Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jesus Family Tomb

I watched the Discovery Channel documentary on the Jesus Family Tomb. And it is indeed a "Jesus" family tomb, but what interests most people is that it might be THE "Jesus". The tomb and six ossuaries with inscriptions were found twenty some odd years ago. There were 10 bone boxes initially, but 4 did not have inscriptions, in fact, one was so uninteresting that it's "missing."

I watched the Ted Koppel interview (briefly) afterward and it was your typical academic cat-fight with lots of hissing and clawing. The cat fight is still active weeks after, with people fighting tooth and nail. (Fang and claw?)

I've been in correspondence with some of the players and I must say that I'm fascinated with the whole she-bang. I've also got the article (along with the articles on most of the major players) on my Wikipedia watchlist and I've been watching the development of the fight.

I was impressed with James Tabor in the Koppel interview, because he seemed to be the only one who was trying to keep an open mind and be the voice of moderation. I was shocked at the behavior of Koppel and the other men people on the set. Yes, I can understand that they were impassioned by the topic, but their behavior was most off-putting. Additionally, to call the documentary "Archeo-porn" is logical argumentation at its lowest, basically mudslinging.

Here's some links, if you want to look at this for yourself:

Discovery News Release Feb 25, 2007
Jesus Family Tomb Website
Jesus Dynasty Blog (James Tabor)
Society of Biblical Literature (Look at "In the Public Sphere" for a several articles as well as "Letters to the Editor.")
Dr Michael Heiser points to a larger tomb that has all the same names on inscribed ossuaries.
Links from the Discovery Channel
Wikipeida article
Mad Genius Richard Ingermanson

Personally, I don't care if most of these so called academics fall off the face of the earth. I don't care for the competitive nature of their comments and the tactics they use. Frankly, I've seen quite a bit of polemic that I would call un-Christian.

I don't believe that these archaeologists have approached this issue with enough genuine curiosity. I've been a part of a scientific community for more than a decade and I know how scientists get emotionally involved with their precious theories so I HATE when they degrade their own argumentation by using slipshod logic and pejorative debating skills.

The tomb is indeed fascinating. There are a lot of mysteries that would be enthralling to unravel. I found myself wanting to go make scrapings from the ossuaries in the second tomb that is just meters away and see how the patina compares to the patinas on the Talpiot ossuaries and the James ossuary. When I found out that the necropolis under the Mount of Olives is not included in the catalog that includes of the Talpiot tomb ossuaries, I wanted to go do some organization of information to do a truly complete census of these ossuaries. I would love to see if there are bone fragments that could be used for more DNA studies. Why are these offended scholars not jumping on the opportunity found in this fascination of the public to get funding and solve some mysteries?

Will they ever prove that this ossuary is THE Jesus, son of Joseph that we Christians hold so dear and close to our hearts? Of course not! We can't even PROVE that all copper conducts electricity! (To do so using classical empirical science would require us to pass electricity through all the existent copper simultaneously to PROVE it with 100 percent accuracy. All we can do is state the hypothesis with caveats like: "All the copper we have tested to this date conducts electricity. Not all copper has been tested and there is a possibility that there is some copper that might not conduct electricity.") Nor can we PROVE that this is not the bone box of Jesus of Nazareth. All scientific data can do is state possibilities and probabilities.

What difference would it make? A lot has been said about "Theological Implications." Are they really theological implications? Or are they faith implications? Theology is just "speaking about/ studying about God." What has this issue to do with my study of God? Would I really honestly and truly have to think about God differently if I admit there is a possibility that this could be THE "Jesus Family Tomb"? I know that Mary died. Mary Magdalene, too. So did all the Apostles, Joseph and Peter. Lazarus died again after Jesus raised him from the dead. So 9 out of 10 of these boxes are not problematic.

Yes, then there is that one box labeled "Jesus, son of Joseph." However, there are so many scenarios. This box could have been in the tomb and the name scratched into it right after Jesus' death and then later the family "recycled. " After all, the scholars have shown that two and three people have been placed in one box. It could be a hoax, perpetrated by a 1st century hoaxer. The question that is so uncomfortable for people is: What if it IS Jesus? What then? Will your faith crumble?

My answer -- it doesn't matter. For me. Just as I believe that the mystery of predestination and free-will can co-exist; that the truth is in BOTH, I believe that the resurrection occurred no matter what. I don't know what resurrection is; God has not given me a cook-book or a manual so that I can know all the details. I've never see it up close and personal. But there is something that I do know -- God's in control. I trust that God knows what God's doing.

I will tell you what good all this fuss and bother will do: Let's use this to get people talking about Jesus. Period.

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