Selling the “Chevron”
Religious symbols are static, enduring images, designed to freeze the once-upon-a-time establishment of certain ancient values, and present them as timeless truths to new generation after new generation. As part of the strategic planning necessary to story-telling, the filmmakers evidently felt a need to create such a symbol. They chose for their audience-drawing “hook” a proposed, long-forgotten religious symbol, rediscovered in an almost apocalyptic manner. This symbol was designed to impress itself on this generation and replace long mistaken and dangerous creeds, not with a newly developed set, but with creeds more ancient still.
The three story-lines are woven together like the strands of a strong rope, each carrying out separate assignments in the creation of a credible witness for this symbol. Simcha and crew discover it, report it, and embellish it for the new generation. The archaeologist confirms the fact that its true meaning still remains to be discovered. The new “Gospel” incorporates it as the mark by which every true disciple needs to be sealed (in lieu of baptism).
This initiation rite is performed by marking the sign taw, curiously appearing like the chevron, on the believer’s forehead, sealing his faith and commitment for all time.
The producer turns theologian by quoting ancient scriptures: Jesus himself instituted the sign as the enduring symbol for himself, as he speaks to John on Patmos (by the way, the context conveys that Jesus is in his resurrected and ascended form seated at the right hand of God when he speaks these words): “I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.” Jacobovici retroverts this back into Hebrew where Jesus would have said: “I am the alef and the taw.” The taw is the cross and it is also the mark that a person can make to indicate his name to seal a contract. Therefore, it is a seal signified by the marking of the symbol of Jesus himself.
James Tabor sets the scene for the viewer to come face to face with the first Christians, ah but much more, the true followers of Jesus who saw him as a Messiah and not as God, followers, who like Jesus himself, die a miserable fate, totally wiped out in a pogram against him and all who dared to believe in him.
Tabor: It’s a terrible thing when a culture is wiped out. And yet you know there’s a sense in what, in which that’s happened to Jesus and his followers. Now that sounds very shocking. Somebody says, “What? Jesus and his followers? They became Christianity. They’re not wiped out.” But that original movement, the way they originally were, as Jews, right here in this area, believing in their own version of the Jewish faith but also following Jesus, that’s sort of disappeared. And I think it’s disappeared for theological reasons, even though I think the material evidence is around if we’ll just open our eyes and see it.
Narrator presents a PREMISE:
Could it be that there was a movement made up of Jews who saw Jesus as their Messiah, not their god? And —because this movement largely disappeared from history—we are blind to the archaeological evidence they’ve left behind?
Simcha: If this is a early Judeo-Christian cemetery then that means our tomb is not sitting in some kind of archaeological vacuum. It’s really part of a network of cemeteries. This can provide an archaeological context for our tomb.
Their bones and their ossuaries are all around us, in Talpiot.
In his mode as Indy, Jacobovici must find the link between the sign on this cave and the first believing followers of Jesus buried elswhere in Jerusalem. His instincts lead him to believe that a cluster of burial caves on the western slopes of the Mt. of Olives must hold the answers. Simcha, Felix Golubov and Charles Pellegrino, invigorated by the prospects, set out to find it. They arrive one by one climbing the steep road to the gate of Dominus Flevit. Jacobovici arrives first, excited and stimulated to move on toward their destiny. Pellegrino, clearly out of breath, follows, ready to take a rest.
In the first sequence at Dominus Flevit, Associated Producers director, and star of the film’s ongoing story, Jacobovici, accompanied by team members Pellegrino and Golubov, enters into a well-lit chamber with numerous bones and ossuaries.
We follow Jacobovici as he surveys the cave. Within there are numerous ossuaries, some with lids and some without, and tomb shafts full of bones, (could these be those of the Ebionites who suffered and gave their lives two thousand years ago?) After he ascends into a mysterious dark hole and corridor at the back of the cave (or so the audience is led to believe), he beckons Felix to bring him a flashlight. With the light of the first chamber at his back, Jacobovici descends into yet another chamber of similar size and contents, where the “Simon bar Jonah” sequence begins.
Jacobovici continues his search in the chamber . . . .
Simcha: Okay, you’re not going to believe this.
Simcha: You’re not going to believe it. I’m imagining it. Can you see?
Felix: Now I see.
Simcha: It’s a … it’s a symbol. A symbol from the tomb on an ossuary.
Felix: This is incredible because the angle, and the thing is identical and the dot inside.
Simcha: Identical. And the dot is deliberately inside. The inverted V with the dot in the middle, the symbol from our tomb right on an ossuary from what is suspected an early cemetery of the followers of Jesus.
However another picture emerged when another investigative team arrived at this tomb in May.
More to come . . . .