Last week we crowded a group of Christian friends into our living room to watch the most recent skeptical response to the resurrection: The Jesus Family Tomb. Once again (funny how it's always around Easter) we had an opportunity to verify the story of the four gospel accounts.
Some of the commentary that piqued my interest was the bit about Mary Magdalene, who appeared as Jesus' wife. With a Da Vinci code feel (see Charlotte Allen's psychological analysis of Da Vincites in the L.A. Times article "'Tomb can't keep Christianity Down") the film-maker (a journalist with the scintillating name of Jacobovici) suggests that Mary Magdalene was a vibrant teacher, a key partner in sharing Jesus' message and someone the male-dominated church tried to keep down.
I was, of course, emotionally drawn to the dramatically re-enacted moments when Mary was preaching. But I imagined it was Priscilla (see Acts 18:25-26) since she is the one the Bible specifically mentions as instructing men in the way of the Lord. Funny that the chauvinistic Bible writers kept that in Scripture, perhaps they weren't so anti-woman as Jacobovici et al believe.
In reflecting over the Discovery feature story, I have my own little conspiracy theory that's been brewing. It goes like this . . .
There were plenty of people who wanted to prove the Christians wrong. Gnostics, in particular, would have been eager to produce Jesus' body, since Gnostics claimed all matter was evil. They even refused to believe in Jesus' bodily resurrection.
Perhaps a few clever, deceptive Gnostics planted the bodies in this tomb, etching the names to substantiate the mythological story they were promoting: Jesus never resurrected and he had a wife, Mary Magdalene and a child, etc. It would have been archaeological evidence for later generations to prove their gospels.
Maybe I'm going a bit too, far, but if you think about it, the labels on each tomb suggest something funny going on. I mean, even if, as Jacobovici explains, the disciples carried off Jesus' body from the tomb and secretly buried him. Would they really have labeled his sarcophagus? Since the disciples were willing to die for the story they, according to Jacobovici, made up, wouldn't they refrain from cataloging the evidence, too?
Perhaps Jacobovici ought to give ancient mystic cults more credit, as conspirators against the Christians, with as much guile as he's crediting to Jesus' disciples.
The tomb of Jesus may be ancient, but that doesn't prove it isn't an ancient fabrication. To read more evidence indicating Jacobovici's zeal without knowledge see a historian's response.