An Israeli archeologist says a new documentary film, which claims that a burial cave uncovered 27 years ago in Talpiot, Jerusalem, is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family, is just hype.
Professor Amos Kloner, the internationally renowned archeologist who revealed the findings of the dig 10 years ago, criticized the filmmakers' marketing strategy and said it is not based on proof, reported the Jerusalem Post.
Kloner said a similar film was released 11 years ago, and the new film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, is simply a renewed effort to create controversy in order to make a profit.
Kloner found 10 ossuaries in a cave in 1980 but only released his findings 10 years ago. Nine of the tombs remain. Six bear inscriptions identifying them as those of Jesus, his mother Mary, a second Mary, and relatives Matthew, Josa and Judah.
The names inscribed on the coffins were very common in the Second Temple era and are not sufficient proof that the cave was the burial site of Jesus' family, Kloner reportedly said. He added that "Jesus son of Joseph" inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries over the years.
"There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb," Kloner told the Jerusalem Post. "They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE [AD]."
The film took three years to make and it is expected to premiere at a New York press conference today. The filmmaker is Israeli-born, Canadian-based filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici. Award-winning director James Cameron is the project’s executive producer.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has loaned out two of the ossuaries, the ones the filmmakers claim belonged to Jesus and Mary Magdalene, for display at Monday's press conference. Kloner reportedly said the IAA was "very foolish" to agree to the loan.
“This has been a three-year journey that seems more incredible than fiction," said Jacobovici in a press release. "The idea of possibly finding the tomb of Jesus and several members of his family, with compelling scientific evidence, is beyond anything I could have imagined."
"It doesn't get bigger than this," said Cameron in the press statement. "We've done our homework; we've made the case; and now it's time for the debate to begin."
The film will be broadcast on the international Discovery Channel on March 4, as well as on Britain's Channel 4, Canada’s VisionTV and Israel’s Channel 8.