Forgive me for being new, and for starting a thread about a previously discussed subject, but I didn’t see any recent debate about the Jesus Family Tomb book and the Discovery Channel documentary.
I came to the forums because I was so disturbed by the podcast interview with holy-relic-debunker Joe Nickell. When it came time for them to discuss the James ossuary, he used conjecture, rumor, and guesses to debunk the ossuary. His own personal observations were that the inscriptions were on the opposite side of the ossuary’s ornate carvings. He used this as an example to show that the claim was dubious; however, he doesn’t give any comparisons to other ossuaries, and he fails to make any scientific effort into supporting his opinion. Or at least, not in the podcast.
I’m not a scientist or researcher. I only know what I’ve read in the books. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about any facts. The James Ossuary was debunked by certain scientists, everyone sighed with relief (both skeptic and Christian), and then the scientific evidence turned out wrong, but everyone had been colored by the original faulty research, and the new evidence has been virtually ignored. That’s really disappointing to me because the James ossuary leads us into the Jesus Family Tomb ossuaries, which deserve to be examined based solely on the scientific evidence.
The circumstantial evidence for this tomb looked at individually is kind of kooky, but all added up it becomes compelling and worthy of attention. That being the case, I think I should start with what I think are incontrovertible facts.
-A tomb was uncovered in 1980 in Talpiot (between Nazareth and Jerusalem) Israel that contained several bone coffins called ossuaries. Ossuaries are unique because they can easily be dated to the time of Jesus (with minor exceptions).
-This tomb was relatively untampered, and archaeologists quickly came in to catalog the find
-They found a cluster of unusual new-testament names including a “Jesus, son of Joseph” and a “Maria” found together. As well as a “Jose’” (one of the brothers of Jesus according to gospel)
-They found an uncommon carving at the front of the tomb of a chevron with a circle under it.
-These ossuaries were safely stored by the Israeli Antiquities Authority for more than twenty years.
So, the first thing that I want to point out is that the tomb was catalogued by archaeologists. These aren’t ossuaries that are floating around on the black market and can be tampered with (like the James ossuary and the only other Jesus, son of Joseph ossuary ever found).
Many people have been debunking the find because the names are common. That isn’t really an argument that the biblical theory is bad, and it fails to acknowledge the uncommonness of the latinized form of Maria, the Greek form of Mariemne (which I will discuss later), and the uncommon nickname Jose’, not to mention those names being found near a Jesus, son of Joseph.
The book and the documentary go into statistics, but I don’t think those figures will satisfy either a christian or an atheist because it’s unfair to use number games as a method to prove a claim so controversial. Many people have pointed to the statistician later backing away from the findings, but I think that what he was saying was that his statistics should not be used to qualitatively state “this is the tomb of The Bible’s Jesus”. Totally fair, in my opinion.
The carving of the chevron and circle are part of the circumstantial evidence, but if you look at the actual picture of this symbol you can see how it can be compared to the image of the “All Seeing Eye”. I won’t go into the details of the “All Seeing Eye”, but I think it’s common knowledge that The Templars and Masons have been using the symbol for centuries, that these secret societies formed from soldiers crusading in Jerusalem, and that they had power over the church until the church finally mass executed them, forcing them to go underground. I think you can see where I’m going with this. Please correct me if I’m venturing into historical fantasy.
Then we get to the sketchy claims about the remaining ossuaries. The first being that there is possibly an ossuary for Mary Magdelene. It would be nice if the inscription actually said Mary Magdala, but instead it says Mariemne (in Greek). The reason the filmmakers made the documentary at all is because they discovered a connection between Mariemne and Magdelene, and it wasn’t a forced connection. The lost Acts of Philip describe Magdelene’s journey to Greece to teach Christianity, but instead of calling her Magdelene, in this gospel they call her Mariemne. OK, so the only original copy of this gospel is centuries after the time of Jesus, but that doesn’t disprove the connection. They wrote her name as Mariemne for a reason. Are debunkers claiming that someone in the fourth century changed Mary Magdelene’s name on purpose to alter the theories of a filmmaker in the 2000’s? Others point to the absurdity of the details of this gospel such as talking donkeys (or something, I haven’t actually read the Lost Acts of Philip), but if we are to completely discredit a hisorical book because of miracles, we would have to do the same for every book in the bible. And, of course, we can’t do that because the bible’s names match to historical record.
There is also DNA evidence presented, but I don’t think it either disproves or proves their theory. There is obviously no DNA of Jesus that we can compare it to.
The most controversial find is a Judah, son of Jesus ossuary. I find it plausible that Jesus would hide the existence of his offspring, considering that Jewish Royal descendants were being executed at the time, and we know Jesus had some royal genetics on both sides of his family tree.
Another sketchy claim is that the James ossuary is the missing ossuary (one turned up missing). The proof against it is that the dude who owns the James ossuary claimed he got it before 1980. However, this fact can easily argued- the guy is lying to save his ass from going to jail because pre-1980 it was perfectly legal to own archaeological finds, but then a law was passed in 1980 outlawing it. This is my own idea, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong on those facts.
Anyway, I’m obviously a skeptic or I wouldn’t be on this site, but I find it weird that nobody will even consider what seems to me to be a great deal of evidence. Sure, anyone can poke holes in the circumstantial evidence, but what about the actual evidence? Why is it so easy to dismiss this find without giving it consideration and examining it for it’s merits? Is this not what atheists have been saying for years- that resurrection is impossible, that there is no proof of any Jesus miracles, and that the gospels can be easily explained? So why is this theory being dismissed? Shouldn’t we expect to find Jesus in a tomb? Where else would he be?