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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Laura Bush/"The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

Aired February 26, 2007 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Laura Bush from the White House on her urgent mission to save America's women from their deadliest killer. And how her husband is handling the stress of being commander-in-chief of an increasingly unpopular war.
And then, an explosive announcement by "Titanic" director James Cameron that's setting off passionate debate among Christians around the world.

Is this where Jesus was buried?

We'll take you to this ancient Jerusalem tomb, which James Cameron claims may have held Jesus' bones and evidence Jesus had a son.

But if Jesus was resurrected, would there even be Earthly remains?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're at the Vermeil Room, the beautiful Vermeil Room, here at the White House with First Lady Laura Bush, one of, I guess, many visits we've done here in different rooms.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: That's right. That's right.

KING: Always in different rooms.

BUSH: Always in different rooms.

KING: This month is American Heart Month, and we were talking before we went on. I had the honor of emceeing the unveiling of the Red Dress Collection at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley in California. You're going there.

BUSH: That's right. I'm going to go later this week. I have a red dress in the...

KING: You do.

BUSH: ... Red Dress Show there.

And the whole idea of the red dress is that women love red dresses and it's a way to get the message out to women that heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women.

KING: You're going to be...

BUSH: So the red dress has become the symbol that people wear to remind women about heart disease.

KING: You're going to be very impressed. The collection is beautifully done.

BUSH: I can't wait to see it.

KING: And we had a great time at the opening of it. I had the honor of emceeing it. The first lady -- the former first lady is looking forward to seeing you this week. It's a great, great idea.

Why, for so long, did we not pay attention to women and heart disease?

BUSH: I think we just always thought that heart disease was a man's disease. And one of the reasons more women die of heart disease than men in the United States is because they don't realize heart disease is really something they could have.

So if they start to feel the symptoms of a heart attack, they don't go to the emergency room because they -- they would send their husband to the emergency room immediately, but they don't go themselves.

But the really good news is we are getting the word out. And now about -- according to some studies -- about 55 percent of American women do know that heart disease is the leading cause of death. And they do know that if they start to have any symptom, they need to go straight to the emergency room.

KING: And, also we're told that doctors need to know. A lot of doctors will treat women as indigestion...

BUSH: That's right.

KING: ... And men as a heart problem.

BUSH: That's right. Or women, it's anxiety.

KING: Yes. But it is...

BUSH: And then it's a heart problem.

But the fact is you do -- the symptoms for women can be different. Fatigue -- extreme fatigue is a symptom. And, of course, a lot of women think they are tired because they are busy and they work hard. Sometimes it's a pain in the jaw or the neck, or a burning in the shoulder blades, a different symptom than we think of as the classic crushing chest pain. So many times women will have these symptoms and not associate it with heart disease.

KING: And, also it's been so manly oriented. If I were to say now someone's had a heart attack out there --

BUSH: You would...

KING: ... you would think a man.

BUSH: You would -- exactly. You would think that it was a man that was out there. And we just need to get the word out to women -- especially women of color -- need to know that they are at risk.

KING: Why? More -- are they more at risk?

BUSH: They are more at risk, partly because they don't know, also to get straight to the hospital if they start to have any sort of symptoms at all.

The good news is, though, that heart disease can be prevented. And there are several risk factors that women need to be aware of. Smoking is really, really terrible. Women need to make sure they quit smoking. If you're obese, your risks of heart disease are more. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your risks are increased. So it's very important to get your blood pressure checked, to find out what it is.

And one of the great things about the red dresses that are traveling around the United States is a lot of times they are associated with a health fair. So if the red dresses come to your city, go look at the red dresses. And while you're there, get the blood pressure checked and your cholesterol checked.

KING: Now, in your own case, or your husband's case, you live in a place of stress. And we know stress is a contributing factor.

BUSH: That's right.

KING: How do you deal with that?

BUSH: Well, we do a lot of things. We both work out. You know, the president loves to bicycle ride now. That's his new favorite thing. But he -- we both work out and we both find that exercise does help reduce stress. And that's another important prevention technique for heart disease, and that is to get exercise. So I want to encourage women to go for walks. That's what I love to do. It's easy to do. You don't have to join a gym.

Just walk outside with your -- push your baby in a stroller or walk with your dog or get a friend to walk with. And you'll find that it -- not only is it a good -- is exercise a good prevention for heart disease, but it also really helps you reduce stress.

KING: How about the burdens of the office, though?

BUSH: Well, of course, you know...

KING: You can't...

BUSH: ... They're -- you can't escape those.

KING: They're there. BUSH: And it's 24 hours. It's every single day. There's, you know, you're always aware every minute or our troops in harm's way in Iraq or all the other challenges that we face in the United States. And so I think that you try to have a certain balance in your life, which we do. And, you know, we go to church. We exercise together, we watch movies together. We do all the other things that -- watch baseball on television, for instance -- that we both find relaxing.

KING: Do you -- do you talk about it a lot?

BUSH: We talk about it a lot. I mean, we live it.

KING: You talk about stress, though.

BUSH: You know, we're -- not stress. I wouldn't say we talk about stress a lot. But we're very aware of the stresses on each other. And we are -- we do live a healthy lifestyle. We eat a healthy diet. We both -- and we just like to do this -- we go to bed early and we get up early. And certainly rest is important, also to reduce stress. People who are fatigued are more likely to be stressed.

KING: My guest is Laura Bush.

We'll talk about some other things in the next segment with the first lady of the United States. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the first lady.

It's National Heart Awareness Month, especially as it relates to women. Heart disease kills a lot more women than does breast cancer, which may surprise a lot of people.

I wanted to hopscotch and touch a lot of other bases.

BUSH: Sure.

KING: Your Doro Bush, and many, many people involved with Jeb Bush, are supporting Mitt Romney.

BUSH: Oh, they are?

Well, I -- they haven't told me that. So...

KING: Do you know the former governor of Massachusetts?

BUSH: Sure, absolutely. We know Governor Romney very well, and I like him a lot. But I haven't -- Doro hadn't told me that she'd picked a candidate.

We haven't picked a candidate yet, as you might guess.

KING: Will you?

BUSH: I doubt it. Probably not. I mean, obviously, we will support the nominee...

KING: Whoever is on, yes.

BUSH: ... To the Republican Party at that point. But, no, I don't think before the primaries we would pick a candidate.

KING: Do you think his Mormon faith should be an issue at all?

BUSH: I don't think so. I mean I think that he is a very outstanding and a wonderful man with great character and a lot of great credentials. And so I think people's faith in the United States is their, certainly, you know, what it is. Each person has the right to choose whatever faith they want and it's a very important part of our country.

KING: I know you've been to Walter Reed many times...

BUSH: That's right. Many times.

KING: ... Visiting...

BUSH: Many times.

KING: ... People injured in war.

Are you shocked by the reports?

BUSH: I was shocked.

KING: Did you see anything?

BUSH: No, not at all. And I don't know that we visited the building that the investigative report was about.

But, no, not at all. And we've visited very many times. We've had many of the soldiers who are there recovering from their wounds come here to the White House, as well. And we did not see anything like that, obviously.

But it's just unacceptable. Our troops deserve the very, very best care. And that's what we have seen when we're at Walter Reed, is...

KING: Is something being...

BUSH: ... Troops who seem to be getting the care they really need. And the president always asks them and asks their families, as well, who are there with them, "Are they doing everything for you, you want them to do for you?"

KING: Is something being done about it?

BUSH: Yes, I think so. As I understand it, Secretary Gates has a commission that he's working with to investigate, not just the one building that was in the "Washington Post" article, but all of the services to our troops at Walter Reed, and at a few other hospitals, as well.

KING: Has the war -- I don't know if it's a good term -- worn you down? I mean, the public, obviously the -- more people disapprove than approve. It's hurt the standing of the presidency.

What has it done to you?

BUSH: Well, of course, it's wearing, wearying. There's no doubt about it. And I understand how the American people feel and that they feel like things aren't going like we want them to there.

On the other hand, I know how important it is for us to continue to help the Iraqis and that to leave now would be a serious mistake. And I really agree with the president on that, that the Iraqi government needs to get up and running as fast as they can.

And, of course, we want our troops to come home. Nobody wants war. No one's pro-war. We want the -- to be able to have a democracy there, to have the people in Iraq, who have been oppressed by a dictatorship for all these years, to be able to build a good government that represents everyone. And I think it'll happen.

Is it going to be fast?

No. And we never expected it to be fast.

KING: So it's going to be going on when you leave office?

BUSH: Probably. I mean I have no idea and there's no way I could predict. But I hope not. I hope that they can build their government and reconcile with each other and build a country. This is their opportunity to seize the moment, to build a really good and stable country. And many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody.

KING: How concerned are you about Iran?

BUSH: Well, I'm concerned. I mean, I'm not that, certainly, any expert on Iranian policy or what's happening in Iran.

But my guess is that many, many people in Iran would like to join the rest of the world in -- as a country that people around the world respect and want to deal with. And I hope that they can.

KING: Do you talk about it a lot with the president?

BUSH: We -- yes. I mean, you know, of course, our conversation every day is about all different parts of these. I mean not -- we don't have long discussions about one issue or the other. But...

KING: But does he bring the job home?

BUSH: It's a...

KING: Well, you're in the same house, so... BUSH: Yes. That's right. He works here and lives here.

But, of course, we talk about -- it is -- it's just a job that's 24 hours. It's always. It's seven days a week. And you never get away from it. And you know that. I mean, people don't -- who are fainthearted -- don't run for president.

KING: Amen.

BUSH: It's a difficult job and campaigns are very difficult, as you know. So people know what to expect when they run.

KING: You said you agreed with him.

On those times you don't agree with him, have you expressed it?

BUSH: Sure.

KING: I mean is it like any marriage?

BUSH: Sure. Of course.

KING: Do you ever fight?

BUSH: We really don't anymore. I mean when we were newlyweds, I think we used to argue a lot. But now, after almost 30 years of marriage, we really don't argue very much. We -- even though we have differences, of course, and see issues in different ways, I think we both really understand each other. And we understand where -- why one of us thinks something on an issue and the other one might...

KING: What effect...

BUSH: ... Think something different.

KING: ... Has the presidency brought on your daughters?

BUSH: Well, you know, it's not easy. I mean, it certainly isn't easy being the children of a president. And we know that because we were when George's dad was president.

The difference was we were in our 40s and they were freshmen in college when we moved here.

But they look. You know, they watch. They see what people say about their dad, and that's very disturbing to them and hurts them. And that's what we remember the most about when George's dad was president, the way that he was characterized that we knew he wasn't. You know, we knew what he was really like.

And that's the hard part. I mean that's the hard part for any family in politics, and that is to see the person they love characterized in a way they know they're not.

KING: How are they doing?

BUSH: They're doing very well. Thank you very much. They're doing great.

KING: Are they out of school now?

BUSH: They're out of school. They're 25 years old and they're...

KING: Where did that go?

BUSH: ... Working women. I know it.

Isn't that amazing?

I can't -- I'm shocked myself. And it...

KING: Where do they live?

BUSH: ... breaks my heart.

Jenna is in Panama with UNICEF and working for United Nations Children's Fund. And Barbara lives in New York.

KING: This war has not asked people to sacrifice very much.

How do you deal with that?

Usually when we're at war people sacrifice -- back to rationing in World War II.

BUSH: Well, our economy is great. You know, we have a very, very booming economy. So it's not quite the same as other times in war.

But I think people sacrifice. I think people watch. They think about our troops. They do what they can to support them.

I hear stories all the time. I know that at DFW -- at Dallas- Fort Worth Airport -- people show up every time they know troops are coming through, either on their way to be deployed or on their way home. And they have a line that hugs the troops as they come off the airplane, if they want a hug.

And I think people look around and they see. And they -- there's not a sacrifice like having to have a victory garden, because our economy is great. But on the other hand, I think people are very, very aware and want to make sure our troops know they care about them.

KING: Are you looking forward to leaving?

BUSH: Well, in some ways I guess I'm looking forward to retirement. And one thing about the four-year term is that -- and the eight-year term, if you're re-elected -- is that you have a certain urgency to get as many things done as possible.

And so in the next two years I hope to continue to work on the issues that I've worked on, like the Heart Truth campaign, to make sure women know how they can protect themselves from heart disease, and then do all the other things that have always interested me that have to do with education and children and women's rights around the world.

KING: And then you're going to retire? Really retire?

BUSH: And then I'm going to retire.

KING: And go to Crawford?

BUSH: Go to Crawford. Move back to Texas. And, of course, that's where our home is, the home that we own. So we'll move there to start with, and then we'll probably live in Dallas.

KING: Thank you, dear.

BUSH: Thank you so much, Larry.

KING: Well, we'll be seeing you.

BUSH: Appreciate it a lot.

Thanks so much.

KING: The first lady of the United States.

And she'll be seeing that red dress collection on Wednesday at the Reagan Library.

We were there last week.

You're going to...

BUSH: I'm really looking forward to it.

KING: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

One program reminder. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, our special guest tomorrow night.

An extraordinary event is going to take place on the Discovery Channel this Sunday night, March 4th. They will premier the last -- or, rather, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus." There is a companion book accompanying it, "The Jesus Family Tomb," being published by Harper San Francisco.

We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from New York, James Cameron, the Oscar winning filmmaker. Good to see him again.

He is the executive producer of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus."

And Simcha Jacobovici. He is the Emmy Award winning documentarian, the director, producer and writer of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus."

And we'll have some comments from Ben Wedeman, our CNN senior correspondent in Jerusalem.

And there you see Ben in front of what might be the tomb.

Jim, give me a little history here.

What's this all about?

JAMES CAMERON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS": Well, Simcha came to me about two years ago with this project and asked if I wanted to be involved. And at first I was kind of skeptical and I asked to see the evidence. I said what have you got, because it was just -- there was too much of a wow factor. It was just -- it was just too unfathomable.

And as I got into it and I really studied what he had, what Simcha had basically done was he had connected the dots between two unconnected things. You had experts, on the one hand, who had understood that there were certain names in 1st or 2nd century Christian texts. And then, on the other hand, you had archaeologists who had found this tomb in 1980, in Jerusalem.

And in that tomb they found -- they found ossuaries with some very provocative names. There was Jesus, son of Joseph. There were two Marys. There was another Joseph, a diminutive name, "Yosef." And there was a Matthew and there was a Judah.

And it turns out that -- that when Simcha was able to connect all the dots, it started to look like a compelling case for this being the tomb of Jesus.

KING: Simcha, what took from 1980 to 2007 for this to come about as a documentary?

SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, DIRECTOR, "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS": Well, I wasn't involved in 1980. In 1980, the archaeologists found the tomb. It was archaeologists. It wasn't found by some amateurs or something like that. They found this cluster of names. But they dismissed the cluster because they said statistically it's not significant. There were a lot of people named Judas, Mary. And so, Jesus, Judah, Mary, and so on, it's not significant. It's common names.

The other thing is, the second Mary in the tomb wasn't Mary Magdalene, you know?

And her name was a variant of Miriam, a Greek variant, Mariamene. So there's two Marys in the tomb, one named Maria, which is -- comes down to, in the Christian tradition, the mother of Jesus; but the other one, Mariamene.

They couldn't have known in 1980 that in the 1990s, the scholars -- New Testament scholars at Harvard, Princeton, and so on -- would conclude that Mary Magdalene's title was Mary from Magdala, the city Magdala. But her name is Mariamene. They didn't know that. So the archaeologists didn't know what the New Testament guys knew and the New Testament people didn't know what the archaeologists knew.

KING: I see.

JACOBOVICI: Once we connected those dots then...

KING: That's it.

JACOBOVICI: Yes.

KING: Got you.

Simcha, are we saying -- are you saying in this documentary that Jesus married Mary, that they had a son and that they're all buried in that tomb?

JACOBOVICI: What I'm reporting is the news. There are six names in that tomb. One of them is Jesus, son of Joseph. There's two Marys. There's a Matthew. There's a Judah, son of Jesus.

Now, if Mary Magdalene is buried in that tomb, then her DNA should not match Jesus, son of Joseph. So we took -- we didn't do it -- we filmed experts taking not bones. There were no bones there. The bones had been reburied in 1980. But they were able, with today's technology -- that's another thing that was not available in 1980. Anybody who watches "CSI" knows today you can get DNA from human residue...

KING: Right.

JACOBOVICI: ... or even human stains.

KING: So what did they find?

JACOBOVICI: What they found is that Jesus, son of Joseph, buried in that tomb; and Mariamene, which is the name of Mary Magdalene, who were buried together and have been together for 2,000 years in that tomb, were not related by DNA matrilineally. So the suggestion is very strong that they, if they're in the same family tomb, that they are husband and wife.

KING: Yes.

Ben Wedeman is our CNN senior correspondent in Jerusalem.

First, Ben, where are you located?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, JERUSALEM: Well, we're in East Talpiot, which is a southern suburb of Jerusalem. And we are right in front of what it is claimed in this documentary is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, as you mentioned. So we are here.

Obviously, there's no way for us to actually get inside the tomb. We're very anxious to see this documentary that, of course, doesn't air until the 4th of March.

But we did spend a good deal of time today speaking with some of Israel's prominent archaeologists, including Amos Kloner, who was an archaeologist who did sort of a detailed study of the contents of this tomb. And he was rather skeptical about the documentary. At the same time, he, in fact, told us he was about to view the documentary, so he hasn't passed final judgment on it.

But, Larry, he was rather skeptical.

KING: Ben, is there a lot of talk there about this?

WEDEMAN: Oh, sure. This is front page news. It's on all the evening broadcasts. This is very much the talk of Jerusalem at the moment. But, of course, they are referring this story to Israel's prominent archaeologists, who, by and large, as I said, are fairly skeptical -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Ben.

Thanks for staying up to do this for us.

When we come back, James and Simcha will remain. And we'll be joined by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, an ordained minister and a critic of this, right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS," COURTESY THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to statistics, if we were on a crowded street in ancient Jerusalem and called out the name Jesus, there would be approximately a 4 percent chance that a Jesus would be there.

If we were to call out the name Mary, we would have a 25 percent chance of finding a Mary. Not bad odds.

But what Feuerverger explains is that if we were to call out for Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Matthew and Yosef all at the same time, the chances of all those individuals being on the same street together are quite low.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As we come back, we show you that scene in eastern Jerusalem. The scene purported to be of the tomb of Jesus Christ and family members. James Cameron, the Oscar-winning filmmaker, is the executive producer. Simcha Jacobovici is the Emmy award-winning documentarian and the director, producer and writer of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" that airs Sunday night on Discovery Channel. We are joined now in Louisville, Kentucky, by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Since so much of your faith is belief, no one has all of the facts in front of them, Dr. Mohler, what do you make of this startling discovery, if it is what it is? ALBERT MOHLER JR., PRES., SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well, it is only startling in terms of the sensationalism, I think, of public relations here. You are talking about a tomb that was discovered, as you said, well over two decades ago. The archaeologists there in Israel, who are the closest to this, have the greatest expertise, are not only looking at this with skepticism, but basically dismissing its claims.

You are talking about frankly trying to dress up an old documentary, the BBC did something like this over a decade ago, with this kind of supposed statistical research and DNA testing. The DNA testing is to me the most laughable aspect of all of this. I mean, frankly, there could be a thousand, thousand different explanations for whatever DNA pattern they could find.

No one has the DNA of Mary. You know, trying to bring this into a modern crime investigation is like trying to go back and figure out who exactly put the first dagger into Julius Caesar. It's impossible.

KING: Dr. Mohler, aren't you, as an intelligent person, open to the possibility of new things? We have modern technology. Things can be discovered now we never knew about. DNA was not known 25 years ago.

MOHLER: Well, that's true. But, again, you have to have a basis of a DNA sample that would make any sense. I mean, here you're talking about some people in a tomb who are related, and some, at least one, who was not. That can be explained by, frankly, by any kind of marriage, you would expect that to be the case.

When it comes down to new discoveries and new technology, there is no technology. There is no time machine here that is going to take us back to the First Century and actually tell us what happened there.

I'm going to base my beliefs on the scriptures which hold together far better than the kind of farcical documentary we are talking about here, throwing in a little bit of statistics. I mean, you're talking about the most common names, especially the most common male names, also frankly, female with the name Mary, you're talking about anything that could be found just about anywhere.

And then there are some rather really far-fetched claims. I mean, after all, you're talking about a poor, peasant family from Nazareth with an ancestral heritage in Bethlehem. There's no logical reason why their bones should end up in a middle class tomb in Jerusalem.

KING: Right. That's fair enough. Hold on. James Cameron, how -- before we call on Simcha, how would you respond to the critique of -- you're the exec. Producer?

JAMES CAMERON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS": I think these are excellent points that are being made and they are certainly things that we considered as we made this film. I think the idea that -- for example, that they were a poor family. They were the leaders of -- in their time, Jesus and Mary Magdalene and Mary -- Maria, his mother, they were the leaders of somewhat oppressed movement that was oppressed by the Romans and, to a large extent, also by the Pharisees, the Jewish authorities at the time because it was a little bit radical.

So -- but they were a religious movement with a very large followership. And they would have had the resources in later years to have a tomb at least as substantial as what we found.

KING: Simcha, if what you're purporting here is true, not as a pun, is this the end of the Easter Bunny?

SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, DIRECTOR & PRODUCER, "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS": Well, first of all, I'm not a theologian. And I don't think anything that has been found here -- people are having a knee-jerk reaction. They have not seen the film and yet this gentleman is calling it farcical.

I hear that all leading Israeli archaeologists are against it. That's not true. We had a press conference today, professor Shimon Gibson (ph), one of the two people who excavated the tomb, and said he's totally open to the possibility that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

We ourselves, we are not statisticians, we are not archaeologists. We went to archaeologists and archaeologists are in the film, professor Kloner, who is skeptical, is in the film saying, I'm skeptical. But others are not so skeptical, because when you take the names and the cluster of names, this gentleman, he's not a statistician. I'm not a statistician. With all due respect, Israeli archaeologists are not statisticians.

When we went to statisticians, and nobody else bothered, not the BBC, with all due respect, in 1996, to asked statisticians, what is the likelihood that this particular cluster of names would be found together? And the statisticians said 2 million to 1 in favor of the tomb. And the most conservative, professor Andrey Feuerverger, a professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Toronto, said 600 to 1.

Frankly, even if he said it's 2 to 1 possible that this is the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, we would have a duty to report it. We are reporters. That's all we are doing. We are reporting the statistics, the archaeology and the patina, the DNA. And people should, frankly, watch the film, read the book before they already decide. First the questions, then the answers. Not the other way around.

KING: Hold on a second, hold, got to take a break. Our panel will remain. Dr. Mohler will remain. We will be joined by one of the more prominent theologians and teachers and authors in America, Dr. James Tabor, right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus son of Joseph.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now from New York is Dr. James D. Tabor, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His books include "The Jesus Dynasty," "The Hidden History of Jesus: His Royal Family and the Birth of Christianity."

Dr. Tabor, what do you make of all of this?

JAMES TABOR, CHAIRMAN, DEPT. OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES, UNIV. NORTH CAROLINA AT CHARLOTTE: Well, I have been actually been working on it for about three or four years. And I do think that it is very worthy of consideration that we look at the cluster of names, the form of the names. And what I have tried to ask -- I'm not an archaeologist. I'm not a statistician. But from what I know of the historical records, both in the New Testament and other early Christian records, do these names fit what we know of the family of Jesus?

And I think the main thing that comes out, besides that Mariamene that I think has been mentioned, is the name of Jesus' lost brother. We have got -- Jesus had four brothers, James, Joseph, Jude and Simon. And when Jesus dies in the year 30, James takes over. This is well known to historians.

But after James dies in 62, instead of Joseph taking over, the next brother, Simon. So we have sort of lost Joseph. And there is this Jose in the tomb, which is the nickname for Jesus, brother of James, that's used in the Gospel of Mark three times.

So I think -- I am trying to put the historical records of the New Testament in with the archaeological data and the stats. And I think it's a good fit. It certainly is worth considering and talking about in a non-sensational way.

KING: This documentary will air on March 4th, Sunday. Dr. Mohler, Dr. Tabor is certainly a renowned theologian and student of all of this, been studying it all of his life, why not be open to at least think about it, talk about it, look at it? Don't you want to inquire or just not accept anything that is introduced?

MOHLER: Well, you have to accept the first part of any question. What kind of evidence could possibly be adduced that would make any sense in this? And the DNA evidence, even the statistical evidence given the preponderance of the names that are found in the ancient Near East, especially in the area we now call Israel, I mean, this kind of thing would be laughed out of court.

And frankly, I'm a bit surprised by Dr. Tabor's, at least, qualified endorsement of this, given the fact that this appears to me to be at least very inconsistent what he's arguing in his own book about Jesus not being the son of Joseph, which, by the way, we Christians don't hold either. But he's never known as the son of Joseph in terms of early Christian witness, he is never mentioned that way.

TABOR: No, he is. He's actually known as the son of Joseph in the New Testament, that certainly was his legal title.

MOHLER: It is not a name by which he was known in early Christian references at all. And you, if I'm not mistaken, Dr. Tabor...

TABOR: Well, he is called Jesus, son of Joseph, five times in the New Testament. So I don't know...

MOHLER: You argue that he's not the son of Joseph in your book, you also argue that if there is a tomb, it was likely to be in Galilee. So, I mean, you talk about...

TABOR: Well, that would be another show. But let's stay with this...

MOHLER: Well, we are talking about moving all of the pieces here to make for sensational television. And frankly, that's why I think most Christians are going to take this without any seriousness at all.

TABOR: We are talking about a tomb in Talpiot that is in my book that has these six names, and whether they are common or not. The names are relatively common. But James, for example, is 2 percent. I would not call that very common. Jesus is 9 percent. That's not very common.

MOHLER: That is almost one 1 of 10 of every male.

TABOR: You know, I will tell you, Dr. Mohler, if you had a football stadium with 50,000 people and you had all of the Jesuses stand up, it would be 3,000. So that's somewhat common. If you said, how many of you had a another named Mary? It would go down to 397. If you said, how many have a father named Joseph? It would go down again. And then if you say, a brother named James or Simon, it gets down to one person with just four questions.

So statistics are not intuitive. I'm not a statistician. I take it you aren't either.

MOHLER: No...

(CROSSTALK)

TABOR: But I have been told by statisticians, don't judge by the fact that you -- it's not, Bill, Peter, John and Sam here.

MOHLER: If we were back in Jerusalem in that hypothetical football stadium, and you could do that exercise, that would be far more interesting. But giving credence to something like DNA testing with no basis...

(CROSSTALK)

TABOR: But do you think there would more than one Jesus left standing after four questions would be the question. I don't think there would be, because from what I have been told by the stats, that's the math. A father, mother and a brother is going to take you down to a single person.

KING: All right. James Cameron, do you believe that this documentary is true, or are you just presenting what you have learned and let the audience decide? What do you believe?

CAMERON: I think that based on the evidence that's presented in the documentary and my kind of layman's knowledge of it, because I'm not an archaeologist, I'm not a statistician, I'm not theologian, I'm none of those things, I'm a filmmaker and a documentarian, I think that based on the evidence that we have right now, there's a very, very compelling case that this should be taken seriously and should be given further study.

The thing that people have to remember is, this is a documentary. We have limited resources to do forensic research, scientific sampling, and we have limited resources to contact every expert in every related field worldwide. The experts that we did contact did give us -- did give us a favorable response to the hypothesis that this is the tomb.

So the short answer is, yes, provisionally, based on what we know right now, I think that this is compelling. New evidence can come in tomorrow that refutes it. But right now, we are not there.

KING: Well, let me get a break. Dr. Tabor, thank you for joining us. William Donohue will be with us in a moment. He's president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. As we continue -- again, reminder, this documentary airs on the Discovery Channel Sunday. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can this stone coffin be linked to Jesus of Nazareth? To answer that question we have to examine all of the archaeological evidence uncovered in this family tomb. Does it fit with Christian tradition? Does it challenge certain articles of faith?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That's the site in Israel purported to be the tomb of Jesus Christ, major discussions in Israel. Front page news in Israel. And the subject of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," a book to be coming from HarperSanFrancisco and an award-winning producer/director, James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, who have both teamed together to bring "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" to the Discovery Channel on Sunday. They remain with us, as does Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And joining us now in New York is William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Good to see you again, Bill.

WILLIAM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: How are you doing, Larry?

KING: Fine. What's your thoughts?

DONOHUE: Well, here's my thought. You know, at the Catholic League, we have been tracking this stuff now for about 15, 20 years. That is to say every single Lenten season there's somebody, some author or someone of these TV magazine shows which puts out some doubts about the resurrection or Jesus' divinity.

Last year it was NBC. The year before that it was ABC. You can go back check it out on our Web site. Now look, I'm not imputing bad motive here. I'm simply saying this, we have a mountain of speculation with the icing on the top is some kind of corroborative statistical argument here.

I do agree with James on one thing, I want to see the evidence on this. I'm not afraid as a Christian to see the evidence on this. But Simcha, you know something, I've got to call in question your credibility. In 2002, the Discovery Channel, your friends which are putting this one on, on Sunday, they were the ones who came out and said that we have this ossuary of James, right?

Well, what happened? Fifteen experts in Israel looked at this and they said it was a monumental fraud. You have had guys from Tel Aviv University and from Harvard who say it's a fraud. You're quoted in today's Newsweek as saying you still believe it. How in the world could I have any credibility with you at this point?

JACOBOVICI: Is that a rhetorical question or do I get to answer?

DONOHUE: Go ahead and answer.

JACOBOVICI: OK. I believe in asking questions and then reaching conclusions. The fact is you just called that ossuary a fraud. The fact is...

DONOHUE: I didn't call it, the experts did.

JACOBOVICI: No. Because what's going on, there is a trial that is actually resuming tomorrow. The jury is literally out on this particular ossuary. So I am not going to call people forgers before a judge called them forgers. There have been experts on both sides. And actually, in this film and the book we show new evidence that was conducted right here in New York State, at the CSI lab at Suffolk City by Bob Jenna (ph), who is the head of that lab, and by Dr. Charles Pellegrino, that suggest that that Patina is authentic and actually originates with a missing ossuary from this tomb.

DONOHUE: The...

JACOBOVICI: So what I'm saying -- what I'm saying is, I'm putting forward the evidence and I'm not reaching conclusions before -- while the trial is still resuming.

DONONUE: Listen, I'm not...

JACOBOVICI: A man is innocent until proven guilty, that is all I'm saying.

DONOHUE: I'm simply saying that the Israel Antiquity Association voted 15-0 that it was a monumental fraud.

JACOBOVICI: Science is not a matter of voting.

DONOHUE: Oh, now all of a sudden we have science as being held in question. So which...

JACOBOVICI: No, no, that is not true.

DONOHUE: Getting kind of slippery here.

JACOBOVICI: No, no.

DONOHUE: Do you invoke science when it becomes...

JACOBOVICI: I don't know what...

DONOHUE: ... useful to your argument?

JACOBOVICI: By screaming, it does not make it true or false. All I'm trying to tell you is that Dr. Crombine (ph), who is the world's top expert on stone, in the world, has testified in that trial the inscription, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," is authentic. I have just told you that Suffolk City CSI lab says it's authentic. The Royal Ontario Museum says it is authentic. What I'm trying to tell you is -- you don't have to get excited. You have to just listen to the evidence and weigh it.

DONOHUE: No, I have looked at the evidence myself.

JACOBOVICI: OK. Did you really doubt (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

DONOHUE: They don't agree with you.

JACOBOVICI: ... tomorrow the trial resumes?

KING: What are you -- Dr. Mohler and Bill Donohue, I guess we will ask Bill first, are you afraid of learning something? I'm trying to figure out.

DONOHUE: Oh no, no. As a matter of fact, I want this pursued because someone is wrong here. And I like this idea of looking at the empirical evidence. But you know what you can't do? This forced idea of connecting dots. I have seen it in the social sciences and they exist in natural sciences.

Somebody takes -- starts off with a predicate this could be true. And then they tie it to something else, which could be true. By the time you're finished with this game, you have nothing but a mountain of speculation. And the idea that is preposterous that somehow you are going to come up with some statistical measure. Dr. Al Mohler is absolutely right on the money when he says, you don't have any DNA evidence here in 2007 that you can resolve this. I think we have to be extremely tentative and cautious. But, no, Larry, I want the truth to come out. And I am confident.

KING: All right. Let me get a break on time here. We'll be right back with our remaining moments. Don't forget, it does air Sunday and everyone should watch it just to be enlightened a little. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back. Dr. Mohler, what effect could this have on your church?

MOHLER: Well, Larry, the one true thing that we have to affirm here is that if it ever could be proved that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, if the resurrection was a fraud, then Christianity falls.

The problem with this kind of documentary, which is a commercial product, and as Bill Donohue rightly said, is just perfectly timed for is the season like so often is the case, is, you have to understand, any court of law, you can't just call anything evidence. It has to be an evidence trail that makes sense. It has to be evidentiary material that fits the context. Nothing could ever prove, there's no DNA, there's nothing that could ever prove these bones are the bones of Jesus. It makes no sense.

KING: Haven't millions of people over the years gone to their death for a belief?

MOHLER: But the point is here, they would have to go to their death for something they know was a lie. If they knew that the bones of Jesus were in this tomb, why would the very people who would be most likely know that be the ones who would give their lives? That's the big question here.

KING: Simcha, you know you are going to create a great deal of controversy next Monday morning?

JACOBOVICI: Larry, we don't challenge resurrection. We are not theologians. And actually, I don't -- you know, I spoke to theologians, they said, if he rose from one tomb, he could have just as easily have arisen from a second tomb.

The question of a bodily ascension, from what I understand, is a problem. But most Christians believe in a spiritual ascension and a physical resurrection. We are not in...

KING: Catholics, I think, believe in a bodily.

JACOBOVICI: We are not in the theology business. All we are doing here is we are reporting the news. The fact is this tomb is real, underneath the cement slab that you see in the picture. The fact is that there are six names in there, Jesus, son of Joseph, two Marys, a Matthew, a Jose. We are reporting the news. And people will take it and do what they will with it.

KING: I must ask James Cameron, when is your next feature film?

(LAUGHTER)

CAMERON: Well, I have to go back to L.A. and shoot on it tomorrow. It's coming out in '09, Memorial Day, '09.

KING: What is it about?

CAMERON: It is called "Avatar," it's a big science fiction film that takes place on another planet. A little bit different than this one.

DONOHUE: This is science fiction, too. That's the only difference.

(LAUGHTER)

DONOHUE: You're a master of science fiction, James.

CAMERON: A slightly different budget on our documentary. This is a $2 million documentary. If we had had a little more money, we could have done a lot more research. So that's...

KING: Bill Donohue, just so I understand, the Catholics believe Christ literally rose, right? The body rose.

DONOHUE: That's right. That's right.

KING: So what does this do to your faith?

DONOHUE: It doesn't do anything because we are in the world of science fiction, Larry. I mean, quite frankly, you know, give me a call when somebody has got the real evidence on something like this. Every Lenten season, I say we are treated to the same kind of speculation. Jesus was just a carpenter. I suppose we will learn next year he did his apprenticeship at Home Depot or Lowe's.

I mean, I'm just simply not going to sit here and listen to something about an argument which is predicated on nothing but idle speculation.

JACOBOVICI: But you don't know that. You have not reviewed the evidence.

DONOHUE: No, I am not an archaeologist. I'm a sociologist. But I think I know what "Titanic" fraud is.

KING: Simcha, when does the book come out?

JACOBOVICI: The book is out tomorrow, I believe, and it is called "The Jesus Family Tomb."

KING: Thank you all very much, James Cameron, Simcha Jacobovici, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Bill Donohue. We are exciting to begin text voting tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. Our first poll has to do with tomorrow night's guest, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We all know that Nancy made history as the first female speaker of the House. The question is, is the nation ready for its first female president? Text your vote to CNNTV from your cell phone. Text KINGA for yes, or KINGB for no. We will reveal the results on tomorrow night's show with our guest, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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