… is, in fact, the Discovery Channel’s investigative film entitiled: The Lost Tomb of Jesus. I have watched the film, the Ted Koppel interview, and the hour plus news conference that took place the week prior to the film’s debut. In a nutshell, the evidence is compelling but incomplete. At a minimum this film is a tremendous attempt to uncover the truth. Moreover, it sets a new level for investigative journalism insofar as it attempts to bring together in a responsible way analysis from disparate scientific and religious experts in an attempt not to just “connect the dots” but to illustrate the validity of those dots, with the connections being self-evident.
If what this film strongly suggests is true, then we have some issues that cannot be ignored. First, it would prove the obvious that for the first time in recorded history we have physical evidence that Jesus of Nazereth actually lived; to this point in history, that fact has never been proven scientifically or archeologically.
Secondly, it strongly suggests that Jesus of Nazereth and Mary Magdalene were actually husband and wife – that they had a child, Judah.
Thirdly, it does challenge the idea as viewed from the fundamentalist Christians that Jesus rose and ascended to heaven completely. This inconvenient truth, if found to be fact, would not be the first time whole ascention has been challenged. Nor would it render all Christian beliefs to be invalidated as a consequence, but it would rid us one of the mystical attributes from serious biblical debate. Fact is, if this documentary holds, he was as mortal as you or I insofar as biology and archeaology is concerned…his bones and flesh were left behind and buried. Clearly, there are some other serious implications here as well but those will come out in due course as this story becomes bigger and bigger.
Once you leave the world of physical evidence anything and everything is seemingly possible. That must have been an incredibly intoxicating idea for those in the first century. Especially so since they had so few tested and irrefutable concepts of causation. And that, for me, is the real issue with this story and this film because the parallel here to tyranny over the mind of man is inescapable.
The fact that now we find, according to the implications of this new “evidence,” that Jesus was in the least very mortal, had a wife and child, is by any analysis challenging to the blind faithful. The combination of the issues, the context of it all, and the inconsistency and interpretations that now will certainly take place (should take place) is what gives to this story meaning. And that meaning must be viewed not just from the perspective of what these discoveries do or do not do to Christianity. What is critical here is what this find and the subsequent discussion does to philosophy in general. Make no mistake, this sort of a discovery changes and ripples through all of philosophy, it affects economic theory, it has import for those who subscribe to various doctrines and, in my view, serves up a daggar in the heart of collectivism. This focus will certainly be explored by many scholars and thinking people around the world, as it should be. As the journalist who made the film stated, this is only the beginning of the story. I could not agree more for what is critically important here is knowing the truth about Jesus and his life based on facts and indisputable science; not myth or pure faith.
This documentary should remind us that the enlightenment was a natural reflection of the real nature of man. That the struggle against tyranny and oppression is a universal feature of the human experience – with or without Jesus as part of that experience. It should point out clearly that tyranny is the antithesis of life, that one god is enough but that man-made religion is troublesome. Moreover, that we should honor and respect our parents for their actual and meaningful experiences (for we ignore them and it at our own peril) and that murder and stealing are wrong not simply because it was supposidly carved in stone by a supreme being but because it violates basic aristotelian, human experiential notions of justice. That adultery, stating falsehoods, envy of others and their belongings are morally wrong because they violate basic notions of human rights and the aforementioned aristotelian based concepts of justice. All are great moral truths to live by not just because they are revealed in a particular religious context (be it Mosaic law, Islam, Judaism, Buddism, Taoism, etc.), but rather important to the context of man living peacefully and productively with each other in the pursuit of individual happiness – freedom and liberty – here on earth. What is best for man, qua man, is the issue.
Lastly, it should also remind us that government is the price we all pay for deviating from those self-evident truths and that we can do better. We have the ability to live without the heavy hand of government in our face – in fact it is the natural state of men to do so.