March 5, 2007

The Jesus Family Tomb?

Most of you have heard by now that a group of so-called experts, including the producer of The Titanic (a real scholarly crowd!) has ‘discovered’, in Jerusalem, a box of bones that supposedly contains the bones of Jesus—and ‘demonstrates’ (as Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code failed so miserably to do) that Jesus really was married to Mary Magdalene. They have made a ‘documentary’ about their ‘findings’ that aired this past weekend on The Discovery Channel. Read more at:

Their theory that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, and that he was married and had children, is based on this discovery of a box of bones (a way of burial common to ancient times) containing the names Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mariamene, Mathew, Jofa, and Judah son of Jesua. The assumption is made (probably correctly) that these people were all family, and that the name Mariamene is code for Mary Magdalene. And after all, they say, what are the chances that another Jesua (Jesus) son of Joseph would have been living in ancient Palestine?

So, do they have a case? Is it possible that our faith in the literal resurrection of Jesus (and therefore Christianity itself) is one big hoax? A few things to think about…

1. What are the chances of there being another Jesus, son of Joseph (who also had a family member named Mary) floating around in ancient Judea? Pretty good actually. Just read the rest of the New Testament and you will see that these were very popular Jewish names. There were no shortages of Mary’s, Joseph’s, and Jesus’s in ancient Jewish times. So these bones could have belonged to any number of ancient extended families.

2. Why would Mary and Joseph have been buried in Jerusalem? In ancient times, people were almost always buried in a family homestead. And Jesus’ family never lived in Jerusalem. They were from far off Galilee.

3. It is interesting that the archaeological community—the people who actually discovered this box in 1980 (and who do this kind of thing for a living) have not considered this a significant find at all. For the reasons above (and others) the real experts place no credence in this new theory. In fact, though the archaeological community has known about this box for 27 years, this new ‘theory’ has only surfaced recently—with Hollywood’s help!

4. Place yourself in 1st century Jerusalem. If this box really were the bones of Jesus, who in the world would have actually buried it? If you were an enemy of Christianity, you wouldn’t bury a box with Jesus’ bones in it! You’d bring it out for the world to see; you’d prove once and for all that Jesus had not risen! And if you were a 1st century Christian, trying to further the hoax that Jesus really had risen from the dead, you wouldn’t bury a box like this either. You’d destroy it so that, someday, some really smart ‘scholars’ wouldn’t come along and uncover your hoax!

So which is the hoax? Christianity? Or the Jesus Family Tomb? Think it out and the answer becomes obvious. Do we want to trust the writings of the New Testament—written the decades immediately following Jesus’ life and death; written by eye-witnesses; and disseminated in the land of Israel where, even those who had witnessed the events and disliked Christianity, could not disprove what the apostles wrote?

Or do we want to trust the musings of a few half-cocked Americans with a box of bones and a movie camera?

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