Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tomb of Jesus? Perhaps Not.

Filmmaker James Cameron made a big splash with his claim that a tomb discovered in Jeruslaem in 1980 contained ossuaries (bone boxes) labeled with the names of Jesus' family. The small stone caskets bore names including Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and "Judah, son of Jesus." To Cameron, this means one of the central tenets of Christianity - the resurrection of Jesus - has been disproven. His documentary on the subject is due to premiere March 4 on The Discovery Channel.

Not so fast, Jim.

First, the BBC aired a documentary on this 11 years ago, which came under a withering fire of criticism, not just from Christian leaders, but from archaeologists. While no one doubts the genuineness of the find, the names involved were among the most common in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. More tellingly, whatever one thinks of the divinity of Jesus, there's nothing in any history to indicate he was part of the middle-class or upper-class Jerusalem society that could have afforded a family tomb of this sort. That a carpenter's son from the "hick town" of Nazareth would wind up buried in Jerusalem in this fashion along with his parents (remember, his father had died some 20 years before) seems an improbability of the highest degree.

Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, dismissed the idea this was the Biblical Jesus as made-for-television hype. "They just want to get money for it,'' he said.

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