Every year around this time someone comes up with something fantastic about Jesus. Last year it was The Da Vinci Code. This year it’s a documentary about supposedly finding Jesus’ tomb that includes his bones. This post is to help address the claim being made that is false. Other posts will follow… God willing.
Paul Maier wrote a “theological-thriller” novel a few years ago on what would happen if someone claimed to discover Jesus’ bones. It was called A Skeleton in God’s Closet. Below you can read a letter he sent out addressing the claims that Jesus’ tomb has actually been found and how it is false. (Emphasis in his letter is mine)
God willing I will be trying to bring together some other resources and reasons this tomb is not the actual burial site of Jesus that are theological, historical, and logical. Let’s just all make sure that we don’t buy into the latest craze or suggestions about Jesus from secular individuals.
Paul L. Maier, Ph.D., Litt.D
Department of History
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
February 25, 2007
Dear Friends and Readers,
Thanks for the profusion of e-mails I’ve received over the last two days regarding the Talpiot tombs discovery in Jerusalem, a.k.a., “the Jesus Family Tomb” story. Some of you also suggested that “life seemed to be following art” so far as my A Skeleton in God’s Closet was concerned. Believe me, this is not the way I wanted my novel to hit the visual media!
Alas, this whole affair is just the latest in the long-running media attack on the historical Jesus, which – we thought – had culminated in that book of lies, The Da Vinci Code. But no: the caricatures of Christ continue.
Please, lose no sleep over the Talpiot “discoveries” for the following reasons, and here are the facts:.
1) Nothing is new here: scholars have known about the ossuaries ever since March of 1980. The general public learned when the BBC filmed a documentary on them in 1996. James Tabor’s book, The Jesus Dynasty, also made a big fuss over the Talpiot tombs more recently, and now James Cameron (The Titanic) and Simcha Jacobovici have climbed aboard the sensationalist bandwagon as well.
2) All the names – Yeshua, Joseph, Maria, Mariamene, Matia, Judah, and Jose — are extremely frequent Jewish names for that time and place, and thus most scholars consider this merely coincidental, as they did from the start. One-quarter of Jewish women at that time, for example, were named Maria.
3) There is no reason whatever to equate “Mary Magdalene” with “Mariamene,” as Jacobovici claims.
4) So what if her DNA is different from that of “Yeshua?” That particular “Mariamme” (as it is usually spelled today) could indeed have been the wife of that particular “Yeshua.”
5) What in the world is the “Jesus Family” doing, having a burial plot in Jerusalem, of all places, the very city that crucified Jesus? Galilee was their home. In Galilee they could have had such a family plot, not Judea. Besides all of which, church tradition – and Eusebius – are unanimous in reporting that Mary died in Ephesus, where the apostle John, faithful to his commission from Jesus on the cross, had accompanied Mary.
6) If this were Jesus’ family burial, what is Matthew doing there – if indeed “Matia” is thus to be translated?
7) How come there is no tradition whatever – Christian, Jewish, or secular – that any part of the Holy Family was buried at Jerusalem?
8) Please note the extreme bias of the director and narrator, Simcha Jacobovici. The man is an Indiana-Jones-wannabe, who oversensationalizes anything he touches. You may have caught him on his TV special regarding The Exodus, in which the man “explained” just everything that still needed proving or explaining in the Exodus account in the Old Testament! It finally became ludicrous, and now he’s doing it again. – As for James Cameron, how do you follow The Titanic? Well, with an even more “titanic” story. He should have known better.
There are more arguments, to be sure, but I want to get this off pronto.
I too will have more on this topic in the future. I just wanted you to have a few things to think about regarding this sensational claim. As the professor wrote… don’t loose any sleep over this!