Holy-Sepulchre.jpgOnce again, at the time of the Passover and when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, a claim is being made that seems to prove Jesus did not rise from the dead.  In 2006 it was the movie The Da Vinci Code.  In 2007 James Cameron (Director of Titanic) has made a documentary supposedly purporting that Jesus’ tomb has been found with his bones in it.  The documentary is titled “The Lost Tomb of Christ.”

   For a good short presentation regarding the actual location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial I suggest visiting this website.  There you will find good historical evidence, and evidence from tradition, that Jesus was buried in what is now called The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  This further combats the claim that Jesus’ tomb was found in 1980 as the documentary by James Cameron wrongly suggests.

   This study is offered to give support that the tomb found (It was first found in 1980) is in fact NOT the tomb of Christ.  But before I offer theological evidence the tomb found is not Jesus’ nor does it contain his bones, let me give a few comments from those most closely associated with the discovery.  These first thoughts come from an article I found which I commend to your reading.  (NOTE: My thoughts are preceded by my initials “RE“)

   British archeologist who worked with Cameron, Dr. Shimon Gibson, admitted he’s “skeptical” about the claims that challenge some of the central tenets of Christianity.
   Dr. Gibson, who was one of the first people to examine the caskets 27 years ago, now says: “Entering the tomb in 1980 I didn’t imagine this would become such an international focus.  “These are typical stone caskets from the first century. There are a lot of aspects that need to be looked at. A lot of new research has to be done. I’m skeptical.” Even Cameron, pushed to support his claims, said statisticians found “in the range of a couple of million to one in favor of it being them.”
   Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.  “They just want to get money for it,” Kloner said. “It was an ordinary middle-class Jerusalem burial cave,” he added. “The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time.”  “The historical, religious and archaeological evidence show that the place where Christ was buried is the Church of the Resurrection,” said Attallah Hana, a Greek Orthodox clergyman in Jerusalem.
   Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film’s hypothesis holds little weight.  “I don’t think that Christians are going to buy into this,” he said. “But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear.”  “How possible is it?” he added. “On a scale of one through ten, with ten being completely possible, it’s probably a one, maybe a one and a half.”  Pfann is even unsure that the name Jesus on the caskets was read correctly. He thinks it is more likely the name Hanun. Ancient Semitic script is notoriously difficult to decipher.

            (RE)  Now for some Biblical evidence to be considered that when observed proves that this documentary to be aired on The Discovery Channel 3/4/2007 is false.

         The writings of Luke at this point are extremely important to consider… specially when taken into consideration that they were written not long after the actual events transpired.  This is important because if what he wrote were not true many would have come forth to refute his presentation.  Then most certainly there would be a record of his account being discredited, but alas… there are none.
         First I will include the text and then a few comments will follow.  After that, I will give a few concluding thoughts.

   Luke 1:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

       Comment: What Luke wrote was evidentiary material that would stand up in a court of law for the following reasons.  A) His account comes from eye witnesses, not second or third hand accounts.  This is powerful testimony!  B)  Luke not only got his information from eyewitnesses, but also from people who were servants of the word.  These people can be understood as those who followed Jesus during his public ministry.  C) Luke investigated carefully everything they said to make sure that what was reported was verified by other witnesses.

       Comment: When this kind of evidence is presented in a court of law, it is accepted as fact.  Simply because the evidence Luke presents is 2,000 years old does not invalidate the truth of what he examined, found to be true, and thus wrote down for Theophilus.

       Comment: Luke wrote what he did for so that Theophilus could “know the certainty of the things which (he) had been taught.”  This is given for affirmation that the events surrounding and about Jesus were true and not myths… things that were worthy of being believed.

   Acts 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

       Comment: The phrase “many convincing proofs” should not be overlooked.  As will be shown in subsequent texts, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to heaven were well known and attested to facts that could be investigated by any person alive at the time.

   1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

       Comment: 1 Corinthians is considered to be one of, if not the, earliest New Testament document.  Thus what Paul writes is very close to the time of the actual events.  When that is taken into consideration and compared to the passage sited above, a powerful argument is made for the bodily resurrection of Christ and thus an invalidation that Jesus bones were found in a tomb in 1980.

       Comment: After his resurrection Jesus “appeared to more than 500 at the same time.”  That is an important point because while one person could have a vision of questionable nature… while two could possibly be mistaken about what they saw… this does not fit into that category.  It is impossible for 500 people to all be mistaken about what they saw… the resurrected Christ.

       Comment: For Paul to then add, “Most of whom are still living” is another important point to take note of.  By Paul writing this he is saying in essence, “If you don’t believe me… many of them are still alive!  YOU go talk to them yourself and see if what I’m saying is not true!”  No person would write such a thing if it didn’t actually happen.  Thus the resurrection of Jesus was in that day an event beyond dispute.  That we live 2,000 years after the event does not negate the reality of what took place.

       Comment: As mentioned earlier, before Luke wrote the Book of Acts, he investigated everything carefully to make sure of it’s accuracy.  He did this for a reason… “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”  What is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 falls into the category of “the certainty of what you have been taught” regarding Jesus and his resurrection.

   Acts 26:22 I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.

        Comment: This account of the interaction between Festus and Paul was investigated by Luke before he wrote it down so that it is not a fictional or erroneous account.  Luke is reporting facts.

       Comment: In this account Paul recounts the death and resurrection of Christ to an incredulous Festus.  Yet it is Paul’s response to Festus’ objection that needs to be considered.  Paul’s reply was, “The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.”

   This is an important statement because, much like what Paul himself wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, Festus was challenged to examine the evidence… not hearsay… the evidence regarding the life of Christ.  Notice the phrase, “The king is familiar with these things…”  In other words, Festus had at the very least heard of the resurrection of Jesus.  He may not have believed it, but he had heard it before.  That tells us that the news of Jesus resurrection from the tomb was (to put it in today’s terms) big news.

   Then there is another point Paul makes… “it (Christ’s resurrection) was not done in a corner.”  In other words Paul was laying down a challenge to Festus to check out what he was saying for himself.  There were many people who were alive and could be interviewed to affirm the truth of what Paul was saying.  This is powerful proof that once again, Jesus did rise from the dead and therefore the tomb found in 1980 in Jerusalem is false.

Historical Evidence For The Actual Location Of Jesus’ Burial (Click here for the full article)

   The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, known as the Church of the Resurrection (Anastasis) to Eastern Orthodox Christians, is a Christian church in the Old City of Jerusalem.

   The church stands on a site that encompasses both Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb (sepulcher) where he was buried. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century, and it remains the holiest Christian site in the world.

   Unlike many historical sacred sites, which often turn out to be based on pious tradition and not on historical fact, most historians and archaeologists believe the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is likely to be located over the actual tomb of Christ. The most important supporting evidence is as follows:

       In the early 1st century AD the site was a disused quarry outside the city walls.

       Tombs dated to the 1st centuries BC and AD had been cut into the vertical west wall left by the quarrymen.

       The topographical elements of the church’s site are compatible with the Gospel descriptions, which say that Jesus was crucified on rock that looked like a skull outside the city (John 19:17) and there was a grave nearby (John 19:41-2). Windblown earth and seeds watered by winter rains would have created the green covering on the rock that John calls a ‘garden.’

       The Christian community of Jerusalem held worship services at the site until 66 AD, and even when the area was brought within the city walls in 41-3 AD it was not built over.

       The local tradition of the community would have been scrutinized carefully when Constantine set out to build his church in 326 AD, because the chosen site was inconvenient and expensive: Substantial buildings had to be torn down, most notably the temple built over the site by Hadrian in 135 AD. And just to the south was a spot that would have been otherwise perfect – the open space of Hadrian’s forum.

       The eyewitness historian Eusebius claimed that in the course of the excavations, the original memorial was discovered. (Life of Constantine 3:28)

   Based on the above factors, the Oxford Archaeological Guide to the Holy Land concludes: “Is this the place where Christ died and was buried? Very probably, Yes.” The Israeli scholar Dan Bahat, former City Archaeologist of Jerusalem, said this of the Church: “We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulcher Church is the site of Jesus’ burial, but we have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site.”

   Conclusion (RE): The sensationalism of a tomb being found that contains the bone of Jesus does not stand up to close scrutiny.  Never mind that for thousands of years the burial place of Jesus has been known and undisputed.  Never mind that reputable scholars, historians, and archeologists… along with theologians… dispute the findings of the documentary.  But the final nail in the coffin is what is found in the historical documents OF THE DAY in which they transpired.

   The final conclusion must be: 1) Jesus died, 2) Jesus was resurrected, 3) The actual location of Jesus’ burial is known {The Church of the Holy Sepulcher}.  4) The coffins found in Jerusalem in 1980 are in no way connected with the historical Jesus.