Historicity of Christ

Jesusís Tomb Again and Again

Doesnít is seem suspect to you that a tomb, with the buried Jesus Christ inside, would go undetected for nearly two millennia? Doesnít it seem suspect that the most meticulous Jewish hierarchy, who were keenly aware of the benefits of such a find, could not produce the dead body of Jesus Christ?
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Jesusís Tomb Again and Again

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God knows the imaginations of our thoughts. He knows the very image that resides in every single neuron in our bodies. He knows our strengths. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our foolishness. He knows our motivations. Some of King David’s last words to his son Solomon are recorded in I Chronicles 28:9:

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Not only does God know every image in every neuron, He can also change those images. This is a Biblical process known as the renewing of the mind. Romans 12:2:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The beginning of this miraculous transformation process is known in the Scriptures as born- again. At this crossroads in a person’s life, he or she either chooses to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender to Him, or not. If we choose Christ, we become born-again, born this second time of the Spirit. As a result of this birth, we become sons and daughters of God. This is where the glorious transformation begins. It ends when we see Christ face to face, and become as He is. This is the beginning of eternity. Would you like to experience this amazing transformation? Do you have some images you would like to have expunged? Click onto "Further With Jesus" for easy how-to instructions. NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:3-6:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:12-20:

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

MAN SAID: As reported on Time.com, "Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you Titanic, is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he’s sinking is Christianity."

Now THE RECORD. By now, most of you have heard of the film documentary released by producer James Cameron and Jewish director Simcha Jacobovici on the Discovery Channel, March 4, 2007, called The Lost Tomb of Jesus. This already-debunked film, like The Da Vinci Code, was timed to be released during our calendar’s commemorance of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the tomb. However, for 1,700 years, Christ’s empty tomb has been housed in the Holy Sepulchre on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem’s Christian quarter.

The very foundation of Christianity, since its inception, is that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, sinless and born of a virgin, was crucified and died on Golgotha’s Hill for the sins of this world, and on the third day rose from the dead out of the tomb, to set captive souls free. One prominent theologian said that if Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, it would not affect his faith. People of this ilk are also those of the mindset that attempt to discredit the inerrancy of the Scriptures: the 6,000- year-old earth, Noah’s worldwide flood, the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea, the giving of the first five books of the Bible directly from God to Moses, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, His ascension into heaven, and other Biblical truths. I think that a Biblical definition of faith is in order. (Click onto "The Measure of Faith" on this website.)

Did Cameron and Jacobovici find the tomb in which Jesus Christ was buried and housed for nearly 2,000 years? The simple answer is, "Of course not!" The tomb where the Christ was buried is EMPTY, yet 4.1 million viewers watched the Discovery Channel’s feature presentation in expectation of finding Christ’s body. You can be sure many were negatively affected by this film. You can also be sure that the antichrist crowd cheered gleefully, although much too prematurely.

Doesn’t it seem suspect to you that a tomb with Jesus Christ buried inside would go undetected for nearly two millennia? Doesn’t it seem suspect that the most meticulous Jewish hierarchy, who were keenly aware of the benefits of such a find, could not produce the dead body of Jesus Christ? The Scriptures record their concern in Matthew 27:62-66:

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

If the High Priest could have produced the dead body of the King of the Jews, then the Lord would have been discredited. The following account is found in Matthew 28:1-15:

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Attempts to discredit the resurrection of the King of Glory are not new. Cameron and Jacobovici are just two more in a long line of those who choose unbelief and blasphemy. Their documentary, by the way, was far from being forcefully conclusive. It was laden with words and phrases such as, "most likely, probably, if, perhaps, we are only speculating, and the evidence strongly suggests."

Many experts are stepping forth to be heard on this matter, and the antichrist crowd is taking a sound drubbing. In this feature, GodSaidManSaid will quote from a plethora of sources.

The first source that does a thorough job of laying out the issue is Y-Jesus.com. The following is from their website:

The facts claimed:

1. In 1980, ten limestone bone boxes (ossuaries) dated to the first century, were discovered in an excavated tomb in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot.2. Six inscriptions were discovered with names similar to or the same as some of Jesus Christ’s family and disciples:

• Jesua, son of Joseph,

• Mary

• Mariamene e Mara

• Mathew (Matia, Ossuary #703)

• Jofa

• Judah, son of Jesua.

3. Cameron attempts to prove that Mariamene e Mara is Mary of Magdalene, and that she and Jesus had a son named "Judah, son of Jesua."

4. DNA analysis identifies that tissues from the ossuaries of Jesua and Mariamene e Mara were not related, raising the possibility they may have been married and had a child. [End of quote]

Y-Jesus.com continues to address the four claims listed above:

1. It is true that these ossuaries were discovered in an ancient tomb. But thousands of similar tombs have been discovered in Jerusalem. And ossuaries were often used for the bones of more than one individual. In fact, according to Dr. Craig Evans, PhD, author of Jesus and the Ossuaries, the tomb carried the bones of about 35 different individuals, and about half were from these ossuaries. Evans also notes that there was considerable contamination of the site.

2. Are Cameron and Jacobovici correct about the names they assert are on the ossuaries? Not according to many experts. Some were written in Aramaic, others in Hebrew, and another in Greek. This indicates they were not buried in a similar time period. It is not even clear that "Jesus" is named on any of the ossuaries. Dr. Evans’s personal examination of the ossuary was inconclusive. Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, is also unsure that the name "Jesus" on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it’s more likely the name "Hanun." Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

Additionally, it should be noted that the names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were extremely common in the first century. About 25% of the women in Jesus’ day were named Mary. Joseph was also a common name. And about one in ten had the name "Jesua". Dr. Evans indicates that approximately 100 tombs have been discovered in Jerusalem with the name "Jesus" and 200 with the name "Joseph." The name "Mary" is on far more.

Each name, with the exception of Mariamene, seemed common to their period, and it was only in 1996 that the BBC made a film suggesting that, given the combination, it might be that family. The idea was eventually discounted, however, because, as New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham asserted, the names with Biblical resonance are so common that even when you run the probabilities on the group, the odds of it being the famous Jesus’ family are "very low."

3. The statistical support for the entire "Jesus tomb" theory rises or falls on the question of Mary Magdalene. So did the name Mariamene e Mara mean Mary Magdalene, as Cameron and Jacobovici attempt to prove? Not according to most experts. Their interpretation is simply not supported by evidence. Bauckham notes, "The first use of ’Mariamene’ for Magdalene dates to a scholar who was born in 185, suggesting that Magdalene wouldn’t have been called that at her death."

So, even though Cameron and Jacobovici employed a statistician, Andrey Feuerverger, to support their case, his numbers were based upon assumptions disputed by the majority of scholars. In fact, Feuerverger himself admits that the assumptions were given to him by Jacobovici, and that the single biggest factor in his 600 to 1 odds was the identity of Mariamene e Mara being Mary of Magdalene. Feuerverger defends his role in an interview with Scientific American, "I did permit the number one in 600 to be used in the film—I’m prepared to stand behind that but on the understanding that these numbers were calculated based on assumptions that I was asked to use."

4. But what about the DNA tests? Doesn’t that prove Jesus was in the tomb? Let’s look closer at what the DNA test measured. It took residue (there were no bones to examine) from the ossuaries Jacobovici identified as belonging to both Jesua and Mariamene, and used mitochondrial DNA testing to see if they were related. The results proved to be negative, indicating to him that the two individuals were not related matrilineally. He thus assumes the two were married. But Bauckham isn’t impressed. He writes, "If ’Jesus’ and ’Mariamene’ weren’t related matrilineally, why jump to the conclusion that they were husband and wife, rather than being related through their fathers?" [End of quote]

A point of note is that the Old Testament name Joshua, when taken from the New Testament Greek into English, is translated as Jesus. The names Joshua and Jesus are one and the same as verified in Acts 7:44-45

The following paragraph is from the March issue of the International Jerusalem Post:

Ossuary 5 is problematic, too. While the other inscriptions are in Hebrew or Aramaic, this one is in Greek. It’s another Mary, but with a twist—a curious variant spelled "Mariamne e Mara"—which might be translated as "Mary known as the master."  [End of quote]

Continuing on with the claim that Mariamne e Mara and Mary Magdalene are one and the same, Realtruth.org weighs in with the following:

One tomb is inscribed with the name "Mariamne e Mara," a specific form of the name Mary. The filmmakers then linked this to Mary Magdalene, stating that "Mariamne" is referenced in the apocryphal book The Acts of Philip—which was written more than 200 years after Mary Magdalene’s death!

"Mara," the film asserted, means "master." With this definition, the claim was made that Mariamne (i.e. Mary Magdalene) was a spiritual teacher, minister, or even an apostle, as indicated in The Acts of Philip. Yet this book was rejected when the writings of the New Testament were canonized—all the other books clearly state that only men could be ordained ministers of God. (See I Timothy 3:1-5 and Titus 1:6.) [End of quote]

The vast majority of archaeologists and historians are disputing Cameron and Jacobovici’s claims. Again, quoting from Y-Jesus.com:

Why was the James Ossuary, which has been labeled a forgery, cited by Cameron and Jacobovici as one of the reasons for the tomb’s validity? CBS News correspondent Mark Philips reports, "The archeological establishment has lined up to label this claim as bunk. This is the second time The Discovery Channel has been involved in a disputed claim about an ancient tomb," reports Phillips. “The man at the center of the previous case is now facing trial for forgery." Ben Witherington, an early Christianity expert who was deeply involved with the James Ossuary, says, "there are physical reasons to believe it couldn’t have originated in the Talpiot plot." [End of quote]

Non-christian archaeologist William Dever, an undisputed expert on Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology who excavated ancient sites in Israel for five decades, stated this in the Washington Post:

I’ve known about these ossuaries for many years, and so have many other archaeologists, and none of us thought it was much of a story, because these are rather common Jewish names from that era. It’s a publicity stunt, and will make these guys very rich, and it will upset millions of innocent people because they don’t know enough to separate fact from fiction. [End of quote]

The March 5, 2007, issue of Newsweek, under the header "Raiders of the Lost Tomb," logs in with the following:

His critics are arming themselves for battle. "Simcha (Jacobovici) has no credibility whatsoever," says Joe Zias, who was the curator for anthropology and archaeology at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997 and personally numbered the Talpiot ossuaries. "He’s pimping off the Bible...He got this guy Cameron, who made ’Titanic’ or something like that — what does this guy know about archaeology? I am an archaeologist, but if I were to write a book about brain surgery, you would say, ’Who is this guy?’ People want signs and wonders. Projects like these make a mockery of the archaeological profession." [End of quote]

The Jerusalem Post interviewed Professor Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem district archaeologist who oversaw the work at the Talpiot tomb in 1980 when it was discovered. The interview follows in its entirety:

What do you make of the assertion that Jesus and his family were buried there?

It makes a great story for a TV film. But it’s completely impossible. It’s nonsense. There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the first century CE.

But there is apparently such a confluence of resonant names.

The name "Jesus son of Joseph" has been found on three or four ossuaries. These are common names. There were huge headlines in the 1940s surrounding another Jesus ossuary, cited as the first evidence of Christianity. There was another Jesus tomb. Months later it was dismissed. Give me scientific evidence, and I’ll grapple with it. But this is manufactured.

What of the assertion that the 10th ossuary disappeared from your care and may be none other than the "James" ossuary?

Nothing has disappeared. The 10th ossuary was on my list. The measurements were not the same (as the James ossuary). It was plain (without an inscription). We had no room under our roofs for all the ossuaries, so unmarked ones were sometimes kept in the courtyard (of the Rockefeller Museum).

Why, if you dismiss the claims, has the IAA loaned out ossuaries to the filmmakers?

I don’t care what the IAA gets up to. I don’t work for the IAA anymore, but it’s very foolish. The left hand there doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. [End of quote]

Professor Kloner is quoted again in National Geographic News. The following paragraphs are from an article titled "Jesus Tomb Claim Slammed By Scholars:"

The movie presents what the filmmakers say is archaeological, statistical, and genetic evidence suggesting that the family of Jesus might have been interred in the burial cave.

"The evidence is compelling," Jane Root, president of the Discovery Channel, said during a press briefing. "The consequences are enormous."

But the Israeli archaeologist who originally excavated the tomb insists the claims are preposterous. And a leading Christian scholar who appears in the film agrees.

"Their movie is not serious," Amos Kloner, the Bar Ilan University professor who led the excavation in the 1980s, told National Geographic News.

"They [say they] are ’discovering’ things. But they haven’t discovered anything. They haven’t found anything. Everything had already been published.

"And there is no basis on which to make a story out of this or to identify this as the family of Jesus." [End of quote]

Again from Y-Jesus.com, Zias says:

Since the custom was to bury the dead in their home town, why would Mary and Joseph’s family tomb be in Jerusalem instead of Nazareth? Middle East researcher and biblical anthropologist Joe Zias states, "It has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus; he was known as Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus of Jerusalem, and if the family was wealthy enough to afford a tomb, which they probably weren’t, it would have been in Nazareth, not here in Jerusalem." Zias dismisses Cameron’s claims as "dishonest."  [End of quote]

Realtruth.org quotes David Mevorah and Jodi Magness. The excerpt reads:

David Mevorah, curator of the Israel Museum: "Suggesting that this tomb was the tomb of the family of Jesus is a far-fetched suggestion" (NY Times).  Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "This whole case [for Jesus’ tomb] is flawed from beginning to end" (Washington Post). [End of quote]

People magazine, in a story titled, "Is This Jesus’ Tomb?" contains comments by Zias and quotes by a leading archaeologist:

But prominent scholars call that shoddy evidence, and Zias says as many as 200 people were likely to be buried in the same tomb, making the six uncovered names a meaningless example. "I think they’re mainly attempting to exploit The Da Vinci Code," says Harvard archaeologist Lawrence Stager, noting there were 71 Jesuses buried in the cemetery where the boxes were found. "I would describe this as a sheep-and-donkey show." [End of quote]

Again, concerning the commonality of the names, the following paragraph is lifted from the International Jerusalem Post:

Biblical scholar Stephen Pfann, from the University of the Holy Land, published a statistical assessment last week of the Jewish names found on all ossuaries in the Rahmani catalogue. "Mary" and its variants is the third most popular name of all (behind Salome and Simon). "Joseph" is the fourth. "Jesus" is the 10th. What’s more, he writes, a mere 16 names, including these three of course, "account for 75 percent of all the inscribed names."  [End of quote]

When the "evidence" is being presented for the claim that Jesus Christ didn’t actually resurrect from the tomb and ascend into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the filmmakers claimed the staggering odds of it not being the tomb of Jesus Christ at 1 in 97,280,000. Later the odds were reduced to 1 in 30,000, and later yet, to 1 in 600. That’s quite a swing! Finally from The Jerusalem Post:

Pfann, who says he was consulted by Jacobovici over the "Jesus" inscription, told him he couldn’t confirm it, and totally rejects the "Jesus family" claim, and is particularly withering in his criticism of the statistical analysis that purports to all but definitively prove the theory. "What database serves as the basis for establishing the probability of this claim?" he asks. "There are no surviving genealogies or records of family names in Judea and Galilee to make any statement concerning frequency of various personal names in families there. Only Jesus’s genealogy appears to have survived, as presented in the Gospels."

What might be called Feuerverger’s defense, as presented by the statistician at February 26th’s press conference, was that he had worked on the basis of "assumptions" that were given to him by the filmmakers. But what were those assumptions, Pfann wonders? And how can they credibly have led to the conclusion that the hard statistical odds are overwhelmingly in favor of this being the "holy" tomb when two of the incumbents ("Matia" and "Judah son of Jesus") had no known business being there at all, and a third ("Mariamne") is tied to the family only by a single text written hundreds of years after the family had passed away? [End of quote]

Doesn’t it seem suspect to you that, according to a core of unbelievers, the crucified Christ never actually died, but walked around Jerusalem and its vicinity for decades with nail holes in His hands and feet, thorn scars across His brow, that He married, sired a son, and was buried in a tomb in Jerusalem with an entire entourage, and nobody knew of it until now?

It must also be pointed out that the official name of the Messiah is not Jesus. The very first verse of the New Testament declares it. Matthew 1:1:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:16:

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Matthew 1:18:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. C. and Mr. J. have the wrong guy. And as far as Mr. C. and Mr. J. sinking the ship of Christianity, I suggest they look to their own boat and possibly dig out the inner tubes.

P.S. Someone needs to point out to Cameron and Jacobovici that they’re a little late. Some other "experts" claim to have discovered Jesus’ tomb in Srinagar, Kashmir, India. Or, there are the other "experts" who claim that the tomb of Jesus is actually in Shingo Village, Japan.

P.P.S. Concerning Mariamene e Mara, this additional information was just published by AP:

But having analyzed the inscription, Pfann published a detailed article on his university’s Web site asserting that it doesn’t read "Mariamene" at all.

The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, "Mariame," was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words "kai Mara," meaning "and Mara." Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

According to Pfann’s reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of "Mary the teacher," but rather of two women, "Mary and Martha."

"In view of the above, there is no longer any reason to be tempted to link this ossuary ... to Mary Magdalene or any other person in biblical, non-biblical, or church tradition," Pfann wrote. [End of quote]

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:3-6:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

GOD SAID, I Corinthians 15:12-20:

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

MAN SAID: As reported on Time.com, "Brace yourself. James Cameron, the man who brought you Titanic, is back with another blockbuster. This time, the ship he’s sinking is Christianity."

Now you have THE RECORD.






References:

Authorized King James Version

Dever, W., Washington Post, 2/28/07

Friedman, M., "Scholar: Lost Tomb Evidence Is Mistake," AP, 3/14/07

Horovitz, D., "Raiders of the Lost Tomb," The International Jerusalem Post, March 9- 15, 2007

"Is This Jesus’ Tomb?", People, 3/12/07, p178

McGirk, T., "Jesus: Tales From the Crypt," Time.com, 2/24/07

Miller, L., J. Chen, "Raiders of the Lost Tomb," Newsweek, 3/5/07

"The Jesus Family Tomb: Fact or Fiction?", Y-Jesus.com

"Was Jesus’ Tomb Found?", Realtruth.org, 3/6/07

"Jesus Tomb Slammed by Scholars," National Geographic News

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