Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The stand to Reason Blog has posted the following responses:

Who's Writing the Ficiton Here?
As I mentioned yesterday, the claims about the remains of Jesus immediately put me in mind of Dr. Paul L. Maier's work of fiction A Skeleton in God's Closet. That was the premise of the mystery. So Dr. Maier has thought about this idea and he's also an expert in ancient archaeology and follows these developments closely. Here is his response to the news so far:

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. He

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 schol-ars 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 “Ma-tia” 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.

With warm regards,

Paul L. Maier

Here is another article from the Stand To Reason Blog:

Tale from the Crypt
We don't know yet what the details are of James Cameron's evidence for claiming Jesus' remains have been found. There'll be plenty to respond to, I'm sure. Greg opened the radio show yesterday with some general comments about how to think about these kinds of claims.

One thing to keep in mind that this evidence, after it's examined, has to stack up against the positive evidence we have for Christianity. Too often people forget that there is plenty of evidence to explain away that has withstood 2000 years of criticism. Paul did say that if Jesus wasn't raised from the dead, physically, then our faith is in vain so Cameron's claim goes to the foundation of Christianity. It's our central claim and we can't just respond by "taking it on faith." Jesus offered Himself as evidence for His claims. But anticipating Cameron's evidence is less than conclusive, Christianity has plenty of evidence going for it that will have to be stacked against what he offers. He doesn't offer us this new information in a vacuum.

Sure, there are people happy to jump on anything to debunk Christianity. Look how many people actually believe in the truth of the Da Vinci Code. But we have good reason on our side and that doesn't evaporate with Cameron's evidence.

Apparently Cameron's conclusions depend to some extent on James Tabor's scholarship so it's good to revisit Darrell Bock's assessment of Tabor's methodology and conclusions.

Update: Here's the documentary website at Discovery.

Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who originally oversaw the dig, is skeptical.

Here's an article on Discovery with some of the details.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 1:46 PM   1 comments links to this post


At 5:02 PM, Anonymous izzy bee said...

Historically, it was Jesus of Nazareth, not Galilee....and his mother Mary is supposedly buried under a church with a cluster of onion domes outside the walled city of Jerusalem-- not in Talpiyot


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