Great Moments in Pop Culture – James Cameron Digs Up Christ


[Previous Moments: “I’m Not a Real Witch”Jimmy Stewart’s Yeti Finger]

Remember that time James Cameron, Oscar-winning film director, held a press conference to announce he’d found Jesus’s bones? No? Yeah, nobody does. Except me, in my personal Mandela Effect Hell. Every day, I feel like I’m going crazy. You lot out there are just walking around, going to work, or screencapping chats with Tinder deviants for retweets, and here I am, unable to stop thinking about the time the guy who made Terminator II told the assembled world’s media that he’d dug up Christ’s skeleton.

A likely story, Millard,” you say, “I suppose Spielberg went on CNN to unveil the Devil’s dick, and it was just a shoebox with an old banana in it?” I assure you, it did happen. So let’s give it some context. Though we associate him with robots and icebergs, before this whole incident went down, James Cameron had previously delved into religious ‘investigations’, with 2006 History Channel documentary, The Exodus Decoded. Note that even on Wikipedia, the descriptor of “documentary film” is in quote marks, which is perhaps the most scathing Wiki-shade since the time (genuinely) some anonymous wag edited my hometown’s page to include a description of me as a “big fat bender” — [citation needed].


Now, this came during that strange era when Dan Brown-a-mania was running wild. The worst writer of all time — and a man could buy me a million times over with thirty seconds worth of royalties — he’s why the mid-aughts were flooded with pseudo-religious ancient conspiracies, and while his various books sat in the fiction aisle, were they?! Yes. But that didn’t stop people from thinking they were based on fact, sparking renewed interest in the Holy Grail, Knights Templar, and other things believed in by the sort of people who post racist Facebook statuses on St. George’s day. The movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code had the same result as The X-Files a decade before, which had seen anything vaguely related to the paranormal branded as The [Something]-Files, or The X-[Something]. Likewise, in 2006, it was all the [Something] Code, with the suggestion there were hidden riddles in every old piece of art from Shakespeare’s plays to that canvas print of Paul Ross, and that history as we knew it was a lie.


James Cameron called shotgun on that bandwagon, and his Exodus Decoded was a co-production with Israeli-Canadian film-maker and self-described “investigative archaeologist,” Simcha Jacobovici. You may have noticed another snarky use of quotes there, as Decoded‘s attempt to prove the historical truth of the Biblical Exodus with overly complicated, spurious archaeological evidence pissed off both Christians and actual scientists. The following year, Cameron reunited with Jacobovici for a second documentary, entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which was announced via press conference in New York, one week before it aired on television. Backed by a team of religious scholars, and his face strobed by excited flashbulbs, Hollywood royalty James Cameron opened his mouth, to release these words into the world like toxic gas.

I’ve never doubted there was a historical Jesus; that he walked the Earth 2000 years ago; but the simple fact is, there’s never been a shred of physical, archaeological evidence to support that fact. Until right now.”

I’d love to tell you this is the point he reached below the podium and pulled up a bearded skeleton, but like all Barnum-style promoting, it wasn’t nearly so exciting. As his story goes, a long-uncovered tomb in East Jerusalem was found to contain a number of ancient ossuaries, aka boxes o’ bones. These ossuaries joined Cameron on stage, hidden beneath a red cloth, to be revealed at the pertinent moment, like a magician’s “ta-da!” when his sequinned younger wife jumps out of a trunk.


One of the burial containers bore the Aramaic inscription Yeshua bar Yehosef – or in English, Jesus son of Joseph. The adjoining containers had markings including Maria (Mary), Yose (Joseph), Yehuda bar Yeshua (Judah son of Jesus), and Mariamene e Mara (Mary the Master, aka Mary Magdalene). With DNA testing confirming that the Jesus and Mary were not blood related, Cameron assured us this was incontrovertible proof that the remains were Jesus, son of God and his wife, Mary Magdalene; the original shippers dream. In essence, that tomb was the cast of first-century reality show, Meet The Christs, though sadly, there was no coffee jar containing the pelvis of Judas, to provide the table-tipping villain one needs to avoid cancellation after a single season.

Though he publicly claimed, exactly like the fiction of Dan Brown, that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, nor divinely ascend; and also that he’d made a child, via sex with his willy; James Cameron was not lynched by evangelicals. Though he did assure reporters he wasn’t trying to undermine Christ’s message, but rather, to help shine a light on it. That’s not to say The Lost Tomb of Jesus was well received, sparking a lot of terrible Youtube documentaries debunking its claims, and scoffing responses from both the religious and scientific communities. Possibly what saved it from controversy is the same reason this incident slipped everybody’s minds; because it was dumb as shit.


Entirely relying on supposition, Cameron and Jacobovici simply took a bunch of names that were very common at the time, and assumed it must be the Jesus and Friends. According to another prominent archaeologist at the time, in 900 similar burial caves near the find, there were 71 further ossuaries marked with the name Jesus. Then there’s the DNA testing, which proved only that the skeletal Jesus and Mary didn’t share a mother, but didn’t rule out the possibility they were siblings or cousins, or so on. As far as I’m concerned, don’t be saying you have Jesus’s bones unless you’re part of a travelling carnival, as this was the most disappointing press conference since those guys who said they had a dead Bigfoot in a freezer, and it turned out to be a Halloween costume draped in raccoon guts.


If any comparison can be made, the grandstanding is reminiscent of the 1995 Roswell alien autopsy film, which was similarly tied to the cultural fads of its time, and embraced as a piece of modern folklore, except this time, it didn’t really take. It’s shocking to me that it isn’t constantly brought up whenever Cameron’s name is mentioned, and a permanent stain on his reputation, like when someone slips on dog mess in year nine, and is greeted with “here comes Shitback!” at the 20 year reunion. Though it’s all I can think about now when I’m watching Terminator or Aliens, it does make sense that nobody would even bother listening when he said he’d found the bones of the messiah. After all, this is the man who’s spent the last decade trying to convince everyone that there’s an audience demand for four sequels to fucking Avatar.

This piece first appeared on my Patreon, where subscribers could read it a month before it landed here. If you’d like to support me for as little as $1 a month, then click here to help provide the world with regular deep dives about weird-bad pop culture, and all kinds of other stuff.

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~ by Stuart on March 26, 2019.

4 Responses to “Great Moments in Pop Culture – James Cameron Digs Up Christ”

  1. […] [Previous Great Moments: “I’m Not a Real Witch” — Jimmy Stewart’s Yeti Finger — James Cameron Digs Up Christ] […]

  2. […] Great Moments: “I’m Not a Real Witch” — Jimmy Stewart’s Yeti Finger — James Cameron Digs Up Christ — Mr. T Thanks His […]

  3. […] Great Moments: “I’m Not a Real Witch” — Jimmy Stewart’s Yeti Finger — James Cameron Digs Up Christ — Mr. T Thanks His Mother — Ricky Gervais Has a […]

  4. […] Great Moments: “I’m Not a Real Witch” — Jimmy Stewart’s Yeti Finger — James Cameron Digs Up Christ — Mr. T Thanks His Mother — Ricky Gervais Has a Fight — Byker Grove Nukes the Fourth […]

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