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The Lost Tomb of Jesus

25th February 2007

jacobovici_tomb.jpgThe 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 Jesus’ 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 Jesus’ 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 Jesus’ 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.


28 Responses to “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

  1. Ken Says:

    Well, I’ve now lost my faith. Thank-you Tyler.

  2. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Faith? You still had some faith? :-)

  3. roberto Says:

    I have talked with Jesus this morning. He is alive. If you really ask Him, He will talk to you too.

  4. Vicki Ellingwood Says:

    I have always said, ‘When they dig up Jesus bones, my faith might be shaken.’ It isn’t. Was it not customary for converts to change their names to identify themselves as followers?

  5. John Stewart Says:

    Even if the bones of Jesus are found, it only proves he once had a caporeal body. It does not disprove his spiritial being in any way. As a butter fly leaves behind it’s cacoon, so Jesus leaves behind that which is not needed to afirm belief in “GOD”.

  6. Fredrik Says:

    I couldn’t find the age of the son,, Judah, did you pick that up? According to the Gospel, if Jesus and Maria had a son, he couldn’t be older then max 2 years old at the time of the last supper. I have allways thought that “the disciple Jesus loved” in Joh 13:23 referred to John him self. We justb have to wait an see until they can et DNA out from the bones to really set the family link between the different remains in the tomb.

  7. Craig Neal Says:

    The inscription Jesus son of Joseph is suspect and the conclusion is drawn from the clear inscription Judah son of Jesus. So the crux of their entire argument is suspect.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/explore/media/tomb_evidence.pdf

  8. Craig Neal Says:

    “Prof. Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem District archaeologist who oversaw work at the tomb when it was uncovered in 1980, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that the documentary’s claims were “impossible” and “nonsense,” and that there was “no likelihood” that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb.”

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1171894518254&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  9. Craig Neal Says:

    Why seek the living among the dead? Jesus Christ is alive and well and seated at the right hand of God who raised him from the dead.

  10. John Wood Says:

    In the last days many will fall away from Christ. Why is it that people have been trying for 2000 years to undercut the New Testament and have failed in the minds of the faithful? When will the assualt on Islam or the Eastern religions begin? Probably never.

  11. Julie Neve Says:

    LOL, Obviously he wasn’t raised from the dead, since his bones are still in the box, he died 2000 years ago, and he is still dead. I don’t doubt he had followers when he was alive, or that he was arrested and executed, but I do believe people highly embellished his story, and used other myths that were passed around at the time, to make his story more interesting, at least in our day and age, we can find facts, it is unfortunate for the believer, that facts don’t back up their dogma, but oh well

  12. John Wood Says:

    How can it be proved that those bones are truly the bones of Jesus?
    What DNA of his or of his descendants do we have with which to be able to compare the DNA of the bones? Some people use the word facts quite freely? Are these facts or merely wishful thinking?

  13. John Wood Says:

    It also seems to me that the name Jesus is the Greek translation and not the original aramaic version. Wouldn’t that seem to cloud the so called facts?

  14. Seyi Rhodes Says:

    I think its raised an interesting point though.. In the face of so much scientific evidence – a lot of which underpins the medical services that almost all christians use – there are still some christians who insist that Christ rose to heaven body-and-all! I have to say that’s pretty disturbing!
    How does it affect the faith at all if Jesus has a body that is still on earth somewhere? Like “John Stewart” said, “It does not disprove his spiritial being in any way.”
    That said, this probably isnt it.. Or at least, there will never be a consensus on this body – or any body – being His.. But the point still stands, why is this threatening to so many Christians?

  15. Allie Says:

    This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. There is no evidence this is true. There never will be.

  16. Stan Sturing Says:

    Paul, who on his way to Damascus to persecute believers saw the resurrected Jesus Christ (Acts of the Apostles 9:1-19), after becoming a believer himself wrote to other believers in Corinth, Greece, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:14-17 The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.

    The point is, if God didn’t raise Jesus from the dead, there is no salvation from sin. But thank God we have eye-witnesses whose lives have been changed by meeting the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ!

  17. SD Scotty Says:

    Seyi Rhodes Said: “there are still some christians who insist that Christ rose to heaven body-and-all! I have to say that’s pretty disturbing!”

    Actually Seyi, The vast majority of Christians believe Jesus Christ rose body and all. “Some” is an understatement. It’s part of the meaning of faith. The idea that Spirit and Body were separate was a more Greek philosophical idea (dualism), not a Hebrew one. That’s why the Gnostic Gospels are a bit far fetched and late dated—they reflect Greek ideas more then the Jewish ones that Christ and the disciples held…

    The conclusions of this discovery are colored by the foregone conclusion of the scholars who are promoting the Gnostic gospels—it fits very nice with their theology—which is very different from the essential Christian theology.

  18. Bob Says:

    I just had to comment: Few of these respondants really have looked at the historical record. The church in Jerusalem was considerably different than the “gentile” theology that Paul and others developed and at times even revealed in the NT. It was more apocalytic and at the end of the war 70 AD all writings was distroyed along with any reminent leaders. That void was filled with the gentile writers often assuming famous names. Paul really never really knew Jesus outside of psychotic episode. His theolgy reflects his less than ideal personality. It seems many of the stories of Jesus were embellished and reinterpreted and mixed with some good psychological principles (which has sustained more then symple mythology). The spiritual truths became literal in the later writings. Jesus probably did get buried in a tomb. And as a several new documents seem to suggest Mary Magdaline was honored as smart and favored and why not a consort/wife of Jesus. Leadership roll suggest that he was married to carry his messianic line.

  19. Ann Says:

    I will simply keep in mind what Christ said in Matthew 24 26-28 as I weigh the data.

    So if anyone tells you, “There he is out in the desert,” do not go out; or Here he is , in the inner rooms,” do not believe it. For as lighting that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”

    Either which way it won’t impact my faith.

  20. eBay David Says:

    John Wood asked: “When will the assualt on Islam or the Eastern religions begin?”

    It will never begin, John, for the simple reason that all assaults on our faith come from one source: Satan. He has no reason to attack any other religion or cult, for an attack on any of the false religions would create the headlines like the “Tomb” issue has, and would result in these people waking up and coming to salvation. And we all know the father of lies wouldn’t want that to happen, he’s got these lost souls right where he wants them: comfortable and not assailing the gates of hell.

  21. Seyi Rhodes Says:

    Thanks SD Scotty for this insight. I am not a scholar, and was brought up in Anglican church here in the UK… I realise now that Anglicans are quite liberal in their reading of the word.. They accept both creationism and evolution, and Im pretty certain theyre of the opinion that hs spirit rose to heaven.. their open-mindedness towards science means they couldnt accept anything else!! I have to object that this is in some way ‘central’ to the concept of faith though.. surely one can be faithful without believing in a physical ascent to heaven! I believe strongly in the man, his thoughts and influence, but i dont see him floating -literally- through the clouds! Why is this so important when the man spoke of love for ALL men and cooperation etc. (values lost even on many christians today)surely those theories are more imoportant than his flying to heaven or not!!
    Its intersting that this debate is no way as ‘threatening’ to Anglican christians… while many dont believe it is Jesus tomb, they dont feel threatened by it.
    Something strikes me about the quote from Paul: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith..” Its interesting cos here is a man dealing with hatred and scepticism all the time, trying to keep the faithful.. well… faithful. I dont think its surprising that he spoke in such absolutes at the time.. Surely we dont have to immerse ourselves in that kind of ‘war time’ mentaity?!?
    As for the anger: Christians of all shades need too choose their battles.. You realise that in liberal society many people think Jesus didnt live.. even muslims believe he lived!! Our battles should surely be with those who dont believe a word of the NT story.. not the ones who want to explore it further!!
    Having said that Im not even a christian anymore, so why am i bothered!!
    haha

  22. Chakradhar Says:

    Is it written any where that God shouldn’t have Family. So the even though the mysteries were known it doesn’t mean that we loose faith in God.

  23. Chakradhar Says:

    Is it written any where that God shouldn’t have Family. So even though the mysteries were known it doesn’t mean that we loose faith in God.

  24. K. Gabrielle Says:

    I find it disturbing that people who are self proclaimed followers of Christ are so eager to dispute any possibility of his body being found, or of him have a normal family life. It was frowned upon for a Rabbi of his age to be single, and as a believer of the Torah it is likely he would follow the direction given by God to go fourth and populate the earth. It seems only natural that Jesus would marry a woman who shared his passion for ministry and that they would start a family. Additionally I feel that it is imperative that the origins and authors/editors of what has come to be known as the Bible are outed once and for all. If it was well known that Constantine (A Pagan emperor) commissioned the council of Nicia to assemble the books now know as the Bible so that he could woo his Christian (at that time a cult) lover to be his bride and gain greater control over his Christian population I think many would take interest in where the original writings came from and what was left out. Important topics like female divinity and equality between genders (something Christianity has been so very happy to suppress for hundreds of years, resulting in the untimely death of millions of women) might finally get the attention they deserve.
    That being said, give me more historic and DNA evidence and let’s continue with scientific research. It is of no consequence that this may not match current religious beliefs. At one time religious scholars killed Jesus because he did not fit into their beliefs. Let’s not be as quick to judge as they once were.

  25. Keziah Says:

    I am Christian and have no problem with this documentary. I believe it fits perfectly with Scripture and that God may have even sovereignly arranged this tomb to deceive in order to bring about the apostasy (falling away from the faith). 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 states that the apostasy will come before the second coming of Christ and 2 Thess. 2:11 states: “And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness”, New American Standard Version. I am excited about this documentary and believe it is simply a sign of the times occurring before the second coming of Christ. It doesn’t destroy my faith, it strengthens it.

  26. eric Says:

    in response to Keziah … what would you really think of a god who “sovereignly arranged this tomb to deceive?” Is God a deceiver? There are so many religions out there; shouldn’t we use our reasoning ability and whatever evidence we can gather to formulate what seems most plausible to us? In that case, would a soverign God allow for devine deception to contradict (using our intellect the best and most responsible way we can) which was given us to make good choices?

  27. eric Says:

    just wanting to add to my previous comment … many would say that it comes down to faith. I have heard from various people across various faiths the redundant expression: “i just know it to be true because I feel it inside to be true … my personal experience verifies it.” I believe that these people really believe what they feel is the truth. But … what if I told you that I really believe inside myself that worshipping the moon provides all the peace and life answers you need. Or, that I just simply know that the faithful are gathered eventually at the tailend of a dashing comet (this actually happened). You might say in return … buddy, its time for some respirodal or zyprexa, 0.5 mgs, t.i.d. No, we can’t abandon careful research and reason, and if it strongly contradicts what we believe, move on. I am a Christian, but also a freethinker and openminded, I hope.

  28. Logstaff Says:

    Logstaff said…
    I was seeing the moovie recently. I am surprised that the investigators clearly mentionned at the beginning of the moovie that the archeologist found the stone boxes with the bones inside. Also some skulls are standing arround in the corners of the cave. An archeologist has seen all these skeletons and apparently made an inventory of each of it. Here is an unanswered question… Who was that archeologist.. where is that report about the skeletons, and probably where are the drawings or photographs. I would expect that it would have been a routine job at least to analyze the remains in order to find out the age of the person??? Than the comment is done that because of the religious tradition of the jews a reburial was done. Now another question is obvious: I guess that such a reburial is not just done anywhere without inventory… so why is that entire moovie going arround the main trace? I was expecting that a team of investigators ready to scretch the bottom of the stone boxes in order to recover a couple bone chips for DNA analyze (which is a good way to trace all kind of info, for sure)… why such a team of “scientists” is not able to check at least the age of that individual by getting hold of the reburial place.. or to start with of the archeologist file describing the content of the stone box. That is why I felt strange about that theory.. all was tried out to malke the story look probable.. and than the most obvious control wasnt done…
    ………
    Also the reburried bones can be now 100% identified, since the DNA must be identical to the DNA already taken out of the stone box with the Jesus Name written on it.
    ………
    It would be of cause very interesting to check these bones in order to see if they could have been of a man aged like the Christian Jesus. Than it would be even better to discover the damages done to the bones on legs and hands, ribbs.. whatever.
    ….
    But here we expect too much…. Since probably the people who made all this reportage.. already saw the archeologist file.. which they hide in the moovie… that probably.. the bones found in that box.. did not fit the profile of the Christian Jesus… who knows.. maybe they found a guy 60 years old without his teeth.. than the entire story is ridiculous…
    ……
    Still an interesting point to mention: Who ever was burried in that precise grave, I think all agree that it is an ancient grave of the period of the christian Jesus. Now what I think is quite astonishing.. is that the symbols hammered into the rock over the entrance door to that tomb.. seem to me looking like some version of ALFA and OMEGA… You know that these greek letters stand for the Beginning and the End of all.. and that Jesus also used them in a speech to situate his mission on earth… so I just wish to mention this find.. this observation which to my surprise even the film maker did not mention.. and it would be quite in favor of their theories… or at least it is quite “greek”.. to put that alfa and Omega in front of a commun jewish grave..
    Any Comments welcome!