Dangers and Opportunities Unearthed in The Lost Tomb of Jesus

Dangers and Opportunities Unearthed in The Lost Tomb of Jesus
Like millions of people around the world, I viewed with great interest Emmy-winner Simcha Jacobovici’s and Oscar-winner James Cameron’s documentary film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. I also watched the panel discussion moderated by Ted Koppel that followed the two-hour Discovery Channel special.
Unfortunately, most critics have been reduced to ridiculing the film’s use of dramatic recreations and subjective assumptions based on church traditions. In fact, many of the film's detractors began vocalizing their protests against it several days before it was broadcast. “If you don’t like the message, make fun of the box it came in” seems to be the order of the day.
However, the most profound issues raised in the Jacobovici documentary have less to do with specifics and more to do with profoundly important generalities. One of the most fundamental and important of these concerns the social status of Jesus’ family and his role in the politics of his day.
The charming Jesus story that has been handed down for centuries has taught us that Jesus came from an obscure and impoverished family. In fact, the Gospels go to great lengths to show that both sides of his family were aristocrats of a royal bloodline leading back to King David. Indeed, it is his status as the hereditary King of the Jews and claimant to the Throne of Israel that first earned Jesus the title of Messiah. Jacobovici’s film also focuses on this aspect of the life of Jesus as a primary and integral factor that colored every aspect of his life.
The quality of the tomb and ossuaries suggests that these people were not impoverished peasants or itinerant religious fanatics; they were individuals of status and means. Whether or not this ultimately proves to be the tomb of Jesus, its appearance is completely in line with what we should expect of such a tomb. Once we realize that Jesus was born to a wealthy and noble family, we are compelled to reconsider the Gospel narrative not only from a perspective of mysticism and revelation, but also from the realities of local politics at the time.
Another important idea raised in the film concerns the possibility that Jesus was married, specifically, to Mary Magdalene. There is no question in my mind (or among a very large number of scholars) that the historical Jesus married. As a Jewish man in his thirties living in First Century Nazareth or Jerusalem, as a teacher, a rabbi and a public figure, this was all but certain. Unless he was a cripple, a leper, or obviously mentally ill, Jesus most certainly would have been married. It would have been a conspicuous and scandalous cultural abnormality if he were to remain a bachelor. Admittedly, nowhere in the Gospels does it say that Jesus was married to the woman who appears in numerous verses as Mary Magdalene. But if we are to assume that the other things we are told about Jesus are accurate, then we must also assume that he was married, and if so, then she is the most likely candidate. As wife of the King of Jews, she most certainly would have been buried with her husband.
The Lost Tomb of Jesus is already being harshly denounced as an attack on the Christian faith. Whether or not the tomb contains what its proponents claim is a fascinating historical challenge. My first reaction to the news was that many Christians would no doubt rush to assert that this might very well be the tomb of the historical Jesus. With so many books and so many “preachers” of various faiths (Science among them) now denouncing religion wholesale, even claiming that the entire Gospel story is a fabrication and no such person as Jesus ever existed, one might expect Christendom to embrace this discovery, to shout to the world, “Yes! He lived! Here is the proof! Here lies both his family and his disciples, just as they are named in the Bible!”
Instead, Christians have rushed to condemn the tomb story, and condemn it in the harshest terms without even bothering to examine its merits. Why? Because there is something else at work here, something cultural or psychological, not historical. The idea of Jesus as God made flesh is fundamental to Christian thinking. But centuries of church teachings have emphasized his divine aspects to the extent that we can no longer picture Jesus as a normal human being. The Bible tells us that he needed to eat and sleep, that he grew tired like other men, and that he suffered the agonies of his crucifixion. Indeed, without this sense of humanity, Jesus’ sufferings are an illusion, a cruel farce, and God’s “sacrifice” of His only Son nothing more than an empty drama.
Thus, the core of Christian doctrine must acknowledge a Jesus of flesh and bones, a man who lived and bred, who urinated and defecated just as surely as he preached the Word and healed the sick. Yet somehow the reality of such a flesh-and-blood Jesus has become unthinkably abhorrent to millions of people all over the world. It’s almost as if Christian critics are confessing, “We are quite content with the lovable Disney-style story of Jesus that has been sanitized and sweetened over the centuries. We don’t want a Jesus soiled by history, or for that matter any rational thought about the story. We only want the Jesus of our dreams!”
I’m sorry. To ignore the empirical history that is behind the scriptures is to invite their misuse by social and political entities that are always ready to incite fear and hatred between peoples in order to serve their own interests. As the violence spawned by religious fundamentalism demonstrates to us today, when a group of people surrenders their intelligence, common sense, and rationality to blindly accept inflexible religious dogmas, they become easy prey to political manipulation.
I believe that the greatest evil in the world today is religion used for political ends. For the sake of life on this planet it must stop.
Regardless of its ultimate accuracy, I also believe that The Lost Tomb of Jesus can help those whose minds (and dare I say it...souls) that are trapped in this narrow and childish view of spirituality to wake up. Books, including my "Key to Solomon's Key" and inspirational novels such as "Accidental Christ", can help people to open their eyes, re-activate their God-given powers of reason, and become spiritual grown-ups. To me, a sensible and universal understanding of the historical Jesus could very well represent the true “Second Coming of Christ”- a revelation of rationality that, once grasped by enough people on our planet, could start to free humanity from the horrors of religious strife.
Perhaps once an entire generation is liberated from an irrational religious mindset that obliges us to abandon our powers of rational thought, it is only a matter of time before we are liberated from the irrational cultural mindset that prevents us from realizing the fundamental and universal brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity. This second coming would indeed be an event of Biblical proportions - the promised gift of “Peace on Earth” from the “Prince of Peace.”