Simcha Jacobovici used to be a documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with a passion for history, religion and archaeology.
But the Israeli-Canadian said his profession and hobby merged in 2005 when he stumbled upon what he calls, true to his journalism roots, a “scoop.”
The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker will be in Sudbury Nov. 12, screening his latest film, entitled Resurrection Tomb: The Jesus Discovery.
The screening, which begins at 7 p.m. at Rainbow Cinema, and is free of charge, is presented by Huntington University.
In the city of Jerusalem, it's quite common for construction crews to stumble upon tombs containing ossuaries, or bone boxes, from the time of Jesus.
From about 20 B.C. until just after 70 A.D., it was common for people in the region to place their dead in caves they'd dug, and then go back later to place their bones in ossuaries, Jacobovici told Northern Life in a phone interview.
“It seems to be kind of like it was resurrection fever,” he said. “People felt that any moment, the messiah is going to come, and it's going to be the end of days, and by keeping my bones in a box, I've got a front row seat to the resurrection.”
Jacobovici learned of an ossuary which said James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.
“I had a scoop,” he said. “I had unique access to this box. Nobody else could point a camera at this box. All the footage on CNN, BBC, it was all mine.”
But the find was surrounded with intrigue, Jacobovici said. There were accusations that the box's owner, an antiquities dealer, added the engraving which said “brother of Jesus.”
“That became an even bigger story,” he said. “People were asking 'Is it a forgery, or is it real?' I was involved in all of that.”
Jacobovici went on to create a documentary about the ossuary called James, Brother of Jesus.
Then he heard about another tomb containing an ossuary with the engraving Jesus, son of Joseph. This ossuary was found alongside ossuaries for two women named Mary.
“We know Jesus had two Marys in his life – his mom and Mary Magdalene,” he said. “I thought, 'Oh my goodness, could this be the tomb of the Jesus family?'
“I started investigating that, and I made a film with James Cameron that came out in 2007 called the Lost Tomb of Jesus,” Jacobovici said. “That made a lot of noise.”
Although Jacobovici said he thinks the tomb is actually Jesus', critics said it could just have easily belonged to another person named Jesus who happened to be buried next to two women named Mary.
“If, 2,000 years from now, somebody find a tomb, and it says Gaga on it, it doesn't mean it's Lady Gaga,” he said. “They said I'm just trying to get publicity by saying that some guy named Jesus is the same Jesus.”
This film led Jacobovici to his latest project, the result of which is being screened in Sudbury Nov. 12. Next to the “Jesus tomb” is another tomb which had never been studied, he said.
In Jerusalem, there had never been an investigation of a Jesus-era tomb that hadn't been breached by mistake, Jacobovici said.
“The reason for that is in Israel, the archeologists and the religious Jewish activists fight,” he said.
“The archeologists want to dig, and the Jewish religious activists are saying you're disturbing the dead, you shouldn't dig, you shouldn't go into these tombs and you should leave the dead alone. They can never dig a tomb without a riot.”
Jacobovici went to the Jewish activists, and proposed sending a camera into the tomb without digging it up, and got their permission to do so.
He commissioned a specially-built robotic camera, which he inserted into tomb through holes drilled into the basement of an apartment building, which was on top of the tomb.
“They came out with what we believe are the earliest symbols of Christianity,” Jacobovici said.
“It's the first statement found ever about resurrection faith. I'm talking about stuff that's 250 years earlier than the catacombs of Rome. I'm talking about people who were buried there, near Jesus.”
Jacobovici, an adjunct professor at Huntington, said he's looking forward to screening his film in Sudbury. The audience will have a chance to ask him questions afterwards.
“I think they're going to see an adventure — a real-life Indiana Jones type story,” he said. “This isn't fiction, this is real.”
For more information about the film, visit thejesusdiscovery.org.