The director of a documentary on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" Simcha Jacobovici dismisses in an interview for HotNews.ro the clergy’s criticism of his work and comparisons with Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, which he says is fiction, as compared to the “archeology, science” presented in his hilm.
Shortly after he and James Cameron, who co-funded the documentary, held their first presentation on the issue in New York, he talked to us on film making, the collaboration with Cameron and his links to Romania.
HotNews.ro: We understand your parents were born in Romania. Is it true?
Simcha Jacobovici: Yes, my parents are born in Iasi. I was born in Israel and grew up in Montreal, often commuting between the two countries. I stopped by in Bucharest from time to time as well.
HotNews.ro: When did you last visited Romania?
Simcha Jacobovici: I made a movie about Struma, the ship that transported Jewish refugees to Palestine and sank [in the Black Sea]. I was in Bucharest for shooting in 2000 and the resulting documentary was put on screen at a festival there. Then I stopped visiting for several years, but I stopped by again not so long ago. I made a film about my family that I’d like to present in Romania as well.
HotNews.ro: On the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Christ”. The Romanian Orthodox Church has accused that the film is nothing but publicity. And it compares it to the “Da Vinci Code”.
Simcha Jacobovici: The “Da Vinci Code” is fiction, while my film is about archeology, science. How can the Romanian church reach the conclusion that the documentary is just publicity, before seeing the film or reading the book?
I am here, at the Central Library in Manhattan, with professors from Harvard, Princeton, other scientific institutions. I make films, I am not an archeologist, I do nothing else than depict facts. No church should be scared of the truth. Facts are facts. In this case, the tomb was found, which is a real fact.
I didn’t invented it to make publicity. The name “Jesus, son of Joseph” is written on the tomb. I didn’t invented it, I only report the issue. I spoke to statistics professors and asked them, because many say these names were common in that era, what is the probability that these names - Jesus, Mary, Mariamne [Magdalene] - are not those of Jesus’ family.
I was told there is a chance in two million it was not the tomb in question or, more properly, that these names are not those of Jesus’ family. I am not a statistics professor, I only report what they and archeologists said and discovered.
That’s why I recommend critics to see the film, to read the book, to talk to professors and then, if the think it’s not true, very well! What we did is science! But you cannot answer before asking!
HotNews.ro: What do you think of the impact the film will have on Christians? There are overe 1.5 billion of them worldwide...
Simcha Jacobovici: I am not a Christian and I am not a theologist. But I know many people who claim Jesus would not even exist, that he would be nothing more than a myth. They will have proof that, look, he existed! Others will say: what about the Resurrection? I am not a Christian, but they proved logically and philosophically that he could resurrect.
The theological issue, as I see it, is not whether he resurrected, whether he took his physical body with him in heaven. Many Christians believe he did. For many this would be the problem and they should get strengthened, not weekened following this story. Anyway, it is a problem for theologists, for priests. I am only a reporter who reports facts. The rest is to be decided by each of them.
HotNews.ro: How difficult was the production of this documentary?
Simcha Jacobovici: It was very hard because we’re not stupid. I understood there’s something here that might shock the world. And then we tried continuously to prove the tomb did not really exist, even with DNA tests. Eventually, after three years of investigations, we were ready to tell the story to everybody.
HotNews.ro: How did you collaborate with James Cameron?
Simcha Jacobovici: It was fantastic. He was skeptical at the beginning, didn’t believe it and used to say “It’s not true!” Eventually, it was all good.
More on the documentary at: "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"
HotNews.ro, Adrian Novac, New York, Feb 28, 2007