Skip to comments.THE JESUS TOMB? ‘TITANIC’ TALPIOT TOMB THEORY SUNK FROM THE START
Posted on 02/27/2007 12:40:42 PM PST by NYer
Remember the tale of the Titanic? How it was supposed to be impregnable, and nothing could poke holes in it? How it would never be sunk? Well all I can say is that human hubris knows no bounds, and that hasnt changed in the last century. On April 15th 1912 the supposedly leak proof Titanic rammed into an iceberg and sanksank like a giant stone. Sank quickly, with great loss of life.
Why do I bring this up? Because in one of the interesting ironies in recent memory, James Cameron the movie director who made the enormously successful film Titanic, on the night after the Oscars, will give an Oscar winning performance at a news conference along with Simcha Jacobovici who have now produced a Discovery Channel special on the discovery of Jesus tomb, ossuary, bones, and that of his mother, brothers, wife, and his child Jude as well! Who knew! The show will air on March 4th. In addition we are now regaled with a book by Simcha and Charles Pellegrino entitled The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History just released today by Harper-Collins timed to co-ordinate with their news conference and the Discovery Channel special. Why should we be skeptical about this entire enterprise?
First of all, I have worked with Simcha. He is a practicing Jew, indeed he is an orthodox Jew so far as I can tell. He was the producer of the Discovery Channel special on the James ossuary which I was involved with. He is a good film maker, and he knows a good sensational story when he sees one. This is such a story. Unfortunately it is a story full of holes, conjectures, and problems. It will make good TV and involves a bad critical reading of history. Basically this is old news with a new interpretation. We have known about this tomb since it was discovered in 1980. There are all sorts of reasons to see this as much ado about nothing much:
1) The statistical analysis is of course only as good as the numbers that were provided to the statistician. He couldnt run numbers he did not have. And when you try to run numbers on a combination name such as Jesus son of Joseph you decrease the statistical sample dramatically. In fact, in the case of Jesus son of Joseph you decrease it to a statistically insignificant number! Furthermore, so far as we can tell, the earliest followers of Jesus never called Jesus son of Joseph. It was outsiders who mistakenly called him that! Would the family members such as James who remained in Jerusalem really put that name on Jesus tomb when they knew otherwise? This is highly improbable. My friend Richard Bauckham provides me with the following statistics:
Out of a total number of 2625 males, these are the figures for the ten most popular male names among Palestinioan Jews. the first figure is the total number of occurrences (from this number, with 2625 as the total for all names, you could calculate percentages), while the second is the number of occurrences specifically on ossuraies.
1 Simon/Simeon 243 59
2 Joseph 218 45
3 Eleazar 166 29
4 Judah 164 44
5 John/Yohanan 122 25
6 Jesus 99 22
7 Hananiah 82 18
8 Jonathan 71 14
9 Matthew 62 17
10 Manaen/Menahem 42 4
For women, we have a total of 328 occurrences (women's names are much less often recorded than men's), and figures for the 4 most popular names are thus:
Mary/Mariamne 70 42
Salome 58 41
Shelamzion 24 19
Martha 20 17
You can see at once that all the names you're interested were extremely popular. 21% of Jewish women were called Mariamne (Mary). The chances of the people in the ossuaries being the Jesus and Mary Magdalene of the New Testament must be very small indeed.
By the way, 'Mara' in this context does not mean Master. It is an abbreviated form of Martha. probably the ossuary contained two women called Mary and Martha (Mariamne and Mara).
There are so many flaws in the analysis of the statistics themselves, that one must assume the statistician did not have the right or sufficient data to work with.
2) there is no independent DNA control sample to compare to what was garnered from the bones in this tomb. By this I mean that the most the DNA evidence can show is that several of these folks are inter-related. Big deal. We would need an independent control sample from some member of Jesus' family to confirm that these were members of Jesus' family. We do not have that at all. In addition mitacondrial DNA does not reveal genetic coding or XY chromosome make up anyway. They would need nuclear DNA for that in any case. So the DNA stuff is probably thrown in to make this look more like a real scientific fact. Not so much.
3) Several of these ossuaries have very popular and familiar early Jewish names. As the statistics above show, the names Joseph and Joshua (Jesus) were two of the most common names in all of early Judaism. So was Mary. Indeed both Jesus mother and her sister were named Mary. This is the ancient equivalent of finding adjacent tombs with the names Smith and Jones. No big deal.
4) The historical problems with all this are too numerous to list here: A) the ancestral home of Joseph was Bethlehem, and his adult home was Nazareth. The family was still in Nazareth after he was apparently dead and gone. Why in the world would be be buried (alone at this point) in Jerusalem? Its unlikely. B) One of the ossuaries has the name Jude son of Jesus. We have no historical evidence of such a son of Jesus, indeed we have no historical evidence he was ever married; C) the Mary ossuaries (there are two) do not mention anyone from Migdal. It simply has the name Mary-- and that's about the most common of all ancient Jewish female names. D) we have names like Matthew on another ossuary, which don't match up with the list of brothers' names.
E) By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty-- even the Jewish and Roman authorities acknowledged this. Now it takes a year for the flesh to desiccate, and then you put the man's bones in an ossuary. But Jesus' body was long gone from Joseph of Arimathea's tomb well before then. Are we really to believe it was moved to another tomb, decayed, and then was put in an ossuary? Its not likely. F) Implicitly you must accuse James, Peter and John (mentioned in Gal. 1-2-- in our earliest NT document from 49 A.D.) of fraud and coverup. Are we really to believe that they knew Jesus didn't rise bodily from the dead but perpetrated a fraudulent religion, for which they and others were prepared to die? Did they really hide the body of Jesus in another tomb? We need to remember that the James in question is Jesus' brother, who certainly would have known about a family tomb. This frankly is impossible for me to believe.
5) One more thing of importance. The James ossuary, according to the report of the antiquities dealer that Oded Golan got the ossuary from, said that the ossuary came from Silwan, not Talpiot, and had dirt in it that matched up with the soil in that particular spot in Jerusalem. In fact Oded confirmed this to me personally when I spoke with him at an SBL meeting. Why is this important? Well because the ossuaries that came out of Talpiot came out of a rock cave from a different place, and without such soil in it. To theorize that there was a Jesus family tomb, and yet the one member of Jesus' family who we know was buried in Jerusalem for a long time did not come out of the ground from that locale contradicts this theory. Furthermore, Eusebius reports that the tomb marker for James' burial was close to where James was martyred near the temple mount, indeed near the famous tombs in the Kidron valley such as the so-called tomb of Absalom. Talpiot is nowhere near this locale.
6)What should we make of James Tabors being co-opted into this project? You will remember his book which came out last year The Jesus Dynasty. In that book he had quite a good deal to say about the Talpiot Tomb, and about Panthera being the father of Jesus, and about Jesus being buried in Galilee, and of course nothing about a ossuary which claims that Joseph is the father of Jesus. Why such a quick reversal of his earlier opinions? This makes him appear very quixotic, not a very reliable witness who sticks by his guns when he draws a conclusion, for he has now reversed himself not just on one or two minor points, but on several major ones. My advise to James, whom I respect and who has not only done some fine archaeological work but is a nice guy, is to disassociate himself from this speculative and flawed theory just as quick as possible if he cares for his reputation as a scholar.
In the Toronto Star article from Sundays paper, we find that the unraveling has begun before they even hold the news conference today--- here is a brief quote from the article written by Stuart Laidlaw---
But there is one wrinkle that is not examined in the documentary, one that emerged in a Jerusalem courtroom just weeks ago at the fraud trial of James ossuary owner Oded Golan, charged with forging part of the inscription on the box.
Former FBI agent Gerald Richard testified that a photo of the James ossuary, showing it in Golan's home, was taken in the 1970s, based on tests done by the FBI photo lab. The trial resumes tomorrow.
Jacobovici conceded in an interview that if the ossuary was photographed in the 1970s, it could not then have been found in a tomb in 1980.
But while he does not address the conundrum in the documentary, he said in an interview that it's possible Golan's photo was printed on old paper in the 1980s.
Here is the link to the Toronto Star article.
In fact the same article reports that Professor Amos Kloner from bar Ilan University has already told the German press It's a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever." He is important since he did extensive work and research on this very tomb and its ossuaries and came to negative conclusions published in a journal in 1996. In short, this is old news, to which has been added only the recent DNA testing and statistical analysis neither of which makes the case the film makers want to make.
I feel sorry for Simcha, but I know how these things happen. Ones enthusiasm for a subject propels one into over-reaching when it comes to drawing conclusions. The problem with keeping these ideas secret for the sake of making a big splash of publicity, and lots of money, is that peer review by a panel of scholars could have saved these folks a lot of embarrassment down the road. Cest la vie.'
So my response to this is clear--- James Cameron, the producer of the movie Titantic, has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now.For those wanting much more on the historical Jesus and James and Mary see now my WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH JESUS? (Harper-Collins, 2006).
And one more thing to add---Eusebius the father of church history (4th century) tells us that there had been since NT times a tomb of James the Just, the brother of Jesus, which was near the Temple mount and had an honoric stele next to it, and that it was a pilgrimage spot for many Christians. It was apparently a single tomb, with no other Holy family members mentioned nor any other ossuaries in that place. The locality and singularity of this tradition rules out a family tomb in Talpiot. Christians would not have been making pilgrimage to the tomb if they believed Jesus' bones were in it-- that would have contradicted and violated their faith, but the bones of holy James were another matter. They were consider sacred relics.
Here is part of the passage from Eusebius on Jesus' brother--- James "was buried on the spot, by the Sanctuary, and his inscribed stone (stele) is still there by the sanctuary." (Hist. Eccles. 2.23.18). This is clearly not in Talpiot, and remember to claim there is a Talpiot family tomb means that Jesus would have been buried there long before James was martyred in A.D. 62. In other words, the James tradition contradicts the Talpiot tomb both in locale and in substance. James is buried alone, in another place.
Cameron also announced he was aided by BigFoot and Judge Crater.
26th February 2007
The hype surrounding the forthcoming documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus shows no signs of abating quite yet. The main website for the documentary and book has come on-line now (last time I checked it just had a brief text message): The Lost Family Tomb of Jesus
There is a lot of hype and knee-jerk reactions around the blogosphere, but there have also been some thoughtful responses as well. Here are a few that I think are worthy of reading:
OK, I guess it was more than a few! As you can see, there is a lot of discussion on this in the blogs, and most of it is very skeptical and negative. As with Jacobovici’s other documentaries, I imagine this one will be a slick production. While I don’t want to pre-judge it, it’s really too bad that the same amount of resources and skill can’t be marshaled for a documentary that is also academically sound. Such is life.
What, no ManBearPig?
This doesn't even make good Fiction.
Fiction at least should have some elements of truth in it.
I'm surprised (or maybe not so surprised)that absolutely no one in the media has pointed out that "Judah" and "Judas" are the same name. Therefore, using the sort of logic employed by the "documentary" producers, we therefore know that since the ossuary said "Judah son of Jesus," it must mean that Judas Iscariot was actually the son of Jesus.
Alternatively, Jesus was obviously so grateful to Judas for turning him over to be crucified, and thus implementing God's plan, that he named his child for Judas after he was resurrected and lived his second life as the husband of Mary Magdalene.
Wow folks, another important validation for the authenticity of the "Gospel of Judas"!
Ben Witherington decimates the "Jesus' bones" mockumentary that's scheduled just in time for Easter.
Excellent article above.
First of all, I have worked with Simcha. He is a practicing Jew, indeed he is an orthodox Jew so far as I can tell. He was the producer of the Discovery Channel special on the James ossuary which I was involved with. He is a good film maker, and he knows a good sensational story when he sees one.
One can't help but recall the vision of Pope Leo XIII in which he heard a conversation between Our Lord and satan. Satan was taunting Our Lord, in much the same way he taunted Him over Job.
"Oh, course, they're faithful, of course they love you - they don't know anything else, everyone listens to the priests. Everyone's obedient, everyone's quiet, no-one has a chance to find out, and explore for themselves." Satan ranted. He came very close to implying that mankind had no free will, because no one seemed to be interested in following evil.
"Stop," God said. "They follow Me and believe in me, because I love them. Do you think they would follow you if they heard you speak? Very well, then, I give you a century. A hundred years to turn my people away from Me. If you can."
Satan laughed. He thought that with the proper exposure and the proper preparation, he would finally have his chance to rule, to be equal to or greater than God. And so began our century, the century of World Wars, abortion, racial cleansing, pornography, contraceptives, and a multitude of opinions, voices, beliefs, theological reforms, liberalism, political and economic turmoil. Many, many souls confused by the Prince of Lies, have stumbled and fallen.
Pope Leo XIII greatly disturbed by what he had heard, or discerned, asked God for some protection, some weapon the world could use against the trickery, lies and snares of the devil. In response, he was inspired to compose the Saint Michael prayer, and to form cenacles - grassroot rosary groups.
Who needs any reminder of what we have personally witnessed in our own country, over the past 50 years! As a small child, I recall a nation with a fairly strict morale code of conduct. Yet look at us now!
On the morning of the most recent Papal Conclave, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger delivered the Pro Eligendo homily. It was 3:30am when I awoke from a sound sleep, turned on the tv and heard him say:
"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true."
The enormity of those words left an indelible mark on my heart. He was describing the world in which we now live and the confusion that permeates the hearts and souls of mankind. He hit the nail on the head!
They say that in time of need, God raises up great saints to guide and direct us. Joseph Ratzinger is such a person. Recall his visit to Turkey last year; the warnings and admionitions not to go because there was a bounty on his head. He ignored all of them.
Who can forget the image of him standing side by side with the Imam, facing 'Mecca', hands crossed in prayer and the Pope so deeply immersed that the Imam now looked to him in amazement.
The silence, though short, extended through the millenia. As Christians, it matters not in which direction we face for God is Omnipresent and Joseph Ratzinger demonstrated that to us and the Muslims on that particular day.
Throughout history, everyone has believed that the time in which they lived was the most evil. Even so, our present time presents more evil choices than ever before. Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning .... selective reproduction .... the list grows daily as science progresses faster than we can keep track. Our only hope is faith - that our Lord will guide our small boat to His shore, where we can drop anchor forever.
Apologies for the rambling thoughts ... they have been overwhelming of late. May our Lord guide you home and to safe harbor!
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
February 26, 2007
JESUS TOMB DISCOVERY IS TITANIC FRAUD
Titanic director James Cameron and TV-director Simcha Jacobovici are claiming they have evidence of a Jerusalem tomb that allegedly houses the remains of Jesus and his family. Commenting on this is Catholic League president Bill Donohue:
Not a Lenten season goes by without some author or TV program seeking to cast doubt on the divinity of Jesus and/or the Resurrection. Last April, NBCs Dateline featured the wholly discredited and downright laughable claims of Michael Baigent, and two years ago ABC treated us to a special that questioned every aspect of the Resurrection. Now we have the Cameron-Jacobovici thesis.
Israeli archeologist Amos Kloner was in charge of the 1980 investigation of the tomb that Cameron-Jacobovici have seized on 27 years later to make their allegations. The claim that the burial site has been found is not based on any proof, and is only an attempt to sell, Kloner says. He adds, I refute all claims and efforts to waken a renewed interest in the findings. With all due respect, they are not archeologists. Indeed, Kloner has branded their claims impossible and nonsense. Moreover, he says there is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb. It makes a great story for a TV film, he concludes.
Joe Zias, who spent a quarter-century as an archeologist at the Rockefeller University in Jerusalem, said that Simcha has no credibility whatsoever. Zias isnt shooting from the hip: Jacobovicis credibility explodes when one considers that he still believes the 2002 tale about an ossuary with the inscription, James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. On June 18, 2003, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) condemned this claim as a modern forgerythis was the unanimous decision of a 15-member IAA committee. Agreeing with this decision were Harvards Frank Cross and Tel Aviv University professor Edward Greenstein.
The Discovery Channel aired the 2002 hoax and now its back with the Titanic fraud. Its time the Discovery Channel discovered ethics and stopped with the sensationalism.
Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven.
The Good News: For such spurious attacks to be made is evidence of satanic assault, yet, that is cause for hope. The attacks themselves are proof of the veracity of our faith.
Only Trust Him. Only Trust Him. He will save you.
Stayed up very late last night to listen to C2C ... Noory had four guests all of whom dismissed the Cameron scam as ridiculous. The last place the Bible says Jesus went (following His resurrection) was to Galilee ... I think he was going to see His Mother before ascension.
I wonder if they will be talking about all the mexicans,who have named their sons,JESUS.....After all,they might number in the millions...Think about it...Not only was Jesus just a human but he was cloned at least millions of times....I bet some of them even have family members named maria or joseph....WOW!!!!!we are talking startling news here..
Not according to the witnesses!
The disciples found the tomb empty, implying that His BODY was gone. Jesus allowed Thomas to touch the wound where the sword pierced His BODY. After rising from the dead and walking around in His BODY did Jesus just chuck it off and then float to heaven?