Rev. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council issued a statement attacking the forthcoming documentary on the grave of Jesus and his family. It was titled TV Special on Jesus’ Grave — a Hoax?. Though I have already commented on what I see is a completely unscientific and unscholarly hype, this is not terribly surprising in terms of the shallow reporting the media gives to historical projects. “Hoax” is probably too strong a word. One must, after all, take into account the standards (such as they are) of the industry before condemning a single individual. The documentary will probably have as much truth as one would expect–very little.
But Rev. Schenck himself engaged in some similarly unscientific and unscholarly rhetoric himself:
“Media outlets should exercise restraint in reporting Cameron’s Hollywood fiction masquerading as scientific fact. All of Jesus’ contemporaries recorded Christ rose after being dead for three days and ascended into Heaven. For 2,000 years people of faith along and countless scholars have pored over the Scriptures, confirming their veracity. A Hollywood director is the least qualified to render any determination of Biblical truth. Not only so, but the people Mr. Cameron has partnered with completely lack credibility. One has been discredited by experts as a charlatan. This is nothing more than a modern day circus sideshow. At best it is pure presumption. At worst, it is pure chicanery.” [Emphasis mine]
Instead of responding with a more reasoned approach to the evidence, Schenck responds with hyped rhetoric. It is plainly obvious that not every contemporary recorded that Jesus rose and ascended into heaven. That might be good advertising copy, but it is not good scholarship, nor does it do anything to promote a Christian understanding. The second sentence I emphasized simply affirms that Christians have believed in the resurrection. It is certainly debatable from a historical point of view. It’s interesting also that the National Clergy Council chooses to present a response from a person whose bio shows no signs of any qualifications in archeology or history at all.
For me, the resurrection of Jesus is an article of faith. I welcome neither careless documentaries, as this one will almost doubtless turn out to be (it’s claims are clearly excessive), nor do I welcome hyped and careless defense of my faith.