The BBC first aired a documentary on the Talpiot Tomb in 1996 as part of its Heart of the Matter news magazine. At that time, Amos Kroner, the first archaeologist to examine the site said the claims of a connection to Jesus did not hold up archaeologically, adding “They just want to get money for it.” Others were similarly skeptical, though another of the archaeologists who discovered the tomb admitted “I’m willing to accept the possibility.”
See Talpiot Tomb.
There is much excitement about this “discovery” on the internet at the moment, the top post here on WordPress being Jesus Found Dead in His Grave on David W. Boles’ Urban Semiotic™. Quite a good post too.
There was similar excitement over the “James Ossuary”, you may recall (see Essays on the James Ossuary and the Temple Tablet — not a fundamentalist site) and over the “Gospel of Judas”. Christopher Hitchens bought into that one: Judas Saves. Eminent scholar of the Nag Hammadi codices James Robinson (not a fundamentalist) has written a compelling book on the Gospel of Judas bubble: The Secrets of Judas (Harper 2006, and currently in Sydney’s remainder shops).
I haven’t seen Cameron’s money-spinner yet, and I certainly can’t assess its value as archaeology or historiography. But I am not as fussed as you might think.
Our radically changed vision of Jesus now faces Christians with two differing ways ahead.
We can close our eyes to the conclusions of generations of dedicated Christian scholars. If we do so, we will continue along much the same path as Christians of the past couple of centuries. We will accept that traditional theology carries an abiding and incontrovertible message, reaching back through two thousand years of history. That is, we will affirm that it preserves absolutely what the world needs to know about Jesus and therefore about God.
Alternatively, we can recognise that the traditions of our fathers are indeed worthy of great respect and honour. They are, however, no longer effective in imagining Jesus for our age. Nor are they sacrosanct. We can therefore accept willingly and with joy a new and renewed vision of Jesus, the man upon whom we base our way of life.
— from Radical Faith.