We all know James Cameron knows how to use a camera to create an emotional impact. Sadly, when his starting information is grossly flawed, the results can be downright deceptive. Let’s take the Mariamne inscription. Fourth century encratite text–a group of ascetics condemned by the orthodox followers of Jesus, and that quite rightly; that is, the author(s) of The Acts of Philip were vegetarians who disallowed marriage and procreation, and as such, were rightly condemned, given the plain teaching of New Testament texts on the propriety of marriage, and the fact that meats are given to men to be used for his life and health, see Hebrews 13:4, Col 2:16. They are not even remotely connected to the first century; they are not carrying some “tradition” that goes back in history. They are creating fictional stories to promote their movement, nothing more. Francois Bovon, the leading scholar on the Acts of Philip, has written to me just recently, indicating that his identification of Mary Magdalene with Mariamne of The Acts of Philip is “on the level of literary traditions and not on the level of history” (e-mail from Francois Bovon to James White, March 8, 2007). Bovon is talking about literary connections between texts like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdala, etc., all texts far removed from the first century and the events of Jesus’ life. The Mary Magdalene they fabricate shares only one thing with the Mary Magdalene of history: her name. The gnostics loved latching onto names in the New Testament about whom we know little; they would then fill the name with fanciful stories, all designed to give a “spin” that would support their own theology. They could not make their case from the original followers of Jesus, so, they had to fictionalize stories to gain followers. The Acts of Philip draws upon preceding texts that have already fictionalized Mary Magdalene, and, in the opinion of Bovon, fills its own woman, Mariamne, with the characteristics of the previously created gnostic version of Mary Magdalene. But Bovon recognizes this is a literary connection, not a historical one, and further, he admits that “the name Magdala does not appear in the Acts of Philip.”
   So are the viewers of the tomb film given a fair, balanced, accurate picture of the sources being used to make wild historical connections in the theory of the filmmakers? Judge for yourself:

   By the way, the book and film loves to talk about how many names have been found on ossuaries. What you need to keep in mind is that only around 250 incriptions have been found, mostly of men (ie., 1000 ossuaries, 20-25% with inscriptions = 250 inscriptions). The database is therefore quite small, so to find an “unusual” inscription is only relevant—if you already have the conclusion you are wanting to find in the “evidence.”

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