It has been disturbing because serious scholars in the disciplines of archaeology and related scientific fields here in Israel have long ago debunked this claim as, at the very best, sensational.
However, the glee with which some in the print and broadcast media in Israel 'latched on' to this story was not only irresponsible but worrying. The anchor on one evening news broadcast pressed a scholar in an interview to assert that this discovery would shake Christianity to its core.
By this she meant that it would break the foundations of the faith, since Christianity rests squarely on the resurrection of Jesus! No resurrection, no Christianity! It is as simple as that.
Now, before we are accused of putting our heads in the sand, let me say that should there ever be conclusive proof, that is, totally verifiable proof that Jesus did not rise from the dead, we Christians would have to reconsider our position. It is my estimation, however, that this will never be found.
Further, the Hebrew Bible also contains accounts of resurrections and ascensions to heaven, so belief in such events should not be so easily dismissed by those of the Jewish faith.
It has been offensive, because this type of incautious reporting does nothing to improve Christian-Jewish relations. It furthers the offence and undermines the good work that we have all been doing in this regard. To use dubious science to discredit another religious system is unwise and unhelpful, and simply raises age–old antagonisms without cause.
Millions of Christians are being offended by this recent 'discovery' of the so–called tomb of Jesus in East Talpiot and the fact that reputable Israeli archaeologists and related scholars have shown restraint and responsibility in the face of this sensationalist 'find' should serve as a lesson to the media as well.
Malcolm Hedding is the executive director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem