February 26, 2007

It's Almost Easter, So It's Time for a New "Discovery": This Time, The Tomb of Jesus

On Sunday March 4th The Discovery Channel will air a new documentary by James Cameron (of Titanic fame) who claims to have "found" the tomb of Jesus, maybe his wife, and even a son.

The tomb was actually discovered in 1980 in Talpoit, in the southern part of Jerusalem; and contained ten Ossuaries or burial boxes. An ossurary is more or less a "bone box" it is where the skeletal remains would be placed after about one year in a tomb in keeping with Jewish burial practices in the Second Temple period. Six of the ten had inscriptions on them indicating possible names of those who were buried.

Todd Bolen of The Master's College IBEX extension campus in Israel and operator of Bible Places has blogged on this and details a lot of the information. The Discovery Channel has some nice shows usually, but they are not above sensationalizing stories that deal with Christianity and religion in general. As we have noted in the past, these stories generally begin to make their appearence around Easter.

A number of scholars have already weighed in on this "discovery." Remember that this tomb was excavated over 25 years ago. A report on it appeared in the journal Antiqot in 1996. William Dever, Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University and one of the foremost archaeologists of this generation, stated, "The fact that it's been ignored tells you something. It would be amusing if it didn't mislead so many people."

Without restating all that has already been written here are some key points:

  • When Jesus was crucified 33AD He was buried in an new, unused tomb, in the immediate area where the crucifixion took place (cf. John 19:41). The Talpoit Tomb is not close to any of the locations associated or even possibly associated with the arrest, trial, or crucifixion.
  • The documentary will note that one of the ossuaries has the inscription "Judah, Son of Jesus" and another has a name associated with Mary Magdalene. As with the DaVinci Code novel, the assumption is that Jesus was married to Mary and that they had a child, and that this is a "family tomb." The problem here is that Jesus didn't live in Jerusalem, He was a resident of Galilee and actually spent very little of His life or ministry in Jerusalem.
  • The Talpoit Tomb is a normal size and adorned tomb of a middle to upper middle class family, it was hardly hidden or in a location unknown at the time. If Jesus was buried there (along with his family), then the story the Jewish leaders created in Matthew 28:11-16 makes no sense at all.
  • The names found on the ossuraries are among the most common names in the Jewish culture of that era. As one scholar noted, there have been several ossuaries with the name, "Jesus Son of Joseph" on them.
  • Of course, if this thesis is true, then all of Christianity is a cruel hoax as Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 15:1-19; "we are of all men most to be pitied."

This "documentary" is fraught with pseudo-scholarship and founded on a radical minimalist approach to Scripture. It is sensationalistic nonsense that does not even deserve the title of "theory."

Posted by Narnia3 at February 26, 2007 5:40 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Powered by
Movable Type 4.01

design by blogstyles.