The Family Tomb of Jesus?

Someone alerted me to what is being called the family tomb of Jesus. It's a remarkable find, and one cannot help but wonder about it. If it is the family tomb of the Jesus of Christianity, and that has yet to be shown, two things seem clear to me: 1) Jesus was a real person, and 2) Jesus died. His body was not resurrected from the grave.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Film's website, evidence link.

Jennifer said...

This story is a complete hoax. It has been discussed at length in various archaeological journals since its discovery years ago. Read about it here.

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Culture/10764.htm

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

If this were on any other website, I would have just begun laughing, but I have too much respect for you to ignore it. I expect Jennifer's comments are accurate, but I've only glanced at the site, and will have to wait until later this afternnon to study it -- I've also asked Martin Rundkvist, my friend and editor, who is a professional archaeologist, to check the site and comment here.

My initial responses are
a) that you don't announce the most important archaeological find of the millenia in a movie, even one by James Cameron
b) there are movies out there purporting to show the discovery of Noah;s Ark, but I don't give them credence either
c) the names Jesus (Joshua, Yeshua), Mary (Miriam) and Joseph were not uncommon names in Palestine at that time. I am sure there were many families using those names. I look forward to seeing how they purport to prove that this was THE Jesus. (Who I am reasonably sure did exist, since the 'mythological' argument is remarkably unconcvincing, see Guignebert's JESUS for a discussion of it.)

Anyway, I'll post more on this later, as well as looking at Jennifer's reference.

Sandalstraps said...

Asbury Theological Seminary's Ben Witherington (a great scholar, even if he and I almost never agree on a theological issue) has a scathing critique of this "find" here.

His most interesting point is that this "find" is not new. He even refrences a scholar who published a negative evaluation of the conclusions now being promoted in the movie in 1996.

This, to me, looks like a giant hoax, and not a particularly good one.

Zachary Moore said...

I'm extremely skeptical, especially since they claim to have DNA evidence. Compared to whom, exactly?

HeIsSailing said...

1) Does anyone remember when Geraldo Rivera uncovered the secret of Al Capone's tomb?
2) I think I saw a show once that was hosted by James Cameron that attempted to show how the 10 plagues of Egypt could have been caused mostly by volcanic forces. Does anyone remember the show I am talking about? Those explanations seemed very contrived at best. Just a hunch, but I suspect this new program will be something similar.

Cameron may be turning into the Art Bell of movie moguls.

Anonymous said...

The word "hoax" is interesting. Both Sandalstraps and Jennifer use it. A hoax is an act that is intended to deceive. People that perpetrate a hoax are not good people. They liars.

So, Jennifer and Sandalstraps are saying that the people involved in this project are liars. They are also theives in that they are profitting from lies.

Now, I think the people involved in this could be completely wrong, but I don't think I am comfortable calling them liars and theives.

These aren't just filmmakers involved. This is James Tabor, the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He's an academic with good credentials and credible publications. I have no problem saying that he is wrong, but to say that he is involved in a hoax?!

There is John Dominic Crossan, a professor emeritus in religious studies also with many notable publications. Again, "wrong" is one thing, involved in a hoax is something altogether different.

Other professors of religion involved are Tal Ilan, Jerome Murphy O'Connor, and Stephen Pfam. All credentialed, all recognized, but now accused (by bloggers), not of being wrong, but of being involved in a hoax.

The statistician involved, Andrey Feuerverger, is a professor at the University of Toronto. His reputation is on the line, yet he feels that he put in enough statistical guards to produce a true result. He kept dividing the numbers down (first by 4 then by 1000 to account for inconsistencies in texts and for the amount of evidence). But Jennifer and Sandalstraps say that he is involved in a hoax, an intentional deception.

Zachary Moore, there is a link to the website above. There, they describe that the DNA evidence was only to show the relation of the family found there, it was only compared to the others in the tomb, not used to determine identity as the Jesus of the Bible.

I'm not even attempting to defend this thing, but it's interesting how quickly some are dismissing it and attributing immoral intentions to the people putting it out.

Anonymous said...

Apparently there were advance screenings of the documentary. That allowed both Dr. Witherington and Dr. Darrell Bock to post identical "statistics" from a fellow non-statistically credentialed theologian. (Pure cut and paste job on the numbers when you compare the 2 blogs side by side).

So, outright, Witherington dismissed numbers from a respected PhD in Stats to accept the numbers from someone who has no credentials in statistics, which ends up supporting his view.

Whatever happened to objectivity?

Anonymous said...

I had Andrey as my prof at the University of Toronto for Stats 242Y (at that time).

He is not a fraud, he is not a hoax, nor are his credentials.

Leonard

John W. Loftus said...

It seems as though this finding was already known and discussed before. But it's interesting to me that Christians argue against it primarily because they believe Jesus bodily arose up out of the tomb.

I don't yet know enough to comment either way, but I certainly won't dismiss it because of those who believe Jesus arose from the grave.

Anonymous said...

Apparently there were advance screenings of the documentary. That allowed both Dr. Witherington and Dr. Darrell Bock to post identical "statistics" from a fellow non-statistically credentialed theologian. (Pure cut and paste job on the numbers when you compare the 2 blogs side by side).

What's even funnier is that the nonn-statistically credentialed theologian actually got his figures from Tal Ilan.

Sweet, irony.

Jennifer said...

The archaeologist who actually found the cave and the ossuaries 27 years, Amos Kloner, is internationally renowned for his expertise in Israeli burials. He has written extensively about the discovery over that period of time, and has said repeatedly that there is no connection between the ossuaries and Jesus or his family. He completely discounted the idea in a book he authored in 2003 called Jesus and the Ossuaries (along with the so-called James ossuary). He has noted, for example, that "Jesus, son of Joseph" inscriptions had been found on several other ossuaries in Israel, that the ossuaries in question were from the wrong place and time, etc.

All of his writings have been ignored by the moguls involved in the making of this film. I am not saying that the religious scholars involved in the movie are deliberately lying; I’m certain they are convinced that this is the real deal. But they are being used for fame and fortune by the movie makers, who have intentionally twisted and misrepresented information for their own gain. That’s a hoax.

Anonymous said...

The archaeologist who actually found the cave and the ossuaries 27 years, Amos Kloner, . . . has written extensively about the discovery over that period of time, and has said repeatedly that there is no connection between the ossuaries and Jesus or his family.

Well, then obviously he is right and all the other scholars involved in it are wrong.

I am not saying that the religious scholars involved in the movie are deliberately lying; I’m certain they are convinced that this is the real deal. But they are being used for fame and fortune by the movie makers, who have intentionally twisted and misrepresented information for their own gain. That’s a hoax.

Too bad these religious scholars don't know they are being used by the movie makers. You should really write them and tell them how dumb they are.

So, exactly how do you know that James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici really don't believe like those foolish scholars and are, therefore, a part of a hoax?

And, again, I'm not even saying they are right, just that maybe people should wait before they throw the word "hoax" around.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Heissaling seems to have it right. (The documentary he mentions -- which came out last year -- was THE EXODUS DECODED. It was also by the team of Cameron and Jacobovici. I haven't seen it, but found the listing on the IMDB -- Internet Movie Data Base. Interestingly enough, while the IMDB lists projects for Cameron that will be released as late as 2009, there is no mention of this one.)

This seems to be an example of a familiar type of project, one that takes the Bible as literally true, and then comes up with 'naturalistic' explanations for the supposed supernatural events. (I seem to recall seeing one that argues that Lazarus was not really dead, but merely in a form of suspended animation.) THE PASSOVER PLOT -- remember that one -- is a classic example, though one of the best examples probably is the works of Velikovsky, that have the planets in a mad pinball game careening around the solar system so that things like the manna that fell on the Israelites could be explained away -- it had something to do with the Earth passing through the atmosphere of Venus, I think.

This seems to be of equal 'merit.' It gathers anything possible to throw into the pot, Romany legends, dubious archaeological discoveries, the Gnostic Gospels, Egypt, the 'Female Principle in God' and -- why should Dan Brown have all the fun or get all the money -- Mary Magdalene as Jesus' wife, plenty of secret society stuff (including claiming the Masons date back to Egypt), even a 'great clue' hidden in the painting of Jacopo da Pontormo -- a student of *gasp* Da Vinci.

To get an idea of the intellectual honesty of this project, we find the following quote:
"“The Lost Tomb Of Jesus” does not challenge the Resurrection. It asks viewers to consider the possibility that the Resurrection occurred from a second tomb." Huh? Then where did the bones in the ossuary come from.

John, did you, as I expect, get information on this anonymously, or from someone you did not know? If so, then my hat is tipped to a brilliant publicist for the film who realized that the best way these days to get attention is to create internet 'buzz' and picked you as one site for this.

John W. Loftus said...

prup, I gather from the anonymous defender of the film here and the fact that it was an anonymous tip about the movie, that I may have been used. I'm curious though, at what John Crossan says about these findings, but there isn't a link to what he says.

John W. Loftus said...

It's kinda nice that someone thinks DC is an important enough Blog to get the word out!

Sandalstraps said...

While I do so hate to re-wade into non-constructive discussion, I'd like to waste a little bit more of my precious time on this.

I used the word "hoax," a fact which captured a great deal of attention. The fact is, while I used it carelessly and did not intend to imply that the filmakers were intentionally decieving of defrauding, I may have to stand by it. Any project of this nature that skips the peer-review academic process and moves straight into marketing a film produced by James Cameron, and as such presumably for profit, has to raise some eyebrows.

Additionally, it is not entirely accurate to call Ben Witherington a "theologian." He is primarily a New Testament scholar, whose work deals with the study of the history of the early Christian movement, and the texts of that movement. In other words - and this is where I have a great deal of respect for him despite our extreme theological differences - his area of expertise is in exactly this sort of thing: that is, evaluating historical claims concerning early Christian figures.

Finally, he has here taken some flack for critiquing the "statistics" involved here. He did not, however, attack the person of the statistian. He merely rightly noted that statistical analysis is only as good as the data provided to the statistician, and in this case the statistician was provided some bad data, which not suprisingly yielded a bad result. To acticulate this does not require a PhD in anything, much less one in statistical analysis.

On a personal note, I have a great deal of respect for John Dominic Crossan, and find it interesting that while his name has been tossed about, so far there is no record of his findings on this issue. In the unlikely event that Crossan sides with those who argue that this is probably the tomb of Jesus' family, I will certainly look at his argument with great interest. I suspect, however, that he is being consulted here to provide some background, and not to provide support for a theory that is not new, and has been discredited among historians for over a decade.

This film is, to go back to the language of "hoax" that I was called on earlier, a attempt to profit on a theory that was discredited the last time it was advanced, and to which no new data has been brought through the peer-review process. To me it looks like reckless scholarship supporting a sensational commercial venture. I will leave it to the readers of this comment to determine whether such an action could be considered perpetuating a hoax.

marie said...

from the film's site...

"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."

I would like to know more about that

Dave Barrett said...

It will be very interesting to see what exactly was the question posed to the statisticians. I imagine the question was NOT what the probability was that a poor family living in Nazareth would have a fancy family tomb in Jerusalem. I also will be interested to see how the probability calculation handled the presence of someone named "Matthew" and the absence of anyone named "Simon". (The brothers of Jesus were James, Jose, Simon and Judas) -- no Matthew mentioned anywhere as a relative.

If the calculation was based on the number of families in Jerusalem at the time be sure to ask yourself why it was not instead based on the number of families in all of Judea and Galilee. After all every family in Judea and Galilee was at least as likely to have a tomb in Jerusalem as was Jesus' family. (i.e. not very likely at all).

John W. Loftus said...

I was just informed, via email, that the anonymous tipster is not associated with the movie at all. He is a regular reader of this Blog and says, "I'm not defending the movie, I haven't seen it. Though, I would defend Fuerverger as he was my prof."

He said: "Since you didn't have a comment about this documentary I thought I'd pass it over. What did 'get my goat' was the immediate dismissal of anything relating to the documentary even before its hit the television rounds."

Anonymous said...

While I do so hate to re-wade into non-constructive discussion, I'd like to waste a little bit more of my precious time on this.

Why do you find this non-constructive? I've yet to see one post here that actually "defends" the film. What I have seen are posts challenging those who, like you, have been very quick to dismiss this without giving any consideration to those involved in it.

Any project of this nature that skips the peer-review academic process and moves straight into marketing a film produced by James Cameron, and as such presumably for profit, has to raise some eyebrows.

Simcha Jacobovici isn't an academic, he is a filmmaker. Are you suggesting that only academics can speak to this subject. Sounds kind of elitist, doesn't it?

Besides, you make it sound as if there are no academics involved in this. Here is Tabor's blog. He's written specifically about the claims here. In a comment on the post you linked above, he said that these findings are supported by his own work that has been peer-reviewed.

Ben Witherington . . . is primarily a New Testament scholar, whose work deals with the study of the history of the early Christian movement, and the texts of that movement. In other words - and this is where I have a great deal of respect for him despite our extreme theological differences - his area of expertise is in exactly this sort of thing: that is, evaluating historical claims concerning early Christian figures.

First, the reference to "theologian" was directed to Richard Bauckham, who Witherington quotes. But it seems your criticism would count for him as well.

Second, the issue was directly about Bauckham's statistical statements that were authoritatively quoted by Witherington and Bock. Bauckham quoted a list of figures from Tal Ilan (someone associated with the film) and then made the STATISTICAL EVALUATION, "You can see at once that all the names you're interested were extremely popular. 21% of Jewish women were called Mariamne (Mary). The chances of the people in the ossuaries being the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the New Testament must be very small indeed."

This is stepping outside of the role of a NT scholar and speaking as a statistician.

He merely rightly noted that statistical analysis is only as good as the data provided to the statistician, and in this case the statistician was provided some bad data, which not suprisingly yielded a bad result.

That is not accurate. He did not "merely note," he followed it up with a quote of a NT scholar doing statistical analysis.

Additionally, his claim about the data is interesting because it was provided by the same person that he relied upon. Do you really think that statisticians are simply number-crunchers that know nothing about how to best collect data and to compensate for error?

Anonymous said...

The nail was hit on the head in the last post. "The statistician was provided bad data".

First, Prof Fuerverger's analytical data hasn't been published in full yet. Therefore, assuming that the statistician was provided "bad data" is entirely misleading. Do people think that the statistician was handed data on a silver platter? No, it doesn't work that way. He has to go get it. So lets see what he has and what methodologies he employed to generate the 1 in 600 occurence.

Really, the issue as I see it is the relative likelihood of the cumulative probability of the names and inscriptions (eg Jesus, son of Joseph, Mary, etc). Its more than just Mary is a common name, Jesus is a common name. "Jesus, son of Joseph" is not as probable as the name Jesus alone or Joseph alone.

Combining all of the names, and all of the naming inscriptions together is a much less likely occurence. That's the issue for me at this time.

You know, whether this whole story proves true or false, I have learned something. The Christian theologians of the world walk in with their answers before the real data and analysis has even been presented. Those who subscribe to those blogs (pastors or lay people) then take that information back to their respective churches and disseminate that information as being the truth. So, conclude that the information is bad, tell everyone that, and don't bother asking the statistician where he got his data, what methods he used, what his timelines were, what cross-checking he did, what is the likelihood of committing a type I statistical error, what is the confidence interval around the 600, etc.

I guess its just easier to say its bad data, then cut and paste another NT scholars numbers and go with that.

Leonard

Anonymous said...

It's no surprise that self-proclaimed "I'm the king of the world!" James Cameron would cooperate in a de-throning effort of Jesus, eh?
:-)

Gina

Anonymous said...

In response to Witherington's post, James Tabor partially replied,

"Also, you need to have time to catch up on the patina studies that Rosenfeld and others have carried out that link the James ossuary to this tomb. Why do you write so dogmatically when you have not even read what is being claimed but are all ready to refute it, saying there is not a shred of new patina evidence. Again, please, calm down, read and consider the evidence, then reply as you like." (emphasis added)

Anonymous said...

Link for above quotation.

Anonymous said...

One more Tabor link in direct response to those like Sandalstraps, Jennifer, and others.

Notice, again, that no one here has even attempted to defend the thesis that the find is true, but only that one should not quickly dismiss it. I account for most of the anonymous responses above, I have nothing to do with the movie, and am skeptical of the findings. What I have thought extremely interesting is how the amateurs here in the comment box have so quickly dismissed the work of professionals without evidence; how they have posted responses to this as if they have authority when those responders are also uninformed about this particular find.

Dave Barrett said...

"how the amateurs .. have so quickly dismissed the work of professionals"

Well, in order to accomplish anything in life a person must learn to quickly dismiss obvious nonsense. Just on my initial reading it was clear to me that this movie and book are popular fluff rather than anything that will advance our knowledge about the origins of Christianity.

We are told that genuine experts are "involved" in the project but are not told in what capacity. I predict that the cited experts have just agreed to appear as experts in the movie and do not in any way support the conclusion that this is the tomb of Jesus or that Jesus had a son.

We are told that statistians have calculated the odds against this being the tomb of any other family than that of Jesus of Nazareth as 600 to 1 but are not given the details. I predict that when the details come out that it will turn out that the calculation was done on very flawed premises. I predict that the fact that one of the eight names involved, Matthew, was not one that we know to be a member of Jesus of Nazareth's family was not included in the calculations. I predict that the calculation was done based on the number of families living in Jerusalem at the time (with the unstated assumption that Jesus' family lived in Jerusalem) when the only information we have about Jesus of Nazareth was that his family lived in Galilee.

Anonymous said...

We are told that genuine experts are "involved" in the project but are not told in what capacity. I predict that the cited experts have just agreed to appear as experts in the movie and do not in any way support the conclusion that this is the tomb of Jesus or that Jesus had a son.

It says a lot about you that you did not even read the link above to Tabor's blog. He is one of those experts who do actually agree with the conclusion of the film, which is not, by the way, what you have said it is. This film does not conclude that it is the tomb of the Jesus of the Bible. It reports probability.

Maybe your "predictions" are a lot more valuable than the actual work of the experts involved.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous – I will not base my conclusions about the most extraordinary archaeological find EVER on the opinions of film makers or Christian apologists who both have vested interests in proving the claims. I base my conclusion on the work of the actual SCIENTISTS who have researched the objects in question for nearly 3 decades. Take a chill pill dude.

Mr. Kloner wrote about these ossuaries (and the so-called James ossuary) in a book he authored in 2003, Jesus and the Ossuaries, which can be read online here.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,

The main claim in the film is a stastical claim based on data provided by NT scholars and archeologist. Amos Kloner is neither a NT scholar nor a statistician. Please explain to me why you believe an archeologist has more to say about a statistical claim based on data from NT scholarship and archeological facts more than you believe statisticians and NT scholars.

What is Kloner able to speak on? Dates, artifacts, cultural events of the time, etc. What is he not qualified to speak on? Statistics based on data from NT scholars.

Albert said...

Ben Witherington credible? Are you kidding me? This is the guy who along with luminaries like Chuck Coulson uncritically accepted the authenticity of the James ossuary.

Anonymous said...

Let's think some of this through, okay.

Here's a possible story about Jesus:

After he said [that the Holy Spirit would come to the disciples and they would preach about his kingdom], he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

So, Jesus could have done a Superman routine and popped into the air (then through space? into another dimension?) and his body is nowhere on earth.

Or, Jesus could have died and been buried. Early Christianity could have spoken of a spiritual resurrection and later Christianity could have spoken of a bodily resurrection.

In the meantime, Jesus' body rotted, and the remains were placed in an ossuary and removed to another location along with the remains of his other family.

Now, if the second one were the case, it is possible that that tomb of ossuaries could have been found.

But how do we know that this is the tomb of Jesus? Do we consult archeologists? Not exactly their area of expertise. I mean, they would have a lot to say about the dating of the material and the cultural practices surrounding burial and ossuaries, but after this work is done, another method must be employed.

What is the method of the film? Statistics. There are a cluster of names on the ossuaries. Is there anything significant about that cluster? Well, a statistician can't decide that. Who can? How about a NT scholar. Surely, she or he could say if that cluster was important. Enter James Tabor, a noted NT scholar. He says that the cluster is significant, that the names just so happen to be related with "facts" of NT scholarship.

So, now we have a significant cluster of names according to a NT scholar. But what to compare that to? Why not consult some archeologists about lists of names from other ossuaries and literature? Enter Tal Ilan (the same expert referred to by Witherington, Bauckham, and Bock, by the way). Illan uses his expertise to give an accurate list of names.

So, now the statistician has a verified, significant cluster of names and an accurate list of names by which to conduct his research. But this is a big deal, how do we make sure we ruled out unintentional bias from the documents consulted? Feuerverger divided his outcome by four. Is that enough? Hell if I know. Who should we consult to see? Maybe a statistician. But wait, that's what Feuerverger is.

But how do we account for even further considerations like the number of possible tombs? Let's say we divide that number by 1,000. That's what Feuerverger did. Is that enough? No idea. Ask a statistician.

So, here's the deal. I have no idea if this is Jesus' tomb. On the other hand, I have no reason to think that it isn't either.

The idea that Jesus died, was buried, and rotted seems more likely to me than the Superman story. I know that people die and rot all the time, but I have no idea where Jesus would have floated up to, how he would have breathed in the upper atmosphere and in space, where heaven is, etc.

So, now, I have to imagine that his rotting corpse is on earth somewhere. Could this have been found? It's possible. How would I know if it had been found? I would have to listen to experts in many different fields. Where can I find a collection of experts from many different fields talking about this find? Wow, a documentary was just made about it.

Now, the question is, should I dismiss or accept this claim without hearing from others or should I wait and listen and either (1) accept the claim, (2) reject the claim, or (3) withold judgment about the claim?

Where do I think I will end up? Number 3. That's my way, generally. I'm not a fan of dogmatic positions.

What is interesting to me, though, is the fact that so many have opted to reject the claim outright either based on no or insufficient data. Why not just wait?

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,

One more thing . . .

The link you provided to Kloner's book is about the James ossuary, not the ossuaries in question. In that book (according to the parts I could read on your link), Kloner is simply making the argument (apparently against Witherington and Colson according to the poster above who did not cite any sources) that this does not prove that this was Jesus' brother.

Now, the James ossuary does play a role in this new discovery, but this book does not even appear to address it at all.

So, either you have posted an irrelevant link or there is something in the book that is not mentioned in your link that is significant to this case.

Which is it?

Albert said...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1021_021021_christianrelicbox.html

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Ah yes, our Mr. Anonymous, the 'regular reader of this blog' who somehow has never noticed that it is devoted to attacking Christianity, and that the founders are atheist EX-Christians. (See his comment, obviously referring to this blog, "The Christian theologians of the world walk in with their answers before the real data and analysis has even been presented. Those who subscribe to those blogs (pastors or lay people) then take that information back to their respective churches and disseminate that information as being the truth.")

He is 'skeptical of the claims' but never once addresses the challenges we have made, most particularly the question as to how a poor family who lived in Galilee wound up with a 'family tomb' in Jerusalem.

He dismisses the question of peer review as 'elitist,' not -- supposedly -- understanding why every science uses this method to give workers in the field a chance to examine the methodology and claims being made.

He even dismisses entirely the fact that the archaeologist who made the claim -- and who argues there were many other ossuaries with the inscription "Jesus, son of Joesph -- states there is no connection between this and the Biblical Jesus -- claiming that archaeologists don't know enough to discuss this, that it takes a NT scholar.

He apparently accepts the idea that the two conflicting 'geneologies' of Jesus means that one is the lineage of Joseph and one of Mary, instead of seeing they were two writers working independently trying to establish Davidic descent through Joseph -- ironically irrelevant since if Joseph was the step-father, his possible Davidic descent says nothing about Jesus. (He accepts this, I assume, because it is the only way to explain the presence of a 'Matthew' in the 'family tomb.'

Because he is a 'skeptic unconnected with the film' he doesn't have to defend the nonsense on the website, including the statement "Mary conceived Jesus as a virgin." Or the statement "“The Lost Tomb Of Jesus” does not challenge the Resurrection."

Or, for that matter, the numerous arguments that use Romany myths, apocryphal Gospels, etc. as evidence -- but only so far as they are useful, without taking them as a whole. Or the 'secret society' conspiracies that has the Masons -- in fact founded in the 18th Century -- dating back to Ancient Egypt.

No John, I'm still convinced you -- and we -- are being used. Hopefully though, we'll be able to turn this around and warn people away from this utter crap.

I have left two points to a second post, the "Mary Magdalene was really Jesus' wife' and the argument that 'the Beloved Disciple' may have been his son.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

The two most glaring examples of the idiocy of the website, it is the argument about the son, and the by-now familiar argument about Mary Magdalene. The first can only be defended as writers so confused they don't pay attention to what they have written -- that or total fraud showing utter contempt for their readers.

Before I show this, I want to say I DO agree that the likelihood of Jesus either being married or, more likely, having been married -- being a widower -- is very high. Marriage and family was so strong a command to the Jews then and now that an unmarried 'prophet' would have been much less likely to have gained a hearing. A widower would not have had that problem, of course.

But the argument from the website that Jesus had a son, who became the "Beloved Disciple" is absurd on its very face. (It also includes the argument that this son would have been a "claimant to the Davidic throne." This is why he was hidden from the Romans, who are supposed to have "killed heirs to those who were contenders for kingship, even as they let siblings live." Since Jesus is supposed to have said "My kingdom is not of this Earth," he wasn't a claimant to the Davidic throne, which was not accepted by the Romans anyway -- any more than anyone today would kill the claimant to the Romanoff throne. I know of no story that the Romans, particularly of the 1st Century, killed claimants to foreign thrones they did not recognize, or that they would 'let siblings live.'

But more importantly, the website argues that the supposed son of Jesus was hidden and that there is a 'holy bloodline,' that goes on. They use as their proof for this the ossuary marked "Yehuda bar Yeshua." They even argue that Yehuda might have been the "Thomas" of the Gospel of Thomas.
Only the ossuary is that of a CHILD. (Infant? 10-year old? We aren't told that, but certainly pre-pubescent. Hardly old enough to be the 'beloved disciple,' or to have been Thomas. Why would Christians have hidden his existence IF HE WAS ALREADY DEAD or died shortly afterwards.)

As for the "Mary Magdalen" was Jesus' wife, not a reformed prostitute nonsense, to accept this, we have to assume that not merely did the Evangelists lie in this important matter -- which casts doubts on their credibility everywhere else -- but that they lied, entirely unecessarily -- in such a way to slander Jesus' wife. If they wanted to 'hide' her, call her a young girl from the surrounding villages who was a disciple, or the daughter of a rich man, or whatever. But can anyone who stops and thinks about what they were saying imagine they would have invented THIS myth.

And I was going to argue she could have been both, that she was an ex-prostitute he both converted and married, but then I heard myself. Jesus would have been married many years before he began preaching. (If you are going to deal with the customs of the time, deal with them. Men did not remain unmarried into their thirties, that's a modern situation. They married soon after puberty.) But he, by the only story we have of his existence, met her after he began preaching. (In fact, we are told that his 'family' rejected his teachings and tried to get him to come home and stop preaching. This might have included his wife, or might not, like so many Biblical stories, it is so doubtful that you can argue either way.)

So either we have the Evangelists slandering the wife of their prophet by calling her a prostitute, or we have a second wife who was a reformed prostitute.

James Cameron, meet Dan Brown. Enjoy the money you are making, but don't expect sensible, skeptical people to listen to your nonsense.

Jennifer said...

Anonymous – that is indeed a bad link, I apologize. The book does discuss the ossuaries found in the Taploit tomb, and I was led to believe this link took you to a scan of the whole book, which it does not. I am not making the case for or against either the existence of Jesus or his resurrection here. I am merely making a case against the so-called “science” behind this documentary.

Let me try a different tac here. I am not a statistician, but I do know that statistics can be twisted to fit prejudice. Why haven’t any of the scholars associated with the documentary discussed the fact that 71 other ossuaries found in the vicinity of the same tomb are inscribed with the name of Jesus, including another one inscribed “Jesus, son of Joseph”? Those are important pieces not being factored into the statistics given by the documentary.

Furthermore, according to the film’s website, the probability statistics are only one leg of the so-called evidence being presented. There’s the “Chemical Evidence”, which merely discusses the patina on the James Ossuary, discovered in a completely different location, and has nothing to do with the Tapliot Tomb. Then there is supposed “DNA Evidence”, but the site admits that the very degraded samples taken only proved the Yeshua and Mariamme buried in the boxes were not related. This does not prove the Jesus and Mary here were married (or lovers), nor does it prove that this is the Jesus of the NT. Why wasn’t DNA extracted from their alleged son to determine that he was in fact their son?

These are just a few of the many, many questions which the documentary fails to answer. The only leg they have to stand on is the mathematical calculations of probability, which have been brought into question.

Again – this is not about proving whether or not Jesus rose from the grave. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of faith, the fact is this discovery is being presented in a manner not consistent with good science. It is a money making endeavor, and is therefore being presented in a way that will bring in the most money. That is my only point.

Jennifer said...

This is my last post on the matter. I have other things to do.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mr. Anonymous:
The elegance of your expression matches the brilliance of your logic and the excellence of your replies to the questions raised. (I hope it takes long enough for your post to be removed that people will see what I mean.)

You suggest rhat I should 'look at the evidence.' Do you mean the evidence that a poor Gallilean family moved to Jerusalem and grew so rich they were able to afford the sort of family tomb you suggest -- and that this was done before the ministry of Jesus was completed? There isn't any.

Do you mean the evidence that is based on the assumption that the Masons dates to Egypt? No, because it is not true.

Do you mean the evidence based on Romany legend? No, because my main site for such things does not mention this, and the Wikipedia articles on the subject demonstrates this is a Christianization of either Kali or a follower of Kali.

Do you mean the evidence that the ossuary containing the bones of a child suggest that the person named on the ossuary later grew up to be 'the beloved disciple' the Jude of the Bible, or even the Thomas of the Bible. Hardly, since the fact that the ossuary contains the bones of a child pretty conclusively demonstrates that the child DIDN'T grow up.

Did I investigate the suggestion that the Evangelists slandered the wife of their 'divine prophet' by calling her a prostitute? No, because it is hardly credible that followers of a man would so libel their prophet's wife, and because, if they did, this would cast total doubt on anything else they wrote.

Did I consider the evidence that the Romans would have been anxious to kill the heir to the claimant of the throne that they didn't recognize, whose claim -- if actually made -- they considered ludicrous, or that they would kill such an heir and leave the siblings alive is, despite the website's assertions, not accurate.

Did I consider the evidence from the two genealogies as demonstrating that "Matthew" was a family name, thus explaining the inclusion of a Matthew -- but no Simon -- in the 'family tomb.' No, because NT scholars generally consider such geneaologies spurious, see Guignebert and Enslin.

Did I consider the evidence of the archaeologist that this tomb had no relation to the Biblical Jesus? Yes, but youy reject it without giving a reason.

Did I consider the evidence that this was not released to a peer-reviewed journal, as any scientific claim routinely is? Yes, but you called this 'elitism.'

Did I consider the DNA evidence? Yes, and concluded it meant nothing.

Did I consider the statistical evidence that this was a relatively rare combination of names? Yes, and realized that any combination of names is relatively rare, statistically. There probably is less than a 1 in 600 chance that a family should be composed of Howard, Pauline, David and Emily, as my wife's family does, but if I found a cemetery plot containing those names, I wouldn't consider that my in-laws were dead -- especially since I've talked to them this week.
(For that matter, according to one site that purports to show the total number of people in the U.S. with a given name, the odds of a person being named "Jim Benton" is one in 300,000. but I'm not going to claim the earnings of the children's book editor by that name because it is so unlikely that this is a coincidence -- and believe me, I could use the money.)

And, except for the DNA and statistical evidence, I mentioned every one of these in the posts I made.

Anonymous said...

prup (aka fuckwit),

Almost all of the claims you discuss above are claims not of the filmmakers but of NT scholar James Tabor. He's published these ideas in book form as well as in peer-reviewed journals.

If you'll notice in my first post here I said, "I have no problem saying that [Tabor] is wrong . . ."

Somehow (probably because you are an idiot) you have missed the point of all of my comments. Reread them if you like.

My point from the beginning was that it was unfair to dismiss this claim without hearing the evidence first. Perhaps, you have heard the evidence and still dismiss it. Fine, then my comments obviously didn't apply to you (other than the ones that called you a dumbfuck, because you are).

Let's do a little comment history.

Two people called this a hoax. I questioned that characterization by mentioning the credentialed academics involved in the project. To say that they are involved in a "hoax" was to say either that they were immoral people or they were too stupid to know what they were getting into (neither being credible).

My second response was to Jennifer. She mentioned that the archeologist who found the site disputed the conclusions. The conclusion, however, is a statistical conclusion (remember, the main point of the film is to point out that there is a statistical probability that this is Jesus' Tomb). An archeologist is an expert in culture, dates, and digging. That an archeologist disagrees with a statistical claim is relevant, but not a deciding factor, especially when the statistician is supported by NT scholars who are not only experts in culture, but in the matters directly relevant to Jesus.

My third comment here corrected some misstatements by Sandalstraps. It primarily described how NT scholars were attempting to do the work of statisticians.

My fourth comment was simply a quote from James Tabor that stated the same concern that I voiced throughout my comments, viz. "Why do you write so dogmatically when you have not even read what is being claimed but are all ready to refute it. . ."

My fifth comment was the same. It simply asked why some in the comment section (note "the comment section" not the bloggers here, like you accused me of dumbass) have dismissed the claim as impossible without letting the case be made.

My sixth comment simply responded to a bit of stupidity from some other commenter.

My seventh comment is relevant to our discussion. In it, I said, "The main claim in the film is a stastical claim based on data provided by NT scholars and archeologist[s]." That is what this movie is all about. This is the relevant piece of information. This is, again, why the opposing commentary of an archeologist is not the complete story.

My eigth comment unfolded a possible story of Jesus' death and burial.

Since then I've been responding to your assinine drivel.

You make it sound as if the filmmakers are making a bunch of shit up. What they have done is consulted (mainly?) Tabor and gotten their background information from him. Maybe you think this is bad information, that Tabor is an idiot. Great, you may be right. But don't act as if this background info is being generated by the film and skipping peer-review. This is coming from Tabor, not the filmmakers.

Anyway, you are still a dumbfuck. May God bless and keep you forever (in hell).

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

If, as Ben W. states Tabor was a follower of Herbert W. Armstrong, it shows his credulity. (HWA and GTA were brilliant orators, but even as a teenager it was obvious they were crackpots.)
Other than that, and pointing out I was criticizing the website of the film, this game of whack-a-mole is making my arthritic shoulder hurt. Will someone else take the mallet?
(And since watching the show this Sunday won't put any money in Cameron's pocket, I may record it and comment further then. As for now, I too have better things to do.)

Shygetz said...

Prup said: Before I show this, I want to say I DO agree that the likelihood of Jesus either being married or, more likely, having been married -- being a widower -- is very high.

Hate to disagree with you, Prup, but I do. Jesus was clearly an apocalyptic prophet, and it was VERY common for apocalyptic Jews to remain unmarried (e.g. the Essenes). Therefore, without any evidence that Jesus was married, I would strongly hesitate to make even a tentative conclusion that he was.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Shygetz:
Good point. My feeling is that he was, but certainly can't back it up. I do ask if the fact that apparently he BECAME a prophet relatively -- for the time -- late in life (supposedly age 30+), and, arguing from the reported reaction from his family, unexpectedly, might imply some life-changing event, like widowerhood, but this is probably giving the NT narrative far more credit than it deserves.

John W. Loftus said...

On the math calculations see here.