One of the design goals of this blog is to weave in lots of Chapel DNA. There are far too many Christian pastors, authors, speakers and bloggers who use their platforms to rail at their enemies. You won’t find any of that in Dick Woodward’s teaching style—nor Bill Warrick’s. Dick always says, “You don’t have to put anybody down to lift up Jesus Christ.”
Dick didn’t make this up. Jesus had a lot to say during the Sermon on the Mount about how to react when people oppose you. (To hear Jesus’ actual words, click the ‘Listen’ link on the top of this page.) Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a lot like boxing with your hands tied. Expect opposing views. Sometimes the opposition is confrontational, and sometimes it’s insidious.
The Naked Archaeologist, hosted by Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovichi (who is neither naked nor an archaeologist), was an interesting, entertaining, often frustrating TV show. It was funny, offbeat, and presented lots of Biblical archaeology. But every once in a while it would cross the line—playing loose with facts or throwing grenades at the Christian faith and running away with a smirk. If you’re not a Christian it’s pretty much impossible to appreciate how important the resurrection is to our faith. The Apostle Paul wrote quite firmly in 1 Corinthians 15 that, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” This isn’t just poetic language and Paul wasn’t kidding. Wish more people got it. Paul died for that message.
Long story short, Simcha Jacobovichi partnered with Hollywood producer James Cameron and they created a documentary claiming that the lost tomb of Jesus had been found. But as explained in the following video, there were some serious problems with how they put the material together, including clipping experts’ words to make them appear to say things they didn’t say, and smearing the reputations of some very credible professionals in their attempt to prove that Christianity is a farce. As I mentioned in an earlier post, esteemed archaeologist Shimon Gibson is quick to point out that his work has been misrepresented in the documentary. Dr. Gibson also wrote, “There is nothing to commend this tomb as the family tomb of Jesus. At best the names of the ossuaries are suggestive but nothing more.”
Because of the implications, a seminar was held at Princeton in 2008. I would encourage you to read the proceedings and follow-ups from that event if you have any doubt about this topic. Trust the professionals—the real archaeologists and epigraphers—not the storytellers. Neither the bones nor the tomb of Jesus have been found at Talpiot.
Here are additional sources if you’re interested:
To the weight of evidence against this claim, I would add my own questions:
- What reason would an entire family from Nazareth have to be buried in Jerusalem, 65 miles away (a long way to cart bodies in the first century)?
- How could Jesus’ body be laid on a shelf for one to two years to dry the bones prior to being placed in an ossuary—when all detractors could have so easily shut down the uprising by producing the body?
- Of the three ossuaries that have been found in Israel bearing an inscription “Jeshua bar Joseph,” why would you pick this one as belonging to Jesus of Nazareth? And we may as well throw in the 71 other found ossuaries bearing the inscription ‘Jesus’ (according to a 1996 report by the BBC).
But unfortunately, this stuff sells, so here we go again. As Justin Taylor commented yesterday on his blog they’re giving it another go.
I am grateful for men like Mark Driscoll, Ravi Zacharias and Lee Strobel who resolutely take up the challenges to our faith. And you don’t have to put anyone down to lift up Jesus Christ. Often a little light is all that’s needed.
March 14th, 2012 at 4:21 pm
thanks, John for this excellent research…I trust the REAL archaeologists!
March 14th, 2012 at 5:10 pm
Thanks Jim, it’s a topic we all need to know about, and there is plenty of rebuttal material for sensationalist claims. Personally I like to give their motives a pass–I don’t think they know how important the resurrection is to our faith, and that it should not be a target for spurious and speculative claims that cannot pass the most basic scrutiny. Then again, maybe their motives should be questioned.
March 25th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
Looks like the Tomb of Jesus hype has just hit a most unexpected snag. Looks like the fish image is not Christian, but a Hebrew zodiac code, pointing to the arising of the Hebrew Messiah, not to Jesus.
Disturbing certain grave sites promises to resurrect angry ghosts that some wish had remained dead and hidden…
September 5th, 2014 at 2:12 pm
Here’s a clipping that gets at the motivation behind the unabashedly outrageous claims and the hype: