Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Bones of Jesus?

Well, folks, let’s pack it up. They’ve found the bones of Jesus. No use sticking around here anymore. No use meeting together every Sunday, the day of resurrection. After all, St. Paul himself said, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain... your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17) And there’s no use hanging on to any talk of a “spiritual” resurrection, because the Bible makes the claim that Jesus was raised bodily. When the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, he said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)

So if they’ve found the bones of Jesus, as the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” would like us to believe, then we might as well hang it all. The Discovery Channel will air the film on March 4. The publicity it is receiving is helped by the fact that the filmmaker responsible for this is James Cameron, whose last big hit was Titanic from a few years ago.

But have they really found the bones of Jesus? That’s the question that many scholars and archaeologists are arguing right now. The internet is all abuzz with discussion about this. A tomb has been found with the supposed remains of Jesus’ family. Not only that, DNA evidence is presented showing that a so-called Jesus must have been married to a woman named Mary (which we are led to believe is Mary Magdalene, as we already learned from The Da Vinci Code book and movie, you may remember). The general consensus is that this is another attempt at discrediting the Christian faith as Easter approaches. It seems to happen every year.

As of this writing, I have not seen the documentary, but I have read quite a bit of the material online from those who are familiar with the information presented.

A good brief rebuttal was given in an email from Dr. Paul Maier, renowned professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod vice-president. It’s also interesting to note that life is imitating fiction here, since Dr. Maier is also the author of a novel entitled A Skeleton in God’s Closet where the supposed remains of the body of Jesus are discovered.

Here are the points as quoted from Dr. Maier’s email, found at the blog Stand to Reason:

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.

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 scholars 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 “Matia” 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.

Dr. Maier then says that there are still other reasons that debunk this current “find,” but it’s time to move on to other things. I agree...not to mention the fact that it’s hard to believe that 12 men frightened out of their wits would go out and preach and be willing to die for what they knew to be a lie...not to mention the fact that the New Testament records numerous eyewitnesses of the risen Christ, including 500 at one time! (1 Cor. 15:6)...not to mention the fact that if the Romans and the Jewish leaders wanted to put a stop to this business about Jesus being risen, they could have easily produced his body, which was sealed up behind a guarded tomb...not to mention the fact that for over 2,000 years Christians have gathered together every Sunday...including Easter Sunday...to celebrate that “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:20-22)

Join us this Sunday and on Easter Sunday as we worship our truly Risen Savior.

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