During Lent of 2007, movie director James Cameron released a documentary on the Discovery Channel claiming to have evidence of a Jerusalem tomb that allegedly houses the remains of Jesus and his family. Working with Cameron was Dr. Charles Pellegrino, who co-authored a book on the subject with Simcha Jacobovici, The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History. Catholic League president Bill Donohue debated Cameron and Jacobovici on “Larry King Live” and confronted Pellegrino on the “Today Show.” He argued that the entire story was a “Titanic Fraud.”

News reports today confirm that Henry Holt & Company has halted printing of The Last Train from Hiroshima by Charles Pellegrino. The publisher states that one of the key sources the author relied on was a fraud (not disputed by Pellegrino). Also questioned is the existence of two priests mentioned in the book (the author concedes that there is no such person as Father John MacQuitty, but that a pseudonym was used which he “forgot to disclose in the book’s acknowledgments”). Finally, Victoria University says he was never awarded a Ph.D.

Bill Donohue comments as follows:

I knew these guys were blowing smoke. After all, Israeli archaeologists were quick to dismiss their claims, as were professors from the Biblical Archaeology Society. Beyond this, how did I know this was a hoax? Here is what I told Pellegrino on the “Today Show” about the book he co-authored: “There’s not one citation in the book, there’s not one footnote, there’s not one endnote. Both of us have doctorates. We know the way science proceeds. You go through a peer review or you present your findings in a scientific journal.” Now I know that unlike my Ph.D. (from NYU), his is a fraud. Just like the entire caper.

The larger issue is why many in the media were so willing to swallow the Jesus-tomb moonshine in the first place. I have a hunch, and it’s unsettling.

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