So is it a Jewish conspiracy to trash the One True Faith (TM) or is it a statistical goof being flogged to the world for the sake of publicity?
About 1980 a bunch of archaeologists stumbled across a tomb with a bunch of old bone boxes, all with names familiar to anyone who read the New Testament – a Mary, a Joseph, and Matthew, etc etc. The find has kind of mouldered, waiting for some serious research. In recent years several have re-examined the find, and now Guerilla archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron ( of Terminator fame etc) have gone even further to confirm the remains are all one family, and make a documentary claiming it’s the family of Jesus, plus the remains of his son (the grandson of G_d?)
Now the find itself is over 27 years old, but when it was first exposed there was no decent forensic techniques for testing for familial relationship between bones. Now with DNA testing that’s straight-forward and someone has confirmed what could’ve been guessed from the start – the individuals are related. But how seriously can we take the main claim – that it’s the family tomb of Jesus? Imagine the problems this will cause for all those atheists who believe JC was just a myth and never existed. “Wrong! We have his bones… damn!”
Clearly it’s a problem for people who believe in a flesh-and-blood resurrection. But not every Xian does. The parent group of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is still in existence and they don’t believe he rose physically. Plenty of liberal Xians believe he rotted in some grave… but who cares what they believe anyway? The Jews might be happy with the outcome, but then again who wants to tell the Xians the bad news? On one of the News Magazines on Aussie TV this week there’s a report from Zanzibar about how thousands of Xians are converting to Judaism (!!!) This finding might only tip the balance for even more teetering believers, who’ll dump a failed Messiah for hope in a more triumphant one.
Yet, as others have already noted, the names were pretty common in Judea at that time, so the odds are that plenty of tombs had a similar bunch of names on the boxes.
…that last blog-site also discusses a new book which looks at the Gospels as eye-witness material. There’s some evidence in favour of the idea, at least for “Mark” and “John”, but it by no means proves the Gospels were 100% inerrant either. Stylistic reasons influenced ancient writers as much as wanting to report facts, thus all the thinly veiled allusions to Old Testament parallels in the Gospels. Another issue is that the Gospellers were trying to fit JC into OT prophecies – with varying degrees of success. What didn’t fit probably got left out. The whole of the Passion Narrative can be related to Old Testament prophecies which has led more than one scholar to state the obvious – the whole sequence was written as if the prophecies were fulfilled. In reality JC might’ve been executed like any other anonymous agitator – but he was important enough to rate a mention by Josephus, so who knows? Maybe he did chat to Pontius Pilate – but try getting the Gospels to agree about the details.
Anyway food for thought.