Friday, March 02, 2007

The Problems with the Lost Tomb

When Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron get together to make a blockbuster, $4 million "documentary" about an old find and act like there is a radical, new, life-changing discovery of the bones of Jesus and his family, we must object with more than a little skepticism.

This tomb on Talpiot street, found in 1980 by Amos Kloner, with ten ossuaries (bone boxes) has been featured at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem for several years. The fact that the boxes contain names similar to those in the early family of Jesus (Joseph, Mary, Jesus) is really not that odd. These were very popular names and are found on several ossuaries.

Richard Bauckman of St Andrews University released a catalog of Palestinian ossuaries in 2002. Among the top ten names for males were both Joseph and Jesus. There are a total of 45 ossuaries from this period with the name of Joseph, 22 with the name of Jesus, and 42 with the name of Mary or Mariam. When you consider that these names appear even more often in other settings, it should not surprise us to find an ossuary with "Jesus, son of Joseph" and a Mary in the collective tomb. Finding boxes with these names on it does not mean that the family of Jesus of Nazareth has been found; it means that a Jesus, a Joseph, and a Mary has been found. Whether this Joseph and this Mary were married is not certain. Whether Mariam (thought to be Mary Magdalene) is here the wife of Jesus is only speculation.

But there is DNA evidence! DNA tests were only taken of the residue found in the ossuaries of Jesus and Mariam; they found that they were not blood kin. Jacobovici presumes Jesus and Mariam were married, but how do we know that? Could she not have been the wife of one of the other men? Since we don't have any indisputable DNA from the Jesus of history, how do we know this is Jesus of Nazareth? We don't. Jacobovici is speculating. It is at best a guess, and considering the evidence, an impossible one.

Why Jerusalem? Poor Galileans had little money to buy an expensive gravesite in Jerusalem, 75 miles away. Since there is no embalming, the body of Joseph (who likely died in Nazareth) would be stinking by the time they got it there.

Joseph's family of origin came from Bethlehem not Jerusalem. He lived and worked in Nazareth. Why would he be buried in Jerusalem?

If you research the web site, you will see that the "scholars" behind this film end up denying the resurrection and the ascension. They suggest the story behind the story is that the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and buried him again at the Talpiot family site.

How did they get the body past the guards (Mt. 27:65)?

Why did they leave the grave clothes (John 20:6)?

How did they keep it a secret from Jesus' brothers James and Jude, who died beleiving in a resurrection?

The whole idea is preposterous! It ignores the history given by eyewitnesses in the New Testament to embrace the wide-eyed, fantasy find of a bunch of filmmakers who admit they are not scholars.

This supposed find is as bogus as can be.


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