I am sure you have seen the articles floating around about the tomb discovered in the early '80s that some claim is the tomb of Jesus Christ and his family. My attention was called to this report by a Jewish co-worker who had seen the report on CNN. I am having trouble identifying enough information to analyze the situation, but I am sure that it will have an immense impact on the Christian community. What do you know about the subject? I need help.
Sensationalism—that's what this is! Someone is receiving a lot of notoriety (and financial gain) by making these irresponsible claims. Why do I dismiss them?
- The names on the ossuaries (bone boxes) are common 1st century names (Mary, Joseph, Jesus—nothing special…)
- While DNA fragments may be discovered, nothing has been verified. Even if DNA strands were discovered intact, there is no way it could be proved they belonged to Jesus or any of his relatives (mother, brothers, sisters, or their descendants). There is no "baseline."
- Sure, all the bones may come from the same family, but what else would you expect in a family tomb? That does not mean that the family has been identified.
- Jesus' family was ancestrally rooted in Bethlehem (as descendants of King David), but geographically rooted in Galilee, in the north of Israel. If someone was buried in the south who came from the north, we would expect an inscription like "Jesus of Nazareth" or "Mary of Magdala," not simply "Jesus son of Joseph."
- Biblical scholars are not taking this seriously. If authentic, why has this "evidence" been lying around for so many years without comment? For example, Tom Wright, an eminent N.T. scholar, commented, "These were very common names at the time and it would be like someone in 2000 years time claiming to have found the tomb of the royal family because it contained the names Charles, son of Philip, Andrew and Diana" (Associated Press). "This is no more than an interesting coincidence."
There is nothing here to shake believers' faith, nor to influence a sincere skeptic. The evidence is not only insignificant; it is non-existent.