Was able to catch the purportedly sacrilegious Discovery documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus last night, after a brief outage in one of my TiVo tuners that I must take to be the work of an angry God. It takes more than divine intervention, however, to stop the Satanic force that is television criticism.
I can’t say, I have that much to report, though, partly because I already wrote about the controversy here, but also because, really, is there any chance that that documentary is going to change anyone’s religious beliefs, pro or con, about anything? After a tremendous amount of buildup, the film turned out to be a visually appealing (in a CSI kind of way) lecture in statistics, buttressed with a lot of perhapses. Perhaps Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and buried (apologies to Kurt Cobain), the truth and her reputation fiddled with by later Church fathers. Perhaps they had a son, and kept his existence secret out of fear for his safety. Perhaps that son was the “beloved disciple” the Gospels speak of without using his name.
Perhaps. Or perhaps not. And for all the kerfuffle, there seemed to be plenty of room for Christian and nonbeliever alike to watch the doc with their beliefs unshaken. If you were inclined to believe that Jesus was buried somewhere for the finding, you could comfortably enough believe he’d been found; if you believe he rose from the dead, you could comfortably enough believe the filmmakers had stretched one “perhaps” too far in constructing their real-life Da Vinci Code.
And I’m going to leave that up to you–much as its tempting for TV critics to pretend that, after watching one TV show, they can suddenly unravel the conflicting claims about the blame for 9/11 or the truth of the Resurrection, I’m no archeologist: I just watch them on TV.