Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"The Jesus Tomb": A Call for Perspective

The controversy surrounding the Talpiot Tomb might mostly play itself out before the "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" is even shown on the Discovery Channel this coming Sunday night! One reason is because a few folks - such as Ben Witherington (here and here), Darrell Bock (here and here, where Bock makes some similar points we're making here), and James Maier - are in a position to respond quickly because of their expertise. But we are not all in this situation.

What we are seeing is both the upside and the downside of our new information age. What we are also seeing is the increased need for maturity, character and patience.

In a time when information can be instantaneously dispersed globally through mass and new media, dramatic "discoveries" receive an unprecedented level of attention. Because of such firestorms, it's then easy for us to overreact. Internally, we may feel anxious because firm evidence for why such claims should not disturb us may not be at our fingertips. And externally, even though we aren't yet prepared to do so, we may feel the need to compensate for our lack of information by raising the level of our voice and rhetoric.

But we should not do this.

A dramatic, detailed claim does not demand an instantaneous response, particularly one we aren't prepared to give. Such a response should be made only after we've expended at least the same level of effort that was made by controversialists before their dramatic announcements.

And we do not need to be alarmed. Our faith is not finally in a data set, but in a Person. This does not mean that we ignore any data, but it does mean that we should not allow ourselves to be "blown and tossed" by the winds of every claim (James 1:6b, New International Version).

This isn't the first time that we've needed such perspective. And it won't be the last.

- Collected Articles and Information on "The Jesus Tomb"


Rick Meigs said...

Stephen, well said. Not only do we not need to be alarmed, I see little need to respond other than, as Peter said, to "be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm."

The biblical narrative has been attacked over and over again on archaeological ground for the past couple hundred years with no lasting impact. The fact will come out as they always have and this story will also be discredited.

Chris Rosebrough said...

I've written a comprehensive rebuttal to claims and evidence of this film. Please read it and decide for yourself.

You will find it at

Rick said...

Although I agree that we should not respond in an unprepared manner, I do think that the numerous blogs which quickly (and calmly) linked to the experts have been very helpful in this case. I think the Da Vinci Code situation saw a slower response, and made undoing the damage a more difficult task.

I also think it was interesting to see what appeared to be a coordinated effort from the backers/supporters of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" to leave comments, and a link to the movie, on many of these same blogs in an attempt gain more attention. It seems like a marketing strategy of "The Passion of the Christ" in reverse.

Stephen said...

thanks ricks and chris,

I also noticed that there seemed to be a marketing effort (rather brilliant if bothersome to some) to comment on blogs that mentioned the Talpiot Tomb special. One wonders how many people went to see Da Vinci because they were Christians who wanted to check it out! And I think the later invigorated response of the church to Da Vinci was precipitated more by the movie with heavy hitters such as Hanks and Howard.