I immediately recognized the Canadian filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici, who (alongside James Cameron) is touting the 27-year-old discovery of tombs bearing the names of Jesus and members of his family, including a son. I taped Jacobovici’s 1999 documentary Quest for the Lost Tribes off CBC when it originally aired, intending to watch it in more depth at a later time. I see I’ve taped over it or dumped it.
Anyway, the Quest documentary was intriguing and more than a little suspect. Jacobvici believes that Isreal’s lost tribes are still living as Orthodox Jews in Africa, South America, Siberia, and other far-flung locales. No matter where they settled, they retained the language and customs of ancient Judaism to some extent and are enigmas to the people who surround them. Slowly, they are making their way back to the holy land, a sign of the endtimes. One group of over 10000 was airlifted out of Ehiopia in 1984-85 and dropped in Israel (“Operation Moses“) because Israel’s Law of Return permitted them to “return to their homeland.” Wild stuff. I didn’t know what to think of it then and still don’t. But I do know this – after all that fuss over the ridiculously bogus ossuary of “James, Brother of Jesus”, I’m not making any bets that these tombs are the real McCoy. Nearly every country claims to hold the tomb of Christ, even – I kid you not – Japan. And let’s not even go into the fact that about a dozen churches claim to possess the “authentic” foreskin of Christ, or the fact that if you assembled all the splinters of the True Cross you’d probably end up with something the size of the Chrysler Building…
Update: On Larry King Live, Jacobovici argued that the authenticity of the James ossuary is still being debated (in the trial of four men charged with manufacturing and selling fake antiquities) and has not been proven a fake. Hmm. Several scholars continue to defend the ossuary against allegations of fraud, pointing out the Israeli Antiquities Authority hasn’t released an official report on why it concluded the ossuary was a forgery.
Rediscovering an obscure tomb and touting it as the final resting place of the historical celebrity of your choice isn’t uncommon, particularly when it comes to TV documentaries. Marianne Luban and Joann Fletcher (an expert in ancient hairstyles) each theorized the “younger woman” (actually a man) entombed in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings could be Nefertiti, but it was the flamboyant Fletcher who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s The Tomb of Nefertiti(2003), picking through the remains of the mummies to the chagrine of Zahi Hawass. She declared that Nefertiti had been murdered and/or mutilated after burial. Egyptian scholars dismiss Fletcher’s theory.