25th February 2007
The Discovery Channel now has a website up and running about the documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which will premiere at the beginning of March. The website has a bunch of information about the documentary, including a neat feature where you can explore the tomb and look at the different ossuaries.
Here is an excerpt from the “about” page:
In the feature documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus a case is made that the 2,000-year-old “Tomb of the Ten Ossuaries” belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth.
All leading epigraphers agree about the inscriptions. All archaeologists confirm the nature of the find. 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 600 to 1 in favor of this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.
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 website also has a section where they discuss some of the potential theological implications of the discovery (and their interpretation of the data). The points that they make are worthy of reproduction (though I don’t agree with the comments surrounding the ascension) and should be kept in mind when thinking about any theological implications:
Resurrection: It is a matter of Christian faith that Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion circa 30 C.E. This is a central tenet of Christian theology, repeated in all four Gospels. The Lost Tomb of Jesus does not challenge this belief. In the Gospel of Matthew (28:12) it states that a rumor was circulating in Jerusalem at the time of Jesusâ€™ crucifixion. This story holds that Jesus’ body was moved by his disciples from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where he was temporarily buried. Ostensibly, his remains were taken to a permanent family tomb. Though Matthew calls this rumor a lie circulated by the high priests, it appears in his Gospel as one of the stories surrounding Jesusâ€™ disappearance from the initial tomb where he was buried. Even if Jesus’ body was moved from one tomb to another, however, that does not mean that he could not have been resurrected from the second tomb. Belief in the resurrection is based not on which tomb he was buried in, but on alleged sightings of Jesus that occurred after his burial and documented in the Gospels.
Ascension: It is also a matter of Christian faith that after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. Some Christians believe that this was a spiritual ascension, i.e., his mortal remains were left behind. Other Christians believe that he ascended with his body to heaven. If Jesusâ€™ mortal remains have been found, this would contradict the idea of a physical ascension but not the idea of a spiritual ascension. The latter is consistent with Christian theology.
This is certainly a significant find, though the nature of its significance will be debated for years to come. And of course, the main points of contention, that the tomb once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family, and that Jesus and Mary Magdalene may have produced a son named Judah are ultimately unprovable. Whether or not it is a plausible explanation also comes down to weighing the evidence.
At any rate, as with anything, we should wait until all of the data is available to examine and then offer our own evaluation.
There are also some new press releases out on the web that have a bit more information; the one on the Christian News Wire is quite extensive.