The controversial documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, brought to television by award-winning filmmakers James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, aired Sunday night on the Discovery Channel to the anticipation of many.
Prior to its public showing, the production had already received large amounts of criticism by Christians and non-Christians alike over its theological and historical evidence. As for the documentary itself, it was interesting and well done, but not to the expectations that all the hype had made it out to be.
The movie documents the supposed discovery of Jesus Christs Family Tomb from a burial site below Jerusalem. From the tomb, it shows the remains of all the family members in their ossuaries - stone boxes that hold the bones of the dead - and after careful translation of inscribed names on the ossuaries, it reveals names that could possibly correspond to people involved in Jesus life.
The names read Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus, son of Joseph), Maria (a latin form of Mary), Matia (Matthew), Yose (Joey/Joseph), Yehuda bar Yeshua (Judah, son of Jesus), and Mariamene e Mara (Mary the master). From the names and analysis, Jacobovici claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene with whom they had a son named Judah.
From a film critics perspective, the production itself was well done. Like his other pieces, Jacobovici shows real skill in the way that he presents information. The included scenes and camera work had a nice feel. In addition, added graphics enhanced the picture a lot and helped the audience understand the process by which the filmmaker came to his conclusion.
The first scenes add onto whatever anticipation believers, observers, or skeptics may have before watching the film as it reveals its enormous claims and discusses the findings.
Although at first the filmmakers put on a somewhat convincing show, as the film moves forward, the viewer cannot help but feel that there are a lot of holes in the argument and that Jacobovici is making too many assumptions. After examination, it seems like he was continually just latching onto anything that supported what his view was. He wanted to prove this discovery so badly that he uses evidence that does not necessarily prove anything conclusively.
The documentarys voiceover was a bit unusual as well. A deep-voiced narrator takes on a persona as if he was a part of the archeological group and recounts the research. He uses phrases such as, We had found our tomb, when a third-person narrator would have been more effective. While the voiceover tries to make the movie more personal, it just comes off as being amateurish.
Looking at the whole film, it can be quite interesting and even engaging. As said earlier, Jacobovici knows how to make a documentary; but the atmosphere of the production does not match the claims. It is clear that it is only a film.
Most people, including Christians, would watch this and be entertained. It will not test the faith of very many, however, when believers look closely. It just makes it difficult to believe that the tomb in question is that of Jesus Christ.