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Documentary Claims: Jesus Was Buried With His Family?

by Dr. D ~ February 26th, 2007

Here we are in the Lent/Easter season again and here comes a new documentary rehashing some old archaeological evidence (BBC reported on this stuff 11 years ago) in a rather spectacular way. Familiar Biblical names like Joseph, Mary, Jesus (Joshua), Mariamene, and Judah son of Jesus (Joshua) on ossuaries (caskets) buried together. Add statistics, DNA tests, and an Oscar winning director and you have this year’s anti-Christian Easter special. It’s scheduled for March 4 on the Discovery Channel on March 4. Click to read the news report.

The documentary claims to have found the family plot of Jesus, buried along with his mother, father, wife, and child. Guess what! They have DNA evidence to prove their point. The DNA tests only shows that the supposed Jesus is not related to the presumed Mary Magdalene; and from this they conclude that they were probably married? The names were very common in first century Jerusalem, but they bring on a statistician to bombast their way to a preconceived conclusion. It’s so very convenient and so timely with a new book coming out at the same time. Another gift for Easter calculated for seasonal interest and maximum coverage.

Dr. Ben Witherington has some good answers to the documentary claims on his blog:

“…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.”

For a good analysis of the evidence: Read his article and the comments (30+) following.


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3 Responses to Documentary Claims: Jesus Was Buried With His Family?

  1. Joe

    guess it is true that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

    So far, only the press in Witherington’s native Kentucky have delicately raised the issue of the pot calling the kettle bla…that is, the pot calling the ossuary cracked in Witherington’s overheated (the gentleman protests too much) protestations against the latest “biggest New Testament find”* in his lifetime.

    Lexington County Herald, 2/27/07

    On his blog, Witherington fired a final salvo by referring to the Titanic and saying Cameron “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.”

    In 2003, Witherington and co-author Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, wrote in The Brother of Jesus that they believed an ossuary bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” was authentic.
    A few months after The Brother of Jesus was published, Israel’s Antiquities Authority decided that the ossuary was a fake. It charged the ossuary’s owner, Oded Golan, with fraud and illegally selling archaeological artifacts outside of Israel. His trial continues, 21/2 years after it began.

    Witherington said that he and Shanks stand by their conclusion that the ossuary is authentic and are not likely to change their minds, regardless of the trial’s outcome.
    * “This is probably going to be the biggest New Testament find in my lifetime, as big as the Dead Sea scrolls,” said Ben Witherington, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

    National Geographic News
    If Witherington can be such a zealot about HIS OWN wacky claims about HIS OWN phony ossuary, it would only seem sporting that he would cut Simcha Jacobovici (Witherington’s former partner in crime. He was the man who helped Witherington create and hype his documentary on the phony “James Ossuary” about 4 years ago – shown on, you guessed it! The Discovery Channel!) and James Cameron some slack.

  2. Dr. D

    What about all the issues that Dr. Witherington raises about the ‘new’/old discovery? He makes some good points which are all but ignored by the comment above. Instead we get an ad hominem attack.

  3. -Why I Won’t Be Seeing ‘Avatar’ Anytime Soon | ANSWERS For The Faith

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