Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Raiders of the wrong tomb

Another attempt to discredit the Biblical account lacks credibility

"...it is Scripture and not a trumped-up television documentary that is the final arbiter of truth for the believer, Mohler said. If Jesus had remained in the tomb, first-century opponents of Christianity would most certainly have found His body and put it on public display, Mohler said, adding that Christ's disciples would not have died for beliefs they knew to be false."--from this article

The picture you see here is of the entrance to a small, seemingly-insignifant cave-like place that many believe to be the site where Jesus' body was laid after his crucifixion, and where he was resurrected on the third day. It's called The Garden Tomb.

This week, "Titanic" director James Cameron and journalist Simcha Jacobovici unveiled their new documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," about first-century bone-boxes that purport to contain the bones of Jesus and his "family." Meaning, Mary Magdalene and a son named Judah.

This isn't the first time this matter has surfaced. The bones were actually first discovered in 1980, and according to AP's Religion Roundup: "In 1996, when the BBC aired a documentary on the same subject, the first archaeologist to examine the site said it was a weak claim but made for profitable television."

Several biblical scholars, archaeologists and anthropologists are already discrediting the claims in the documentary, which will air on the Discovery Channel in March.

Common names

Biblical anthropologist Joe Zias says if a family were wealthy enough to afford a tomb, it would be in their hometown (in this case Nazareth) and not in Jerusalem. (In the case of Jesus' burial, the tomb was donated by the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea.)

Zias and scholar Lawrence Schiffman also say the names on the ossuaries--Jesus, Mary and Judah--were extremely common in Bible days, so that doesn't mean anything. For that matter, one Biblical scholar is quoted as saying the markings on the boxes look more like random scratchings to him than names.

The fallacy of Jesus marrying

When will people stop trying to perpetuate the patently false notion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a romantic pair? Aside from the obvious blasphemy inherent in such an idea, people who honestly research the life of Mary Magdalene find it ludicrous.

Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of Unveiling Mary Magdalene (I blogged about it here.) In this 23 second clip, Higgs says the Bible is clear that Jesus and Mary did not have a romantic relationship:

The Garden Tomb

The bottom line, though, is that documentaries, books and movies (think "The Da Vinci Code") can't shake the faith of one who believes the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, and therefore completely true.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler appeared on Larry King Live last night to talk about the documentary. Earlier, he was quoted as saying Christianity "“has always understood the physical resurrection of Christ to be at the very center of the faith.”


As a missionary's kid in the late 60's, more than once I had the privilege of visiting the Garden Tomb. Even as a child, the import of standing in that very spot was not lost on me. I believe most visitors to the Garden Tomb will tell you that there is a sense of hushed reverence pervading the site.

Unlike any man-made religion, Christianity is based on an empty tomb--and I believe I've been there.

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