Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Jesus Tomb Controversy

The following is a list of issues and questions that I think are worth examining in regard to this recent discovery.

  • The names on the ossuaries were very common at that time. *According to Discovery Channel’s own document, “Joseph” was the second-most-common male name in first-century Israel, “Mary” was the most-common female name, and “Jesus” was the sixth-most-common male name.
  • The claim that Mary Magdalene’s bones were found in one of the ossuaries on the basis that the name “Mariamne” (Mary) is inscribed on it is not substantiated.
  • Jesus DNA? No. As Ben Witherington noted, “we would need an independent control sample from some member of Jesus’ family to confirm that these were members of Jesus’ family.”
  • There is no credible historical evidence that Jesus was married, to Mary Magdalene or anyone else.
  • There is no historical evidence for Jesus having a son named Jude.
  • There is nothing in the New Testament, nothing in the church fathers, nothing in the documents of any heretics or enemies concerning Jesus being married or having a son.
  • We have historical reliable accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • We have an early Christian defense of the reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15)
  • There were ten separate appearances of Jesus after his resurrection (post-mortem). He appeared (1) to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14); (2) to the other women (Matt. 28:9); (3) to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5); (4) to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32); (5) to ten of the disciples in the upper room (John 20:19-24); (6) to the eleven disciples, including Thomas, eight days later (John 20:26-29); (7) to seven disciples in Galilee (John 21); (8) to the five hundred (1 Cor. 15:6); (9) to James (1 Cor. 15:7); and (10) to the eleven on the Mount of Olives as He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-9).

The supposition that these common names tied particularly to the Jesus and Mary of the Bible would require a number of other things to also be true: *The following points are from: Entry: Sunday, February 25, 2007 )

  • It would mean that Jesus' family had kept track of his remains until they were bones fit for an ossuary and had still given their full endorsement to the accounts of his bodily resurrection.
  • It would mean that Mary and the rest of the holy family -- leaders in the Jerusalem church for decades and well-known figures to all the early Christian leaders -- were willfully deceiving the entire world including their closest friends for the remainder of their lives.
  • It requires believing that Jesus' family risked being put out of the synagogues and the floggings and death which the Jewish leadership were visiting on followers of Jesus, all for a lie they themselves had made.
  • It would mean that Jesus' brother James, who risked his life to proclaim Jesus as Messiah and was murdered by a Jewish mob for his trouble (see Josephus), did that in the full knowledge that the stories in circulation about Jesus were lies he had himself told.
  • It would require the belief that those family members who had doubted Jesus before his crucifixion also kept their silence with this inconvenient set of bones in the family tomb.
  • It would also mean that when Mary died and was buried years later and the tomb was re-opened to allow her burial, this other set of bones in the family tomb did not manage to be noticed or revealed.
  • If the other sets of bones in the tomb are presumed to be of people who died in later years after Jesus' crucifixion, the same problem would arise for each and every fresh burial: the inconveniently-labeled set of bones in the family tomb.