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Jesus' Bones Discovered?


A television program aired on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007 suggesting that the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth was discovered in Jerusalem in 1980. Click here to read more about the program: http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/tomb.html


As noted on the Discovery Channel web site:


"Since the 1970s, hundreds of tombs and thousands of ossuaries (limestone bone boxes) have been discovered in the Jerusalem area. These ossuaries served as coffins in first-century Jerusalem.

"One of these tombs was found to contain ten ossuaries. Six of the ossuaries in this tomb have inscriptions on them."


According to the makers of this "documentary" -- every inscription in this particular tomb relates to the Gospels, and in particular, to Jesus' family. But this is where we must begin to question the makers of this "documentary". Taking the names found on the ossuaries in the tomb, one by one, we find:
  1. Matthew was only associated with Jesus as a possible great-grandfather according to Luke 3:24. That seems a bit unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth would have been buried with his great grandfather, or with Matthew, one of his disciples.
  2. The name Maria is a variant of the most common woman's name in 1st century Palestine. Furthermore, the Christian tradition has always been that Mary went to live with John, the disciple of Jesus, after Jesus’ death and resurrection. If that is correct it is more likely that her remains would have been buried in Asia Minor where John later served a number of churches.
  3. The Jose spelling is not exactly the same as Joses, mentioned as a brother of Jesus in the Gospels. Still, this spelling has the most direct connection to a relative of Jesus out of any so far discovered in the tomb.
  4. We can’t be certain that the ossuary of James son of Joseph was originally present in this tomb. And of course a number of questions have been raised about the authenticity of this ossuary.
  5. The name Jesus, even Jesus son of Joseph, was quite common in the first century. Another ossuary with this inscription has even been discovered.
  6. The name Mariamne for Mary Magdalene is confirmed only by the Acts of Philip written in the 4th century, not by any of the Gospels written in the 1st century.
  7. The name Judah has no 1st century confirmation for connection with Jesus of Nazareth.
Furthermore, the Discovery Channel web site asserts:
  1. "All leading epigraphers agree about the inscriptions." Not true.
  2. "All archaeologists confirm the nature of the find." Not true.
The Discovery Channel web site goes on to claim that: "It comes down to a matter of statistics. A statistical study commissioned by the broadcasters (Discovery Channel/Vision Canada/C4 UK) concludes that the probability factor is in the order of 600 to 1 that an equally 'surprising' cluster of names would arise purely by chance under given assumptions." But this does not necessarily mean, as the Discovery Channel implies, that the chances of this tomb being the Jesus of Nazareth family tomb is 600 to 1 in favor.
According to the Discovery Channel web site: "The film also documents DNA extraction from human residue found in two of the ossuaries and reveals new evidence that throws light on Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene." The fact is that DNA samples were extracted only from these two ossuaries and the results suggest that the remains in these two ossuaries were of people not related to one another. That is all we know.
The executive producer of The Lost Tomb of Jesus is Academy award winning filmmaker, James Cameron, maker of the movie Titanic. In short, the results of this "documentary" suggest to me that perhaps James Cameron should have stayed on the Titanic.
Even more disconcerting has been the reaction of some so-called Christian scholars who have suggested that the discovery of Jesus' bones would not have any negative effect on their faith.
In contrast to this I think it is important to re-assert several important points which C. S. Lewis made about the resurrection in his chapter "Miracles of the New Creation" in his book Miracles:
  1. "In the earliest days of Christianity an 'apostle' was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eye-witness of the Resurrection."
  2. "As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection."
  3. What the first followers of Christ were claiming "was that they had all, at one time or another, met Jesus during the six or seven weeks that followed His death."
  4. "This termination of the period is important, for, as we shall see, there is no possibility of isolating the doctrine of the Resurrection from that of the Ascension."
  5. "The next point to notice is that the Resurrection was not regarded simply or chiefly as evidence for the immortality of the soul."
  6. "If the truth is that after death there comes a negatively spiritual life, an eternity of mystical experience, what more misleading way of communicating it could possibly be found than the appearance of a human form which eats broiled fish?" See Luke 24:36-43.
  7. "The body, which lives in that new mode is like, and yet unlike, the body His friends knew before the execution. It is differently related to space and probably to time, but by no means cut off from all relation to them. It can perform the animal act of eating. It is so related to matter, as we know it, that it can be touched, though at first it had better not be touched. It has also a history before it which is in view from the first moment of the Resurrection; it is presently going to become different or go somewhere else. That is why the story of the Ascension cannot be separated from that of the Resurrection. . . . For a phantom can just fade away; but an objective entity must go somewhere--something must happen to it."
For more on the reaction in the scholarly community to the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" click here: http://www.ptsem.edu/NEWS/tombofjesus.php

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