Court Grants massive defamation award to filmmaker Jacobovici against critic; Judge leaves question of truth to academia.
2007 documentary with the jaw-dropping conclusions that Jesus was buried, his lost tomb found in Jerusalem and that he married and had children with Mary Magdalene has been ruled to not be a fraud by the Lod District Court.
In a decision handed down late Sunday by Judge Jacob Sheinman, the filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici, was awarded NIS 829,500 in damages for having been defamed by critic Joe Zias.
Sheinman did not fully resolve the underlying controversy about whether Jacobovici’s findings in his various films are true, however, ruling only that there was no proof they were fraudulent and leaving the final question of truth to theologians and academics.
Rather, Sheinman said Zias, a former Antiquities Authority official, had gone beyond the bounds of academic criticism by undermining Jacobovici’s films on a commercial level with claims that were themselves not properly grounded, causing him serious financial harm.
Jacobovici’s documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, was aired in 2007 with the sensational determination that, based on archaeological finds dating back to 1980, Jesus had been buried and had a tomb.
The conclusions went further, saying there was significant evidence Jesus had been married to Mary Magdalene and they had children, all of whom were buried with him in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
The findings struck at many of the core beliefs of Christianity, according to which Jesus was resurrected, never married and had no children.
While this was not the first time such theories had been put forth, it was one of the largest stages the ideas had been given and was extensively covered by international media outlets.
Years of controversial debate followed the film, and a later documentary disputed its findings, showcasing a vast majority of academics who said its conclusions were flawed.
A small minority of academics, however, strongly defend Jacobovici’s findings, some of them testifying during the trial.
Jacobovici filed a defamation suit against Zias, his harshest critic, in October 2011, claiming damages of NIS 8.57 million and demanding NIS 3.5m.
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SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post