In February of 2007 Oscar-winning director, James Cameron (The Titanic), and his counterpart, Emmy award-winning documentary film maker, Simcha Jacobovici, held a press conference in New York to promote a film they had produced for the Discovery Channel entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus.
Displaying some ossuaries (bone boxes) discovered in Jerusalem, they claimed that the boxes came from “the family tomb” of Jesus and that one of the boxes actually contained the bones of Jesus.
Needless to say, this announcement caused a sensation — not among the general public, but among professional archaeologists. The general public seemed to yawn and dismiss the whole show as nothing but a bunch of Hollywood hype. Archaeologists, on the other hand, reacted in fury. They were outraged that two amateurs who knew little or nothing about archaeology would have the audacity to make such absurd claims.
You see, the discovery was nothing new. The tomb and its contents were discovered in 1980 by some construction workers who were digging a foundation for a new building in Jerusalem. The find was immediately turned over to a team of professional archaeologists headed up by Professor Amos Kloner of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
The tomb contained ten limestone ossuaries. Six of the ten had names scratched on them: Jesus the son of Joseph, Matthew, Jofa, Judah the son of Jesus, and two with the name of Mary.
Professor Kloner never made any attempt to associate this find with Jesus of Nazareth. His reasons were quite simple. First, the father of Jesus was a humble carpenter who could not have afforded a luxury crypt for his family. Second, the name of Jesus was so common among Jews in the First Century that it appears on 98 other tombs and 21 other ossuaries.
Professor Kloner responded to the claims of Cameron and Jacobovici by calling them “nonsense.” “It makes a great story for a TV film,” he said, “but it is impossible.” He added:
There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties to Jerusalem. This tomb belonged to a middle-class family… I refute all their claims and efforts to waken a renewed interest in the finding. With all due respect, they are not archaeologists.
There are other factors to be taken into consideration in evaluating the claims of Cameron and Jacobovici. For one thing, there is no historical record of Jesus ever being referred to by His followers as “Jesus, the son of Joseph.” To His disciples He was “Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.”
Nor did His family live in Jerusalem. Their residence was 70 miles north in the village of Nazareth, located in the Galilee of Israel. At the time Jesus was killed, He was a pilgrim in Jerusalem — thus the necessity to bury Him in a borrowed tomb, not a family tomb.
Oh yes, there is one more point that should be made. Regardless of where the tomb of Jesus may be, we know for certain from the testimony of many eye-witnesses that it is empty. In short, no one is ever going to find the bones of Jesus.