Jim Cameron takes on the divinity of Jesus (Will anyone care?)

Wow. TV was all over the James Cameron press conference yesterday about his new documentary that “identifies” the tomb of Jesus (and both Marys).

I saw a preview of a report on one station and then flipped around between 10 and 11 and saw the famed filmmaker everywhere, pretty much trying to debunk the divinity of Jesus. That’s a big target, even for the guy who had Leonardo DiCaprio cry out “I’m king of the world!”

“We don’t have any physical record of Jesus’ existence,â€? he said at the New York Public Library. “So what this film … shows is for the first time tangible, physical, archaeological and in some cases forensic evidence.â€?

In case you were busy yesterday, Cameron and Toronto filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici have completed “The Lost of Tomb of Jesus,”:http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/ which will premiere on the “Discovery Channel”:http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/tomb.html on Sunday at 9 p.m. The film contends that 10 first-century ossuaries — boxes that hold bones — that were discovered in Jerusalem in 1980 may have contained the bones of Jesus and his family.

The implication is that Jesus was not raised from the dead.

Here’s my question: Will this film have any traction in the vast world of bibical scholarship. Or is this a media event that will dissipate long before Cameron’s next blockbuster?

I got a bunch of emails yesterday from Christian groups denouncing the film. Even Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film doesn’t add up:

“I don’t think that Christians are going to buy into this,� Pfann said. “But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear.�

I’m curious whether there will be interest in the film after people actually see it. Or whether yesterday’s stir had more to do with the maker of “Titanic” making a public appearance to explain/defend his latest work. This is a celebrity-obsessed culture, after all, is it not?

You can see a trailer “here.”:http://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/trailer.html

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.