At this very moment, in New York City, a press conference is getting underway. Some ancient ossuaries are being displayed, and the key men involved in the production of The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Here are a couple of links (here / here).
A statement in the Discovery Channel press release immediately makes any sober-minded person sigh in frustration and, in light of the obvious intentions of this project, not a small amount of disgust as well. Here it is:
A statistical study commissioned by the broadcasters (Discovery Channel/Vision Canada/C4 UK) concludes that the probability factor is 600 to 1 in favor of this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.
They’ve uncovered evidence on which a “conservative” statistical analysis has placed 600-to-one odds in favour of being the family tomb of Jesus.
The statistical analysis (I discussed it in the preceding entry) is about the possibility of names appearing in a single tomb. How on earth can any rational person leap from this to “in favor of this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family”? The leap is breath-taking, and utterly without warrant. When statisticians start determining ancient history without the slightest bit of meaningful context you can be certain you have encountered a true “rush to judgment.”
The statistical possibilities of any mixture of names appearing in a particular tomb would be large, and yet, all of our families have names, do they not? This kind of argumentation is particularly vacuous, and yet, it is given prominence in the writing of those promoting this new film. The lack of even semi-scholarly fairness is glaring.
We are also seeing the danger of investing Hollywood celebrities with nigh unto divine powers. James Cameron brought us Terminator and Titanic, but now he seems to have become an archaeologist and theologian as well. He is quoted as saying, “It doesn’t get bigger than this. We’ve done our homework; we’ve made the case; and now it’s time for the debate to begin.” Well, if a true scholarly debate is what they wanted, they would have presented this material first in a completely different context. They don’t want debate anymore than Dan Brown did. They want money, they want power, and evidently, they know the best way to get it these days is to join the “attack Christianity” bandwagon. They have presented their conclusions before the debate itself, and that is so that they can poison the well. When the debate finally begins, the money will already be in their pockets, the damage done, and for the foreseeable future we will be dealing with people repeating their claims as established facts.