Considering the secrecy and hype surrounding the press conference for the Discovery Channel/VisionTV Canada doc The Lost Tomb of Jesus, you’d think there would be just as much hoopla after the show aired. But all was quiet, despite some impressive ratings: Nielsen Media Research shows over 4.1 million viewers watched Tomb‘s early March premiere on Discovery.
The show reveals what might be, as a February Discovery Channel press releases states, ‘the greatest archaeological find in history.’ The project was produced by Toronto-based Associated Producers, and executive producer James Cameron.
Lost Tomb recounts director Simcha Jacobovici’s study of the contents of 10 ossuaries – boxes that stored the bones of the dead – that were accidentally uncovered by construction workers in Jerusalem. The film reveals that the limestone boxes bear inscriptions of names found in the New Testament, including ‘Jesus son of Joseph,’ ‘Mariamene e Mara,’ and ‘Judah son of Jesus,’ which the filmmakers cite as evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene may have had a son named Judah. Upon their discovery in 1980, the findings were dismissed as inconclusive and stored in warehouses of the Israeli Antiquities Association. Jacobovici called upon experts in Aramaic script, ancient DNA analysis, forensics, archeology and statistics to re-examine the artifacts, while his team accessed the tomb with robotic cameras.
The film has sparked controversy and outcry among Christian organizations, though Jacobovici and Cameron maintain that Tomb does not challenge the question of the resurrection.