The Lost Tomb of Jesus
A little over two years ago an ossuary with questionable provenance turned up with the inscription James, brother of Jesus engraved on it. The practice of placing the bones of a person, deceased for about a year, in an ossuary was only followed for about a hundred years in ancient Israel, so it was somewhat believable that this could be the brother of the Jesus. However, a closer examination of the inscription determined that brother of Jesus was a very recent addition to the inscription, and the owner of the ossuary had a reputation for forging relics.
Now, James Cameron, producer of The Titanic, has produced a new documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus about another set of nine ossuaries, some of which which have as inscriptions the names Mary, Joseph, Jesus son of Joseph, Matthew, Yose, Judah son of Jesus, and Mariamne known as the master. It is claimed, based on these names, that this is probably the biblical family of Jesus, and that Mariamne is Mary Magdelene - and Jesus' wife.
A theologian, Dr. James Tabor, at the University of North Carolina claims that given these names, the odds of it not being the biblical Jesus and family are 42 million to one against. However, a statistician, Dr. Andrey Feuerverger at the University of Toronto, who probably has a better handle on calculating contingent probabilities, put the odds at a more reasonable 600 to one.
Of course, if Jesus Christ's bones were actually placed in an ossuary, then it gives problems to those Christians who insist on a literal interpretation of the bible - this would indicate he did not actually rise bodily into heaven. Thinking Christians on the other hand should not be bothered. They know that astronomy has shown that heaven is not "up;" and so they can interpret the ascension as a metaphor.
It could be asked whether the bones showed any indication of crucifixion. But, when this set of ossuaries was excavated in 1980, the bones were buried in an unmarked grave; standard practice in Israel for the contents of newly excavated ossuaries.
I have seen some strange arguments that try to debunk the idea that this is the "holy family."
- It cannot be Jesus Christ because the Roman soldiers would have sought out his tomb and destroyed it
- It cannot be Jesus Christ because he ascended bodily into Heaven
- Just because Jesus and Mary Magdelene were in the same tomb does not prove they were married.
- This family was not rich enough to afford ossuaries
I don't know. Back when I wrote Meditation 38, my subjective probability that the biblical Jesus was based at least in part on a real person was about 90% in spite of the lack of evidence. That dropped to about 50% when I read The Jesus Mysteries. This find moves my probability meter back up to about 60%.
Isn't this is a wonderful find for conspiracy theorists?
- For those who want to blame everything on the Jews and Israel:
- they have been covering up the evidence for Christ by hiding these ossuaries since 1980; or
- they are undermining Christianity by releasing this faked evidence now
- For those who blame everything on the Catholic Church:
- this supports the premise of The Da Vinci Code
- the early church covered up the leading role played by women in the early church, particularly Mary Magdelene
- For fundamentalists:
- This is proof that evil scientists are deliberately undermining the truth of the Bible and denying God.
Feel free to develop your own detailed conspiracy theory. Make sure to include at least three of the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Sanhedrin, the Rosicrucians, Richard Dawkins, the Knights Templar and Opus Dei.