Jesus' Tomb Claim Slammed By Scholars

Mati Milstein in Jerusalem
for National Geographic News
February 28, 2007

The archaeologist who excavated a Jerusalem burial cave featured in a new film is among the experts who have slammed the movie's claim that the cave is the tomb of Jesus, his wife, and their son.

The film—The Lost Tomb of Jesus, directed by Canadian journalist Simcha Jacobovici and produced by Hollywood director James Cameron—is set to air this Sunday on the Discovery Channel.

The movie presents what the filmmakers say is archaeological, statistical, and genetic evidence suggesting that the family of Jesus might have been interred in the burial cave.

"The evidence is compelling," Jane Root, president of the Discovery Channel, said during a press briefing. "The consequences are enormous."

But the Israeli archaeologist who originally excavated the tomb insists the claims are preposterous. And a leading Christian scholar who appears in the film agrees.

"Their movie is not serious," Amos Kloner, the Bar Ilan University professor who led the excavation in the 1980s, told National Geographic News.

"They [say they] are 'discovering' things. But they haven't discovered anything. They haven't found anything. Everything had already been published.

"And there is no basis on which to make a story out of this or to identify this as the family of Jesus."

Not Uncommon

Workers first discovered the burial cave in 1980 while building apartments in the Talpiot neighborhood of southern Jerusalem.

An excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed ten ossuaries, or burial boxes, inside.

Aramaic inscriptions on three of the boxes read "Judah, son of Jesus," "Jesus, son of Joseph," and "Mariamne," a Greek name linked by the film to Mary Magdalene.

Continued on Next Page >>




NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.