Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Cameron's Preface To The Jesus Family Tomb
02/28/2007 - James SwanDr. White described James Cameron's preface to The Jesus Family Tomb as "Wide-eyed acceptance of absurd claims joined with a gross and abysmal ignorance of simple historical facts and methodology." I thought a few examples would solidify his point.
During interviews, Cameron has made sure to point out he is not a theologian. He proves this in his preface: "At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a man who called to the spark of goodness that exists within all of us, a man who gave the world hope two thousand years ago." Perhaps he gleaned this insight from an apocryphal book. It certainly is not a Biblical concept. He asks, "But who was this Jesus? Read on. You're about to meet him." You will meet a Jesus in the Tomb book, but not the Jesus of the Bible, nor his message.
In speaking of Jesus, Cameron says, "Until now there has been zero physical evidence of his existence." I would simply ask Mr. Cameron to apply this standard to any historical figure mentioned in the first century. He can't seriously be suggesting physical evidence of the actual body of Jesus, or any other person from the first century is an important standard by which to validate history.
In speaking of the Gospels, Cameron states, "Historians, however, now view them as composite works, each created by several authors and based in turn on oral traditions carried on for decades, possibly half a century, after Christ's actual ministry. There is no historical evidence that any of the authors, if in fact they were individuals, actually heard the words of Jesus from his own lips." What Cameron fails to tell you is only certain historians hold this view. He ignores an entire group of serious scholars who would repudiate such ideas. For instance, W.F. Albright, a leading Biblical archaeologist has noted, "In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and the eighties of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about A.D. 50 and 75."
In speaking of his research on his movie The Titanic, Cameron states, "As a result of this twelve-year investigation, I have come to realize that history is a consensus hallucination. It is a myth upon which we all agree to agree. The truth is a moving target: new evidence must always be weighed." I would simply ask Cameron to apply this standard to his own work. He suggests a truth that truth is a moving target. Is this statement not a moving target as well? Cameron uses a spurious methodology that posits certainty can never be achieved. In terms of the Biblical material, he assumes God has not spoken.
Of the transmission of the Gospels, Cameron states, "...[T]hey have been edited by Church fathers, centuries after the original words were spoken, to conform to their subsequent vision of orthodoxy." This statement shows a deep ignorance of the science of textual criticism. The amount of Biblical manuscripts from different times, places, and languages prove the reliability of transmission. The New Testament has more manuscript evidence than any other piece of literature from antiquity.
In speaking of Gnostic Gospels repudiated by the Christian church, these receive two thumbs up from Cameron for reliability. ..."[T]hese precious and astonishing books show the rich diversity of early Christian thought and give clues to the historical story not available in the Big Four of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John." The bias against the canonical Gospels is blatant. Scholars have taken the non-canonical books apart, demonstrating their historical and doctrinal unreliability. Cameron though finds them precious and astonishing. His champion writing, The Acts of Philip, dates much later than the Biblical Gospels, yet this he treats as a vehicle for historical clues. Ian Wilson said this book, "...has no special claim to an early date, and may be merely a fantasy of a type not at all uncommon among Christian apocryphal literature of the third and fourth centuries" [Jesus: The Evidence (San Fransico: Harper & Row, 1984), 96-97].