The Tomb is Still Empty
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
When the angel said these words to the women who came to see Jesus in the tomb, the angel was making the point that Jesus is not in the tomb. Rather, He has risen victorious over death, and through His death we are redeemed. The women could enter the tomb (as Peter and the other disciple did) and see that his burial cloths were still in the tomb, but Jesus was no longer lying there. This great event has been the center of the Christian faith ever since -- Jesus is not there and His tomb would never contain Him.
2,000 years later, a certain group of filmmakers led by Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron, tried to put Jesus back into the tomb by speculating that the bone box that they found in a tomb near Jerusalem (the Talipot tomb) was actually the tomb of the Jesus who Christians have faithfully proclaimed rose from the dead. Using evidence found in the tomb, they tried to make the case that the Talipot tomb was the Jesus family tomb -- a tomb that also contained the remains of Mary Magdalene.
Many people and organizations (of which the CADRE was a minor but proud contributor), including many scholars, immediately responded by pointing out numerous flaws in the evidence and the logic that led Mr. Jacobovici and Mr. Cameron to reach such a staggering conclusion. But despite the on-rush of objections, there always remained the test of time: would history vindicate Jacobovici, Cameron and their seemingly outrageous claims?
Well, history rarely renders its judgments very quickly, but it certainly can give a strong indication as to which way it will go. In the case of the Talipot tomb, an article in the National Review Online entitled Not Dead Yet: The Lost of Tomb of Jesus — one year later by Thomas Madden demonstrates fairly conclusively that it is extremely unlikely that history will be kind to Jacobovici. The article notes many of the reasons that the community strongly came out and rejected the arguments of Jaocobici and Cameron. It notes how scholars whose work was used in the documentary made written responses claiming that "their remarks had been mischaracterized or falsified."
Ultimately, the Jesus Family Tomb theory found little support by any significant groups. It's most viable potential audience -- people who believe all kinds of religious conspiracy theories -- were already committed to the belief that Jesus never existed in the first place so they couldn't back the idea that the Talipot tomb was the tomb of the actual Jesus of Nazareth without admitting that He was an actual person. In short, the film and book were pretty much considered (as Mr. Madden correctly notes) the religious version of "cold fusion."
Madden goes further and notes that the Jesus tomb is now a year old, and the situation hasn't improved for Jacobovici and Cameron's theory.
Over the past year, the scholarly consensus on the tomb has become virtually unanimous. As Dr. Jodi Magness of the Archaeological Institute of America wrote, the documentary’s claim is “inconsistent with all of the available information - historical and archaeological — about how Jews in the time of Jesus buried their dead, and specifically the evidence we have about poor, non-Judean families like that of Jesus. It is a sensationalistic claim without any scientific basis or support."
The article goes on to conclude (quite appropriately):
In time, though, the Lost Tomb of Jesus and its parent, The Da Vinci Code, will fade away, joining the long parade of past pseudo-history fads like Erich Von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods? and Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision.