of a fish, pointing downwards, that is spitting out a stick man. They interpret this as depicting the Hebrew Bible’s story of Jonah and the fish, and they suggest that this is being used as a symbol of early Christian resurrection. (2) Another of the ossuaries features an inscription that they interpret as referring to resurrection.
Goodacre is unconvinced, saying that “the case that this tomb belonged to Jesus’ disciples is very weak.” He then provides his top ten problems with the proposed interpretation.
1. Weak circumstantial evidence alone.
2. Handles on a fish?
3. Layered patterns of geometric shapes.
4. The Composite Computer-Generated Image.
5. The original excavators did not see a fish.
6. Fish in the margins.
7. The handled half-fish.
8. The Inscription Does Not Clearly Refer to Resurrection.
9. The Tomb Does Not Clearly Date to the time of Jesus.
10. Witnessing to Resurrection Does Not Make the Tomb Christian.
Goodacre’s blog explains each point. James Tabor has responded here. The spiritual “mission” of the program is to convince viewers that Jesus rose spiritually but not bodily from the grave. Though the producers obscure this by claiming to have discovered an early “high Christology,” their view constitutes a direct attack on historic Christianity as taught by the apostles until today.
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead (1 Cor 15:14-15).