Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
An Excellent Example of the Scholarship of The Tomb
03/11/2007 - James WhiteTo say that The Lost Tomb of Jesus is a biased work is to engage in a tremendous understatement. It is very easy to document the bias of this work, and its incredible level of inaccuracy when presenting historical subjects related to the Christian faith. It lives and breathes in the air of the "Gnostic Academy," that popular area of religious study focused upon resurrecting the heresies of the early gnostics and investing in their every word authority far beyond anything granted to orthodox Christian writings.
Here is an excellent example. Watch this video carefully. You have hooded monks in the darkness committing ancient texts to the flames while the narrator speaks of "church fathers" in the "second century." The intention of the filmmakers is anything but merely presenting "facts." See for yourself:
Let's consider the facts. The second century was a difficult time for Christianity. This was the century of severe persecution in many portions of the Roman empire. The church was racked with the struggles produced by trying to answer the question, "What do you do with those who give in under torture?" This was a movement without political power, and without the ability to be "suppressing" anything at all. While the filmmakers directly assert editing of the gospels by these same men, they do not offer a scintilla of argument in support of their accusations against them. Evidently, Christian martyrs, as long as they are orthodox in their theology, can be slandered and lied about with impugnity in the Discovery Channel universe.
But most amazing is the assertion that the church "suppressed" two documents in the second century: the Gospel of Mary Magdala, and the Acts of Philip. Just how did this allegedly happen? You see, the Gospel of Mary Magdala was written in the middle of the second century at the earliest. This would mean its distribution, even amongst the minority gnostic community, would take time. What evidence is provided that a book that may not have even been written during the second century was "suppressed" by a persecuted Christian church during the second century? This is even more so the case with The Acts of Philip which Francois Bovon, the Harvard scholar featured in the film itself, identifies as a fourth century work. Were these hooded monks of the second century (monasticism was just developing at this time) prophetic so as to suppress a book that would not be written for more than a century in the future? (Ironically, the narrator, less than a minute later, identifies the Acts of Philip as a fourth century text.) This kind of wide-eyed abuse of history would be humorous, if it was not placed in the context of attacking the very heart of the Christian faith.
The reality is that the popularity of these ancient gnostic texts, which themselves are unconcerned with history (being written long after the events they portray), derives from the contemporary rise in "women's studies" in the academy. The pagan foundations of gnosticism included the concept of "the divine feminine," and hence, in today's academic climate, those gnostics were cutting edge! The gnostic texts of Nag Hammadi and elsewhere do portray conflicts between male leaders, like the Apostles, and women like Mary Magdalene. But rather than this representing a true historical connection to the events that took place in Judea in the early decades of the first century, it represents the conflict between the very commandments of Christ and His Apostles recorded in the New Testament and those who wished to overthrow their authority in later cults and schisms. They created "myths" to attempt to establish their beliefs, and both The Gospel of Mary Magdala and The Acts of Philip are nothing more than apologetic tracts written by idiosyncratic groups at a later time in the history of the church. They contain no meaningful history and have no meaningful connection to Jesus and the Apostles. To grant them equality with the gospels in authority or relevance is the height of absurdity; but to given them more authority and relevance, as has been done in this film and book, demonstrates either a historical naivete of shocking depth or, more likely, a bias and prejudice that goes well into the realm of simple dishonesty in the name of making money.