La Verne Magazine
Summer 2005

Excavating for Truth

by Christine Collier

Jonathan Reed describes the once in a lifetime opportunity of working with National Geographic as a “fantastic experience.” He explains that the TV special gave him the rare opportunity to re-create a crucifixion. “It forced me to think about every single aspect of the crucifixion, every single aspect of the cross, the nails, the rope—everything.” For Reed, it proved to be an enlightening experience. “When you do something rather than just think about it, it helps the process of figuring out how it must have been.”

Yet, becoming accustomed to the making of a TV special can take some getting used to, “I was excited and a bit nervous; it’s difficult being on camera because you have to describe very complex issues in just a few sentences,” he says. The 10-part series, which is being taped in Turkey, was due to be aired summer 2005 if all goes well with the initial pilot episode that was shown on Easter Sunday 2005. According to Reed, the series will examine “how archeology helps us understand Jesus’ life.”

What does Jonathan think of Mel Gibson’s crucifixion scene in 2004’s blockbuster hit “The Passion of the Christ?” He describes “The Passion” as having been “excessively violent.” He explains, “Crucifixion is a violent and brutal enough death; you don’t need to exaggerate it to an extreme.” Reed, along with other colleagues in the field, believes that if Mel Gibson’s depiction of the crucifixion had actually taken place, “Jesus would have been long dead before he got to the cross.”

“At a technical level, Mel Gibson’s crucifixion scene had a lot of mistakes,” he says. Jonathan believes some of these inaccuracies can be found in details such as the shape of the cross, the placement of the nails in Jesus’ ankles and the sign that was positioned above his head.