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“Clarifying” the Dominus Flevit Tomb: What’s wrong with this picture?

On Tuesday, May 1, members of our staff visited Dominus Flevit at the invitation of a film production team from the United States who were filming there. With our staff’s effort to understand the tomb and its ossuaries, and the film crew’s effort to retrace the sequence of events portrayed in the Lost Tomb, a number of “clarifications” may now be offered.

In the first sequence at Dominus Flevit, Associated Producers director, and star of the film’s ongoing story, Simcha Jacobovici, accompanied by Charles Pellegrino and Felix Golubov, enters into a well-lit chamber with numerous bones and ossuaries. After perusing this chamber, he ascends into a mysterious dark hole and corridor at the back of the cave (or so the audience is led to believe). With the light of the chamber at his back, Jacobovici descends into yet another chamber of similar size and contents, where the “Simon bar Jonah” sequence begins. [The film producer who invited us was astonished to point out the fact that the apparent “corridor” is not at all a passageway. The “hole” Jacobovici was entering was nothing but a small, cramped alcove in the cave (in other words, a dead end), which the AP film crew evidently lit with artificial light. It appears that they also blocked the sunlight in the original chamber so that Jacobovici could descend again into the same chamber past the same ossuaries as though it were a new tomb complex, enshrouded in darkness and mystery.]

Another sequence which interested us is the one that leads to Jacobovici’s discovery of the ossuary with the “chevron … identical to the one over the tomb.” On our visit this week, the same ossuary was indeed up and to the left as one enters the enclosed tomb area. [This is ossuary 66 in Bagatti’s publication Gli Scavi del “Dominus Flevit”.] In the film, Jacobovici finds an ossuary without a lid, containing a femur bone and the nozzle of an ancient juglet. The “chevron” is on one of the narrow sides of the ossuary facing outward. This is the state in which we also found the ossuary on Tuesday, with one important exception. The original stone lid was actually in place on the ossuary. This lid does not appear anywhere in the film. In the film, the ossuary was “discovered,” as though the lid were missing or non-existent.

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This tomb complex is presented in the film as being connected with the first century Judaeo-Christians, but more specifically, with the group perceived to be first century “Ebionites.” This lone ossuary has a symbol which has been identified as being the essential symbol of the Ebionites, as opposed to the cross. This symbol, an upside down “V” with a dot in the middle, hypothetically connects the Ebionites to the Talpiot tomb, where the same symbol apparently sits above its doorway. The filmmakers perceived this to be a symbol for Jesus, a stylized “taw” (the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet), since He proclaimed himself to be “the beginning and the end” in the book of Revelation. In the enactment in the film, the “true disciples of Jesus”, the Ebionites, have this symbol made on their foreheads to seal them as members. This symbol is attributed in the film (and, even more so, in the film’s website) to a number of secret societies from the Ebionites to the Templars to the Freemasons, whose secret rites and symbols come down to us today (even though, according to the filmmakers, the true meaning of the symbol has been widely misunderstood through the centuries).

This is a digital photo of the side of the ossuary as we found it on Thursday. This is a digital photo once the lid was turned around

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What’s does this picture tell us? What is really going on here?

(For the first reader to provide a correct answer: The next time you are in Jerusalem, Dr. Pfann will take you out for a cup of coffee and a personal tour of the Shrine of the Book.)

UHL Staff Report

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